Kumta Street Vegetables

In the Kumta market, these women set up shop early in the morning before the crowds got there. Those vegetables look so delicious! It was March, so the variations of brinjals/eggplants were in season. You will also find konkani classics padwal, ghosalae, muLi (radish), tambdi bhaji (red leaves), vaaLi (green creeper leaves), muggae, karate, maskaa sang, jaam and others. If you notice others, let me know.
photos of fresh vegetable vendors on Kumta Street by Arun Shanbhag Continue reading “Kumta Street Vegetables”

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”

Academic Update from Shanbhag School 2009

Just received results from the recent Karnataka State Board Exams (Std X) for students at the Shanbhag School in Kumta, Karnataka. What a spectacular performance by the students! Congratulations! Our gratitude also to the teachers who do a fabulous job, every day!

Summary of Results:
74 students appeared for the X Std, Karnataka State Board Exams, 2009:

  • Highest score of 96.5%
  • 20/74 students scored greater than 90%
  • 70/74 scored greater than 60%
  • 4/74 scored between 50 and 60%
  • No student in the entire class failed the X Std Board exams

Of the two Shanbhag Scholarship recipients in the graduating class, one received 90.4% and the other 69.9%. Excellent performers and we are elated to have contributed to their studies. I hope they will be equally successful in college and in life.

I don’t expect our needy scholarship recipients to be at the top of the class, but we have given them an opportunity to study alongside the best students, at the best school. And they held their own. The network effects of this alone are worthwhile. This is akin to bringing deserving students to study at Harvard. You wouldn’t expect them at the top of the class, but just being here, they gain tremendously. Exactly that!

I am still collecting funds to support scholarships for needy students at the school. If you would like to make a small contribution, please let me know.

Shanbhag School Related Posts:

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”

Lunch at the Shanbhag School


In 2007, the Shanbhag School in Kumta (and their parent, the Konkan Education Trust), started to provide lunch for all their students. In the midst of a long day, the students had previously rushed home during their lunch hour. There are no cafeterias or restaurants near the school.

The school made a significant investment in cooking equipment and prepares a nutritious, vegetarian meal for the ~ 850 primary and secondary school students. Lunch is simply rice, sambar or daal, a lentil curry or vegetable and pickles (see actual student plate above).

During my meetings with parents of Scholarship recipients, and listening to comments at the Parents Teachers Meeting, parents absolutely love the school lunch program. Parents are relieved of the pressure to pack a lunch every morning, or have it ready for the lunch break. Parents are also surprised (and glad) their kids actually eat the variety of vegetables and lentils the school serves. The school subsidizes the lunch and charges students Rs 80 per month (~$2 per month, Rs 4 per meal or ~ 10 cents per lunch!). Students not on the meal plan can eat occasional meals and drop cash in an unmanned donation box.

Kids love the food too. Meals are taken in the company of friends (and associated peer-pressure to finish their plate). Lunch is done within 20-30 minutes, and since they still have an hour break, they get to play around, gossip, or browse the library.

I showed up just before lunch time to “test the quality of the school lunch program.” I always have interesting reasons to be present wherever free lunch is served. Very delicious food and a primary reason why we included lunch as part of the scholarship package for needy students. If your travels bring you to Kumta, you are welcome to join in for a delicious lunch.

Note: In this post from 2014, you can see new pics and video snippets of students in the primary Saraswati Vidya Kendra, lining up for lunch and chanting the blessing.

See pics from the Lunch, below
Continue reading “Lunch at the Shanbhag School”

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”

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