We used spend holidays at mother’s house during student days. The place is on the foothills of Kerala’s High Ranges. Almost everyone in that area was into farming. Very few were educated.
Once during the Sunday sermon in the church there, the priest said that reaching heaven was like going to Kashmir. One has to struggle up a difficult path full of sharp thorns and stones and arrive at the top. Then one sees the most beautiful valley and descend, to live there. Forever.
I was bemused and a little irritated. Back home I told Appan. He smiled and said that the priest did right by presenting the point in a manner that even the least educated in the congregation could understand the concept. That was a lesson to me.
A boy on the ground in a remote African forest saw Air India’s inaugural Bombay-Lagos flight, decades back. He asked his mother what it was. The woman, who was brought up in the best cannibalistic tradition explained, ‘Son, it’s something like a lobster. You throw away the skin and eat what is inside.’ The child understood that it carried people.
Here is another illustration. In the 1960s, the ambassador of European country to a newly independent African nation was much admired and envied by the locals for his wisdom and expertise in many fields. They wished their leaders could be like the diplomat.
At a meeting of the tribal chiefs an idea was mooted that they catch hold of the ambassador and eat his brains so that they would also become wise like him. This was agreed to and promptly done.
The European country was shocked when the news reached. A cable (this was before the advent of the Internet) was immediately sent to the African nation expressing shock and threatening retaliation.
The chiefs met again. Realizing the seriousness of the situation they sent a reply cable presenting their apology and proposing ‘we suggest that if you wish to retliate, you may kindly take the brain of our ambassador to your esteemed country and eat it.’
Communication is a two way street. The listener too has a responsibility to pay careful attention to what is said and clarify doubts. Here is one about that. A journalist was filling gas on a long distance drive when he noticed an elderly Red Indian sitting in a corner. He was told that the man had incredible memory, and powers of the mind.
The journalist went to him and asked, ‘What did I have for breakfast on December 1, 1948?’ The prompt reply was, ‘Eggs’. The reporter scorned saying ‘everybody has eggs for breakfast’ and drove away.
Ten years later the journalist was passing that way again and saw the same Indian. He stopped, walked over and greeted, ‘How!’ The response came immediately, ‘Scrambled’.
The story about the sermon is true. I read the jokes somewhere, long ago.
Also see: A Tyreseller.