Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Humourous Speech @ Toastmasters

Somebody famously said "Perception is Subjective". Yes, I agree, but only to a certain extent. After all, an idiot will remain an idiot, irrespective of our perception. A red rose will remain a red rose, irrespective of what we think. But on the contrary, without this subjectivity, the same half-filled glass of water would not be called half-empty by others.

Dear Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and guests, let me share with you a small story. There was a religious gathering happening in Supaul, a remote place in north Bihar, in a jam-packed playground. It was a highly awaited gathering, so people flocked, flocked in big numbers. There were people sitting, standing, hanging by walls, clinging onto rooftops, literally everywhere. It looked like a typical Kumbh-Ka-Mela, that we frequently get to see in our Bollywood movies. The only difference was, here we had real characters while in movies they are there just for the money. I myself happened to witness this Mela. But I noticed that people were doing all sorts of unproductive things, one can imagine. Here are the samples

Some of them were yawning, yawning with their mouth wide-open, proudly showing off all of their 32 teeth, as if rest of us have none. Some of them were busy releasing green-house-gases to the atmosphere, forcing nearby people to run for cover. But some of them had thought this out in advance and were well-prepared for such adverse situations. Immediately, they took out their towels and handkerchiefs in open, made a mask of sorts and wrapped them around their nose. How thoughtful, thinking on your feet !!

There were few climate-change evangelists also ,who were furiously taking notes, notes on what ?? They were planning to publish a white-paper on how these type of religious gatherings result into global-warming by virtue of increased emissions of green-house gases !!

In some corner, some of these so-called devotees were busy discussing a daily saas-bahu soap. “Hey, do you think Abha will be rescued by her ex-boyfriend Mihir in “Uska Pati Sirf Mera Hai” ?? Hope, Swamiji does something for her. I just love the jwellery she wore on her husband's death-anniversary. I wish, I could have all those jewelleries. I would die any day for those jewelleries, not for my husband !!”. Somebody whispered slowly into his neighbour's ears “You know what, even Swamiji is very fond of daily soaps. I have heard him talking to few of his disciples about this upcoming ZeeTV serial “Mujhe Es Swami Se Bachao“. But please don't tell this to Swamiji.

Seemingly oblivious to all these happenings surrounding her, there was this old lady sitting in a corner. She looked pretty relaxed, trying to grasp all things on offer. She religiously came to attend this Satsang every single day and used to listen to Swamiji's teachings very carefully. But for some reason, every time Swamiji uttered some verses or Sanskrit-Shloka, she cried, she cried bitterly. Everybody around thought, perhaps she is a bit overwhelmed with emotions, very typical of a senior-citizen. No wonder, she is unable to control her tears.

On the day, when this satsang was coming to an end, Swamiji walked to this old lady and asked her “You have been a true devotee in all aspects. and have been a patient listener all through. I have never seen anything like this before. I can understand your emotions, but I was wondering as to what made you cry like a baby during all my sessions". This lady replied back with an empty stare, as if Swamiji had asked her to donate both her kidneys. Unfazed by her first reaction, Swamiji repeated his question. But even on second attempt, there was no answer, except for a wry smile on her face,no emotions at all. Swamiji tried again. Despite repeated attempts, this lady remained unmoved, very much like a cow standing in middle of a busy road in Bangalore, despite being honked around from all different corners. Swamiji was growing increasingly frustrated with her attitude, but she remained as cool as a cucumber.

He looks around and notices one gentleman making his way to the scene, offering his helping hand. Swamiji asks "What is wrong with this lady ? She is not responding to my questions ?” Gentleman replies “What ?? Whom are you talking to ? This poor lady is stone deaf. She can't hear even a single word !!”. Swamiji was aghast, he just got the shock of his lifetime. He felt as if he had just accidentally got in tough with a naked electric wire, left loose by BBMP authorities. He didn't believe what he heard. He pinched himself to make sure, all his senses were at the right places, especially his ears. She can't hear a thing and yet she sat through all my teachings for full seven days and in fact cried on many occassions without understanding even a single word. Oh My God.

Swamiji recollected his senses and thought to himself. There is a another angle to the same, a different perception. Probably, my speech delivery was so amazing and mesmerizing that it suited even to deaf persons. Swamiji took out the mike and announced it in front of all his devotees "My teachings are out of the world, I just made a deaf lead listen to all my teachings for past 7 days and understand all of it. That's a super-natural power that I possess. This is nothing sort of a miracle". Swamiji boasted this in front of every body. Everybody thought "Wow, what a great Swami ??" and they started clapping in appreciation.

But Swamiji's joy was not to last long. The moment Swamiji finished, Gentleman took the mike from  his hand  and made an announcement “She used to have a female goat, which was always ready with her bleating and generous in her milk yield. She was very happy with her life. But few months ago, the goat died. Unfortunately, you happened to sport a French beard, which looks very similar to the one hanging from goat's jaw. So every time you spoke something, your jaw went up and down and that reminded her of that goat sitting in front of her. That was the reason, she cried so badly.

I was amazed at their perceptions.Swamiji perceived the poor old-lady to be her most dedicated devotee, while the old-lady perceived Swamiji as being reminiscent of her dead goat.

Later on, I happened to invite Swamiji on a Pooja at my home. During our conversation, he exclaimed “If while eating rice, a piece-of-rice happens to land on your moustache, it means you are going to die very soon”. Ok, fine, point taken. After performing the Pooja, it was time for dinner. Swamiji started eating as it there is no tomorrow. When we realized that we are going to run short of food, we became anxious. We said “Swamiji, please have some water also”. Swamiji replied “I always follow a rule of taking water, only when I am half done. But suddenly we spotted something which made all of us forget this food-shortage and in fact feel gloomy. I noticed that a piece of rice was sitting pretty on Swamiji's moustache. I felt sad about the fact that Swamiji will be no longer with us for long. Swamiji was ignorant of this and fully focussed on matar-paneer and sweets on offer. But then I broke this sad news to Swamiji. He thought for a moment and then said...

  It depends on you. If you remove this soon enough, nothing bad is going to happen. See... and he wiped out the piece of rice from his moustache.
(Due to time-constraint, I had to remove this section, when I delivered my speech for the second time at a different club. Hope to fit it in as part of some other speech)

I was left amused. I had seen both faces of the coin. We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are. How true. I had my answers. I was left with no choice but to believe that “Perception is indeed Subjective”.

Over to you ToastMasters.

Update : I have now uploaded the video for this speech on YouTube. Here are the URLs
 Part I   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roBIDOxk-PQ
 Part II  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejvbDjcV_C0
My cameraman fumbled for a moment during the speech, due to which ~ 1 minute recording is missing. Nevertheless Thanks a ton to Venkat for doing the camera-man job :-) and having successfully recorded it. Thanks a lot to Abhishek, who provided valuable tips on improving the content.

PS: Although its delivery was less than perfect,I still managed to grab the Best-Prepared-Speaker Award in today's toastmaster session :-) Please feel free to put your comments w,r,t my speech-delivery.

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