To keep any gathering lively , the easiest way is to crack jokes and create a few smiles, if not laughs. Whenever I am not compelled by the dictum of official decorum, I too tried telling one or two anecdotes which are smile worthy. Telling jokes on oneself is always safer than cracking the incidents involving any other person, group, sect or caste.
Among the native Mallu crowd, the Namboothiri jokes were very popular in olden times. Now the place is taken over by Tintu mon jokes and other dialogues borrowed from Jagathi, Srinivasan, Venjaramood, Gafoorkka and the like out of the big screen.
But on a pan India level , there is nothing to beat the jokes " of , by , attributed to" Sardars....The greatest virtue of a typical Sardar is that he himself would tell them to make others happy. My earliest memories about any sardar was dating back to 1958 when Milkha Singh won a gold medal in Asian games. Another memory was a news I read about Pratap Singh Kairon who was assassinated in 1965. The others like Rana Pratap Singh, Guru gobind Singh, Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh, etc.... were made known to me through text books. My first encounter with a sardar in flesh and blood was when I went to Delhi to stay with my elder brother on a holiday. There I could meet many of them in different shapes and sizes. I could also get introduced to many. Till that, I was toying a notion that it would be difficult to identify one sardar from the other because everyone would be sporting a beard either long or short....! But my belief was proved wrong. I could realise that it was not as difficult as I thought.
The first Sardar whom I befriended was a colleague in Bank of India working in Bhopal branch. We were together in Staff Training College, Andheri for the two phases of training. Believe me, he made us all laugh during the closing session by telling a number of Sardar jokes......!
And thus began my interest in that particular sect of people. Back in Poona, I succeeded in getting introduced a couple of Sardars working in sales line. As a bachelor, I was staying with a two medical representatives. Another revelation which astonished me was that in spite every type of persuasion my Sikh friends never smoked a cigarette, not even a puff. They could resist temptation of any level to strictly follow their canon.
During my tenure in various other states, I came across a lot more sardarjis who did possess very adorable qualities.
My esteem and regard for the community reached its zenith , when visited Amritsar a few years back. I had earlier experienced the high sense of dedication and devotion in Patna Saheb in the eighties. But what I saw in Golden Temple fortified the admiration and veneration which I had carried in my mind. The ultimate of discipline, devotion and dedication was seen there by me.
The valour and bravery shown by many a Sikhs while serving in the forces can be measured by the number of gallantry awards won by them year after year.
As per the dictionary , Sardar is a word originated from Persian: it is a title of nobility to denote the leader or chief.
Let me conclude my tribute my quoting an anecdote to reveal the simplicity of a sardarji. The place was Delhi Railway station. I had kept my luggage in the first class bogie of the Chennai bound Grand Trunk express and come out to chat with my Tamilian friend. By looking at a stunningly beautiful girl sitting near the window of the same four bedded coupe, my friend explained..." ponnu romba nalla irukku...unakku nalla kampany ...."*
We continued our talk in Tamil thinking that the people around would not understand.
As the train was about to leave the platform, a tall handsome and young Sardar came near us and told smiling...." adanaale thaaney naan avaley ketteetten.....!" ** and entered the coach along with me. If it were in a movie, we would have vanished from the screen out of shame. I don't remember how apologetically we said sorry to him or how awkward were our faces to conceal the embarrassment.
During our travel to Chennai, we became good friends. He was based in Chennai. He was returning after a visit to his wife's house in Delhi. We still maintain the contacts.
Many a times I imagined what would have been the reaction of a non Sardar if he understood the meaning of our comment......
... The dialogue roughly translates as
* " The girl is beautiful. You have a good company.."
** " That's why I married her...."