Something I will always treasure about the people I meet here is their inexhaustible capacity and willingness to laugh. It’s genetic, as fundamental to Indian living as music is synonymous to Indian blood. A bubble contained in every person.
I think that laughter is as much a physical thing as a cultural trait; I often admire the tiny waists and impossibly slim shoulders of Indian women, but it has not occurred to me until now that perhaps their bone structure is not the only physical attribute that differs from my own.
That internal bubble of humour that they all have cannot be self-powered; it must have some physical force behind it.
Beneath their tiny bones, which seem somehow more delicate than those of any westerner, there must be some pretty impressive organs; lungs of absolute steel and balloon sized capacity, and a diaphragm to knock out a horse!
A vast band of taught tissue! God, the exercise they must receive. If you are at all happy in any way you will understand that even moderate laughter can be felt sorely in that area. Your chest heaves and your abdomen pumps in and out as though your laughter beats a tattoo on the drum of your belly.
Laughter takes work! And I simply cannot imagine that anyone could ever laugh so completely or with such absolute and infectious enjoyment as a group of tickled Indians…
So therefore, the Indian respiratory system must be equally superior to every other people on this Earth! It follows. Yes (ma’am)?
My friends and work executives here in Goa are the perfect example. D, T and P cannot be together or indeed with any person other than themselves without at some point being contagiously and wonderfully amused.
They will be talking in that lovely liquid language, Konkani, and gradually there will swell, from deep within them, the bubble of mirth which is within every Indian person.
It stems from somewhere beyond their very foundation and bubbles inside them, gurgling gradually upwards to reach their shoulders.
They begin to shiver, silently tickled with huge grins stretching their faces and crinkling their eyes. Their chins tuck into their chests as their shoulders wiggle harder and faster. They sway, losing balance, and the noise of their mirth begins to escape.
They will be talking in that lovely liquid language,
It leaks through their tautly happy lips, sniggering and whistling as they grab each other and fall about. Eventually, among all the restraint, someone invariably explodes.
They erupt! Guffawing in the best and heartiest of howls. A firework display of spitting giggles; a rally of shots from the most joyous and spontaneous firing squad to ever posses a diaphragm!
Energetic whacking of shoulders and clutching at arms ensues, and with everyone giggling uncontrollably in whatever language or gibberish they happen to pick –
‘Ahaaaa!!!!! Beverly adghaodsgsdfbaskdfn baaaaa!!!!’
‘Naaahiiiiiiii!!!!!! Khjabgksdbgkasdgbadga hunnnn!’
‘ehhhh?!!! Oioi!!! Savitha? Jasdbksdbfaa!’
And so on and so forth, in a tumbling mess of giggles and abandoned delight. Of course the source of laughter is completely lost by this point. And to be honest it often isn’t anything much anyway. Perhaps someone pronounced something a little off, or someone forgot something very obvious.
What matters is the presence of all 3 at once; one tickle produces another, which bounces about from one to the next, growing with each rebound and taking on more and more force, to finally ERUPT! And from there, all is lost.
Lost in a brilliant wave of primal glee. Better by a thousand times than any drug-induced escape and a state which, for its camaraderie and easy abandonment, may just be the ‘heaven on earth’ that we are all to some degree searching for.
For many Indians, life is so hard. And yet most of the men, women and children I met smiled more than me.