THE BIG STORY
’ve been stuck with the
name Urooj my whole
life. Of course, this means
every conversation takes at
least 10 minutes longer than it should
becausepeople can’t move past my
name. I’m met with ‘What does your
name mean?’, ‘Isn’t that a boys’ name?’,
‘Wait, are you Muslim?’, ‘You don’t look
Muslim’. By now, as soon as we’re past
the ‘names’ stage, I chime right in:
‘It means ascension’, ‘Yes, it is’, and
my favourite, ‘Sorry, I forgot to wear
my burqa today’. You can call this
a preemptive strike!
After my older sister, my parents
thought their second (and last) child
was going to be a boy. Don’t judge, they
were simply looking for some variety.
Then they had me, but were too lazy
to change the name they had decided
upon. Apparently, laziness breeds
gender neutral and progressive names—
as they still try to convince me. In
hindsight, being the butt of many jokes
has taught me to laugh at myself—an
unappreciated quality of a comedian!
Looking back, I’ve come to realise
that more than a defense mechanism,
humour is a part of me. In fact, my
parents are quite funny. There have
been instances when my family sat
around a dinner table and cracked jokes
during a financial crises; sentences like
‘Enjoy the food while you still have it!’
have been spoken. When someone’s
fresh off a breakup, inappropriate jokes
like, ‘It’s not your fault. The blood
doesn’t reach his brains because his
T-shirt was so tight’ have been made.
And while humour comes naturally
to me, I’ve always liked performing.
When I was little, I danced at every
wedding, birthday, and funeral I went
to. Honestly, they never got a chance to
say, ‘beta uncle aunty ko dance dikhao’,
because even before the guests could get
past the door, I was dancing.
I took things a step further when
I began participating in open mics ‘for
fun’. I had my psychology degree in
hand, and was all set to study further,
but my first gig was an absolute hit.
The high of performing, and that too,
well, was so impactful that I decided
to keep going. Of course, with highs
come the lows, and I bombed at all my
performances for two months after, but
I knew comedy was my calling. The very
concept of stand-up is that you get on
stage in a room full of people and share
your opinions, hopefully followed
by a joke, and nobody talks back.
I find it hard to imagine anything more
narcissistic and validating than that.
I’m a psychology student. Believe me,
I know. And while I do display some
narcissistic tendencies, what
I really wished for was to be liked by
all. Comedy served that purpose. If
I could make people laugh, they would
like me—it’s therapeutic, in an odd sort
of way. So now, I write the jokes that
make the whole world laugh (sort of),
do things I love, and spend time with
people that make me love myself.
HALLWAY OF HAPPINESS,
AND SHARES A FEW
LAUGHS ALONG THE WAY
I I had my
ps ychology degree in
ha nd, and was all set
to study further,
but my first gig was
an absolute hit.
PHOTOGRAPH: OML ENTERTAINMENT PVT LTD