Humour, laughter and comedy are the best way to build bridges between cultures. I believe that humour can strengthen ties between India and Australia. This is the theme of the documentary and book that I’m writing with the support of the Australia India Council under the auspices of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The documentary is titled, You gotta laugh, mate and the book is, The surreal diary of an Aussie Indian.
As part of the project, I conducted interviews and discussions in Australia and India. I’ve just returned from India where I visited Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Mumbai.
Returning to India was like returning to my second home. I’m fortunate to be able to call both India and Australia home. I was born in India and it was Australia that taught me to laugh at myself. My return to India for this project was a different kind of journey. It was a hectic road trip, going in and out of airports and hotels, facing all kinds of weather and challenges while traveling. In between I fitted in media interviews arranged by C. Shekar Nambiar, Senior Adviser, Media & Advocacy at the Australian High Commission.
One thing that was outstanding in all the places I visited was the generosity of people and willingness to share their stories. I’ll be featuring people I met over the next few months so watch this space.
I was invited to do three gigs out of which I could manage two. One was at Urban Solace, a comedy room run by Perry Menzies in Bengaluru and the other was at Kolkata Toastmasters. The third gig was at the Comedy Store in Mumbai which I could not fit in around the hectic schedule of interviews but hope to return there for a gig one day.
I was a bit worried as there were my first gigs in India. Would people in India laugh at the same things as my Australian audiences? They did, which could indicate that humour and laughter are universal.
A representative from a comedy group in Kolkata approached me after my gig and asked:
If we paid your fare, would you be willing to return to India to take part in a comedy show?
I grinned and said: I think I could.