Scholarships for the Needy: 2010 – 2011

Arun Shanbhag Needy students awarded Scholarships  at Shanbhag High School Kumta

That gift which is given to a worthy person, in the right circumstance, from whom we expect nothing in return, is held to be most pure.
~ Bhagavad Gita, 17:20

Here is the list of students awarded the 2010 Shanbhag Scholarships in Kumta, India. I thank the many donors who made valuable contributions, so needy students could gain a good education. Continue reading “Scholarships for the Needy: 2010 – 2011”

Video: Approaching Kumta on the Konkan Railway


Move your mouse out of the video frame to lose the black border.
Music: Mere Desh Ka Salaam, Shobha Gurtu.


Those who have ridden the Konkan Railway can attest, the rural countryside with emerald green fields is mesmerizing. I think of an early retirement in a village, a small house and running a school.

To share the genesis of this madness, I recorded the view. Here is a 67 second snippet, as the train crossed the Aghanashini River and approached the Kumta Train station. I recorded this from the doorway with my flip video, amidst the rain and rumbling of the train. Enjoy and tell me what you think.
Continue reading “Video: Approaching Kumta on the Konkan Railway”

Scholarships for the Needy: 2009 – 2010

kumta needy students

That gift which is given, knowing it to be a duty, in a fit time and place, to a worthy person, from whom we expect nothing in return, is held to be most pure.
~ Bhagavad Gita, 17:20

Several years ago we started these scholarships to support needy girls at the Shanbhag School in Kumta. This year, more friends and family joined in helping us support 48 students (29 girls and 19 boys). We extended beyond our original charter and 40 of 48 students are from other schools in Kumta. With your support we will keep growing and eventually cover ALL needy students in Kumta!
Continue reading “Scholarships for the Needy: 2009 – 2010”

Charlie Chaplin in Rural India

Movie directors will go to any ‘height’ to seek publicity. One Hemnath Hegde wants to install a 62-foot statue of Charlie Chaplin as the backdrop for two Kannada movie song sequences. He wants to offer that as a permanent contribution to rural Karnataka and hopefully get into the Guiness Book of World Records.

When locals complain they don’t want this 62-ft statue of someone who they don’t even know in their town, the director stokes fires of Hindu-Christian antagonism. Get real, Mr Movie Director!

Has the director considered disposable materials to make his statue and dismantling it just like he’d any studio set? And really, just because he wants to get in the Guiness Book of World Records, doesn’t mean he can run roughshod over local community sentiments.

Would you want your rural landscape marred by a 62-ft Charlie Chaplin ogling down at you every morning? (Please take poll below.) This is approximately the height of a 5-storey building in an area where the average houses are single storeys. Ooops, he wants to place this statue on a popular beach, near the entrance to a temple! This is about common sense and nothing to do with religion.

The equivalent would be if a movie director wanted to place a 62-ft statue of Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan on Myrtle Beach in South Carolina! Not going to happen!

Mr Movie director, please take your statue somewhere else, and really, we are NOT going to watch your movie either! 🙂



Changing topics.
Wish more Indians will focus on important issues facing our children. A recent article in the NYTimes, reports that child malnutrition rates in India are worse than in some sub-saharan African countries.

“In China, … just 7 percent of its children under 5 are underweight, a critical gauge of malnutrition. In India, by contrast, despite robust growth and good government intentions, the comparable number is 42.5 percent. Malnutrition makes children more prone to illness and stunts physical and intellectual growth for a lifetime.”

Sadly, the elite Indian media and bloggers are silent on this travesty and wasting ink on the statue!

Scholarships for the Needy 2008-2009

Shanbhag High School Lunch Kumta

Hope you all had a wonderful “Makar Sankranti.” Now the Sun rises earlier each day and sets later, bringing light and warmth to all aspects of our lives. This year, I celebrated Sankranti in Mumbai with close family and overate “til-gul” and “til ladoo.” Too lazy to ask why this focus on sesame, I simply devour bags of those diminutive sesame balls held together with dark jaggery.

As we gorge ourselves, let’s turn our minds to the less fortunate amongst us and see how we can bring joy to their lives too.

This started as a desire to support needy girls at the Shanbhag School in Kumta, endowed in the name of my grandfather. Each year more friends and relatives joined in, and this year, Shanbhag Scholarships were awarded to 35 students (23 girls and 12 boys). We also extended scholarships to several other schools in Kumta. We hope to continue this trend within Kumta and one day I dream of supporting ALL needy girls in Kumta!

Years back, my graduate advisor retorted at another of my audacious ideas, “there’s nothing wrong with building castles in the air, as long as you build something below to hold it up there.” With all your goodwill, we will build it! Help me make this a very long list!

Scholarships were granted purely on the basis of need and included full tuition and a daily lunch at the school.

Read more about our Scholarships:



Appended are the names of students who received scholarships. The Saraswati Vidya Kendra and the Shanbhag High School are managed by the Konkan Education Trust, Kumta, India. Continue reading “Scholarships for the Needy 2008-2009”

Scholarships for the Needy

I have previously written about the Shanbhag School, an academic beacon in Kumta and surrounding villages.

The Shanbhag High School, managed by the Konkan Education Trust does not receive any governmental aid. But it follows the state determined academic syllabus and guidelines. While we attract many students who can afford fees, our family wanted to make good education particularly accessible to the poor. Thus last year we gave 16 scholarships to very needy students to attend either the Shanbhag High School, or the affiliated primary school, Saraswati Vidya Kendra. At a new site dedicated to our Scholarship activities, (Shikshan.org), you can browse the list of Scholarship Recipients for 2007-2008.

You can also read about my personal challenges in identifying needy girls: Where are all the needy girls?

We did not rest, last December (2007) during my travels to Kumta I visited most of the scholarship recipients in their homes. The visit served two purposes: (a) to meet the families and convince them of our commitment to support their child’s education ~ and in turn expect them to make education a priority; and (b) to ensure that these were indeed needy families, which I could determine from their living conditions.

They lived in simple 1 or 2 room homes, or with relatives, and it was emotionally overwhelming to experience the gratitude of these families. Below, I share with you some of the scholarship recipients in their home settings. Appropriately I have omitted their names.


We supported the boy in the center, flanked by his father and cousin sister. Being poor, the girl was enrolled in the local government run Kannada language school. She wanted to attend our English school, but being in 8th std (grade) it would have been academically disastrous for her to switch the language of instruction a year before the State Board Exams. This was an important reason why we started giving scholarships to students in primary school!

Continue reading “Scholarships for the Needy”

Fresh-ground Raagi Flour

Fresh ground Raagi Flour pics by Arun Shanbhag
Raagi Bhakri is a favorite in our home. It’s easy to prepare and very filling. During this past visit to Kumta I replenished our stock of Raagi flour.

A few blocks from our place in Kumta is a little “girNi” (or mill) which grinds various types of flour. It is run by a distant relative ours; apparently everyone in Kumta is related to each other! And fortuitously for me, he was milling raagi flour that day. So here’s a little tour of the making of Raagi Flour.

Above – Shanbhag maam (in Kumta I call all elders by this honorific ~ we are all related, you see) poses with a bag of Raagi flour.
Continue reading “Fresh-ground Raagi Flour”

Uma: Quencher of Thirst

It was a blazing hot summer afternoon in Hampi. As I walked out of the magnificent Vithala Temple, my throat was parched. Even my sweat had dried in this arid North Karnataka summer. The sight of this woman under a bright red umbrella, tending a cooler with drinks was an oasis of bliss to a weary traveler. I ambled over and quickly gulped two bottles of my favorite: Limca! Aaaah! I bought a few more bottles for M and the driver.

She charged me 12 rupees for each. I gave her the money. But ever eager to practice my kannada and engage in conversation, I asked here only jokingly, why it was 12 rupees here, while it was only 10 rupees in the city. She must have been surprised by my heavily accented and rudimentary kannada, and realizing I was joking, she started giggling. I could not keep a straight face and started to laugh too.

I made small talk, asked her name and generally how many drinks she sold in a day. Her name was Uma and she sold about a crate (of 12) each day. I estimated she made 4 rupees profit on each bottle, netting her about 50 rupees a day (slightly more than a dollar)! And for that she had to stand in this heat all day! And some one had to drop her here and pick her up in the evening. And she has not yet eaten! Life is tough! But she had a certain calm about her and I think this pic radiates her inner peace. And her confidence!

As I prepared to leave, I asked her again why it was 12 rupees for each drink: yaakae hutnerdu rupaiya?
Now she really burst out laughing, and I laughed with her. After a few moments she composed herself, then lifted the lid of the cooler, pointed inside and with a twinkle in her eyes mouthed a single word: Ice!

On this blistering hot day, she knew the magic word. For that thirst-quenching ice cold drink, I would gladly have paid twice as much!



I was gifted this small, yet well done bronze of Uma by my cousin brother Ramnath. He has a good eye for art work.

This is Uma (Parvati) as Shivakami – the beloved of Shiva, in a classic tribhanga pose. This is purported to be a late 18th century reproduction of the 11th century piece from the Kulottunga I era. I have had this for several years and I never tire of admiring it. It is small and fits nicely in the palm of my hand. I am drawn to her graceful pose. I am drawn to her exceptional beauty. I am drawn to the inner calm she radiates! And I am drawn to the confidence she exudes!

The craftsmanship is exquisite for so tiny a piece and we have no idea where this statuette resided for the last several centuries. The sharp features suggest she was not used for any puja. Prolly stayed in a noble household.

It is said that the easiest way to reach Shiva is to appease Parvati (or Uma) and have her champion you to Shiva! Perhaps it is that restlessnes in my heart that draws me to her. I certainly thirst for her grace! And every time my eyes fall on Uma, I know my thirst will soon be quenched.

Meeting Aayi of Aayis Recipes

Looking for new recipes, you have likely browsed Aayi’s Recipes the uber popular food blog hosted by Shilpa. This is M’s favorite “go-to” site anytime she needs inspiration for her cooking.

During my travels to India, I look forward to visiting our ancestral town of Kumta – Jewel of the Konkan in coastal Karnataka. And when I read that Shilpa’s Aayi (mother) actually lives in Kodkani, a village near Kumta, I had to make the pilgrimage and take darshan of this Devi – the inspiration behind Aayi’s Recipe. I contacted Shilpa and asked to visit her parents. She readily agreed and gave me their contact details.

And on a beautiful Saturday, I hitched a ride on a school bus dropping kids off to kodkani. Now, that in itself needs a separate post.

As the bus pulled up at the designated place, Shilpa’s father was waiting and brought me to their beautiful home! Wow! A traditional style bungalow, which immediately transported me back to the home of my grandparents in Bhatkal. Terracotta tiled roof; an open ‘jagli’ and a tulsi vrindavan in the front yard. The magnificently blossoming tulsi gave me great vibes of the place (see pic later).

And what a joy it was to finally meet Shilpa’s Aayi! Yes, Aayi of “Aayi’s Recipes.” Hundreds of thousands have salivated at her dishes, as shared by Shilpa. Legions have been inspired to try her creations for their loved ones. And so many look forward each day to new posts to titillate the palate. And I was invited to a beautiful konkani lunch made by her! 😀

Look at the spread. I hurriedly captured it before wolfing everything down. By the time I was through, not a morsel was left. What is more beautiful than all those recipes Shilpa posts on AayisRecipes? Eating dishes lovingly made by her Aayi! … and I got to eat it! nyean, nyean, nyean, nyean!

Continue reading “Meeting Aayi of Aayis Recipes”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑