Femina India – August 09, 2019

(Jacob Rumans) #1



hen you come from
a Gujarati family, you
know nobody chooses
a less-than-worthy
subject to study like ‘arts’. So
growing up, my life was a series of
streamlined plans. I studied to be
a chartered accountant (CA); that was
plan A. After that, I had to be married;
that was plan B. After marriage comes
a child—preferably in that order, of
course. We don’t want any scandals in
a typical Gujarati household, do we?
So naturally, Plan B was to progress to
have children by the age of 28. Then,
after all the plans were in effect, I’d
become a stock broker and take after
my mother.
It’s funny how things don’t quite go
according to plans A and B, especially
for someone with a severe case of
stage fright. In fact, our small Gujarati
community in Dadar, Mumbai, used
to organise an annual get-together,
and I’d invariably be dressed to the
nines (read: the nine-yard sari of
a bhaji waali) as part of the fancy
dress competition. Of course, I’d run
off stage in fright without a peep, and
maybe some tears, but that would be
the end of my mother’s hard work. In
retrospect, my stage frightwasnot
because I couldn’t performin
front of an audience,
but because
I couldn’t perform
in front of people
who’d had some
context to my life.
Fast-forward to adult
life, when I was clearing
my CA exams (#adulting101,
amirite?). It was onlyduringmy
final exams that I hit a roadblock,
so my mum wanted to move to plan
B—marriage. I was dating my now
husband (who I met at my CA classes)
when my mother wanted me to get

married, but I wasn’t quite ready. And
since both of us were unsuccessful in
clearing that final exam, we decided
to take up an ‘art’ to get our minds off
things. He enrolled in the East India
Comedy’s stand-up workshop, and
I enrolled in a dance workshop. While
the both of us love stand-up, it never
really occurred to me that there was
a place for women in comedy, rather
I hadn’t come across a woman do
stand-up. Besides, I never really
wanted to try. Working to get rid
of that stage fright wasn’t a part of
my plan, remember? And dancing
felt more ‘lady-like’. Clearly, the
conditioning lay intact. And while
my dance workshop was pretty damn
cool, watching myself move in front
of those ceiling-to-floor mirrors was
perhaps the best cure to stage fright
because bombing in front of a mirror
is far worse than bombing on stage.
At least with the latter, you can’t see
yourself in real time!
A quick side-step from that bad
joke, I began accompanying my
partner to open mic nights, and a part
of me felt like I should get on stage.
So, the following month, I signed up
for an open mic, because, why not?
The first one was phenomenal; the
second was not. Of course, it wasn’t as
bad as bombing in front of the mirror,
but when you know the audience
can laugh but they just don’t want to
laugh with you, the experience can
really shake you. It’s a classic case of
‘It’s not you, it’s me’, but in this case,
you know it actually is you! The stage
fright came screaming back. But of
course, I did find my way to the stage
once more—the rebel in me didn’t
let up. And it’s been six incredible
comedy-ridden years. Besides, who
doesn’t love a good Gujju joke every
now and then, right?
—As told to Charlene Flanagan



SONALI Thakker

When you come
from a Gujarati family,
you know nobody
ever chooses
a less-than-worthy
to study.

Free download pdf