Humour? Be cautious! Sense of humour is a great virtue and so we think but it is not unconditionally so. Let me take you back in time, not by a few years, but to the previous Yuga! When the Pandavas invited the Kauravas to their newly built gorgeous palace at Hastinapur, the Kauravas came reluctantly. The palace had such tricky features that Duryodhana made a fool of himself by falling in a pool of water thinking that he was stepping on to solid floor. Draupathi who was witnessing it from the balcony with her friends laughed heartily and commented, ‘A blind father’s son is blind too!’ It was at that instance, the seeds for the bitter Kurukshetra Battle were sown. Draupathi’s ill-timed laughter and her equally warped sense of humour did not go well with Duryodhan who vowed to take his revenge at that precise moment. We often come across instances of men of high virtue begetting children who are diametrically opposite to their parents in character. Even Lord Krishna was no exception to this. His son Samba, born through His third wife Jambavi, was a great menace. He had a warped sense of humour which, unlike his Father’s, caused no joy to anyone! Once there was a spiritual symposium in which such erudite sages as Narada, Kasyapa, Viswamithra and Durvasa participated. Samba was having a good time with his likeminded friends nearby and when he came to know of the spiritual symposium, he wanted to have some fun at the expense of the Sages. He dressed himself as a pregnant woman concealing an iron pestle in his waist for effect and presented himself before the Sages. He pleaded with them to tell him what child would be born of him. The infuriated Durvasa who knew of his prank cursed him that he would get an iron pestle as a child which would cause the destruction of the entire Yadava community. The Purana goes on to tell us how the curse comes true and even the Lord Himself had to become a victim when His life was taken away by an unintended arrow shot by a hunter by name Jara fixed with a iron spike made with Samba’s pestle! These are extreme cases of humour going wrong, very wrong indeed. But modern cases of humour landing people in difficulty are a delightful study of human psychology. I had a cousin by name Narasimhan or Nachu in short. He was a good chap basically but had an awful sense of humour that showed him in pretty bad light always. If a relative or friend came to his house unannounced for lunch or dinner, he would ask him, ‘What Sir! You have got fed up with your wife’s cooking eh?’ He would take this further with a supplementary remark, ‘I too am fed up with my wife’s cooking but I have nowhere to go! I guess I’ll have to suffer this fate till my dying day. But you are lucky compared to me! Eat, eat!’ The poor friend would have not only lost his appetite hearing all that but would have vowed not to step into that house again! Knowing Nachu as I did, all he said would be only plain blabbering in the name of humour and it certainly would not be his intention to throw the guest off his door forever. The case of this Doctor is even more interesting. He is one of the most qualified gastroenterologists in town and his qualifications occupy half the space in his letterhead. He never fails to hit the bull’s eye with his diagnosis. A medico of his caliber ought to be having patients clutching their stomachs queuing up in front of his clinic but surprisingly you will find him free and available most of the time. His Achilles’ heel is his sense of humour. He forgets that his patients come to him in great agony with all the undigested and infected food turning their stomachs virtually into a battlefield. When they start describing their symptoms, he starts joking with them. If they tell him that there is a lot of noise in the stomach, he would respond saying ‘Show me one place where there is no noise! Noise pollution has reached even our stomachs and that’s a pity’ and start laughing uncontrollably with tears come out of his eyes. If anyone complains of diarrhea, his response would be ‘So your south gate has burst open? Keep your north gate totally shut for a few days’ and his famous laughter would follow. I went to him only once with a complaint of nausea and I do not want to tell you what his remark was. The laughter put me off completely and I just scrambled out of his room once and for all! Humour is fine but not the unbridled one. We see humour in a person slipping over a banana peel and we start laughing. Our laughter gets directly proportional to the size of the person who falls! The person who falls is also forced to laugh as if he slipped and fell just to amuse us! This is not reckoned as people trying to have fun at our expense because slipping on a banana peel has been happening regularly from the days of Adam and Eve. In all other cases, we must use our discretion when trying to be funny.