“Why are you so tensed?” asked my ever-worried chuddy-buddy, Gopal. Well, his seriously concerned voice helped pretty much…in making me more tensed!
“Because,” I replied, “sometimes, in trying to crake a good joke, you yourself end up being a bad joke!”
Suddenly, Gopal was on all fours, clutching his stomach. Stomach ache? I thought (he ate a belly-full of belly-bursting-burgers yesterday!). A split second, however, I realised he was in fits of laughter.
“Oh…ha ha! What a joke! You cracked me, buddy!” Gopal boomed, hiccoughing himself back to normalcy.
“Did I? It really tickled you?” I wondered in delight, “I hope people laugh at the Humorous contest of the Toastmasters Club at my punches…”
“They’ll, don’t worry.” Gopal assured.
“If they don’t,” I threatened, “I’d punch your belly!”
1.45 P.M. Hotel Nandan, 12/08/2017: I stepped inside the hot-pot hall of humour. The Toastmasters bustled and bumbled about; smiles on their lips, wits on their tongues, laughter on their teeth and…furiously nervous butterflies buzzing on their bellies.
People were pleasantly anxiously. Some looked as if they had their breakfast of eggs with the sunny side up and were all set to crack their funny side up! And some, like me, were like malfunctioning chocolate bombs of Diwali: not sure if we could burst our Boom or diffuse into Doom!
The chief judges arrived. DTM Pramod Fernandes and Area Director, TM Gaurav Agarwal: Vivacious and Valiant, Charming and Charismatic, Handsome and Humorous! Talk with them for a minute and you’d fall in love with them in a jiffy! The fellowship began. We sipped our Tea (the butterflies in our stomach must be relishing it).
The moment arrived. With trembling legs, the humorous contestants gathered on the stage, the rules were explained. And then, the draw of ballots: Believe me, people were picking the folded-slips with shaking hands as if they were picking a highly dangerous and explosive substance that would decide their fate.
I opened my own chit praying desperately to the heavens for making me the last contestant.
Well, the heavens didn’t listen…I literally fainted when a sinister looking, evil No.1 caught my disbelieving eyes!
One? Seriously ONE!?! I was to open the contest! No! No, no, no! You cruel, funny fate! I would rather give my CA Finals again than do this!
People gave pats on my back, cheered me up. But I wasn’t sure whether I could cheer them up.
The Sergeant-in-Arms, the beauty-in-red, TM Ankita Jain opened the meeting, explaining the rules. The contest-chair, the silent and beautiful, TM Suman Agarwal addressed us further. Our timeless beautiful president, TM Rita Harlalka began with a high note, welcoming us all, the judges. The renowned club mentor, TM Aashutosh Agarwal, charmed us with his mathematical humour!
And then, DTM Pramod Fernandes had the stage all to himself. What an inspiring public speaker he is! We all were spellbound by his story of the Father, Daughter and the tree trunk and consequential lessons on team effort. Next, TM Gaurav Agarwal, swept us all by his awe-inspiring intelligence, sprinkles of humour, and what not. Believe me, he looks serious. But deep down, he’s seriously humorous!
The ambience was all set, all geared up to launch their tickles.
My name was called. I made my way towards the stage (butterflies, now, were really excited!) and feeling the fear rushing through my bones, I took the plunge! Thank God! People at least laughed! I didn’t fumble or flustered as I used to. Now and then I was glancing at our, tall, terrific, handsome timer: TM Abhishek Sharma. But I finished on time to a resounding applause and, feeling reasonably content, hobbled back to my chair.
The next contestant was TM Rajinder Sharma. His “39 opportunities” alias “39 beauties at the college” made us laugh and giggle. His college life, career decisions were laced with dots of comedy!
(I might be forgetting the order of contestants, so please forgive me).
TM Abhishek Agarwal was ever-so-hilarious with his vibrant voice. I mean, I’ve to ask him about the dating tips. His journey from “Bhayiaa to Sayiyaan” was laced with laughing doses! We love you, Mr. Vibrant!
TM Vineeta Parek. A wonder woman in the making! Her highly imaginative, ‘know-it-all’ Auontora was a caricatured character full of comic-sense! Oh, how we all giggled! Hats off, TM Beeneeta (oh sorry, TM Vineeta!)
TM Rita Harlalka. The ever-eloquent, ever-elegant, presidential lady! Being a contestant no. 13, she proved how the unlucky number cannot decide your fate, when you are full of infectious confidence and brimful of crackling comedy! Her marital humour floored us! (She must be ruling her humorous husband with her wit and charm!) The timing, the gestures, the punches punched our funny bones! She’s the one! Needless to say, she bagged away the First Prize!
TM Saumendu Bhattacharjee! Oh my God! This man can “just do it!” Room no. 64 was room-full of riotous humour at its epic! We got a glimpse of his journey of not becoming a “Real Human” from a “Real Goat”! Oh yeah, trust me, ask him to “do it” in the balcony into the night sky, he’ll “Just Do It!! And, when he did it, the hall exploded with crackling guffaws of stomach-paining laughter! I mean, we all learned that if you will it, you can just do it!!! The doctor took away the second prize!
TM Arvind Deorah was the dark horse in the race! How to not write a humour couldn’t have been more humorous. Believe me he even consulted an Astrologer for getting the right Vaastu for his humour! Watching Motu-Patlu might or might not have given him humour tips, but surely sparked his appetite for Samosas! His humorous son (who doesn’t know the meaning of humour) crackled to his dad: Hey dad, what this “humour, humour” going on for the past few days, eh?” The hall laughed their guts out! He surprised himself by taking away the third prize!
TM Karun Rungta: Oh, the moment he came on stage, everyone laughed aloud! His aura was palpably humorous. We expected great humour from him. Somehow, he faltered. But no worry, this warrior guy taught us how even the best of us has to hug tricky situations. But we all know, next time, he’s gonna rock it!
TM Rahul Chandak, a confident, young guy, discovered his knack of being a stand-up comedian! His amazing expressions, comic-timing, and hilarious re-telling of generation gap and what-not’s made us all go into chuckles and chortles!
TM Shweta Kejriwal, a gorgeous, giggling beauty, fought great battles with her witty Grandma. Oh, what dazzling expressions! Her journey from being a baby to being a mother of babies was fraught with humour and hilarity galore!
TM Nisha Mahanta. A beautiful lady, wonderful writer and a cracking comedian! Her “weight” provided much weight to her humour! Her joining of Gym was quite successful given the fact that a Chinese food restaurant was above her! This Fitness-Foodie made our giggles going bananas!
TM Abhijit Das: A good friend, a great comedian! Facebook humour has never been so humorous. We loved it and laughed aloud! Abhijit delighted us abound with the funny foibles and idiosyncrasies of human nature around social media. Believe me, inspired by his Facebook humour I am planning to write a funny write up about it!
TM Jyoti Prasad Deka. Chotta Bomb, Bada Dhamaka! Shakespeare would’ve laughed at his “what’s in the name” act! His ‘Jaapi’ humour coupled with witty takes on his name, about the intermingling of male and female names, was something uniquely hilarious and enlightening!
And then began the evaluation contests. Graceful TM Aruna Sarawgi, the contest-chair explained the rules of the contest. TM Gaurav Agarwal, once again, gave his ever-inspiring test speech of “Dreams do come true”, of his journey to crack the CA: the world’s toughest exam!
The contest began:
TM Neha Navlakha: She, indisputably, is the epitome of eloquence! A confident and charismatic communicator. The way she speaks makes you feel as if Maa Saraswati is speaking on her behalf: Perfect balance, perfect CRC, perfect impeccably lyrical flow. Needless to say, she bagged away the 1st Prize!
TM Saumendu: Once again, he swept us all by his high energy, witty words and intelligent evaluation. He stole away the second prize!
TM Rajeev Chandak: The ever-confident guy has a keen sense of observation and perspective! And so is his excellent evaluation: Precise, Concise yet expressive! Personally, I think he’s a born Toastmaster. This management Guru bagged away the third prize!
The other contestants were equally brilliant: TM Babli Das (her name suits her bubli-cious, ever-energetic personality!), TM Ankita Das (with perfect English, this graceful English teacher reminds me nostalgically of my own English teacher!), TM Rita Garg (we know her already!), TM Saba Al Zarid (he has a husky voice: a mark of a great, emerging speaker), TM Vineeta Pareek (as vivacious as ever!), TM Abhijit Das (he takes risks boldly! Loads to learn from this guy!), Abhishek Agarwal (again Mr Vibrant!), TM Suman Agarwal (silent yet surprisingly expressive!).
One contestant came with a hotpot-full of impromptu humour! TM Akshay Jain, taking part in the evaluation contest, uncannily converted the contest into explosive comedy! OMG! The way he connected the CA journey with Aeroplane-flight (with his lovable, imperfect English) was something that blew the laughs out of us! Even when he finished, we all were clutching each other about, rolling on the floor with unbridled, gut-wrenching laughter! That made our day!
And then, there is TM B.L Navalakha ji! Father of 1st prize winner, Neha Navalakha. Compassion and Passion are his hallmarks! And so is his patriotism towards our nation. A true Indian from heart, he sang his heart out, bringing our own patriotism and nationalism alive! We love you, Navalakha ji!
The winners were announced to a resounding applause with all pomp and grandeur, and ended with a hearty dinner with the Chief Judges who shared terrific tips of communication from their oceanic depths of wisdom.
Looking back at the eventful day, I couldn’t help but rewind those relishing memories in my mind. I will carry each and every moment with me in my heart: Smiling, laughing, giggling, sniggering, tittering, chuckling, chortling and guffawing! Trillion thanks to the Toastmasters! Someone really put it so rightly and humorously: The only way to survive is to have a sense of humour!