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|July 25, 2000|
A few yoks for a cause
"Laloo ne chaara khaya hai. Iska future tense banao," teacher ne bachchon se kaha. "Laloo ab dhood de raha hai," baccha bola. (Laloo has swallowed cattle fodder. Give the future tense of that, the teacher asked. Laloo is now giving milk, said the child.)
"Laloo hasya ke devata hai. Agar Laloo ka naam liya to Hasya Sammelan safal ho jata hai (Laloo is the god of laughter. If you take his name, the Hasya Sammelan will be successful)," said Arun Jaimani with a straight face.
The audience roared with laughter and clapped their hands saying, " Bahut khoob, bahut khoob (Very good)!"
The three-member team also includes Pradeep Choubey and Neeraj Puri of Madhya Pradesh, both poets. Choubey is younger brother of Shail Chaturvedi, a well-known poet, humorist and lyricist.
The trio participated in the first Hindi Hasya Sammelan held by the Indo-American Society of Bay Area on July 21 in Sunnyvale. About 300 people turned out to attend the event on a balmy Friday evening. The money collected from the event was donated to Consul M P Singh of the consulate general of India for the Prime Minister's Drought Relief Fund.
For four hours the trio effortlessly spun one chutkula and kavitha after another from their mental spinning wheel. The verbal ribbing, keen-witted and sometimes ribald, kept the audience in splits. Many could be seen wiping tears from their cheeks. Though the audience knew some of the jokes, the timing and delivery set them laughing again.
Jaimani, who served as the moderator, said "Aab mere peechhe do bhari kavi hai (There are two big poets behind me)," The double entendre was a compliment to Puri and Choubhey's wit, but also a reference to their physical appearance since both are on the heavier side.
But the poets themselves gently mocked their own sizes throughout the evening.
The topic of their humour ranged from Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky to the Indian political system and the Indian Railways and, of course, Laloo Prasad.
"Through their humour, they highlighted the political and social situation in India," said Bakshish Sandhu, a retired Indian government employee who currently lives in the Bay Area. "Although I enjoyed listening to them hugely, I felt sad to hear about the current state of affairs in India," she said.
"The sammelan [get-together] reminded me of my younger days in Allahabad," said Lata Malaviya, a long-time resident of the Bay Area. Malaviya, who is actively involved in the local Hindi International Club in the Bay Area, added, "Usually we see such programmes in Tamil, Telugu or Marathi here. This is the first time that Hindi-speaking people have got an opportunity to listen to poets from India. I hope we get to see more of them."
Anita Gunsagar, president of the four-year-old Indo-American Society of Bay Area, said the society had so far donated about $ 100,000 toward various philanthropic activities in India. Some of the money has gone to help orphans and blind children.
On Tuesday, the poets perform in Southern California at Cal State University in Long Beach.
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