By Vinod Kunj
Managing Partner, thoughtblurb
In a world that is getting updated real time, one tends to look for things that have a semblance of constancy. The dull thud of the newspaper as it lands outside the front door each morning is one such event. For something that carries the weight of the world upon its broad-sheeted shoulders, I must admit that it makes a rather muted announcement. I have often played games with myself trying to guess the source of that dull thud.
Is it the sound of people gagged and thrown into a bottomless pit? Or the sound of a thwack from Sachin Tendulkar’s bat on some distant shore? Is it the assertive sound of a billion people booting out a government after an election? Or the dull echo of a crash at the bourse? These I find predictable. More so, when throughout the day I am assailed by new-age harbingers of news - tweets, status updates and 24x7 news channels.
But there is an aspect of news that is impossible to predict, and it is ‘corny news’. It does not conform to logic, there is no reason, it is without precedent and amusing without being funny. I scan the newspaper for corny news and not a day goes by when I do not have a clutch of these. Truth is stranger than fiction, and corny news exemplifies it.
Here is what I found in the papers today. In Yavatmal, a district of Maharashtra, 600 school teachers submitted identical certificates to the Zilla Parishad claiming that they are deaf. There is no epidemic of deafness sweeping Yavatmal, but these teachers want to avoid being transferred to another district. After five years of service, teachers can be transferred unless they have a 40% physical deformity. Obviously these teachers believe that a permanent shift of hearing is better than a temporary shift of domicile. I wonder then, how will they walk into a class of boisterous children and say, ‘Silence please’!
Sample another nugget in the ‘World News’ section. In Brazil, surgeons have removed a fourinch knife that was lodged inside a man’s skull for three years! Which begs the question, how did it get there in the first place? Did the man’s wife use his head as a knife holder? And what were the surgeons doing for three years? Waiting for the blade to pass out of his bowels one fine day!
Corniness is not what happens in vague parts of the world. Look around you and you’ll find ‘corny’ gems staring at you from everywhere. A friend has a list of corny names of people he has met over the years - ‘Chairman Durai’ from Salem, Tamil Nadu, ‘President Chettiyar’, ‘Minister Ramaiyyah’... Obviously, the aspirations of the parents had a direct impact on the names of these poor sods. Some other names in that list are ‘Baijubawra Nair’, a Malayalee who must be the progeny of film-crazed parents, and ‘Ajnabi Kumar’, probably of dubious parentage!
The Internet is a wellspring of corniness. But of all the corny sources that beguile the imagination, advertising is the corniest. The idiot box may have got its name as much from its content as it has from the ads that litter it. Where else do you see people avidly discussing toothpastes, singing songs in praise of sanitary pads or launching into a diatribe on toilet cleaners! There are ads that claim to reverse virginity, ads that promise women eternal marital bliss by wearing a particular brand of pantyhose. Admen call it ‘willing suspension of disbelief’. I am waiting to see one person who willingly suspends disbelief and is still not in the loony bin. You can see a bunch of these ads on the Corny Ads page on Facebook.
The dictionary defines corny as mawkish, trite. For me ‘corny’ is what makes the world such an amusing, unpredictable, and zoned out place to spend a lifetime.