Sunbyanyname is the name of my blog. It is in sharp contrast to that period of my life when it used to occur to me that life is a great burden, most people are unfair and self-centered and that human beings are condemned to live in bondage and disease throughout their miserable lives. My father had died prematurely of a jeep-accident at the age of fifty-six years and my having to spend enormous time to look after my widowed mother rooted in our home-station Kandaghat (Read: ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is – Kandaghat in Shimla Hills’) was detrimental to my naval career. At some stage, a life-long debilitating and degenerative disease Psoriasis entered my life and then the cup of my woes was complete.
I was, nevertheless, always full of humour. On my ship INS Ganga, immediately after my father’s death, whenever my CO wanted to lighten up things, he banked on me to crack a juicy one. But, life was going on with all its sadnesses, trails and tribulations and humour was also there.
And then, came a time, when I thought of humour as a way of life or a philosophy of life; no, not to move around like a cartoon or joker or Charlie Chaplin, but, to make light of all the burdensome things in life and laugh heartily. I have often delved in philosophy, all such posts (in the Philosophy section of this blog) are always based on my personal experiences and observations. At the end of the last year, for example, I questioned the sanctity of philosophies of life that have been passed down the generations (Read ‘Debatable Philosophies Of Life’) and then as soon as the new year started, I came up with ‘Philosophies That May Help You’.
So, the first thing that occurred to me was that if Humour has to be a way of life or philosophy of life, I have to be grateful about the situation I am in rather than to constantly bemoan. Lo and behold, I came up with a definition of Humour somewhat different from the accepted definition as given in Pic 1 below: Humour is gratefulness.
When you are actually looking for something, you find it, not realising that it had been there all along. Look at what I found, the line in yellow in the pic below is mine:
After my retirement from active service in the Indian Navy, on 28 Feb 2010, I started this blog and a number of Facebook groups. Three of them are purely humour groups as given in Pic 3.
The three have a membership of more than 60000 and the only reason why the membership is not in lakhs is because I want to keep them as manageable groups rather than to allow riff-raff to post all kinds of stuff. On Facebook, I notice, that irrespective of the theme of the group, gradually people force the groups to become merely large Friends’ Circles (Please read: ‘Want To Start A Facebook Group – Have A Reality Check’.
In Pic 1 above, you must have seen Robin Williams telling us that we are given just one spark of madness; we mustn’t lose it. Madness and me have a great association together; I do everything madly and passionately. I started a Facebook page that I called ‘Make Your Own Quotes’, telling people that they really don’t have to follow the so called great people with their quotes; life is simple really and their own quotes could guide them as well. I started a feature in it called ‘My Moments of Madness’. Here are just a few of them to tell you about the essential humour contained in this feature:
The fact of the matter is that we take life far more seriously than it is supposed to be taken. Take diseases and ailments that become our permanent partners after we cross the age of fifty. My take on them (and I am speaking with the authority of a disease like Psoriasis having been with me for the last 23 years) is that these are like children. When your child comes from play and lies on the sofa and you insist on knowing what is wrong, he bursts out crying and tells you! However, if you let him be by himself, within minutes everything becomes normal and he runs out to play with his friends again. The more you think of your ailments, the more they bother you.
Do you remember Noah, the one selected by God to save the animals, his family and himself from the Genesis Flood by putting them in Noah’s Ark? If you look at Pic 5, it too tells you not to take life too seriously. For all those who take life too seriously and seriously insist on knowing the meaning of life, here are a series of cartoons (I acknowledge the contributions of those who made these):
Here is one of my own from my page ‘Make Your Own Quotes’:
Letting humour become a way of life with me, makes me grateful for everything God has given me, including the life I have. Somewhat similar to the message in the Bible: I lamented I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet, made me think that whilst I was unhappy about how life was treating me, many people who have less than me would be content with much less than what I have. I started drawing contentment from that:
This gratefulness for what God had given me changed my life forever. I saw humour in everything, smiled and laughed. Take a look at a few of the quotes that were born out of this philosophy:
My role model in this endeavour has been Mahatma Gandhi. In 1928, he famously remarked, “If I had no sense of humour, I would long ago have committed suicide”. Here was a person as close to God and prayer and saintliness as you can get; and yet, as soon as you think of him, your mind brings up the image of his toothless laughing face.
How could he laugh so easily even when he was the face of India in rebellion against the British? Here was a man, even whilst leading that fight, totally at peace with himself and the world that God had made. He was natural, totally unaffected, not attached to any material gains, and in great physical and mental health. In 1930, when he visited London for the Round Table Conference, with his image of being the Naked Fakir, Churchill was keen that he would put on some decent clothes before calling on the King George V. He went exactly how he was. When asked about his near nakedness before the king he replied with his characteristic humour, “But, the king had enough on him for both of us”. Similarly, when the media asked him, “What do you think about the Western civilization?”, he responded with great wit, “I think it would be a great idea”.
In the year 1910, when he was in South Africa and a law dictated that only Christian weddings would be seen as valid, he came home and told Kasturba, “I didn’t know that you were my mistress.”
Similarly, once he was asked in South Africa as to why he preferred to travel the third class (nowadays called the Janata Class), he replied, “Simply because there is no fourth class.”
“The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that the balance of fluids in the human body, known as humours (Latin: humor, “body fluid”), controlled human health and emotion”.
Similarly, “in ancient Sanskrit drama, Bharata Muni’s Natya Shastra defined humour (hāsyam) as one of the nine nava rasas, or principle rasas (emotional responses), which can be inspired in the audience by bhavas, the imitations of emotions that the actors perform. Each rasa was associated with a specific bhavas portrayed on stage.”
When I was in school, we learnt about a number of Hasya Kavi (Humour Poets) who were very witty. One of them brought out:
“आये जब इंग्लैंड से भारत विलियम डंग,
खाकर गर्म जलेबियाँ डंग रह गए दंग,
डंग रह गए दंग, “इसे किस तरह बनाता,
ताजुब है अंदर शरबत कैसे घुस जाता?”
बैरा बोला, “सर, इन्हें आर्टिस्ट बनाते,
बन जाती तो इंजेक्शन से रस पहुँचाते”
Indeed, humour through poetry has been the forte’ of many. Even a serious lyricist like Raja Mehdi Ali Khan wrote a laughable poem called ‘Adib Ki Mehbooba’.
As far as limericks are concerned, these with their arrangement of first, second and fifth line rhyming and third and fourth rhyming separately and shorter, have been good source of humour. For example:
“There was a girl from Madras,
Who had a beautiful ass;
Not rounded and pink,
As you probably think,
It was grey, had long ears and ate grass”.
How does a sense of humour or having humour as a philosophy of life help you? I can think of several ways:
- Physiologically, humour evokes laughter and laughter is like a cardiovascular exercise (by quickening pulse). It results in short intense muscle contractions that tone up muscles. These days in the parks in the mornings, you can see people laughing themselves to good health.
- Humour is often used to make light of difficult or stressful situations and to brighten up social atmosphere in general. Hence, humour simultaneously as the above point keeps one away from the harms of negative and miserable thinking.
- Humour is known to relieve you of pain, and modify the ageing process.
- People with innate sense of humour are assailed by less bouts of anxiety and infections.
Truly, even at a casual glance, if you look at the benefits of humour, you realise that, unlike what I earlier said, people with a sense of humour ain’t mad; mad are the people who are trying to sort out the problems of life through worrying and torturing themselves and others. Humour, like mercy, is twice blessed: it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Movies is a favourite subject with me. Our movies have been using humour to lighten up the boredom of watching a serious story unfold. Also, many movies like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and Peepli Live have effectively used humour to convey very serious messages. There are, of course, two movies worth mentioning. One of them is the 1998 movie Patch Adams in which Robin Williams tries to bring relief in the lives of seriously ill patients by his loony humour. In India, we copied the theme by making Munna Bahi MBBS. The second movie is the one that, I can guarantee, leaves one not the same person after the movie: the 1975 Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher film ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ based on Ken Kasey’s 1962 novel by the same name. Jack Nicholson as suspected lunatic Randle Patrick “Mac” McMurphy lands himself in a psychiatric Ward of a hospital wherein he notices that Nurse Mildred Ratched (Louise Fletcher) runs the ward so rigidly and cruelly that the inmates have no humour in their lives at all; which he tends to infuse. There is a famous scene in the movie when McMurphy steals a hospital bus and takes other inmates aboard, stops to pick up a party girl named Candy, then takes the group deep-sea fishing boat. He tells them (in a famous line from the film), “You’re not nuts; you’re fishermen!” A great movie indeed sending a very serious message through comedy and humour.
There are innumerable forms of humour. Lets take up a few before I end:
In the British Parliament, the wit of two MPs to settle scores, who never saw eye to eye with each other, was legendary. I am talking about Franklin Disraeli and William Gladstone. Once, Disraeli was asked the difference between misfortune and calamity. He responded, “If Gladstone fell into the Thames, it would be a misfortune. However, if someone pulled him out, it would be calamity indeed.” Similarly, in a political debate, Gladstone once told Disraeli, “You, Sir, shall either die upon the gallows or of a terrible social disease”. Promptly, Disraeli responded, “That depends, Sir, whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.”
In the Indian parliament too, the humour and wit of Piloo Mody, JB Acharya Kripalini, Madhu Dandavate and Laloo Yadav, to name only a few, often lightened up the proceedings that are otherwise dull and drab.
- Humour in courts is a huge subject by itself. Suffice it to say that as far as Indian courts are concerned, they are a joke in the name of justice itself (Please read: ‘The Great Indian Judicial Circus’.
- There is lack of original humour about the Indian armed forces on the social media and hence I started a group called ‘Humour In And Out Of Uniform’. Please join this group if you want some good and original humour rather than merely short jokes with punch-lines, especially about the foreign armed forces.
Gone are the days when our authorities used to take cartoons in the spirit in which these were made; Nehru even invited Abu Abraham who used to make caricatures of him to his residence. Nowadays, you can find yourselves behind bars for attempting to show cartoons. (Please read: ‘A Dangerous Profession’)
- When we were in school and used to listen to cricket commentary on a short-wave radio, I remember a brilliant Indian commentator DN Chakrapani whose commentary was as full of humour as accurate and articulate. Once, at Lord’s, a man streaked in the field. Chakrapani described this on radio as, “Old ladies in the stadium can now see what they haven’t seen for a long time.”
- Children often copy their parents and hence if there is humour in your family, children would automatically learn it
- If you want to learn not to take life too seriously and infuse some humour and laughter in your life, just observe the animals. You will laugh all the way to good health.
- I know that it is a very sticky subject with most of us. However, there is enough humour in religion to brighten up our lives. Take this for example:
- Once again, this too is a vast subject. Waiter, there is a fly in my soup itself can get you thousands of witty responses. Similarly, the endless wait to get your fare is another subject. Once, during an endless wait to get his ordered fish, a diner asked the waiter, “I say, let me know, what bait are you guys using?”
- Finally, humour is there even in death. A hangman was taking a convict outside the town for his hanging. It started raining. The convict complained about the pouring rain. The hangman responded, “Look, who is complaining? I got to walk back also.”
Truly, there is great deal to be said about having Humour as a way of life. You suddenly discover that life is worth living and you can laugh all the way to good health, peace, and satisfaction. And, if you go, you go laughing and smiling.
© 2016, Sunbyanyname. All rights reserved.