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Navigating Karnataka: a handy guide to conversing with rickshaw drivers and locals

Tips for fruitful communication with locals in Karnataka

If you're visiting Karnataka, one of the best ways to get around is by taking a rickshaw. Rickshaws are three-wheeled vehicles that are used for short trips within cities and towns, by the way they are called as “auto” colloquially. However, communicating with the rickshaw drivers can be challenging if you're not familiar with the local language. Here are some tips on how to converse with them when you reach your destination.

Basic phrases in Kannada.

Kannada is the primary language spoken in Karnataka, and while many people in urban areas speak English, it's always helpful to know a few basic phrases in Kannada. For example, you can say "Namaskara" to greet the driver. Also, in Kannada, "yes" is said either as "sari" or "haudu" and "no" is said either as "illa" or "alla", depending on the context and the words around them.

He may ask you, "nimge Kannada barutta?" – which means, “Do you speak Kannada”?

And you can tell him, “illa”, continuing in the same breath, ask him, "nimage hindi athava ingleesh swalpa barutta?" - Do you know a little Hindi/English?

You get the drift? Let’s find below some more useful phrases:

"naanu ____________ ge hogbeku" - I need to go to ____________ (insert the name of your destination)

"idu ___________ (destination) kadegey hogthaa?" - Is this the way to ___________ (insert the name of your destination)?

"nimma hesaru enu?" - What is your name?

"nimma phone number kodi" - Can you give me your phone number?

"nimma sahaaya beku" - I need your help.

"illi inda eega estu doora idey?" - How far is it from here?

"tindi (breakfast) athava oota (lunch/dinner) elli siguttey?" another variant is “tinnodikke enaadaru elli siguttey?”- Where can I buy food?

"illi hattaradalli ellaadaru hotel ideya?" - Is there a restaurant close by?

"ee angadi innoo estu hottu tegediruttey?" or “ee angadi elliya varege tegediruttey?” - How long is this shop open?

"naavu samayakke sariyaagi hogteevaa?" - Will we reach on time?

"dayavittu nidhaanavaagi hOgi" - Please drive slower.

"dayavittu bEga hOgi" - Please drive faster.

"illi nillisi" - Stop here.

It's always a good idea to practice the pronunciation of these phrases before using them to ensure that you're being understood. Remember to be polite and respectful, and the rickshaw driver will be happy to assist you on your journey.

Have your destination address handy

Make sure you have the address of your destination handy, either written down or saved on your phone. Showing the address to the driver can help avoid confusion and ensure that you reach your destination safely.

Negotiate the fare before starting the trip

It's always a good idea to negotiate the fare with the driver before starting the trip. You can ask the driver, "estu togOtira?" to ask for the final cost of the commute. It's also helpful to know the approximate distance and time it would take to reach your destination so that you can negotiate a fair price.

Have a Map or GPS Handy

Having a map or GPS handy is always helpful, especially if you're not familiar with the area. You can use it to track your route and ensure that you're heading in the right direction.

Communicating with rickshaw drivers in Karnataka can be a fun and rewarding experience, provided you follow these tips. And of course, you always have the Language Curry App to learn Kannada before you actually go there. (Fun fact: Kannada is the most popular South Indian language on our App!). This way with just a little bit of effort, you can enhance your travel experience to Karnataka.



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