No Leh, Jose

Kannada seems to place a lot of emphasis on respect.  There are many ways to show respect and many ways to take it away.

Recently, Satya was communicating via Instant Messenger with one of his younger cousins.  This cousin is 7 or 8 years younger and has a reputation for being mischievous (one time he destroyed a project Satya had taken all day to create).  This younger cousin wrote “leh” (pronounced roughly “lay”) which immediately annoyed Satya. 

“Leh” or “le” translates roughly to “buddy” or “guy”.  It can be used when speaking to close friends or to people below you-not to elders.  Satya also says that in Bangalore, in Southern Karnataka, men sometimes use it to refer to their wives and wives can use it with their husbands, if they are nontraditional.  (I’m not too sure about this as he’s from Northern Karnataka and hasn’t been back in nearly 8 years). 

As I learn more I will be writing more posts about Kannada. 

If I get anything wrong, please write a comment below! 

What are other subtle ways to give respect and take it away in Kannada?

Trying to Learn Kannada

I’ve been searching for a good, affordable way to learn Kannada at home.  I thought this would be so simple.  Kannada is afterall, the 27th most spoken language in the world and one of India’s major languages.  A lot more people speak Kannada than speak, let’s say, Swedish or Greek.  These are according to Wikipedia. 

One site that had a nice preview is the India Community Center at  Unfortunately, the site seems defunct as nobody has replied to my e-mail about the Kannada course and it doesn’t look like the site was updated recently.

A site that looks much more promising is Kannada Online at  This site is done by Mysore University in Karnataka.  One of my favorite parts of the site is how they carefully and slowly show you how to form Kannada letters by using a little chalkboard icon.  This course seems intensive and very well thought out.  The biggest stumbling block is that the course costs $50 and must be mailed by check to Mysore, no credit cards accepted.  Satya isn’t sure of the security of this method.  We are thinking of sending money to one of his cousins in India and then asking him to send the money on to Mysore. 

My motivation for learning Kannada is to prepare for our trip to India next spring.  Some of Satya’s older relatives do not speak English.  I’d like to be able to communicate with them.  Also, I’d like to be able to read common street signs and decipher the alphabet.  Thankfully, Satya says that Kannada is much more phonetic than English.

Book “Mixed Matches”

Sunday Satya and I began reading “Mixed Matches: How to Create Successful Interracial, Interethnic, and Interfaith Relationships” by Joel Crohn, PhD. 

We just read the first chapter which basically said:

           -Sometimes conflicts arise from differences in culture, not just in personality and temperment.

           -It is better to try to discuss things as clearly and as in much detail as possible beforehand.  One example from the book is a Catholic/Lutheran couple who vaguely discussed religion in terms of, “I want our children to be good Christians” instead of discussing exactly what being “a good Christian” is.  Turns out, the wife’s family convinced her to baptize the child without consulting the husband.  Big mistake. 

  So far the book hasn’t led to any great insights, but it is early yet.  Next weekend we will tackle another chapter. 

  We have discussed a bit how we would raise any possible children.  We would introduce the stories of both religions.  For my Catholic faith, this would mean Bible stories, prayers, and stories of the saints.  Satya remembers really enjoying some Buddhist stories so he’d like to introduce our future kids to those stories, especially since Buddhism and Hinduism are so closely related. 

  I know my family would really like for our future kids to be baptized and to attend Catholic Mass with the rest of the family on key occassions. 

  One difficulty will be differences in how our families passed down religion.  My family believed that it was the duty of the family to introduce the kids to religion and keep them on the right track (requiring kids to attend Mass with rest of the family each Sunday, requiring attendance at religion class, etc.)  His family believes religion is more of a personal matter and that the choice of what to believe and how to practice should be left up to the child.

Wearing a Saree

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to wear a saree.  Satya told my Mother in law that I’d be open to wearing a traditional Indian outfit for the Indian wedding ceremony next year.  She brought out a beautiful purple silk saree with gold and orange trim. 

The first step was the blouse. 

Lesson number one: the tiny hooks hook in the front, not in the back!  When she gave me the blouse I was very confused because I thought, “How in the world do you hook all those tiny hooks in the back by yourself?”  My mother in law quickly corrected me and told me they hook in the front…much easier.  I guess I saw the hooks and thought they looked like bra hooks and so thought they hook in the same way.

Luckily, the blouse fit well across my shoulders.  The arms were a little loose, but she said that they could easily be tailored to fit.

Next was the cotton petticoat.  Then finally, the winding and folding of the saree.  I don’t know how she did it.  I will definitely have to find some of those “How to wear a saree” videos online!  I’m thinking of finding a cheaper one that I can just practice wearing around the house.

Then came the next challenge…walking upstairs.  I thought, “Oh, no problem.  I’ve worn long skirts and dresses before.”  Wrong.  Apparently, it is crucial to grip the saree at the center of the skirt to hold it up and out of the way.  Holding it from the sides makes things even more difficult. 

Satya and his mom liked the saree very much.  I will be wearing one for the Indian wedding.  I will definitely need to practice wearing one beforehand!  They both laughed when they saw how tightly I was gripping the saree.  I was afraid it would fall off, but I just have to adjust to the different feel of wearing a saree. 

Satya took pictures, so someday I may post them.  I think I looked like a tall purple pillar, but in a good way.

More things I learned:

          -There are many different ways to wear a saree.  Some stylish, some more utilitarian.  If you need to wash dishes you can tuck it one way.  If you need your legs freer, you can do something else.

          -Pins can be added to hold the saree in place.  I didn’t try this, but it sounds worth trying.

         -Pastel colors are nicknamed “English colors” and should be avoided.  Mother in law says that anything bright is good. 

I’d always wanted to try a saree on, so I enjoyed wearing it a lot.   Also, it was gorgeous!  I didn’t really realize before how versatile sarees are.  They can adjust no matter the wearer’s size or what the wearer is doing.

Here is a great post from A Wide Angle View of India about saris.  She has included a link to a video showing how to wear a sari as well as some great photos. 

At the moment I am looking for a silk saree to wear for the August ceremony.  We are having the ceremony professionally photographed so Satya wants a photos of me in a saree as well as the Western-style wedding dress.

Kannada Movies

Does anyone know why it is so difficult to find Kannada movies in the U.S.?  I’m able to find Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Malayam movies, but Kannada ones are proving difficult.  I’d like to see them just to get some idea of the culture and to try to pick up a few more words. 

Anybody have any tips?  Short of asking his family to send us a bunch, I’m stuck.

Also, do the movies usually have English subtitles?

I have heard that some of the movie industries of the lesser known languages are being swallowed up by Bollywood and are having trouble competing.  Any truth to that? 

What are some of your favorite movies?  I want to try to stay away from movies with lots of blood and violence.

Weddings, Weddings, Weddings

I will be posting notes on our wedding planning.  Altogether, we will probably have done 5 different ceremonies/blessings by next spring. 

In March we had a tiny wedding in my old apartment.  We had only 7 people present, including ourselves. We eloped.

In August we will be going to Minnesota so that his family can meet my family.  We will have one ceremony in a garden, and the other at my 90 year old grandmother’s nursing home.  She is very frail, but still loves a good time. 

At this time, we are unsure what kind of ceremony we will have in the garden.  We will need to create our own ceremony, but have been putting it off.  I was raised Catholic, but as we are already married and as we have no intention of raising our future, hypothetical children as Catholics we will not have a Catholic marriage mass.

Sometime next spring we will be going to India to have a Lingayat ceremony.  One celebration will be at his parent’s home and the other will probably be at a marriage hall.  The second will be a “small” wedding by his family’s standards-about 500 people.  It will be Satya’s first time in India since he left in late 2000 and my first time in India, period. 

We figure at the end we will be truly blessed!

Bisi Bele Bhath

Bisi Bele Bhath is a dish that Satya and I have enjoyed at South Indian restaurants.  It is very hearty and vegetarian. 

Below, is a recipe with my own notes in parentheses that Satya found online at  


Our biggest challenge is to get the consistency right.  When we’ve had it at restaurants, it has been much thinner.  When we make it at home, it is very thick and you can eat it with a fork.  To make it thinner, add water. 

***Spoons=tea spoons


Rice 1 cup
Toor Dal 1/2 cup
Boiled Potatoes -2 (optional)
1/4 cup cooked Peas (optional)
Ghee 3 spoons
Grated Coconut 2 spoons
Tamarind Powder 1 1/2 spoons
Small Onions – 10 (rather vague.  I use one large red onion)

Brinjul (Small eggplants.  Use 2)

Masala to grind

Dry Red Chillies 8
Dhania 1 1/2 spoons (Coriander seeds)
Fenugreek 1/4 spoon
Urad Dal 1/2 spoon
Bengal Gram 1 spoon (Dry Chickpea)
KusKus – 1 spoon (Cous Cous)
Patta (Curry leaves.  We use about 6)

Method :


  1. Fry the above masalas in a dry pan and powder them. (We use a little mortar and pestle for this, although Satya’s mom says a coffee grinder works even better and faster.)
  2. Mix Rice and Dal and cook in cooker.
  3. Heat oil in a pan, fry onions till brown, add cut boiled potatoes and peas, can also add brinjal.
  4. Add tamarind powder and 1/2 cup water and salt and the ground masala powder. Let it boil.
  5. Now add cooked rice and dal and mix well. Remove from flame.
  6. Fry the coconutes till brown and powder them.
  7. Garnish with chopped coriander, fried cashews and powdered cocounts.

Serve hot with Onion Raita and Pappads.

Serves : 3


This can be spicy, so make sure you have your lassi or raita nearby!  It is delicious, but it does take a lot of time to chop everything.  Cook it when you have at least an hour or so. 


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