(This is the text of my Advanced Project 4 speech from the Humorously Speaking manual that I delivered at my club yesterday evening)
I can’t remember the number of umbrellas I have lost or the number of times I have misplaced my keys.
Sometimes when I have left home for work – I have the “Did I” moment. Did I switch off the iron? Or Did I lock the main door?
Distinguished guests, fellow toastmasters and friends –
In this fast-paced world with a growing population we have to remember so many names, so many phone numbers, facts, figures, internet passwords – it is really mind boggling. But technology gave us paper , the printing press, the typewriter, the computer, the internet and the smartphone and we have progressively outsourced our memory to these gadgets.
Inside our brains temporal lobe is the hippocampus (sounds like hippopotamus) responsible for converting short term memory to long term memory and the amygdala (sounds like a queen from a fairy tale) which processes emotions and can record events..
When I was a child I could remember times tables, Gandhis date of birth and when the battle of Plassey was fought. Then when I was going to get married I could remember my wifes birthday and even her mothers birthday. I had the memory of an elephant. But after marriage I find it hard to remember our anniversary date, birthdays etc.
The most effective way to remember your wifes birthday is to forget it once.
When I go grocery shopping I always keep a list with me lest I should forget one item and go all the way back.
A University of Cornell study found that women remember better and can multitask whereas men are more focussed on a single task
In the movie Finding Nemo – Dory, one of the main characters can’t remember if she’s coming or going and Winnie the Pooh also had a poor memory.
Just 2 weeks back I attended a seminar to improve my memory organised by Singapores only memory champ and guiness book record holder Nishant.
He said that the reason that we have a bad memory is that we do not exercise our brain enough
A toastmasters meeting is the ideal place to exercise our brain – A speaker can throw away his script
The TME, language evaluator , General evaluator, timer and Ahcounter also have to pay attention throughout the meeting and have to be alert all the time.
Do we ever forget to brush our teeth, take a bath or eat our lunch? We are creatures of habit and unless we make it a habit to remember we will tend to forget
A man was invited to some old friends’ home for dinner. He preceded every request to his wife by endearing terms, calling her Honey, My Love, Darling, Sweetheart, Pumpkin, etc.One of the friends was impressed since the couple had been married almost 70 years, and while the wife was off in the kitchen he said to his buddy:
“I think it’s wonderful that after all the years you’ve been married, you still call your wife those pet names.”His buddy hung his head. “To tell you the truth,” he said, “I forgot her name about ten years ago.”
As we grow old, our brain can suffer from dementia and Alzheimers disease due to atrophy or lack of use. So some ways to improve your memory are
– Get a good sleep – stress is not good for our memory and a good nap can recharge you and leave your mind fresh to grasp like a sponge
– Llead an active life – we lead a sedentary lifestyle – so it becomes important to exercise – because as the saying goes ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’
– play games not on your smartphone but just do some crosswords or play Sudoku at times & finally
– have some smartphone free time every day.
This is the text of the speech that I delivered as part of my Advanced Project 1 from the Humorously speaking manual (Toastmasters) at my club yesterday
In a village there lived a wise minister who solved the problems of the people. Every day the people would come to him with their problems and he would tell them how to solve them. Now he realized, that most people come to him with the same problem over and over again.
So he wanted to make them understand.
One day he told them a joke . The people roared in laughter
The next day he told them the same joke and only a few of them smiled
When he told the joke for the third time no one laughed anymore.
The wise man smiled and said: You can’t laugh at the same joke over and over. So why do you always complain about the same problem!
Distinguished guests and fellow toastmasters,
Why do we complain? There are three reasons –
1) It is human nature to complain:
I have yet to hear of a baby who comes into this world laughing. From the time we come out of the womb all the way to the tomb it is a story of constant whining.
When a child screams you can put a pacifier in it s mouth but when an adult complains what do you do?
Take a teenager on a date – he complains because he wants the perfect girl – must be 36 – 24 – 36, long hair, fair, not too tall – not too short — to him it is like ordering a pizza – thin crust, extra cheese, Hawaiian.
For married men or women complaining is a daily chore.. As soon as you wake up in the morning you say the water is too cold or there is no more toothpaste. At lunchtime the husband complains to his wife –“. It’s the same old food”.
The wife complains that the m-in-law gives her too much housework
The father complains to the child: “Why don’t you do your homework without watching TV all day”, And the child complains that with the load of homework every day – he will turn into a zombie someday.
The employee complains to the boss:
“Sir – the work is too much – I desperately need a raise”
To which the Boss will reply–“ the company is running a loss because of people like you – go and do your job before I fire you
If it rains, we complain of too much water, flooding If its hot and sunny we complain its stuffy and sweaty
2) Too many choices
. Picture this scenario – If we were told when young… there is only roti prata at home and you must have it. There is no choice and if you are hungry you will eat it.
But Singapore is a foodies paradise – you want plain prata, murtabak, or icecream prata – you want Adam road nasi lemak or katong laksa, chicken rice or mee goreng. Now that is a problem.. so we complain! What to eat!
3) We want only the best – or the Kiasu syndrome
Take P1 admissions – To get their children into the best school parents buy a home near the school and do volunteering jobs in the school and they still compare with other children and complain.
Singapore is shielded from floods, tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes. So when there is a small disturbance like a haze we get over reactive and run to the pharmacy to get the best mask.
If they build a workers dormitory near your home –complain. If your maid takes an extra day off complain and if the rubbish dump is close to your home complain.
Take public transport – we complain that we are stacked like sardines.. and some even complain they have to sit near poor people .
We are blessed with good health, friends, family, and we can have 3 meals a day. We can enjoy a movie, sip a coffee at Starbucks and occasionally go on a getaway to a neighbouring country. So why are we still complaining?
Abraham Lincoln said – “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
© copyright, skm, 29th Jan, 2014
(This is the text of the speech I delivered at the Humorous Speech & evaluation contest of Bishan Toastmasters Club)
Fasten your seat belt because I am going to take you on a ride – a taxi ride.
Contest Chair, Judges, Fellow toastmasters and friends
After having lived in Singapore for more than 20 years, the person who strikes me as being the most worldly-wise and knowledgeable is our humble taxi driver.
Who else gets to meet people from all walks of life – the student, the housewife, the doctor, the engineer, the businessman or the lawyer?
Having said that, getting a cab in Singapore can be a nightmare on some days and really easy on other days.
Murphy has his own laws for taxis:
If you need a cab – you won’t get one &
If you do not need a cab – there is a queue of taxis waiting for you. You feel like a celebrity and they are all waiting to take your photographs.
If you are waiting to hire a cab and you see the signs BUSY, CHANGE SHIFT, HIRED, ON CALL etc then you better look for an alternative because that means you would have to wait for another hour
The first thing a taxi driver asks you when you enter the cab is “Which way do you want to go? CTE or PIE or SLE or AYE? It is a polite way of saying – I’m new to this job so could you please guide me?
Now, hoping that you managed to get a cab, you can come face-to-face with a host of drivers
The talkative driver
He is dying to start a conversation with you. He fires a volley of questions at you. PR of Singaporean, how many years have you been here? Is this your own house? Only 1 daughter – you should go for another one? Suddenly you forget why you are sitting in the cab and by the time you recover your senses, you have overshot your destination.
The angry driver
He sizes you up in the rear-view mirror.
Uncle – North Bridge road please you say
Taxi driver – “Ah”
“I said North bridge road”
Taxi driver “You think I cannot hear ah – I have been driving this taxi for 20 years ok.”
After that you just want to be safe rather than sorry.
The mobile phone addict
This driver needs only hand to drive his cab.
“Hello Ah-boon – I’m droping someone to Woodlands. Can we meet today.. near the Woodlands Mart – that Kopitiam.. at 5:30 pm sharp. Me – I’m fine, happy-go-lucky”
“Sir – which block did you say”
Then there was this driver who took me all the way to his home in Sengkang. He said that he knew the way to any place in Singapore only from his home. He reminded me of a PC or phone that had hung and needed to be reset.
The F1 driver
Ever since the F1 race began in Singapore a lot of drivers like to emulate their stars like Sebastian Vettel or Jensen Button. The taxi driver is no exception. As soon as you get into the cab, you better fasten your seat belt. The speed indicator alarm goes ‘peep peep peep’. He cuts across lanes like he owns the road, he does not signal and when he reaches the destination – he raises his hands in joy just like he won the F1 race
The sleepy cabbie
Once I got into this cab. The guy either went into a night club or karaoke the previous night. He was dozing away and I was trying to keep him awake. Ya – take the next right, then keep straight until you reach the car park. He would wake up and say ‘Ah Ah ok’. I was sitting on the edge of my seat throughout the journey and when I reached I said “Uncle, keep the change” and just rushed home.
The PhD cabbie
Singapore has a PhD taxi driver. Cai Mingjie has a PhD from Stamford University and also writes a blog
Some taxi drivers are very organized.. they keep their taxis spick and span, coins neatly arranged, display some souvenirs and they treat their taxis like a little home
Whatever quirks they may have, the taxi driver is the pulse of our nation. They are the people on the ground who are aware of almost everything under the sun – be it economy, politics, stocks, property, sports , his family, your family and so on.
So, the next take time you take a cab give the driver a big smile because he goes all out to make your journey comfortable and he could make your day!!
Here are some good humorous reads. I have read some long ago and am trying to read them again. Do you have any more recommendations?
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction comedy created by Douglas Adams. Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, and over several years it gradually became an international multi-media phenomenon
A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel written by John Kennedy Toole, published by LSU Press in 1980, 11 years after the author’s suicide. Toole posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981.
Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of World War II from 1944 onwards, is frequently cited as one of the great literary works of the twentieth century
Three Men in a Boat published in 1889, is a humorous account by Jerome K Jerome of a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford. The three men are based on Jerome himself (the narrator) and two real-life friends, George Wingrave and Carl Hentschel , with whom he often took boating trips
Lucky Jim is an academic satire written by Kingsley Amis, first published in 1954. It was Amis’s first published novel, and won the Somerset Maugham Award for fiction. Set sometime around 1950, Lucky Jim follows the exploits of the eponymous James (Jim) Dixon, a reluctant Medieval history lecturer at an unnamed provincial English University
The English Teacher is a 1945 novel written by R K Narayan. This novel, dedicated to Narayan’s wife Rajam is not only autobiographical but also poignant in its intensity of feeling. The story is a series of experiences in the life of Krishna, an English teacher, and his quest towards achieving inner peace and self-development.
Bridget Jones’s Diary is a 1996 novel by Helen Fielding. Written in the form of a personal diary, the novel chronicles a year in the life of Bridget Jones, a thirty-something single working woman living in London. She writes (often humorously) about her career, self-image, vices, family, friends, and romantic relationships.
The Inimitable Jeeves is a semi-novel collecting Jeeves stories by P. G. Wodehouse, first published in the UK by Herbert Jenkins, London on May 17, 1923
Naked, published in 1997, is a collection of essays by American humorist David Sedaris. The book details Sedaris’ life, from his unusual upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, to his booze-and-drug-ridden college years, to his Kerouacian wandering as a young adult.
The BFG (short for “Big Friendly Giant”) is a children’s book written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake, first published in 1982. The book was an expansion of a story told in Danny, the Champion of the World, an earlier Dahl book. An animated film based on the book was released in 1989