Book Review : Bantaism .
“What is the similarity between Rama, Krishna, Jesus, Mohammed, Nanak, Buddha, Mahavira and Mahatma Gandhi?” asked the teacher. Banta Singh replied, “They were all born on government holidays.”
Commentary (By The Author)
Banta Singh is actually on excellent ground here. After all, to most people, holiday is a holiday is a holiday. The only reason Banta Singh, like most of us, knows these names is because of the holidays. It is also an idicator of megalomania. It tells us a simple thing, with time even the greats fade away.
When I first picked up the book Bantaism : the philosophy of sardar jokes by Bhai Niranjan Singh ‘Amrikawale’, I had no idea what to expect, I did not know what it was, or how was it going to be. But then it promised to be a tell-all of sardar jokes, and lets be frank we all like sardar jokes. Banta and Santa Singh are the like Steve and Mark Waugh of jokes.
The book is a collection of exactly these jokes. A collection with Banta Singh (sometimes referring to Santa) as the main protagonist. Now the problem with joke books is that if you start reading one joke after another their effect reduces. My economics professor would quote the Theory of Marginal Utility here. Something like the first or second shot of tequila has more effect rather than the eighth. And you remember what happened after the last shot dont you? BARF! You might start to dislike the book, because the jokes do not seem so funny.
So for exactly this purpose I would advice you to read the Author’s Note. Apart from a little history of Sardar jokes and their origins, the author also tells us to read this book slowly. He asks us to enjoy the jokes like fine wine and not gobble them up. The Sardar joke too must be savoured on many levels he says.
I did exactly that, reading the book really slowly and at a snail’s pace. You have to read this book in a particular way to really enjoy it. Go slow, and try and not just turn the page over for the next joke. This is one book where you should not use the bookmark, just roll the pages over and start reading.
Once a sardar was playing Chess.
Commentary? Does it need any?
Now I know I must have said that this a joke book, but remember the author actually comments on each joke. He tries to dwell deep into the psyche of the joke. The author tries to give insights into what makes the joke funny and how actually sometimes its a joke on the society as a whole itself.
Though I was very apprehensive about reading the commentary at first, I mean why to dissect and dig deep to unravel deeper meanings of jokes?! We have to do all of this in respect to girls anyway. So why bother to interpret the only thing which is to be taken at face value: Jokes. But after reading some of them, I warmed up. I never thought that jokes actually give an insight into a community and society. Rather its one of the easiest ways.
The authors insights some of the times are quite striking and difficult to not agree with. Sometimes they seem convoluted and the other times just a worthless exercise. You just want a joke to be a joke and nothing more at times. But then the commentary was never over bearing on the joke, never clouded it. The author has kept that in mind and which was very important.
Banta Singh had triplets, all three bonny boys. His wife asked him, “What should we name them?”
“Let’s call the first one Harminder Singh. The second child : Gurminder Singh and the third child : Mao-Tse Tung!” He exclaimed.
His wife looked very confused and asked why such a strange name for the third kid.
To which Banta Singh replied, “ Oye Biwi, don’t you know that every third child born in the world is Chinese?”
Commentary : Application of knowledge is as important as having it.
All in all its quite a fun and easy read. The jokes are funny and to me never felt like an effort. Any joke can be funny if it seems effortless. Some jokes are really funny, while others derive chuckles. Rest assured it delivers. And the commentary does make you think.
This is a perfect coffee table book, though I do not know what coffee tables should be like, but you can read it while having coffee and then forget about it until the next day. Also one of the reasons why I like this book is that it’s potty trained. You can read it until you are done with your business and leave, never the other way round. Its the best potty trained book there is.
If you are looking for an easy, fun read and like sardar jokes. This is the one.
Rating : 3/5
Tushar Chhajed has plans for everything. He wants to execute them. He also wishes to travel, learn, write, work, cook and walk.
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