Headlines that humour

"Consuming this product, especially early in the morning, may be injurious to your health" – we don’t have this warning printed at the top of the front page of our daily newspaper. But they should. Because reading newspaper does make one’s blood pressure shoot up.

This scam or that rip of, all accusing or implicating VIPs who are supposed to be our leaders, administrators and adjudicators. Involving not just lakhs but hundreds of crores, even lakhs of crores. A day care centre’s roof collapse  killing children, a substandard construction causing death, contaminated water causing illness, a woeful, criminal  lack of accountability all round.

Sometimes the only way to tackle this rising hyper-tension, is to resort to humour by seeking out the laughable ones in these same news reports.

Traffic lessons to the Chinese

Here is a headline, to begin with, from the paper of Thursday April 21 –

"China eyes Bangalore model for traffic management". Ponder over that – we are doing such a good job of managing traffic in this metropolis that the Chinese want to learn from us. Never mind that 1,000 Bangaloreans are getting killed in traffic accidents per year, while several thousands get maimed. Not counting those who narrowly miss getting run over; once the driver of a two wheeler rammed his front wheel into my leg and then said, "Enu aagilla, bidi " – nothing has happened, let it go, and drove off into a red light. Even if I had wanted to hitch up my sari and show him the large bluish bruise on my calf muscle, he wasn’t around.

Two wheelers and autos overtaking on the left even at bus stops, endangering commuters trying to get into buses, men riding merrily on the wrong side of a road divider with impunity and cattle resting in the middle of a thoroughfare. Pot holes. Vehicles stopping across pedestrian  crossings.  Speed breakers and humps here there and everywhere, turning roads into obstacle race courses. Policemen who throw up their hands in sheer helplessness even as they watch rule breakers, because there are just too many culprits  to chase and apprehend and book. This is namma ooru. Or, in filmi parlance, Yeh Bungle-ooru hai, bhai.

So what are we going to teach the Chinese, unless it is about how to maim and kill a few thousands each month (as one solution to their burgeoning population perhaps?) After killing our silk weaving industry by copying our designs, and flooding our markets with cheap imitations of all kinds of goods ranging from electronics to designer bags to even our quintessentially Indian brass lamps (no kidding !) I thought there was nothing left for the Chinese to learn from us. Apparently there is. Our traffic management. Especially in Bangalore. Doesn’t that bring a smile (even if wry) on every pedestrian’s face?  Laugh, it is good for your health. Better by far, than fuming and getting worked up.

Corrupting the Mahatma

The other item that brought laughter (wry again – there is little that provides clean, uncomplicated mirth; even cartoons only lampoon the corrupt VIPs) was an earlier statement by a former chief minister, that even Gandhi would have been corrupt, had he been living in our times. What an utterly, farfetched, and crass piece of joke!

I spent the rest of the day diverting myself with what kind of corruption the Father of the Nation might have descended to – would he have asked for an air-conditioned  Mercedes Benz perhaps, as ‘consideration’ for calling off his fast? Or a couple of fancy suit lengths from a duty free shop in Dubai, so that he could toss aside his coarse khaddar dhoti and dress nattily when he visited the British king or the U.S. President? Or just nice, expensive Nike shoes with a five figure price tag, to replace his pedestrian leather chappals? Or designer sun glasses, so that he could discard his rimless, functional spectacles? An overseas jaunt and junket, all expenses paid, with visits to discos and bars in seven star hotels thrown in as added inducements? A nice, natural looking hair piece perhaps, to cover his baldpate and give him a "better image" when he appears on TV shows?

After that, I was stuck for ideas. Because every one of these accessories – the ordinary chappals, the khadi, the functional specs, were part of a way of life on which his whole philosophy of life and national resurgence was built. Even school kids learn this. And here we have a leader, a former chief minister and son of a former prime minister, making an outrageous comment on corruption, seemingly to justify the scams that he could not – did not care to – address while in office.

Want an award? Just take it.

But here is a genuine piece of laughter-generating news, fresh off the press as I write – during the Kempe Gowda awards ceremony, those wanting to be among the awardees but not in the list of those chosen, found a novel ruse to grab an award. Reports say, two of them turned up dressed to the nines, and just took their places on the stage – and so the organisers decided they had no alternative but to give them an award each too. You mean it is that simple?

Poster of the 500th Kempe Gowda anniversary celebrations. Pic: Yograj S Mudalgi

I wish I had known earlier. All it takes is to walk in and sit among the awardees. So why bother about merit, social contributions, whatever? Come on guys, there are awards waiting to be handed over. Next time let’s all line up and take our seats. The government hands over an award, irrespective of whether one’s name figures in the list, whether a committee entrusted with the task of choosing awardees has included a name or not.

We should thank these two ‘award winners’ for giving us something to laugh over and divert us from our daily woes.

About Sakuntala Narasimhan 69 Articles
Sakuntala Narasimhan is a Jayanagar based writer, musician and consumer activist.

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