C. P. Belliappa's Column

Kutta men and their BMWs

“Kuttakke Hodavanu Ketta!?
By: C.P. Belliappa

It used to be a common refrain during the 1940s and 50s to tease those who lived in Kutta with the gibe – “Kuttakke hodavanu ketta!”

Kutta was a Kodava stronghold and people in this remote area owned large tracts of land. But the issue was that most of the land remained uncultivated, and were virtual forests.

While other towns in south Coorg started expanding with more facilities, Kutta town remained underdeveloped. I remember, it was only a little over a decade ago that Kutta got its first petrol-bunk. Planters from Kutta used to drive up to Gonicoppal or Ponnampet to not only buy their fuel requirements but also for almost every other commodity essential for running their homes and establishments.

Young men from Kutta faced another serious problem. Even though they owned large properties not many young women wanted to marry eligible bachelors from this area which was looked upon as terra incognita till about 1960s. There have been instances where some of the Kutta planters having sold their property to buy smaller estates in and around Ponnampet, just to improve their chances of finding brides for their sons!

However, with coffee prices improving, uncultivated land in Kutta was gradually brought into production. Many youngsters who had good jobs gave them up to develop their land in Kutta. Over the years, planters from this area have become prosperous. During the coffee boom of mid 1990s it was the Robusta coffee growers from Kutta who reaped the maximum benefit. In the virgin soils of Kutta, yields are amongst the highest.

It’s in Kutta that one can, these days, find the fanciest houses; and people driving the best cars. Nowadays, most of the high-ended cars and SUVs are owned by planters from Kutta. The other day a friend of mine from Siddapur wanted to buy a BMW and went to their show room along with his friend from Kutta. An eager salesman received them and asked which part of Coorg they came from. To utter consternation of my friend from Siddapur, the salesman immediately switched his focus and was bending-over-backwards in giving his friend from Kutta all the attention. The salesman was highly differential to my friend’s friend from Kutta; and was lukewarm to the queries from my pal from Siddapur, who was the one interested in buying a BMW. My Siddapur friend was a little peeved and asked the salesman the reason for his partiality. The salesman was quite forthright. “It’s only planters from Kutta who are serious about BMWs. Others normally waste our time!”

Well, Kutta is now one of the best regions of Coorg. Bachelors from Kutta with a Robusta kappi thotta are in great demand. The latest saying is – Kutta bittavanu ketta!