Kuwait Kannada Koota(KKK) was the best thing that happened to me and my family during our stay in Kuwait from 1982 to 2002. Till 1984 eventhough some Kannadigas were meeting in the house of Dr Taraknath for some occasions,foundation meeting for creating KKK was held in 1984 in the house of Mr Y.S.Gopinath Rao,my colleague in Kuwait Airways.Assembled “wanted to be members” had to list their talents in music,singing,playing instruments,dramatics etc etc.As the time passed,we came to know that many members who were silent during that meeting had many hidden talents which came to light during later years of KKK. Dr Tharaknath was the first president of KKK and the rest followed.During the year families gathered to have picnics,competitions,cricket matches,to celebrate Dasa Jayanthi,Christmas/New year and the most important being “Karnataka Rajyotsava Day” in the month of November also known as the “KKK Annual Function”. Even now these functions must be continuing with some more additions.But I want to highlight mainly my involvement and experience with KKK. From 1984 to 2002 myself and my wife Bharat Jyoti Rai were fully involved with KKK while my son Neeraj and daughter Nikita could take part till 1988 only.My wife inspite of not knowing Kannada(Mumbai born) had directed many children/ladies programmes,play harmonium/keyboard and was heading the cultural committee quite a few times.She did see that all the KKK children were put on the stage in atleast one item of the annual function.So much so,by the time she left Kuwait in 2002 she could talk kannada(not fluent) as well as she could read with slow speed.Having settled down in Mangalore she is feeling very comfortable with Kannada and she gives the whole credit to KKK and it’s programmes. While being associated with KKK, I was feeling back at home and was not missing any of the festivals or cultural items of Karnataka.After heading some committees since 1984,I became the VP of KKK in 1988 and president in 1989.KKK went on improving in stature from 1984 with the leaderships of Mr Tharaknath,Mr Gopinath,Mr Kanapur, Mr K.J.Bhandary,myself and Mr Krishnaprasad to follow in 1990.But wihin two months of his leadership,Kuwait was struck by invasion.Most of the people returned after liberation and KKK restarted with temporary leadership of Mr S.G.Baliga/Dr Aravind Rao till a regular AGM was conducted and new office bearers selected.KKK growth started again. During my tenure as president,I should mention atleast a few who had worked very hard with me to make it a golden era of KKK.Credit goes to Secretary S.G.Baliga,VP Krishna Prasad,Treasurer Umesh Shetty and stalwarts like K.J.Bhandary,Gopinath Rao,Sudhakar Shetty,Dr Aravinda Rao,Ganesh Prabhu,KNS Murthy,Purushotham Nayak,Vasuki,Prasnna,Suresh/Nanda couple,Ashoka/Vasantha couple,Mrs Tara Prasad and many many more,specially the lady Directors.Two prominent members worth mentioning here are Mr Gurudutt Mavinakurve as a tabla player and Mr K.J.Suvarna for providing free Mic systems and recording facilities for most of the KKK programmes.Planning and preparations were so intense that all the programmes used to proceed like “well oiled machines” and finish on the dot.Ask Mr Eknath Vernekar to vouch for that as he was our pillar for the artworks,settings on the stage and to bring out a beautiful Souvenir. The year used to start with Dasara Jyanthi function followed by Ugadi festival,picnics,Cricket match,various competitions,Deepavali/Christmas celebrations.But the most awaited item of the year was the annual function of KKK celebrated as “Karnataka Rajyotsava Day” which takes place in the month of November.The prepations start three months before.Directors of different items prepare for their requirements when they visit India during school holidays.September/October are the practice months of KKK.The children of KKK staying in different locations of Kuwait have to assemble during Thursdays/Fridays and other holidays at different practice locations like Safat,Salmiya,Ahamadi,Fintas,Fahaheel,Hawally almost at the same time at residents of KKK members.To enable this,a detailed intrigutive planning chart was drawn up one week before for the next week’s practice,detailing name of KKK members who will in their cars pick up which all children,the route/order of picking-up with time to reach practice place in time.Similarly for dropping back the child home after practice is over.At least six to seven routes used to be active at the same time and a coordinator used to keep a tab on all the routes.Always a sstand-by team was there in-waiting for pick-up or drop back.All the members were happy to do this service.Always eager and willing.A tremendous network since children involved were in hundreds.Children have a festive two months period during practice.Every pratice place member used to feed the children with eatables and soft drinks on their own.Whole KKK used to rejoice this period. One week before final act,all KKK families busy,busy,busy.Members gather at the venue to prepare stage settings and even prepare last minute props and paint curtains at the location.(courtesy Mr Vernekar).Stage rehearsals of all items are arranged few days before in front of a “comments committee” and the pointed out flaws with a good spirit accepted by all the Directors and corrected accordingly before the final show.Even the timings are measured and edited .It is a complete team work.When the function finally takes place,it is perfect in every thing and ends on dot. KKK functions were considered to be the best amongst all the Associations of Kuwait ,a fact even endorsed by the Indian Embassy. In the year 1999,Mr U.B.Acharya,president of KKK at that time requestd me to put up a Yakshagana item of one hour for the annual function since I had learnt this during my student days..As this was happening for the first time in Kuwait,I had to start from the scratch,starting from training KKK members and getting required costumes from India. To get ready for November,I had to start from Febraury itself.I selected few KKK members showing interest and started teaching Yakshagana steps from basics.On the first day Dr Aravinda Rao,Satish Chandra Shetty,Vittala Bhandary,Diwakar Shetty,Purushotham Nayak,Ganesh Prabhu,Lawrence Saldhana,Master Sagar Wani(Master at that time),Chandrahasa Shetty,Harsha Rao and N.D.Vasuki assembled for the practice at Prabhu’s residence.After two days of training itself,the last two in the list disappeared thinking of the future drilling they have to face.As the practice continued,all the members became so enthusiastic that during summer holidays,they sent their families to India and they stayed back for practice.Some KKK members from Mangalore while returning after holidays helped to bring costumes prepared in Mangalore.Finally when the act ‘Hiranyaksha-Hiranyakashyapu Vadhe’ was put up on the stage,it was such a hit with the audience nothing less than a professional one.Our Bhagawatas Suresh Salian,myself,Mridanga player Eknath Vernekar,Harmonium player Jayakar Shetty,Chende player Raghavendra Rao and stage manager Sudhakar Shetty were magnificent in ‘Himmela’.A history was created in KKK. I want to impress that KKK has provided an outlet for every member and hisfamily to bring out their hidden talents. .I with my wife was invited by KKK in 2009 to attend it’s Silver Jubilee Function.I was very happy to see many old faces of my time who were still young when I left in 2002. After witnessing the great SJ function under the able leadership of Satish Chandra shetty and his team,I am proud to say that KKK has grown in stature in a bigway since 1984 and all the past KKK presidents with their teams and all the members have equal share in that. KKK has grown as a family and should continue to do so in the coming years.Wishing KKK a very bright future. May God bless this great organisation. Jai Hind/Jai Karnataka. M.N.RAI/BHARAT JYOTI RAI
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