August 23rd, 2011


A sense of humour.... my questions

On my Facebook page, I posted a joke that was sent to me by a friend, and beast_666 talked about one of the first jokes he'd enjoyed...and that set me musing about that sense that seems fairly rare in the animal kingdom...the sense of humour.

All babies seem to start laughing and smiling quite early, but at some point in their lives, it's not just happiness that prompts the smiles or laughter, but "funny" situations. When we pull faces at them, or make "funny" noises, they react with laughter.

But unlike other milestones, the development of one's sense of humour seems to pass almost unnoticed. When does one learn to appreciate absurdity, irony, and parody? When does one learn about the fun of wordplay and puns? Humour, to a great extent, is the putting together of unexpected elements...when does one learn to do that?

Often, a sense of humour also means, being free of ego and being able to laugh at oneself. Is this the same as laughing at other things in the world?

We all know some people of our acquaintance who are more "humourous" than others. They can say things which set people laughing. What sets these people apart from those who don't have the ability in the same measure? How are they able to spot the humour in a situation, and articulate it, in a pithy few words or sentences?

What makes people suddenly come up with very humorous words? Why is a sense of humour sometimes cruel and biting as well? How often have I seen someone taking a witty dig at another person..who is discomfited at the ensuing laughter! What distinguishes "cruel" humour from "kind" humour? Why is unkind humour still so funny?

I don't find that a generally happy outlook in life is a pre-requisite for a good sense of humour; sometimes happy people are so contented that they don't seem to need a great sense of humour. But I do know that the nicest people can sometimes be without a sense of humour, and that can make them utter bores!

Then there are the people who can appreciate, and crack, jokes about everything else under the sun...except themselves. Would I be able to say these people lack a sense of humour, when they can obviously laugh at other things?

What would be a more "adult" sense of humour, compared to a "schoolboy" sense of humour, with its implied crudity? How would I say that someone's sense of humour is "sophisticated"...especially when such persons can enjoy the "slipping on a banana skin" joke as much as ever?

A sense of humour is one of the "subtle" senses that a human being has....I think it' the best "sixth sense" that we have!

Oh..the "schoolboy humour" joke that set this train of thought chugging from the station?

Teacher to student: "Who is Gandhiji's son?"
Student: "Dineshan"
Teacher: "What? That is rubbish"
Student: But sir, you taught us that Gandhiji is the father of Dineshan"

I don't know if my sense of humour has stagnated...but I had a hearty laugh at this!

Everyone identifies....

Not everyone is capable of starting a revolution, but sometimes, when one person stands up for a cause, many others identify with him.

One of the moving scenarios about the slave, Sparatacus,occurs in the movie of the same name ....when the Roman masters come looking for him and ask, "Who is Spartacus?" so that they may punish him, each man in the hordes of slaves stands up, saying, "I am Spartacus!"..identifying with the rebel, and confusing the Romans utterly.

The same sense of identifying with someone has occurred recently, all over India....

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I hope we continue to identify with Anna Hazare in our actions, as well as in our thoughts.

Arranged marriage...a video...and my thoughts

They talk about 90% of marriages in India and show only the urban, educated people who are equal to each other, which is a miniscule minority in our country. In most marriages, the woman has hardly any say in the process. And the fact that only 5% end in often NOT because the marriage is's because other options are not feasible.

If all marriages could take place after such honest dialogue (and notice, the guy professes his strong predeliction within a short time and bowls her over)....probably marriages would be 100% successful.

Within the very narrow framework of the English-speaking, "both-are-equally-educated-articulate-and-honest" urban's a well-made video....but extrapolating to the entire Indian scenario is not a valid step at all. The guy that brings them the tea/ does HIS wedding process go? In all probability, he goes to his village, where his parents have selected a girl for him, depending upon what she can earn, and what dowry she'll bring (oh yes.)...and he's the one who can agree or refuse, not her.

My maid got married when I was away in the US. She is all of 23, and her family has been very worried because three or four prospective grooms said "no" to her because she is "dark" and "fat". She came back home to spend the inauspicious month (AshAdhA, or Adi) at her mother's place.

Her husband was with her, and would not even allow her to come and visit the people for whom she worked (she was like family to me.) I just spoke to her on the phone, and I might not see her even when she comes for Deepavali, because, once again, she will be accompanied by her husband, who will dictate what she can and cannot do.

From being a free bird, who was earning well, had a happy circle of friends, she's become a young woman who is not going to be allowed to work, must spend the days doing housework and gossiping, with the wings of her independence clipped. And why? Because the astrologer decreed that if she doesn't get married now, she will never be married, and she will be an obstacle to the marriage of her sisters, and a waiting-in-the-wings cousin.

"They don't beat her,and he doesn't drink", her sister tells me, trying to find some good in this alliance. Then she gets to wondering, "How is she going to live this kind of tied-down life?"

I have nothing against arranged marriages...when they are entered into with free choice on both sides. That's what, alas, does not happen often.