How To Make Enemies and Offend People is probably the funniest book in stores right now. It made me regret that I had not read G Sampath’s columns before and it has made me a die-hard fan.
The English Internet in India has quite a few satirists, fake news sites, bloggers and humour columnists—in a country that is baffling to everyone who lives in it, this is not surprising at all—but off the top of my head, I can’t name more than a couple of humorists as funny as G Sampath.
And even those two funny men don’t seem to have as wide a range of topics or as much variety in style.
No one has surprised me by veering suddenly into the profound when I was expecting more comedy. No one has made me laugh at the truth, with the truth, challenged my perspective, given me hope and made fun of my idols within the space of 200-odd pages.
For this remarkably funny collection of essays that actually do manage to offend you in many places, G Sampath deserves praise. It’s not easy making people think about things they are unwilling to think about and doing that while making them laugh at themselves is even harder.
This collection of humourous (mostly satirical) essays is sorted under five headings:
1. Offending the wife
2. Offending myself
3. Offending women (other than wife)
4. Offending big people
5. Offending anybody who is willing to take offence.
Some chapters like The Delhi Police Guide to Making Women Rape Proof are pure satire, while some like Ten Questions You Wish Somebody Would Ask Sachin are sure to make you argue while you read it. Delighted by the wordplay, I read How Gross Is Your Gross Domestic Output aloud and alone, twice in a row.
Read this paragraph, for instance that appears in a chapter entitled So Who Would You Like to See ‘Disappeared’ This Week?
“I believe there is also an irreproachable logic behind wanting all economists to disappear: I want to ‘disappear’ economists because economists ‘disappear’ human beings. In face, making humans disappear is at the core of what they want to do. They take agency away from humans, grant it to abstract constructs like Capital or Market (which even has an ‘invisible hand’, they tell us) or Technology of Growth, and reduce humans into factors (‘factors’, kindly note, do not possess messy properties like life or human rights and they do not bleed or shed tears) of economic production.”
Or sample this, from The Importance of Being Depressed:
“We are told, day in and day out, that this is the best of all possible worlds. And we force ourselves to believe it, even as we lead lives of quiet desperation in a society we know to be sick. The sicker we are, the more desperate is the need to have fun, to blank it all out. But then, most of us have a rather low threshold for truth. Whoever said that the truth shall set you free got it wrong. It only gets you depressed.”
Damn, that’s not funny. That hits you at the bottom of your stomach and you curl into a ball.
I started to read this book with the defiant “I don’t laugh easily” attitude, and ended up reading the whole book in one stretch, laughing, chuckling and giggling all the way to the end. Read it.