Pittsburgh Kaaka (Kal Aaj Aur Kal Anecdotes)

Pittsburgh Kaaka – 2

This blog post is about my favorite topic – mamas and the location for the incident that has inspired this post is once again the Pittsburgh SV Temple J




There was a Bharatnatyam dance at the temple 2 weekends ago. Showing Indian culture to my daughter is an interesting hobby and I am always part of such ‘This is Indian culture’ demo sessions. The dance programme got added at the end of the traditional routine of seeing the gods, silent prayers, smiling at the priest, collecting banana as prasaadam and the gluttonous devouring of food. We went into the temple auditorium. It was a nice mini hall with decent acoustics!


When we entered the hall, a gentleman (invisible to the public) on the mike was explaining the dance that was about to be performed. I was happy that we had luckily managed to time our entry into the hall between two songs. I found the announcer quite irritating!! He had this strange accent that was well … I don’t how to put it. The following sentence may give you an idea. He said in a pseudo American accent, “The next suong ees a Waarniam in … “. (That’s, the next song is a varnam in …!!)

We settled down and the lights dimmed. I turned around and was happy to see some good looking girls too … hmmm, I turned my attention to the dance after noticing that my wife was smiling at me with a ‘I saw you do that’ kind of look! L


The Dance:


There was a lady and a younger man dancing to a Varnam in Karahapriya raagam. It was about Ramayana and they kept dancing for about 15 min or so. Their stamina was amazing and as I don’t understand nuances of dance, I would only say that they seemed to dance well. My wife kept nudging me to look at the quiet brat and that certainly was not quite like her at all! My daughter was certainly awestruck to hear the sound, dance movements, rhythm etc.

There were the usual mamas and mamis in the audience who start putting taalams. One particular mama caught my attention. His frequency of right palm hitting right thigh was inexplicable. I tried to see if time intervals between hand hitting thigh (I cannot call his actions as ‘taalam’) followed an Arithmetic Progression or Geometric Progression. Due to my inability to try and validate harmonic progression calculations in that environment, I decided he must have been on a harmonic progression trip. The programme progressed harmonically too!  

Mama talk:

After two more songs, we came out as my daughter began showing signs of restlessness and rather loudly whispered the magic words, ‘pee pee’ into her mother’s ears.

While I was waiting outside, out came two Kannadiga mamas. I hoped they would discuss something and I could pass my time better. They didn’t disappoint!


I can only understand Kannada in bits and pieces. My Kannada comprehension technique is to hear an entire sentence, retain words I understand, drop words I don’t and then apply Integration by parts to the retained words to arrive at a conclusion. If you know Calculus, please note that my own masaala is the ‘+ Constant’ part in the Integration results, usually 😉 This post is not masaala-ed, though!


Mama 1 (Lets call him Manjunath mama):

Chennaaga maadtharey – They are doing good. Nice to see that you organized the function so well”.


Mama 2 (Lets call him Srinath mama):

“Yes. But coordination solpa better aag beku. But given that original dancer couldn’t make it and these people agreed at last moment, it was a commendable performance. But certainly there could have been better co-ordination”.


Then Srinath lowered his voice, lowered his specs and quickly scanned the place with eyes looking above the spectacle frame to make sure none of the other organizers were there and said,

“At places steps miss aayithu” (they did miss some steps at places)”.

The tone was the “hey don’t tell anybody about this, ok” tone – we all know the tone I am talking about, don’t we? 😉  


Manjunath maams realized that he need not unnecessarily praise the dance performance after all. He had already complimented Srinath maama anyways on his superior organizational skills and made him swell with pride. Manjunath cleared his throat and decided to speak his mind out. (pleeease pardon my kaanada now)


Ahuthaa!! (is it?!!). Actually don’t mind saar, but neevu notice maadithiraa? Avaru thumbaa close close aagi dance maadtharey (translation: did you notice? Physical distance between dancers was lower than acceptable). We have children in the audience and it is not so decent to watch – bad antha illa (translation: its not bad) but you understand, right? Chooru attention kodu beku (translation: should have paid some attention) when they are dancing in a temple in front of kids!”


I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. There was silence and I assumed that Mama 2 was in a spot. He could neither agree nor disagree with Mama 1. Manjunath mama didn’t know if he had spoken more than what he was supposed to speak.


After a few silent moments, they quickly changed the topic and started talking about Gita classes.


It was time for me to leave the temple and I thanked the mamas (in my mind) for giving me an opportunity to listen to their gossip! ‘Protector of Indian culture’ mama unhappy with ‘namma culture vulture’ dancers – I thought that would be an apt, albeit long title for the mama discussions J


Irrespective of geography, so called ‘global exposure’, most people dont change, do they?!

For me, I was back to the routine …. Patel Brothers, I-376, Squirrel Tunnel, Fort Pitt Tunnel … home, crash!


One thought on “Pittsburgh Kaaka – 2

  1. hmm! i expect seeing bommi doing a bharatnatyam with mee-kam on a Warnam in Karahapriya raagam!
    Fake and laughable accents are prominent in my company – there are some genuine UK returned sheespish-I-can’t-help-my-brit-accent people, and there are many many I-need-to-develop-brit-accent people. You would have a field time here!

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