JAYANT KAIKINI: The wrath of the sambaar-lover

The “laidback attitude” of the Kannadiga is a familiar if patronising lament of all those who have come here from elsewhere, more so of those of our own who have seen a bit of the world. In Beantown Boomtown, the just-released anthology on Bangalore, the writer Jayant Kaikini, who  came from Bombay in 2000, does just that in a chapter aptly titled Extra Sambaar:

“The city’s ‘complacency’ and the ‘poverty of dreams’ was in particular disconcerting. Ask the Bangalorean, “I believe some spaceship  carrying aliens has landed outside town. Shall we go and watch?” or “A new dosa camp has come up in 5th Cross, let’s go and try it out!” and his option is crystal clear. “Does he serve extra sambaar? Extra chutney?” he’ll exclaim and rush towards the eating joint.

“Even if he is served a litre of sambaar with the first round, he’ll finish it with a single idli and then elbowing his way through the crowd of customers like Superman, he’ll dash to the counter for a second helping of the saucy broth. Such is the application of this sambaar-lover!”

Whether the circumspection over rumours of a spaceship landing in town isn’t logical in the original science city which is now the technology capital, is not a question that Kaikini has time for, but he quickly delves into and demolishes that other great Bangalore discovery: the darshini.

“If you rest on the granite benches of the elegantly-designed colourful bus-stops beside the road, you can watch the darshinis (veggie fast food joints) that are about to gobble up the pavements in front of them, for hours on end.

“All things in those eating places appear like miniature paintings. Round mini tables bearing mini coffee lotas and a mini washbasin—all looking like children’s toys. The families crowded there too are in a bit of jumble, just the way children are when they play family games.

“At these darshinis, you can see how a well-knit family could slip into disintegration. While the women wait in frightful joy, men bring from Kanakana-kindi like counters, plates heaped with snacks, carrying a la Lord Hanuman, the Sanjeevani mountain itself.

“No sooner do the plates arrive than the family splits itself. Its members scatter in different directions—each one goes and stands at a separate point attending her dish. Had they got a single table, they would have perhaps at least physically stood together.

“At one corner stands the head of the family, the male creature, lost in the heroic excitement of eating after severing links with this world and gazing into the space outside, somewhere beyond the buses plying on the road.

“As the daughter-in-law begins to explain what paneer is, the mother-in-law feels slighted and mutters, “I know, I know…” and turns suddenly to gaze at another disintegrated family nearby, all the while chewing her snack.

“And so, a dozen families, like pieces of a jigsaw, nod their heads and raise their brows in appreciation of the dishes and say, even before they’ve tasted it, “Hmm, good preparation. Nice, very nice!”

(Beantown Boomtown, compiled by Jayanth Kodkani and R Edwin Sudhir, published by Rupa, 2007)



  1. Gokulam 3rd Stage said

    In my family, sambar, rasam and pongal are huLi, saaru and huggi respectively. This seems to be the standard terminology in most Kannadiga houses iin Mysore and Bangalore. I wonder when the Tamil names started displacing our names, especially in restaurants and darshinis. Probably the same time Ramanagara became Ramanagaram!

  2. Doddi Buddi said

    Correct aagi helidhri, G3S

    Swalpa intha vicharadalli navugalu agaga yetthi thorisbeku—saaru, huli, huggi andhrey yenu antha! Innu kelavaru habbakkey, ‘Pongal’ antharey! Awarigey ‘Sankranthi’ adhu annodhu gotthirolla!

    Heegey bittrey, Kaveri anna Mysore alley janaglu ‘Ponni’ antha kariyoke shuru madbidtharey!!

  3. Berlindia said

    I appreciate ‘kannaDa prIti’ of Gokulam.
    He has used baraha transliteration style to express Kannada words correctly.
    But Doddi Buddi indicates his/hers liking of Kannada, but not in writing, mixing English and Kannada. His/hers Kananda words are written peculiarly, neither in Baraha nor in Nudi style.
    I wonder why writing Kannada with Latin Letters has not yet been standerdised till now in Karnataka!!!!
    “Heegey bittrey, Kaveri anna Mysore alley janaglu ‘Ponni’ antha kariyoke shuru madbidtharey!!” When these words are transliterated into Kannada, the result will be junk-Kannada.
    Berlindia, Berlin 20.01.08

  4. […] Also read: The wrath of the sambaar-lover […]

  5. giri said

    nimma jayanth kaikini nimma hadu keludre nomge adunna baribekadre menasina pudi haki baribeku annuslilva

  6. shridihar d. raichur said

    dear jayant sir,
    you are a bank of meeningfull and power full words. that’s tuching all kannadiga’s heart.

  7. A.Bushan said

    Dear Author,
    Love your blog..for the exquisite choice of words that sure make the mouth water! ( :

  8. […] kosambari […]

  9. aga Bengaluru ega Chennai said

    swami Kaikiniavare,
    Footpathu,Darshini,Famili not together, may be valid points but you go to any other place you willnot find decent food \ambience\cleanliness at no place.
    If you see some of the joints which sell food you would prefer to go hungry.
    Or if you find any reasonable looking place to eat you will get idli\dosa the size of old 5 rupee coin size with two varieties of chutneys and chutney podi and sambar and kolambu. You will wonder which makes the main dish and how to fill your stomach. So you place an order for Dosa and it will be of the SUKA ROTI size and again all the paraphrenalia. So eat everything excluding the cuttlery and the plantain leaf. Next cofee: I dont want to elaborate. You get the bill and it looks like you ate at a 5 star hotel.

  10. Ganesh said

    I want Jayanth Kaikini’s postal address

  11. Suraj said

    I like it……

  12. Dr Nagraj Huilgol said

    I liked what Jayant Kodaikini has written.Well I am not patronising or anysuch thing.I am so happy to have fled Bangalore in 44 days to live and work in anonymity of Mumbai which is also efficient.It is another thing that some times I feel I am living in a hell hole.But Bangalore full of castism is a big no for me.Dr Nagraj Huilgol

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