Self Kalai

One of the essential aspects of meetings with friends, especially the close group from school, is what’s called ‘kalai’. Kalai is a Tamil word that loosely translate to tease/make fun of. Of course, among a group of close friends, there’s a LOT of poking fun that happens – habits, weights, old stories. You name it. All in good spirit..

As kids growing up, there were of course times when it wasn’t all in good spirit. But, in general, that was rare. There was one key unwritten rule though – Kalai or be kalai’d i.e. better get good at giving as good as you get. Else, you did not stand a chart. Survival of the fittest, after all.

Then, there was a category called self kalai,  where (you guessed it), you chose to make fun of yourself. This was overlooked. Firstly, only the brave attempted it. Secondly, you were only opening yourself up as a bigger target.

I still reflect on those times with a smile. It still happens when we all meet. The only difference is that my appreciation of self kalai as a measure of self worth has gone up drastically. I’d posted about what hides behind our laughter ages ago..

I’ve often thought of this when I’ve found myself laughing. I’ve also found the adage ‘There is no better pointer to a man’s character than the joke he resents’ to be true.

I used to resent jokes on myself thanks to taking myself all too seriously. I can’t say I particularly enjoy them now but I’m learning to see the funny side. And I’m learning that it’s better I crack jokes on myself than have others do the same. (It somehow feels better.. haha). I appreciate the difficulty as I’m going through the journey though. The date of that post was October 14, 2010 and I’d posted saying I was stuck somewhere between tier 2 and tier 3. In 1 and a half years, I think I can safely say I’ve managed to climb a tier and I’m much closer to being able to laugh at myself. As much as I’d like to, anyway..

One of my bigger discoveries, of late, has been that it’s easier to laugh at yourself when you know yourself well. That’s because we become fully aware of all those idiosyncrasies that make us uniquely weird. I’m getting there.. And, of course, I have a much bigger appreciation for the power of humour now. The effects are almost magical..!

The reason I thought of humour was thanks to a post on Aaron’s blog. He had missed his usual daily post and had this to say –

My apologies to those who missed my blog post on Monday. To all of three of you, I say this: I haven’t gone to sleep yet, so this still counts.

I burst out laughing when I read it and then again, when I re-read it! (If you’ve seen the interview with Aaron, you’ve probably had a taste of his sense of humour)

Thanks Aaron, for being a great example!

And, here’s one more for the day.. Colin Firth at his self deprecating best.

Here’s to some self kalai this week then.. :)