I have not written on any topic for a long, long time. As a youngster and as an young man growing up, I was a freelance writer, contributing articles to almost all news papers in India. But that was in English only. Therefore, to attempt to write about being a Kannadiga even in English was a daunting task for me. Yet I thought I should give it try and here is the result.
Well, I was born in a Kannada family. From the ripe old age 4 or 5, I began to sing Kannada devotional songs, whenever opportunity presented itself. When I moved to New Delhi at the age of 23 or 24, I became an active member of local Madhwa Sangha, that was instrumental in the establishment of a Sri Krishna and Sri Raghavendra temple there. There again, religiously every Thursday and Saturday and on all important religious occasions I took pleasure and pride in singing Kannada devotional songs.
Then came my marriage to my beautiful and dutiful wife, Gita and then a son, strictly in that order. We moved to New York in early 1971. Those days, forget about Kannadigas, even Indians as a whole were far and few in between. It was with great trepidation that we came to New York. But much to my relief, I had a Kannada friend at work, by name K.M.Shetty. Through him I came to know Bheema Rao, who was living in the same apartment building as K.M.Shetty. A little later, we were joined by another Kannada friend, D’Souza. This was the small circle of friends we had at that time Then in late 1973 or early 1974, we came to know Seshadri and his wife Sri Devi. It is from them that we came to know about the existence of Kannada Koota, Immediately I became a member, but only on annual basis. In 1976, Seshadri and his wife, who at that time were our neighbors in Flushing, came over to our place for a short visit. By then, they had come to know my liking for sweets. So cleverly, they had brought some Mysore Pak for me. After eating the sweets, we quickly slipped into topic about Kannada Koota. Seshadri persuaded me to become a life member of the Koota.
Thus began my long and continuing association with Kannada Koota, New York. During the past 40 years very many distinguished persons have served the Koota in various capacities. We all owe them a huge debt of gratitude for making Koota what it is today. I distinctly remember that on the Gowri and Ganesha habba, I used to sing devotional songs andmy son Anil was an active volunteer in all Koota activities. After his move to New Jersey, he lost touch with New York Kannada Koota
As could be seen from the above synopsis, I was born a Kannadiga, raised as a Kannadiga and continue to lead life as a Kannidiga. I have always been proud to be a Kannadiga and to this day do not hesitate to wear a Kannadiga badge as a badge of honor.
Written by Gururaja G. Rao