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Guitar Teacher

“Why did the guitar teacher get arrested? For fingering a minor!”

Jeena is my older cousin, she’s a mom with three younger kids, so she really enjoys hanging out with our older cousins because she can tell jokes like this. I asked her if she knew any jokes for my Folklore archive, and she said that she had a really good one but it might be, “inappropriate.” She said her husband told her this joke, where he heard it at one of their famous poker parties. Jeena and her husband, Chess, are notorious for hosting intense poker parties among family and friends, and this is one of their traditions; typically they get together with food before the action starts, and during that time, to keep the mood light, someone will crack a joke. This is one of those jokes that she heard. So even though the joke wasn’t hers, she heard it from a tradition she started with her husband for her friends and family, so I thought it was actually the perfect joke to tell at the Easter party with the older cousins, because it brought people together, much like it did at the poker party she heard it at.

Folk speech
Humor

“Pebbles”

“Three girls get called into the principal’s office. The principal asks the first girl, ‘Why are you here?’ The girl says, ‘I was throwing pebbles into the lake.’ The principal responds, saying, ‘That’s not so bad. You can go.’ Then he asks the second girl, ‘Why are you here?’ The girl said, ‘I was throwing pebbles into the lake.’ The principal, “That’s not so bad, you can go.” The third girl walks up to him, soaking wet, and the principal asks, ‘Why are you here?’ And the girl responds, ‘I’m Pebbles.’ End joke.”

 

This piece was told to me by Sunny Malhotra, who heard it at his all boys’ school. He said that it was among the tamer jokes circulated at the school, and it’s his go-to joke when someone asks him to tell a joke, because it can be shared with most audiences regardless of age. He says that his delivery of the joke is always sarcastic because he recognizes that it’s not that great humor-wise, but it’s more of a “punny” setup. The context of his joke was that I had asked him to tell me one, and so he gave me the one he keeps on reserve for instances like this.

Folk speech
Humor

“Turkey in Suspense”

How do you keep a turkey in suspense? I’ll tell you next year.

Jaclyn told me this joke at our annual Easter party with our extended family. She told it in honor of her uncle, Bagu, who tells that joke all the time. Bagu immigrated to Orange County from India, and this was a joke he told his daughter, Sapna (Jaclyn’s first cousin) as they were growing up.  It was the first joke she thought of, because, as cheesy as it is, she grew up hearing it, and she told it to honor Bagu, who couldn’t be at the party that year. I’ve definitely heard the joke before, but Jaclyn was so excited to tell it, so I wrote it down.

Folk speech
Musical

Oh Good Morning

“Oh good morning, pray how do you do, we are babies come to sing to you. Cheeks like roses, hair all in curl, how you like to be my baby girl.”

My grandmother used to sing this to her daughters after they moved from Mumbai to California. It’s how she woke them up in the mornings. She read it somewhere, in a magazine, and then she would sing it to her daughters, including my mother, to get them up and ready for school. She said she would  go to their room and they’d all put a pillow on their head and shriek, “No!” I asked my grandma to tell me this song, because she used to sing it to me when I was very young as well, so it has a lot of meaning for my family. I always felt special because the way the lyrics are, you can’t sing it for boys, so my brothers never got to hear it; it was special and just for me.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Proverbs

Monisha Mantras (1)

“Let it be easy, let it be good.”

 

Monisha is my older cousin who has taken a longer route to find what she ultimately wants to do, and that ended up being alternative medicine, so she does acupuncture and provides herbal remedies for people seeking less traditional forms of healing. She’s also very into yoga, hiking, and finding oneself, and as a result, she has lots of mantras that she shared with me after she asked me how college was and I told her I was a little stressed. I decided to write them down, because she’s heard these mantras from backpacking trips through Asia, Europe, and California when she goes with groups of other people for meditation trips. She said that she didn’t know what she wanted to do for a long time, but now she does. I asked her to tell me some of the mantras that helped her at our annual Easter party, and she immediately had some to lend out. She said she uses this one a lot.

Customs
Folk speech
Musical
Proverbs

Jo Kheer Piyae

“Jo kheer piyae, so veer thae, dhand zor vuthan, sutha suhan lagan, aakhun jyot vudhay, dhadhi suhan thae, de kheer ama p school vuchan.”

This is a childhood rhyme in India. First the mother is telling the child: The one who drinks milk grows very strong. His teeth are bright white and beautiful, his eyesight is always good, it makes him or her look beautiful.

The child says: Mom, please give me milk so I can drink milk and then go to school.

My grandmother says he says this because he knows that health is wealth. Her mother used to sing it for her when she was a little girl living back in India. Every time I didn’t want to drink my milk as a child, she would sing this song for me.

Folk speech
Proverbs

Ganga and Her Milk Pot

“Ganga and her milk pot. Basically the story is that, it’s someone who, so you get a new job and okay, for example, if you’re an aspiring actor, you go for an audition, and the director really likes you and calls you and says you were very good, and we’ll be in touch. And you, the actress, take that and say, ‘Oh my god, he loved me! I’m so good, I’m going to be selected for this role, I’m going to be a phenomenal star, I’m gonna be super rich, a super famous person mingling with celebrities.’ And the next day you get a call saying you didn’t get the part. So Ganga and the milk pot, she carries her milk pot and she’s got milk in there and she thinks she’s gonna sell the milk and get the money and then the pot falls down on the ground and it breaks and all her milk spills.

This is what we were taught as kids, it’s an Indian folktale, the moral is don’t think so far ahead, and start making plans and stuff, and then you already jump to step 10 from one thing.”

This is a proverb of sorts that my mother told me when I asked her if she remembered anything her mother had told her from childhood, any stories or morals. This is her word for word retelling of that story, and it means a lot to her, because when she was growing up, her mother would tell her and her sisters this story all the time. She says it’s taught her to not get too ahead of oneself.

Folk speech
Humor

“Santa Claus”

“Why does Santa Claus have such a big sack? He only comes once a year.”

Sapna, my cousin, wanted to originally tell a joke that her dad had been saying to her and her cousins growing up, but another cousin beat her to it, so she decided to tell this one instead at our annual Easter party. She was really excited about the delivery of it, too.  She said it was a joke she’d heard at work, but then she looked it up online to remember the exact wording and tell it correctly. Sapna’s always leaned towards slightly inappropriate humor, so I was expecting something along these lines, but it did make everyone in the group laugh, if reluctantly. Humor is a really big part of Sapna’s life, and she’s such a funny, outspoken person, so this joke was perfect for her.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Folk speech
Proverbs

Monisha Mantras (4)

“I am perfectly on time.”

Monisha is my older cousin who has taken a longer route to find what she ultimately wants to do, and that ended up being alternative medicine, so she does acupuncture and provides herbal remedies for people seeking less traditional forms of healing. She’s also very into yoga, hiking, and finding oneself, and as a result, she has lots of mantras that she shared with me after she asked me how college was and I told her I was a little stressed. I decided to write them down, because she’s heard these mantras from backpacking trips through Asia, Europe, and California when she goes with groups of other people for meditation trips. She said that she didn’t know what she wanted to do for a long time, but now she does. I asked her to tell me some of the mantras that helped her at our annual Easter party, and she immediately had some to lend out. She said she uses this one a lot.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Folk speech
Proverbs

Monisha Mantras (3)

“I choose my thoughts.”

Monisha is my older cousin who has taken a longer route to find what she ultimately wants to do, and that ended up being alternative medicine, so she does acupuncture and provides herbal remedies for people seeking less traditional forms of healing. She’s also very into yoga, hiking, and finding oneself, and as a result, she has lots of mantras that she shared with me after she asked me how college was and I told her I was a little stressed. I decided to write them down, because she’s heard these mantras from backpacking trips through Asia, Europe, and California when she goes with groups of other people for meditation trips. She said that she didn’t know what she wanted to do for a long time, but now she does. I asked her to tell me some of the mantras that helped her at our annual Easter party, and she immediately had some to lend out. She said she uses this one a lot.

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