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Desi Humor

June 2008
Desi Humor


Rice is extremely popular in our household—and I'm not talking about Condoleezza. I'm talking about the type of rice that looks warm and elegant at a dinner party.

My wife cooks rice almost every day. And when she isn't cooking rice, she's often making something out of rice, such as dosa and idli. She practically survives on rice. That's why I'm concerned about the rising price of rice, even more than the rising price of gas. I need gas to run my car, it's true, but I need rice to run my wife. Sure, she might operate on wheat or corn for a few weeks. But eventually I'd have to take her to the people mechanic.

Me: "She's been very sluggish lately, ever since I started filling her up with wheat and corn."

Doctor: "You're an idiot! Don't you know that she's got a rice engine?"

Me: "A rice engine?"

Doctor: "Yes, she's highly adapted to using rice as an energy source. Putting wheat and corn in her is like putting beer in your car. Only an idiot would do that."

Me: "Yeah, that's true. Lemonade is cheaper. Will she be all right? Is there any permanent damage?"

Doctor: "I'm not sure. Put her on the jack. I'll take a look under her."

Billions of other people share my wife's affinity for rice—and that's just in India and China. Many people in Asia eat rice (or a rice product) three times a day. For them, it's not just a staple—it's the entire stapler.

The price of rice has risen so fast, some people are paying twice as much as they did a few weeks ago. They're furious—and understandably so. Just imagine how college students would feel if, all of a sudden, the price of beer doubled. There would be riots on campus.

So what's causing the price increase? I attribute it to three factors:

1. Biofuels. Too many farmers are growing corn and other crops to produce biofuels such as ethanol. The Farmers Association slogan "We put food on your table" has been changed to "Food? Who said anything about food?"

2. Weddings. Too much rice is being thrown at newlyweds. We need to change this tradition, which unnecessarily wastes food. Next time I go to a wedding, I'm throwing fruitcake.

3. Drought. Farmers in some regions have been unable to grow rice and other crops, despite praying day and night to the rain gods. A few desperate farmers have even invited Dustin Hoffman to visit, because they heard he was the "Rain Man."

How dire is the situation? Well, several countries, including India and Vietnam, have stopped exporting rice, while Sam's Club, a division of Wal-Mart, is restricting customers to four bags of jasmine, basmati and long-grain white rice per visit. Four bags. In some Asian households, that's breakfast.

It reminds me of the time I visited a friend's house for dinner.

Friend: "Here's the appetizer. Rice chips."

Me: "Thank you. What's for dinner?"

Friend: "Fried rice with some rice soup. And for dessert we're having rice pudding."

Me: "Yummy! Anything to drink?"

Friend: "Yes, rice wine. It's homemade, like everything else."

Me: "Really? Where did you learn to cook so well?"

Friend: "Rice University."


The 19-year-old son of a truck driver won a baseball pitching contest in India and is now training in California with hopes of playing in the major leagues.

India’s space agency launched 10 satellites on a single day.

The government of Jharkhand announced that it would offer free haircuts to students at government schools.

An Indian Premier League (IPL) team offered free season tickets to men who signed up for voluntary sterilization.

A Jet Airways billboard in New York City depicted the Statue of Liberty wearing a bindi.

(1,2, 3 and 5 really happened)


The national dish of Britain is no longer being served on the national airline, at least not in economy class. British Airways announced that it has taken beef off its menu because of “religious restrictions.”

Many of its passengers, especially on flights to India, are Hindu and don’t eat beef.

"We can only serve two options and beef and pork obviously have religious restrictions,” a British Airways spokesperson told the Daily Mail. “We have to try to use two meals which appeal to as many customers as possible. This summer season we are offering customers in World Traveller on most longhaul flights a choice of chicken and tarragon or fish pie.”

The decision to scrap beef is bound to upset some passengers.

Flight attendant: "Would you like chicken or fish, sir?"

Male passenger: "Do you have any beef?"

Flight attendant: "No, not anymore."

Passenger: "Not anymore? What d'ya mean? It's our national dish!"

Flight attendant (whispering): "A lot of people don't eat beef, sir."

Passenger: "It's those darn Hindus, innit? They've spoilt it for us!"

Flight attendant (whispering): "Keep your voice down, sir. There are a lot of ... uh ... Hindus on board."

Hindu passenger sitting nearby: "Yes, keep your voice down, sir. Otherwise we'll complain about the chicken and fish, and, the next time you fly, you'll be eating curd rice and pickle.”


Of all the wedding gifts a couple receives, there are always a few they’d like to flush down the toilet. A growing number of couples in India are flushing their gifts, but not to get rid of them.

Portable toilets as wedding gifts has become a trend, especially when grooms live in rural areas, according to a Times of India article.

"When my uncle asked about the marriage gift, I suggested a portable toilet,” bride-to-be Ekta Tare said. “As a new bride I would not be in a position to ask my in-laws to construct a toilet at their place. So, while leaving Pune, I will carry my toilet."

It’s a great wedding gift, one that both husband and wife can enjoy for many years to come, as long as their marriage doesn’t go down the ? uh ? toilet.


(Excepts from actual matrimonial ads on the Internet)

She’ll be your favorite too: “I am quite energetic and lively. I am known to be very cheerful and am a general favorite amongst friends and relatives.”

She wants to understand you: “I’m smart, confident and intelligent. My hobbies are listening to music and cooking. My partner should be caring, loving and understandable.”

He’s got a good carrier: “I’m independent, working in fashion industry, some time doing some odd jobs, just trying to settle my carrier ?”

He isn’t a careerist: “I am looking for a gal who will have same interest and positive view towards life. And to be frank I am ambitious but not careeristic person. Coz I believe there are many things apart from carrer to enjoy in life.”


Desis Got Talent


Suleman Mirza and Madhu Singh perform on “Britain’s Got Talent.”

Padma Perkish


Tracey Ullman plays an Indian pharmacist in this short clip from her new Showtime series “State of the Union.”

Black or White


Amitabh Bachchan sets Barack Obama straight in this animated clip.

Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time, our newest column. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips and more]

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