I heard my mother use a Kannada word I hadn’t heard before. Kris Srikanth, referring to Rahul Dravid’s innings at Eden Gardens declared it had C-L-A-S-S written all over it, and Mum said, ‘Yeshtu nigarvi aagi maathadthane Srikanth!’ (‘How nigarvi Srikanth is’ or to that effect).
Ni + garvi = without pride, obviously, but I loved the nuances of the word. She meant it in the sense of generosity, of not holding back; an attitude that submerges or doesn’t bring our self or ego into play when assessing someone else. ‘Garv’ in Hindi is often used positively, and can mean pride as well as arrogance. In Kannada though, ‘garva’ usually has a negative connotation. In this word, it expanded to include the meaning of ‘absorption with oneself’.
Shweta and I have lived in Hyderabad all our lives and so, all our Kannada has been learnt mostly from Mum. Which means several things: our style and cadences are hopelessly dated, we know no slang or swear words, and we’re still surprised by the occasional phrase that Leelakka casually dredges up.
Last week she had me in peals of laughter. I was debating whether I should waste time and energy on some trivial matter and she said, ‘Ayyo bidu, adikyake gaddake bere seegekaai.’