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Much like the delightful blend of sweet and tangy flavors found in Mangalore’s dialects, KL Rahul’s batting is a medley of various styles and elements.

Watch the diverse batsman unfold the different layers of his batting, for it reflects the multilingualism and multiculturalism of the tranquil seaside city in Western Karnataka

As the World Cup caravan is set to roll across the length and breath of India, a pertinent question arises: how does a place and its social milieu shape a cricketer and influence their game? Could Virat Kohli have been the same man and player were he born in Guwahati East and not in West Delhi? Or what would have happened to Kuldeep Yadav had he been from Colaba in Mumbai? We find out in this seven-part series.

Wade through the crowded, narrow alleys of the Central Market of Mangalore on a Saturday, or stroll along the sprawling Panamburu Beach on a Sunday, a melange of distinct dialects and languages could swirl through your ears. The locals of the tranquil seaside city in Western Karnataka – rather a town in the guise of a city – can seamlessly shift languages, tones and dialects.

In the swish of a second, an average Mangalorean could switch from Tulu to Kannada, or from Konkani to Beary, apart from adeptly handling Malayalam, Kodava and Hindi. One could get shouted as “Pissant” (Konkani for mad man) and get retorted sharply: “Mooji kaas daye (Third class fellow in Tulu). Of course, most speak English too.

The linguistic diversity fascinates Alwin D’Souza, a professor of English at the St Aloysius College, the most prestigious college in the education belt that spreads from Mangalore to Manipal, a 60 kilometre seaside-to-hillock stretch that captures the duality as well as diversity of the region.

From the shores to the hills, past the plains and areca-farms, mosques and churches, Jain monasteries and Hindu temples, the passage embodies the multiculturalism of the region. “Studying the language and culture of this region is fascinating. Mangalore, and for that matter, the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi are a melting pot of diverse cultures in terms of multilingualism,” he explains.

It’s the story of most port cities, lashed by several waves of invasion and migration. But they invariably integrate, as generations pass on. D’Souza details: “Though there are narratives regarding the caste and creed-related languages, today, it can be said that people of different denominations have imbued and assimilated the multifarious linguistic identities.They have gone beyond these fixed Linguistic identities.”

In a sense, the city lives like KL Rahul bats. Till 15, he stayed in Mangalore, where his mother taught at the Mangalore University, and father at the NIT in Suratkal, he did PUC in Aloysius, as D’Souza raptly chimes in. The multilingualism reflects in his batting too. He could sing-song with the bat like they speak Tulu. Those silken cover-drives have the musicality of the most-spoken tongue in the region.

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