Who said Indians lack humour?

Sivamani Vasudevan
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I vouch, we, Indians, are a humorous lot. A dolphin may not laugh (except in cartoons) and a dog may not smile (but for wagging its tail when happy). But an Indian lives and breathes by humour. We are neither as dry as desert sand nor as stiff as a stick. Here is an account.

When a septuagenarian went to the treasury to draw his pension, he was turned away as he did not produce a certificate that he was “alive” and kicking. When he finally managed to produce the coveted trophy (which he got on payment of one month's pension), it was turned down again on the precious ground that it was not from the same doctor who pronounced him alive the previous year. When the poor old soul represented that the said (last year's?) doctor pre-deceased him, he was admonished for not obtaining the letter before the physician left for the heavenly abode! This is quite tolerable at least, given the mindset of our babus.

To another octogenarian, the treasury staff said that as per their records, he was already gone, exited from this planet for good. Can there be a crueller joke than this?

A woman who gave birth to a male child in a hospital was reported to have become the mother of a girl child instead, even before she could recover from her post-natal pains. Gender transplant in minutes? Is it achievable anywhere else? She herself could not believe this. Those who read this from the morning newspapers laughed it off as a joke. Is there any dearth of humour? (that the case was cracked, thanks to an alert policemen, and the original child was restored is a different story).

One day, a customer came to the bank where I served and informed my superior (who was not very comfortable with English) in writing that the other partner of his firm died the previous day. The letter was marked to me for ledger noting. When the customer called the next day and regretted that he had conveyed the date of death wrongly, my superior took one more letter and marked it to me with the remarks, “Customer wrongly died yesterday. Now correctly dead. Note.” The whole bank staff roared with laughter when I shared this with them during our training sessions at our central office. Is there any short supply of such unintended humour among office-goers?

A humble, submissive and ever-obliging tailor of our village, when confronted on the road over the delay in the delivery of clothes, would unhesitatingly assure us that the work would be done in a couple of days, though no cloth was given for stitching in the first place.

A government liquor shop employee recently consumed the “liquid gold” in excess on New Year eve and left for home, keeping the shop wide open and free for all. Who said we are a serious lot?

When our revered judges ordered that instead of allowing grains to rot in government godowns and eaten away by rodents, it should be distributed among the hungry public, there was apprehension that such a freebie culture would ruin our farming economy and that the rights of the executive (read government) should not be infringed upon. What is the right they were talking about, the right for rotting or keeping the people hungry? Could there be better humour?

A superfast point-to-point train was introduced between two main cities. Everybody clapped as the prestigious train was flagged off. It sped station after station only to stop later between every two stations for track and signal clearance. Now commuters wait between the two so-called “non-stopping” stations to board and alight, right in front of their homes. (My NRI friend innocently asked me whether the non-stop train would stop at the destination at least?) Who said our sense of humour is a shade weak?

There is a joke that if Indian cricketers are playing the second innings better, why not they play their second innings first?

A man, wrongly declared dead, woke up in the mortuary van in the middle of the night while being taken to the cemetery and the horrified kin fled the scene so fast that the man died after heart attack at being left in the lurch by his own dear ones.

Here is one for the road (again from my banking experience): Earlier, there was a practice of sending secret-coded telegraphic messages among all bank branches, while transferring funds. Many a time, the messages reached the destinations in distorted forms due to transmission errors. There was always the necessity of phoning up the receiving branch again and spelling out each alphabet of the coded words. While doing so, as sound clarity was lacking in telephone line transmissions, bankers used expanded word forms for each alphabet, like “B” for “Bombay” and “O” for “Orange.” My superior once innocently and hurriedly used “N” for “knowledge.” The whole banking hall, including the customers waiting there, were in splits.

One of my colleagues said it could have been pardonable had he spelt “N” for “Knife.”

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