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The Humor of Melvin Durai

June 2011
The Humor of Melvin Durai


Osama blacked out and found himself at the bottom of a deep shaft, with a single tunnel leading out of it. He crawled through the tunnel and was pleased to see that it got wider and wider until he was able to walk upright. He walked for a mile or two and came to a large iron door. He knocked on the door. No answer.

“Hello!” he called out. “Is this where I get my 72 virgins?”

The door opened slightly and a gust of heat shot through it, scorching Osama’s eyebrows. He fell back against the wall of the tunnel. A red-faced creature with two horns peered through the gap, smoke spiraling from his ears. He pointed at Osama and laughed hysterically, his forked tongue swishing over his lips. “72 virgins? Ha ha ha! That’s a good one!”

He turned away from Osama and yelled into the fiery abyss behind him. “Is anyone a virgin in here?”

A wave of laughter, more powerful than the heat, rumbled through the door, causing the tunnel to shake.

“Sorry, buddy,” the creature said. “You’re out of luck! No virgins here. But we do have a guy named Virgil.”

“But I was promised 72 virgins in heaven.”

The creature laughed hysterically again. “Heaven? Sorry, buddy, you’ve come to the wrong place. Did you use Google Maps or Yahoo?”

“I didn’t have time to use either. What place is this anyway?”

“Well, it used to be called hell. But we sold the naming rights a year ago. It’s now called the Enron Corporation Hot House.”

“But there must be a mistake. I was supposed to go to heaven.”

The creature laughed. “That’s what they all say. Even Adolf believes that he belongs in heaven.”

“But I killed more than 3,000 infidels.”

“Yes, I know. That’s why you were fast-tracked here. You were sent straight to hell. I mean, straight to Enron Hot House. Just like Saddam.”

“My friend is here? Can I see him?”

“He’s busy getting a root canal. After that, he has an appointment with the proctologist.”

“What about his sons? Can I see them?”

“They’re busy getting their taxes done. Every day is tax day here.”

“Is there anyone else I can see?”

“In a few hours, perhaps. I can’t let you in just yet.”

“You think maybe I don’t belong here?”

“Oh, you belong here all right. We’ve been waiting a long time for you. But we need to make sure you’re really dead.”

“What do you mean? I felt those bullets go through me. I’ve got to be dead.”

“Yes, I know. But the photos of your dead body haven’t been released – and someone spotted you at a restaurant in Japan, eating sushi with Elvis.”

“But if I’m here, aren’t I dead?”

“Not necessarily. Sometimes people come for a few minutes and then they leave. It happens every 10 years or so.”

“You think that might happen with me?”

“Well, you have a snowball’s chance in Enron Hot House. But I just want to be certain. You know what would happen if I let you in and you don’t stay? All Enron Hot House would break loose.”

“So you want me to wait out here alone?”

“Not alone. I’ll be sending out the vermin to keep you company. They’ve been waiting anxiously to welcome you.”


“Yes, 72 of them.”


It was 1999, the movie Sixth Sense was creating long lines at the box office and M. Night Shyamalan looked like a genius, a directing mastermind destined to win more Oscars than Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson combined. He was “The Next Spielberg” and every moviegoer learned to pronounce his name – or at least give it a game try: “M. Night Shy May Lawn.”

He was the biggest South Asian name in America, with apologies to Deepak Chopra and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Malayalis were saying, “He’s a Malayali.” And Tamils were saying, “No, he’s a Tamil.”

Then came a string of movies that dropped him from “wunderkind” all the way to “dunderhead.” His latest offering The Last Airbender virtually swept the recent Golden Raspberry Awards, winning five Razzies, including “Worst Director” and “Worst Picture.” Roger Ebert gave the movie half a star and called it “an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented.” Malayalis conceded that he’s a Tamil. And Tamils insisted that he’s a Malayali.

But fans of his early movies haven’t given up. They’ve come up with a brilliant idea: sending Shyamalan back to film school. Yes, according to PopEater.com, author/copywriter Chris Baker and his two friends are trying to raise $150,000 to send Shyamalan back to his alma mater, New York University. They’ve even created a website (http://MNightSchool.org), where concerned moviegoers can donate money.

It sounds like a great plan, but will it really work? Can Shymalan reclaim his genius tag through some remedial study? Or does he need to do something more drastic, like shave his head and get an earring? What about giving up scriptwriting and focusing on directing? Or giving up both and going to medical school? Whatever happens, it’s bound to have more twists than an M. Night Shyamalan script.


1. Lady Gaga made two desi remixes of her hit single "Born this way."

2. Amar Bose, the founder of Bose Corp., donated most of his company’s stock to his alma mater, MIT.

3. Arjun was the 639th most popular boys name in America in 2010, rising almost 350 spots from its popularity in 2001.

4. Following the shooting of Osama bin Laden, the Asian Age newspaper in India printed a headline that said “US kills bin Laden in – you knew it – Pakistan.”

5. Watching a Bollywood movie with Akshay Kumar helped Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper return to power with a majority government.

(All 5 really happened)


Bollywood flash mob proposal
Aayush proposes to Ambika at Pier 39 in San Francisco.

Talented Youngster
A youngster from a poor Delhi family plays classical Indian music on a keyboard.


Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel “Bala Takes the Plunge.”

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

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