Chennai

That chill pill on a Sunday

A few things have stayed a constant for regulars at Anna Nagar Humour Club: A meet-up every second Sunday at a fixed time and venue.

Shri Krishnaswami Matriculation Higher Secondary School at Anna Nagar has been the favourite hangout for a small group of humorists for more than 10 years till the pandemic brought a halt to the practice.

Now, for the last one-and-a-half years members park themselves online on Zoom; however the time and day remains the same.

“Physical meetings were not allowed since the pandemic began last year and as a majority of our members are senior citizens we did not dare to host physical meetings even after various restrictions were relaxed, but we wanted to continue with the practice of meeting at the fixed time and venue,” says V Rajappan, chairman of Anna Nagar Humour Club.

Hosting the virtual meetings is an achievement by itself. “Without a break, we have continued to hold meetings since April last year,” says Kamala Easwaran, secretary and a member for the last 20 years. She says sometimes the attendance is very thin when there is an IPL match or a muhuratam but the core team members have not missed a meet on the appointed day and time.

Initially, switching to a virtual platform was a culture shock for the participants. “I am 85 and I got the hang of participating in online meetings only in the last one and a half years. Similarly, most of the members learnt by trial and error,” says Rajappan.

The pandemic, however, has come as a silver lining for the Club that was dominated by participants from Anna Nagar and Mogappair. Humour club members from other chapters, non-members from other cities have been part of the free meetings, increasing the attendance to 50-60 during some months.

Does the Club have plans to move to its old venue? Rajappan is pessimistic. “All of us are vaccinated but considering our age I do not think we should be taking a chance and burden others,” he says.

The school has been offering the space to the Club at no cost all these years. “Now, with more caution everywhere I am not sure if the school management will be ready to offer us their space,” says Rajappan.

The format in the online mode has not seen any change and members are waiting to experience the session in-person.

Kamala feels there is nothing like sharing jokes in person. Pre-COVID, they would give away gifts like pens and books for the best joke of the day.

“It is difficult to assess the takeaways from online meet-ups as sometimes people turn off their cameras or leave mid-way,” says Kamala.

Dr Anantharamakrishnan, who manages the technical side, says in the physical format they had magic shows and mono-acting. “These are more effective when you watch them in-person,” says Anantharamakrishnan, a heart specialist.

He says the Club is 24 years old and started by hosting meetings at the Tower Park. “Once the pandemic is over, we will be thinking about starting physical meeting or in a hybrid form,” says Anantharamakrishnan, president of the Club.


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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 9:14:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/that-chill-pill-on-a-sunday/article37031599.ece

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