Saturday, July 10, 2004

Funny Funny Me

I am a funny guy. However, most of you who know me personally may bracket me under the obnoxious category and that is just your opinion which you may keep to yourself or trumpet it to the rest of the world, as your preferences may be. But I consider myself to be a funny guy. Sadly my idea of humor is much more cerebral than your average under 30 single person (case at point – this very post) that what might evoke immediate laughter from a cerebral thinker fails to even hit the edge of the target otherwise.

What makes me funny is the fact that I never hesitate to laugh at myself. Yeah, that’s the key point – you are never funny unless you can laugh spontaneously at your own joke. But the risk you would be taking is that you might be so tickled by your own joke that you won’t be able to complete it. But as you already know – try try try again... till you never fail again... So keep at it and you can reach the Himalayan peaks where I am mostly alone now.

One major cause for the humor in my life is something whose effects have been so aptly described by Sidin. But my case slightly varies because right now, my priorities, though the same, are in a sequence that is radically different from Thalai’s advice. So, yeah, as Sidin described, I am facing the effects of being a Mallu-Tam Bram with a sixteen letter first name, a seven letter middle name and an eleven letter last name. None of my identification documents from here in the US have all the sixteen letters of my first name. Hence the short and sweet “aNTi”, thanks to one particular friend from my Shanmugha days who called me that sometimes. At different points of time however, my nom de plumes have ranged from the name of a snack made from vegetables dipped in batter and fried to a device used very commonly in signal transmission and receiving – the former the work of a classmate from school who got his idea by just looking at me, while the latter rhymes with my name.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to dress up and participate in a public gathering to receive a document (which is so fake that even Telgi would be embarrassed to be in possession of one) formally. Hell, this penchant for verbosity is going to land me in hot weather one day. Anyways, what I was saying was that it was Commencement Day (i.e. convocation) at univ and since I have yet not defended my Masters thesis (that is another story that might just be told in a month’s time) I got a fake degree that essentially said that I don’t deserve to graduate (yet), but since I refused to let them get on with the event, they were letting me walk up on stage and get whatever they give for incorrigible punks like me.

So, there was this huge line at one end of the stage, which was full of these academician types in their full grandeur. Each of us had to walk up to the foot of the steps leading to the stage, give an index card with our name to the announcer who would announce our presence, after which we were to walk up, get the piece of paper, shake a few hands and walk off, after taking a picture with the American flag in the background at the other end of the stage.

There was this huge line of graduates and I was in between a group consisting of a few friends. It has to be said that most of us, fake-graduating with engineering degrees were foreign students and the announcer – who, being the head of the International Students and Faculty services here, was one of the better ones at pronouncing unpronounceable names, was generally having a hard time keeping a straight face while trying to read the scrawls that passed for names on each card. I, myself had used block letters, mainly because I am methodical with a stickler for details. However the same cannot be said about everyone, right?

Finally I am at the head of the line and I hand my card to the announcer. The accepted procedure, which I (in my haste) had not noticed, is to wait till your name is called in whole, after which you walk up to who-ever is up on stage, collect your faux-degree and walk off. And wait I did, for just about the same time that others waited too. And herein lies the fault and hence (as Joey says) the “moo – point” of this post.

I walked up on stage, shook hands with like three professor types who were standing there, took my play-degree from one of them and was walking off the stage when I realized that there was a roar of laughter from the crowd present and also that the announcer was still talking.

You know how, when you are doing something that you dread, your mind completely goes blank for the duration of the deed and afterward, you don’t remember any of the details. That’s just what happened to me. I had, in my haste, waited till the guy had called out one half of my first name (by half, I mean 8 letters, which is much longer than a lot of names that people generally are blessed with) and started walking up the steps. I had finished all my activities before the guy could even complete reading out my name and when he did complete, apparently he sighed just a wee bit (or maybe he swallowed or coughed inadvertently), much to the amusement of the whole crowd. And I was not pricy to any of these till about a zillion people asked me about after the event ended. I later watched footage of my “walk of fame” and I started laughing myself. It was positively hilarious.

That was not all. About a week later, I was on the phone, talking to the video department of our univ library wanting to renew some tapes that were due that day. This was the conversation.
Lady on the phone (LOTP): Instructional Media. May I help you?

Me: Hi. I have a couple of tapes that are due today. Can you renew them for me?
LOTP: Madam, Can you read the serial code off the back of the tapes? *
Me: Sorry, I don’t have the tapes right now with me. Can I just tell you the names? (I was at work that day.)
LOTP: Ok Sir. Please tell me the names.
Me: Casino Royale…
LOTP: Ummm Hmmm
Me: and…A Fistful of dollars
LOTP: ok... Can I have your name please?
Me: My last name is Subramanian. That’s S...U...B...R...A...M...A...N...I...A...N
LOTP: Ok Madam, now your first name?
Me: Well, I do have a long first name, but the first two letters are A and N.
LOTP: Hey I know you. You are the that guy with longest name at the Commencement!
And I was left standing speechless till she broke my reverie to tell me that my tapes were renewed for another week.

(* Anytime I speak to some local over the phone he/she always adresses me as Maam or Madam, never a Sir! Wonder why this happens considering that a lot of people tell me that I must have swallowed a speaker while i was a toddler!)

No comments: