All what the somaaris need are such kattes to sit. Somehow, there will be a katte located usually in the vicinity of their houses. It has been a popular practice, almost a sacred tradition in our city, to spend time that way, usually after the day's college/work. A small group of people of differing wavelengths (otherwise it will be dull!) somehow get together and a somaari katte is thus formed. Its formation or growth almost go unnoticed, but its activity can never.
The simple qualification is that all have to be somaaris. Sometimes attending the katte sessions gets priority over other works on hand, even studies, for the younger lot; domestic work, for the elderly lot! There can be danger of shortage of attendance too at kattes! Somehow, time is squeezed in for this. Such is its force of attraction.
Many somaari kattes are in vogue for many decades! Age or status is no bar (gender is!). Somaari kattes function usually from dusk and extend as late as 10 or 11pm (Sundays, there can be morning sessions) depending the hotness of the topics. Topics are not set. They keep diverting as they branch about. All subjects under the sun come up. Members voice their views in their own style, freely. At times, leading to healthy arguments and also unhealthy ones, leading to quarrels. The next session, they are friends again, even if the controversy resurfaces.
New ideas crop up in free discussions at the katte, unlike probably at formal meetings. One remarkable discussion was the cause of the formation of The Mysore Gymkhana in 1936. It happened in one such session on the stone steps in front of the then University Union building opposite the Maharaja's College ground where a group of youngsters were chatting in the evening. Sri M.Ananthaswami Rau, now 91, is a living witness. There must surely have been many such remarkable starting points at many other kattes too.
There was one somaari katte in the 60s on
Older group of men choose bus shelters, closed-shop steps, stone benches under trees, even on the road's kerb stones (now heavy traffic disallows this). Often, sentimental attachments grow towards the katte. Younger members that have moved away for greener pastures and visiting after a long while crave to see the spot where a lot of their happy evening hours were spent, while his knowledge and friendships expanded.
Time spent at the somaari katte could be rejuvenating, inspiring, entertaining and enriching experiences, each evening having its own charm. A katte culture is unthinkable outside India where many from the city have traveled looking for better opportunities. Loneliness is a common ailment for them as they don't get to experience this katte culture and this is one thing they miss badly.