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I am planning for a mid-term traveling (for around 15-20 days) in South India covering parts from AP,Kerala and Karnataka only, along with my family members. Now the problem is nobody from my family can speak any other language other than Hindi and Bengali(which is our mother-tongue). We also do not have any idea about food-culture in south India. But we want to taste the local food their as long as we would stay. So my question is:

1) Is it true that south Indians do not want to speak in Hindi due to their self-egoism about Dravidian Languages?

and

2) What is the mainstream foods i.e. what is eaten in Lunch and Dinner generally in Kerala, Karnataka and AP individually? Do they differ in these states? Is there any common dish in this region?

For clarification, by "common dish" I mean, like "ROTI" in northern India which is commmon in every state of north, I assume.

By "Mainstream Dish" I mean, what do common people eat in their houses their in day-to-day life? Like Bengalis mainstream dish is "Boiled Rice" in India. Average bengalis eat "Boiled Rice" in their day-to-day life.

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Can you please split your question into two different questions? Languages and food don't really go together in one question. (And the food one is likely to get closed anyway as too open-ended since 'South India' is a huge region, but the language question is good.) –  Ankur Banerjee Nov 30 '12 at 0:19
    
@AnkurBanerjee, I did not split it into two separate questions thinking I had ti write same prologues for two times..which is even monotonous for answerers, I guess! –  Mistu4u Nov 30 '12 at 3:34
    
This may be late but I would lean towards editing out the part about egos as it is definitely subjective..Why they will not speak a certain language shouldn't be of concern for travelling, just whether or not they will should be the question –  Dharini Chandrasekaran Feb 9 '13 at 0:45
    
@DhariniChandrasekaran, Right. Actually when I wrote the question up, I just went with the flow and wrote what I heard. Did not thonk about it so minutely. –  Mistu4u Aug 15 '13 at 13:14
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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The "North vs South" divide exists. South Indians feel North Indians are loud, boorish, and have a superiority complex, and do not attempt to learn or respect local culture, language and such. North Indians feel South Indians are unfriendly, are sambar-rasam people. Both parties have some pre-conceived notions.

In the end it depends on you, and the person(s) you are interacting with.

Hindi is not a special language, and therefore it is not required for all Indians to speak or understand Hindi. I'd try English first, then Hindi.

So, it depends...people who have to interact with travellers - this includes people who run restaurants, travel services, bus conductors - normally understand Hindi, even though they can/may not respond in Hindi.

People in Tamil Nadu do not respond to Hindi very well. In Kerala, people know either Malayalam or English... Hindi is not understood by most of the people.

I know for a fact that North Indians get treated differently because they do not speak the local language. Bus conductors have been rude without reason, and I have seen multiple arguments and altercations every day on my daily commute.

Food is awesome - it isn't just idli-vada-dosa. Try the small darshinis for staple South Indian food. Try niche restaurants for a much larger variety of dishes. Don't be afraid to try different flavours and concepts.

Source: Living in Bangalore for the past 6 years. Lived in Kolkata before (Bengali). Travelled to Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

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Thanks for informing practical situations over there. –  Mistu4u Nov 30 '12 at 18:43
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I was in Southern India earlier this year and noticed many Indians speaking English with each other. This is because they simply don't speak each others native language.

I don't think people in the south don't want to speak in Hindi, they simply can't. That's why English is so important, because most people speak better English than any second Indian language.

So assuming your English is good, you will have no problem, just don't expect people speaking Hindi.

About the food, there are tons of different dishes but I would say the most common are Thalis and Dosai, they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Wikipedia South Indian cousine page.

If you want to try local food, just order something you don't know. I did this all the time and it was delicious in 98% of the cases.

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Can you share with us the remaining 2%? –  MeNoTalk Nov 29 '12 at 19:00
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A few times I didn't like one of the sauces that came with a Thali, but I wouldn't know the names. You just ask for more of the other sauces. –  Peter Hahndorf Nov 29 '12 at 19:25
    
I was always afraid to ask for random food... I guess I will try now.. thanks. –  MeNoTalk Nov 29 '12 at 19:29
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I only order food I don't know when I am vegetarian, which I was in India. As long as I know it is vegetarian, I can eat anything. I'm more careful when meat is involved. In Southern India it is easier to find a Vegetarian restaurant than one serving any meat. –  Peter Hahndorf Nov 29 '12 at 19:32
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Regarding the language, a friend here at work just told me they do understand Hindi in south India they just do not feel comfortable talking in it. –  MeNoTalk Nov 29 '12 at 19:33
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As far as South India is considered, the no of people speaking hindi is different from one state to other. For example, one can survive with hindi in most northern parts of the two states Andhra and Karnataka. If you come down, not all people speak hindi, but if you try, you can atleast find one or two who are speaking hindi. This is true only in Andhra and Karnataka. As far as TamilNadu(TN) is concerned, If you speak hindi, they will think you are selling paani puri and Hindi is completely useless because nonone knows it. Since you are not going to TN, It is not a problem for you.

What is the mainstream foods i.e. what is eaten in Lunch and Dinner generally in Kerala, Karnataka and AP individually? Do they differ in these states? Is there any common dish in this region?

In general, all southindian lunches include thali (meals) with rice,sambar,rasam,curd and vegetable curries etc. For dinner, they usually eat Dosa, Idly, Parotta and its varieties. But there will be a difference in taste from one state to other . Also, there are dishes which are a speciality only for that particular region. South india is too diverse and there are different variations of food you can explore. But If you are particular about eating north indian food like rotis, you can find a north indian restaurant in almost all the major cities in southindia. In the towns, eventhough you cannot see a proper north indian restaurant, you can atleast get chappathis with some curry.

From my experience I try to get some specific regional food I encountered.

Andhra Pradesh - Spicy with lot of chillies in all dishes. Apart from thali, the biriyani is very famous.

Karnataka - Famous for vegeterian food and snacks. The food will be little milder in spiciness. For Authentic vegeterian food, you can go to a place Udupi near Mangalore, a place where Dosa is said to be invented. Since Historically Mangalore is a port, You can find different kinds of cuisines ranging from Vegetarian ,Goa(Konkani Food), Arab Food, Kerela Food and the local Tulu Food.

Kerela - Since Kerela is a place full of mountains and cocunuts and beaches, the food here is lot healthier with lot of cocunut in most of the dishes. You can get good Non-vegeterian food because of the christians and muslims living in Kerela. You can even get Beef and Pork. Even the water served in hotels will be having some spices added which will help in digestion.

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+1 for sharing your valuable experience! –  Mistu4u Dec 3 '12 at 6:29
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