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Thursday, 16 November 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017: Day 16: Of Bears and Kings.....and Juliet, too!

You must have seen these small quizzes that circulate on WhatsApp. They have some emoticons arranged in a sequence to mean a word that you should decipher. Each set is made of particular items – movie names, movie song’s first sentence, places, personalities, sweet dishes, and other foods.

Today, one such quiz about food items was shared in a friends group. Everyone took turns guessing at the dishes. 

Take a look at No. 2. It has a picture of a bear and a king’s crown. A friend said it was “bhalushah or something like that.” Another person on the group pointed out that it’s actually called ‘Balushahi.’ Then it struck me….this was that brown, thick, succulent sweet they serve as “Baadushah” in marriages and other functions in Bangalore!

I couldn’t help exclaiming on the group chat, “Oh God! These Tamil and Kannada people call it Baadushah!!”

The lady who had pointed out the correct name laughed.

But within the next minute, I had an epiphany (sudden revelation) and was shocked at my choice of words. I, who think of myself as being very inclusive and non-discriminating and unbiased !! The way I said ‘these Tamil and Kannada people’ as if I was different from them….and to someone else, I may have sounded like I have some superiority complex too and am looking down on Tamilians and Kannadigaas…

Of course, when I thought a little more about it, I realized the reason why my words came out like that. Being born in Goa and only later transplanted to Bangalore, I had tasted this sweet only here, and heard this word “Baadushah” only from the Kannadigaas and Tamilians here. And because I had never seen or heard of this sweet in Goa, I only knew of this version.

I decided to write a blog on this today – to say that how, without our knowledge, and without intending to, we err in ways that escape our notice. And when this happens often, and we don’t bother to correct it, it leads to unhealthy stereotyping and prejudice and can set off conflicts based on some sort of group identity…

A little while later, indeed, there was a comment from another person on the group, who’s a Bangalorean, in response to my exclamation. She said, “Yes we do. There are variations in pronunciation across the country for various names. I don’t see the problem.”

Immediately, I clarified that I had just found it funny, the way the name had got corrupted, and didn’t intend to offend anyone. To her credit, she wasn’t offended and went on to say her mother tongue is Telugu, but she’s born and bred in Bangalore!

But during this conversation, what took the cake was a comment by another pucca South Indian. She said this was the first time she came across Balushahi and went on to say that somehow, she couldn’t bear to associate her “Badshah” with a bear!! What’s in a name, after all, she opined.

She’s right – the way we respond to something is dependent on so many factors and it’s name is just one of those. Like Shakespeare’s Juliet argued, if “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” why can’t a Balushahi by any other name taste just as sweet????


  1. Thanks Anu for writing this. You have put the entire conversation beautifully

  2. Thank you, Janaki Ma'am for the suggestion and the compliment, too :-)


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