Tucked into Bengaluru's Pandit Deendiyal Upadhyay Road in Chamrajpet is a cosy little joint appropriately named 'Kannadada Thindi Kendra' (Kannada’s Tiffin Centre in English), considering the owner's love for Kannada Literature.
The joint serves large helpings of food and anything on the peculiar menu with dishes named after prominent Kannada writers and artistes like DVG Tatte Idli, Masti Venkatesh Iyengar Puliogare, Shivarama Karanth Sambar and Rajkumar Masala Dosa. And all dishes cost only Rs 30.
KV Ramachandra, the owner of the joint says that his love for Kannada literature is the reason and the inspiration for naming his dishes just so.
"My mother is from Tamil Nadu and my father from Bengaluru. I was born and brought up in this city. I believe that one must know the language of the land they are living in because it is where one gets their basic amenities from. So, if I am in Andhra Pradesh or Telangana, I will at least make an attempt to learn Telugu. By promoting Kannada literature and telling my customers about it, I want them to try to learn the language as well," Ramachandra said.
KV Ramachandra also distributes 1,000 Kannada books to people for free every year on the occasion of Kannada Rajyotsava, the state’s formation day. He also gives away books and posters of prominent Kannada personalities to school children.
"That is not all. If anyone comes up to me and asks for any Kannada book, I give it away for free if I have a copy of it," he adds.
Much to one's surprise, this eatery developed into the icon it is with the humble beginnings of a condiment store in 1982.
"When I started off, it was not with the restaurant but a condiment store. I was just 16-years-old and my father had passed away. Someone had to bring food to the table, so my elder brother and I started off selling condiments and snacks. Later, we came up with the idea of making capsicum bondas, which was one of a kind. Now it has become a popular snack among Bengalurueans. Back then, we sold it for 75 paisa per bonda, now its price is Rs 30 per bonda," a nostalgic Ramachandra recalls.
It has been only about 15 years ago that the bonda shop evolved into the Kannadada Thindi Kendra and by then, his love for Kannada literature had grown immensely.
"When I started the eatery, I did not want it to be an establishment only looking to earn huge profits. I remember the times when I had to struggle for every meal. I wanted it to be a place everyone remembers and I wanted to integrate my love for Kannada language in it. That was when I came up with the theme and hence the eatery has so many pictures of Kannada writers, actors and artists. I have over 1,500 Kannada books but the joint is too small to house them. So, I have arranged as many as I can here," he said.
The joint is run by Ramachandra and his cook Anand and his assistant. Anand, who mans the counter, has been working with Ramachandra, as he fondly recalls, "over 15 years now."
"I was just 17 when I came here to work. My uncle was here before me and when he quit, I took up the job. My family is into farming in Malavargerehalli in Tumakuru district. I have become very fond of this place. It is like home to me now," a cheerful Anand said.
It is not just Anand, but the eatery's customers also have a smile on their face after a delicious meal.
Holding a paper and banana leaf 'plate' in his hand, Nagaraj, an auto driver and a regular customer says that he has to have at least one meal at the eatery.
"The quantity of the food is great. We get to fill our bellies for just Rs 30 and it also makes me happy that someone is trying to promote the language of the land," he adds.
Sachin GN, an accountant from Banaswadi said that his cousin had referred the place to him. "This is the first time I have come here. I was in Chamrajpet, it was about time I had lunch, so I dropped by. This place is one of a kind and the food is delicious," Sachin said.
Ramachandra, who has created one of Bengaluru's iconic eateries is also not devoid of worries. "The business these days is has gone down by half since the time I opened the joint. These days there are too many restaurants in the city but I still want this place to remain exactly the way it is. I will leave the running of this place to my staff once I'm gone," Ramachandra adds on a sad note.