Be Funny by Navina Anand

It was 2:30 am and bitterly cold. We were sleeping in a wooden cabin at the foothills of the Himalayas, just having returned from the Kanchenjunga Base camp trek. It was so cold that I had slept wearing my heavy-duty jacket and gloves. I had my head-torch next to me so that I could grab it when I had to pee. High altitudes makes you want to pee more often.  And at 2:30 am, I had to pee. I wore my head torch, gingerly made my way down the wooden staircase and headed to the Indian toilet housed inside a rickety stall with its freezing cold bucket of water and a rope wound around a nail for a latch, at the far side of the camp. After my business, I returned to the cabin where my trek buddies were sleeping. Or so I thought. I entered to find them semi-awake. And then I said something. And all of us started laughing so hard at 2:30 am that we must have woken up or at least annoyed a lot of people at the camp. The proof arrived the next morning. Our trek guide came to us and said ” you guys never stop laughing no matter what time of day or night is it ?”

If I had to reflect back on why I married my husband and If I had to pick only one answer, it would be ” He is funny”. While many times today, out of familiarity, I roll my eyes as he pulls yet another lame, much repeated or slapstick joke out of his pocket, there is no doubt that I am grateful to be married to a man who sees the funny side of most things. 

High school was the time I ‘tried ‘ to be funny. Though most of the time, I think I was more sarcastic than funny. I was the class clown through college, being the smart-aleck who would raise her hand in class and ask silly questions that would exasperate the teacher and get a giggle out of her classmates. More a ploy to be the centre of attention. But wait, isn’t that usually what people use humour for? To get attention, strike up a conversation or diffuse tension? I may have inherited a little bit of it from my dad- at least the crazy funny aphorisms. 

But I don’t think anybody who met me when I was a mom of two young children and living abroad would have categorized me as funny. I remember being solemn most of the time. Maybe I was a bit weighed down by being a mom of two very young kids. When you live abroad, the friends you make is like eating at a diner where they only serve dosa and idli. You can order it if you want or go hungry.  For me living in India has been like having an extravagant buffet of friends of every variant – you can pick and choose what you want to eat, not to eat, or have it all. And what a blast it has been socially. In the process, I think my sense of humour has blossomed. 

I am your classic textbook extrovert who needs to talk to people to feel energized. India’s social set up has worked well for me and has re-ignited and enhanced the sense of humour that was dormant. Today, many of my friends think I am funny. So, that’s when I realized that I am not your ‘grow anywhere’ kind of plant. I am not your ‘crack a joke while standing in line at a concentration camp’ kind of person. I am your garden variety eggplant that needs just the right conditions to blossom. ‘Grows best in warm soil, needs to be watered twice a week, to a depth of 12 inches. Eggplants do not like standing water, so mature plants should be watered deeply and infrequently. But do not allow the leaves to wilt during the day’. Conditions need to be just right for best results 🙂

Jokes aside(haha) I think humour is also like any other muscle we exercise. The more we use it, the better we get at it and the less we use it, it can also atrophy and die. And for me, the company definitely makes an impact on  how funny I am. Some people bring out the best in me. My trekking buddies I described in my trekking story is one such group. The chemistry is just so amazing that from the moment we meet to the moment we  say goodbye, it is a non-stop laughter fest. I am your garden variety egg-plant, but given the right conditions, it can be a bumper crop!

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