Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Excuse me, Officer, but I’ve lost my sense of humour

Now, I don’t know whether the general quality of humour is on a rapid downslide or whether it is just me.

May be I’m getting too old and crotchety to appreciate a certain variety of jokes. Or maybe - and I am inclined to think that this is the probable reason - some so-called “jokes” are just not funny.

Man-slipped-on-banana-peel type humour has never really appealed to me. But I tolerate it. I tolerate the widespread glee it causes in those around me - those quite obviously not in my immediate friends circle, of course.

I know that the perception of “funny” differs from person to person. So much so that I placidly tolerated this cow who used me as a back rest, arm rest, head rest and what-have-you while she was convulsed with laughter over a theatrical performance that I thought was absolute hamming at best.

Of course, I have been in stitches myself over silly, childish things. The sight of BC tripping on the stairs and falling at the feet of an usher at the cinema or running down steps into a banyan tree turned me into an absolute wreck. My “bob sledding” on my knees down a flight of stairs, all the while taking care not to upset the pile of books I was carrying, resulted in tears of laughter and bruised knees for weeks after.

This morning I awoke to find a text message on my phone. It read: “Indian cricket team penalised by animal activists for hunting 11 kangaroos last week. Pledges to pay penalty by hunting 11 terrorists today” (the day of the Indo-Pak cricket world cup semis).

And you know what? It made me plain angry.

I tried to brush it off, ignore it, rationalise it and attribute it to PMS, the summer temperature or general irritability. But it continued to bother me. I then ran it past BC and Terror. They did not think it was funny either. We found it downright offensive.

I don’t really know the sender too well having had the good fortune of working with the bloke for just a few months. Nonetheless, I replied, telling him I thought his “joke” to be “in very bad taste”. It was the most polite rebuke I could think of, given my foul frame of mind.

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned sporting rivalry? I am pro-Ferrari, pro-Real Madrid, pro-India, pro-Federer, pro-gender equality, pro-nudity, pro-meat, pro-butter, pro-matching-underwear. Does that make me anti-animal or anti-Pak or anti-men? NO. There is a distinct difference.

I am all for poking fun at people, as is evident by the snide barbs that pepper my blog. However, I am apt to think that there is a fine line between “funny” and “offensive”.

Inzamam-ul-Haq running after a cheeky spectator with a cricket bat - funny. Sreesanth’s pantomimes - annoying or strangely embarrassing. Pakistani cricketers being branded “terrorists” - offensive. Downright disgusting. Pathetic. Infuriating.

In our quest for funny, have we abandoned all sense of decency or civility? I’d like to hear the same ones laughing when they are at the receiving end of such crass humour. Crassness in the guise of “patriotism” is okay, apparently.

My mind wanders back to Ducky - you know, the one who got his camouflage knickers in a bunch over the perceived insults to his lineage, primarily his spinach-propagating aunts. While driving through Tamil Nadu to get to a holiday destination, we passed miles and miles of arid farmland, taking in the sight of scorched farmers toiling away under the unforgiving blistering sun.

Ducky remarked, “These Tamilians are such blackies, no? Ha ha ha!”

I am not sure what happened after that. I must have burst a blood vessel. But the next thing I knew, I had burst into tears. I heard myself, in a strangely strangled voice, hysterically howling about what a disgusting thing that was to say, calling him a *bleep bleep bleep* and more *bleeps*.

I was furious beyond belief and felt extremely hurt. Hurt because this was a terribly unkind remark about people of a state that I will always regard as home even if I am not originally from there. A state that gave me the best education one could ask for. An education that taught me tolerance and acceptance of anyone from anywhere. On the other hand, I was also irked by his scathing unfunny remarks about people from the north east - a region I owe no allegiance to. So there is the possibility that I might just be over-sensitive.

I only calmed down once I had cried myself out and was dizzy from the bawling, having convinced myself that I could expect no better from a chap who had been brought up to believe that light skin is beautiful. I had seen enough kitchen concoctions dumped on his face by the family after every beach holiday - the same family that lectured me on the harm I was causing my complexion by standing in the balcony at noon - to forgive him his absolute insensitivity.

So here’s the toughie. Just how do you explain the difference between class and crass, especially to morons with the intellect, wit, personality and charm of a mildewed boulder? Is offensiveness or borderline racism okay because it appeals to a possibly wider, obtuse and insensitive majority?

And if you don’t agree with my crabby rant here, blame it on PMS. Or the summer heat. Or the stench of boiling cabbage wafting from my neighbour’s kitchen.


  1. Oh I got a similar message too. I'm past PMS so I just blamed the anger on the message.

    And yes, you don't say anything and refuse to smile/laugh/cackle. The half-wits might get the message.

    Or you get into a bloody battle.

    My choice usually depends on which side of the menstrual cycle I am at the time.

  2. My Dear Self Esteemed Maam,

    You have put angry on me. Reading through theses atrocities.

    What are this duck? I will make duck roast. Then I'll say.. "You brownie".

    You like cricket? Our mother nations childrens are frying in the sun. They become blackie. It is the sun know? Duck don no that.

    I like how you be writing. The words flows very baeatifully.

    P.S. What is PMS? Also, why you say crotch? Be decent know?

  3. Well then, I obviously got all PMS-y on some blokes yesterday. Cricket, Pakistan and Terrorism in one sentence was all it took for me to launch into a "it's-not-fair-thinking" speech. I closed with the, "we don't like it when we're viewed with suspicion as likely terrorists thanks to 9-11 by a bunch of people in the west these days now do we?" thought, only to be met with polite smiles and, "it's still Pakistan!" A lost cause I suppose.

  4. @Bhumika: Whether you get into a raging battle or keep quiet, the half-wits never get the message. I suppose I should just stop taking it upon myself to right perceived wrongs!

    @Tam Thakkali: Dai! You come here no, I make you into nice thakkali chutney. It go well with duck roast. Don't be such a naati koli know :P

    @Kaotic: Alas, I share your sense of resignation. May be you should put that ivory-handled dagger to good use next time. Where is it stashed away, btw? :)

  5. Hey why are you insulting my race and lineage? Just because you can cook a duck doesn't mean we don't have feelings. You comment about how you feel with racist comments and then make racist comments about us ducks.

    Quack Quack. I am proud of it. You can kiss my feathery ass. It is a shame when authors make being animals a bad thing. It is a shame especially with your wonderful writing ability that you are as we call it a specist. This will be reported to the SPCA.

  6. @Fug a Duck: Okay, stop being all bird-brained. Would you like to join me for dinner? If you've got a sheep and a pig on your farm, bring them along too. We can really have a good meal then.


  7. Ayyye, vaat is all thees? Zimbly you get all angry and all. Fully angry comes when all naaarrrth indians assume that everybody from the south eez madrasi -- and ergo, blackie. Growf! Long live the blackies!

  8. @Arjun...I second u a million times...we indian r such a bunch of racists...the north indians think we south indians r a disease...maybe its just the south indian brains n intellect n grasp of the english language that f**ks them over...

  9. @ The rest of the readers... I think we Indians r the biggest hypocrites...1. Look at my above comment...2. An Indian gets murdered in Australia its racism n murder cos of racism...but its ok for us to call them kangaroos n wombats n monkey...3. An Indian gets raped in England...The English r rapists...4. An Indian gets thrown in jail in the US....the Americans r egotistic bastards...5. Some loser called Os**a B*n ****n bombs some Indians somewhere n all Pakistanis r terrorists...Os**a aint even Pakistani...
    Does anybody else see the pattern? Root Cause everywhere = Some Indian F**kball

    Is it stinking over here as yeh with the load of B*llsh*t I jus gave...if anybody has a problem with my ranting they can kiss my patriotic arse n then sue me...

  10. I agree with everyone here we Indians are the biggest hypocrites , it's really irritating when someone makes fun of the other persons looks or maybe calls them terrorist just because they are pakis or afghans.
    and errrr.... not all the north Indians think that all the south Indians are Madrasis!!!!

  11. @Anybody reading these comments:

    All views and opinions expressed on this page are entirely those of the person who posted them and may not necessarily reflect the views of this blog's author. Reader discretion is advised.

    Due to the explicit nature of the language in certain comments, parental guidance, spankings and washing of potty mouth with soap and water is advised.


  12. @Smriti...I know she means me...

    @epic...ur right...not all north indians think v south indians are madrasis but that just goes to show we are all racist somehow (me included)

    @BB...n here i thot u love being controversial...hence the comment...

  13. Aaah, that familiar feeling!

    The inscrutable nature which drew me to this girl, her many observations at regular intervals betraying her prejudices, and her battle stories that began with a hardly muffled "bloody auto-drivers" even while we rode one driven by a kindly exception. It was never the crassness (for I know that some form or another of it always existed) that hurt me as much. It was my choice of this person to shower my affections on that hurt me the most. Thankfully, all in the past :-)

    While I wished everyone saw the world like my darling pup, with her judging eyes closed; I now wish *I* could care about the prejudiced as little as she does. No more bawling that way, right?


  14. @Varun: True that. Turning a blind eye to offensive prejudices will be easier on the blood pressure (and tear glands?)

  15. Yo, these types are them Rediff creatures. Nuff said.

  16. @BoomShanti: Yo, you're right, yo. Boom! Ka-boom!

  17. Hi,

    Your observations on certain things are exceptional. Keep writing.....


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