When the joke is on you

Stepping outside a friend’s home yesterday night, I bid bye and one of the guys said something to mock my tambram lingo. I ignored it to the image of the rest of them laughing good naturedly as we left. All the way home, it burned in the back of my head. I argued with K who totally missed it as to why I felt offended. In his usual calm placating manner he came up with many reasons as to why it should not bother me.

I have never been one to take personal jokes lightly or deal with situations where I am mocked, gracefully. I come off high strung and quick to take offense. A good night’s sleep later, I feel stupid for feeling so angry. While I can let go of yesterday’s incident, I still wonder what prompts people to mock or imitate personal traits. Is it a degree of familiarity or a deep seated contempt that expresses itself occasionally?

I can’t remember making fun of people that way. If any, I am always worried I would do/say something to offend people. How does one learn to take it when the joke is on them? Is it something inborn or can a thick skin be acquired? I wonder why because I don’t remember saying anything reminiscent of tambram lingo or anything to spur that comment.

Anyways, hopefully this new year will help me morph into someone who can take it when the joke is on me. Gracefully.

11 comments

  1. Hey Laksh,

    I hear you. I am a sensitive person, full and full Cancerian. I learnt my lesson in college. Folks made so much fun of me, about things I did, said. I used to cry to my husband, then best friend, who told me, it was just friendly banter.
    I personally think the thick skin can be acquired. Take it in full humor, so what if people have some laughs on you, am sure you can have a come back with some other witty retorts! Thats what I do. Between friends, its all in good humor, comeraderie.
    Just think they are not trying to specifically pull your leg, they would pull anyone’s leg, and they will forget about it the moment you are gone. Be happy you are able to lighten up the group! :–)

    @SK: I agree with what you say. Problem is I suck at coming back with witty retorts and instead stew inside 🙂

  2. Oh Laksh.. You’ve lived in Coimbatore – the gounder heartland. You should know by now non-tambram people are plain tickled by our lingo. I studied in that area for four years and grew a thickskin to that kind of thing – I actually felt proud that I was able to adapt my language both ways when I felt like it, whereas they didn’t know how to do that.

    @Rekha: LOL 🙂 It is very true. I could slip easily between two dialects one for home and one for outside.

  3. Somehow there is a fine line between what is offending and what is acceptable. Teasing is fine–but imitating personal traits is downright rude and you cannot say “its a joke”. You are the best judge of whether it was offending or not.If you felt bad it was offending whether or not the person meant it.
    I usually give it back if I feel someone has crossed the limits.
    Thanks for visiting.
    Cheers
    preeti

    @preeti: Thanks for stopping by! True. Just that I felt offended when it happened and a day later thought may be I over-reacted. It could just be that I am a tad sensitive to people trying to mock my lingo. I guess I will have to learn to be gently assertive and make my point when such a thing happens again.

  4. Laksh, even I suck at confrontation. Your reply to SK is absolutely true. I also stew inside. I remember you mentioning in one of your memes, I can forgive but not forget. Me too.

    @Madhuram: I can totally relate to what you say. I guess we will have to learn to stop taking nonsense 🙂

  5. Many a times, I have not reacted and stew inside like how you have written. Used to tell P who used to listen and later on ended up yelling at me saying I could not even take a joke! Again, I try my very best not to hurt anyone about anything (appearance, accent,whatever…) and it does not hurt for other people to reciprocate. I don’t understand what cheap thrill they get degrading some one else. I do not think it is funny when it is done to me or to any one else. It does not make me bad that I cannot stand this it just makes the other person low for thinking that this is even remotely funny. To make things worse, if I retort saying it was not in good taste or the likes…I am the rude one!!! Have been bearing this cross for long, and I suppose I would for even longer as I am not going to change neither is the other set 🙂

    @Apar: I hear ya! I guess this incident was just the proverbial straw that made me write about it. I hate it when I see it in movies. Like item songs being picturized in madisaar or mocking the language. There is a difference between doing it tastefully and not. Case in point, Michael Madana Kama Rajan made me laugh out loud with the palghat character. It was well done. The same thing in the movie Muthu somehow hurt me. Guess our views color our reactions as well.

  6. I have been ridiculed my whole life by different people about the way i speak.And when your own husband starts mocking you on a daily basis there is no other way than developing a thick skin other than going into depression.I sincerely hope people develop empathy for other people’s feelings and think before they talk.The world would be a better place then.

    @Anila: Hugs! Totally agree with you.

  7. It is an interesting blog in that many have experienced but never thought of making it public..as long as the observations are just mocking in nature, it should be laughed at.. if the the tenor and tone crosses the border of mocking, then it is objectionable and has to be retorted either by direct rebuke or by an advise as to how it is uncivil…

    @ekr: True. I guess the problem lies when the person commenting thinks it is in fun and I do not 🙂 May be in this case I over reacted but I will make it a point to tell them the next time it happens and I do not enjoy it.

  8. worse than getting hurt is knowing that u’ll be able to come up with a repartee a little bit later 🙂

    @ae: Thanks for stopping by! Totally agree. Happened to me way too many times to remember 🙂

  9. Oh yeah! you sound like my mum..the other day she was freaking out on how the folks from her office were making fun of Tamil. People get so excited on how you speak a different language and then start imitating the same and that can be offensive sometimes.
    The same thing happens to me. My friends ask me to speak a line in Tamil and try to speak the same although they fail terribly and what comes out seems like the other person is making fun of your language. I have got so used to it that i hardly feel it now and i know that its not in a mocking tone or anything. So much so, I failed to realize why mom was so upset about the whole thing!

    @Shalu: It’s different when a non tamil person tries to talk tamil and it comes out funny as against a tamilian trying to speak “iyer bashai” with exaggerated word usage. Stuff we don’t normally speak at home like “varela? porela? yen naa..” etc.. That’s when it crosses the line in my opinion.

  10. Usually a repartee works!! For me as a person, I just cannot take jokes that are personal in nature. One thing I have noticed that in Desi community the jokes are usually based on Linguistic difference, caste etc and that really boils my blood.

    I always argue then and there and make the person see sense. Sometimes that may come off as a person who cannot take it easy. But my point is why should I, before saying ‘Take it easy’ try and walk in my shoes (not literally!).

    @Manchus: I always tend to give the other person benefit of doubt and end up feeling hurt. The other thing is that I suck at comebacks. So, the two combined causes me to blog about it rather than sorting it out right then.

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