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Home / Chandigarh / Random Forays: A sense of humour in times of despair

Random Forays: A sense of humour in times of despair

Even to try and inspire friends or acquaintances to adopt a sunny, cheerful, lighthearted attitude towards life, is fraught with risk

chandigarh Updated: Jul 04, 2020 23:00 IST
Vivek Atray
Vivek Atray
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Don’t stop smiling, even if you’re wearing a mask.
Don’t stop smiling, even if you’re wearing a mask.(Shutterstock)

When a writer attempts to lighten the mood of his readers, he faces a rather onerous and daunting task, not only in pandemic-related painful times, but at any moment in history. For life, and the world, have always managed to accomplish the task of dampening the general mood, even souring it, beyond redemption.

Life, after all, is full of its bumps and rubble, its humps and trouble. There is nary a moment when news of the unsavoury variety will not come intruding into your relative sense of calmness. In these times of unstoppable always-on gadgets and that mother of all intruders, the internet, even more scarce is the moment which is undisturbed by unwarranted intrusion.

Thus, even to try and inspire friends or acquaintances to adopt a sunny, cheerful, lighthearted attitude towards life, is fraught with risk of the kind that only a bullfighter who tries to appease a raging bull has ever encountered. Moreover, the Indian summer is at its peak, and people’s nostrils tend to flare up much more at such times.

Humorous banter might not therefore receive the welcome it perhaps deserves. But then writers are dogged people, and they buckle down to write what they have to, people’s moods and outdoor temperatures notwithstanding!

When a not-so-young-man called up the other day from the interiors of Haryana, he gave me reason to not only smile, but also to mention him in this column. Having called at a late hour, he began with an enthusiastically cheery “Good night, sir!” I was a little taken aback at this, and nonplussed for a minute, but when he repeated these words, I got the thrust of what he meant. Instead of responding in the same vein and closing the conversation with “Good night!” I decided to answer him with a “Namaskar” and we chatted for five minutes.

Ways of communicating have necessarily found new avatars. Webinars are the order of the day. Most of us have become actors these days for we have to appear on screen. What is extremely difficult for all generations except GenX to understand is that the virtual world requires us to be ourselves just as much as reality does.

These days I am a part of several webinars and I have learnt a few new facts as a result. There are webinar intruders, webinar escapists and webinar experts around. Some people are just very informal on webinars, believing that they can ‘feel at home’ because they are working from home and not from office! Some snore, others wash dishes, while on a webinar!

My friend Atul Khosla, pro vice chancellor of Shoolini University, has spoken at over a hundred webinars on Zoom and says he has become a ‘Zoombie’!

Work from home also has hilarious consequences. A grandmother popped into a 20-year-old intern’s call with his manager and scolded the senior person on camera for turning her home into an office. The icing on the cake was that the manager’s mother appeared on the other end of the call and totally agreed with her!

The banning of Chinese apps has queered the pitch but Indians have great resilience and will surely come up with apps which are even more impactful. TikTok has been ticked off, so to say, but similar Indian apps have already registered millions of users and the day is not far when we will have people swearing by something like ‘Been Bajao’ instead of TikTok.

The new appearance that we have to present to the world, with masks on, is also leading to piquant situations. Some people wear a mask as if their life depends on it, and it might well do. But others wear it as if it is an accessory of the chin alone, and not of the face. Colourful and fashionable masks have made a killing in the market, with designers coming up with extremely creative ideas already.

Finding humour in exacting situations is not everybody’s cup of tea. But that is the way that life must be led. By finding the smile within us when all is seemingly going wrong and spreading the smiling habit to all we live more meaningfully, for sure.

vivek.atray@gmail.com

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