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Bondel Laughter Club - Spreading Happiness
I am pleased to commend “Laugh Your Way To Health – A Laughter Club Operational Manual” to its prospective beneficiaries. Laugh, and the world laughs with you; cry, and you cry alone. Laughter has that positive bonding glue which brings and keeps people together in a happy communion of camaraderie. Its efficacy is reflected in the ever mushrooming laughter clubs all over the world – where people laugh away their tension and laugh their way to good health. The health properties of laughter are well reflected in the title of the humour section of Reader’s Digest: “Laughter, The Best Medicine”. There is also an enigmatic epigram which says: “He who laughs lasts”. In other words, laughter adds longevity to one’s life. Here is an anecdotal instance of this truism.
The book, Chicken Soup for the Soul, notes that the famous writer, Norman Cousins, was diagnosed as “terminally ill” and given 6 months to live. He reasoned that if worry, depression and anger were the cause of his illness, can wellness be created by positivity? He resorted to laughter as a way out of his illness. He saw funny movies, read funny stories, and asked friends to call whenever they said, heard or did something funny. He fully recovered and lived another 20 happy, healthy and productive years. Since Cousin’s ground-breaking subjective work, scientific studies have shown that laughter has curative effect on the body, mind and emotions. The book wryly observes that “some diseases may be contagious, but none as contagious as the cure…laughter”.
Against this background, I commend John B. Monteiro, main promoter and anchor of Bondel Laughter Club in Mangalore, which has notched up over 2000 daily sessions since its launch in 2002, for bringing out an operational manual on how to start, conduct and sustain laughter clubs. He has used a fusion of descriptive text and related moving visuals in the CD which he is offering to the prospective constituencies through its projection in the print and electronic media.
Mr. Monteiro is also uploading the CD on his one-year-old website, www.welcometoreason.com. Interested persons are free to download the CD and use the know-how to launch and sustain laughter clubs in their localities. I think laughter clubs can be part of life in schools and colleges. Just as silent prayers mark start of functions, three bouts of lusty Patiala Laughter (explained in the CD) can substitute the traditional “three cheers” at the conclusion.
I once again commend Mr. Monteiro’s initiative and spirit of public service in producing the CD and putting it in the public domain. I hope that the target group of prospective beneficiaries takes advantage of the know-how offered in the CD to spread the culture of collective laughter.
Prof. K.M. Kaveriappa,
Vice Chancellor, Mangalore University,
Mangalagangothri – 574 199
July 17, 2008.
My tryst with laughter clubs started one morning in late 1980s when I was heading for my morning walk rounds in Gateway Garden in Mumbai. An elderly gentleman, whom I later came to know as Mr. Shahani – insurance agent, stopped me on the harbour-front promenade to request me to join the laughter club session being held on the Radio Club Pier, starting at 7 AM. I explained that I had to get back to my flat in Strand House to make bed tea for my wife and children. He wouldn’t hear about my excuse and said: ”What difference will it make if you join us for 15 minutes?”.
That was my first tryst with laughter clubs. This one was anchored by a socialite lady doctor who was also involved in the management of Radio Club. Shortly thereafter she got involved in a spat in Radio Club and the laughter club was barred from using the Radio Club Pier.
At this crucial juncture, BBC had arranged to shoot the laughter club session for its “Outlook” program. When the BBC team came on the appointed day, the security at the Radio Club gate barred the entry laughter club members as also the BBC team. The lady doctor made make-shift arrangement in her nearby spacious terrace flat to shoot the session. This incident meant loss of face for the socialite doctor and her friends and they made themselves scarce.
By this time there were enough laughter-cracks to regroup and move on to a new venue – Gateway Garden in front of Gateway of India and off Taj Mahal Hotel. I was in the forefront of the regrouped laughter-cracks and jockeyed myself to be the lead anchor of Gateway Garden Laughter Club.
Going back to BBC’s improvised coverage of laughter session, in the confusion, they discovered, later in London, that they had not activated the audio part of the shooting. So, one night, around 3AM, I received a phone call from BBC explaining their predicament and requesting me to demonstrate the laughter sequences, including the loud, lusty Patiala Laughter, over the landline phone to be recorded in their London studio. When I had done this, and went back to bed, my wife, without knowing the background, said that I had gone bonkers with my laughter club bug
Having been an anchor at Gateway Garden Laughter Club, I was quite obsessed with laughter and one day demonstrated the Patiala Laughter in the Covenanted Comfort Room (toilet!) of my office to a colleague – Jairam. The exploding noise brought employees working on the floor rushing to the door of the room with alarm writ large on their faces. They speculated that there was either a violent fight or heart attack behind the closed door. When we came out smiling there was relief all around.
But, this incident sowed the seed of a lunch-time laughter club for office-goers in the business district of Ballard Estate where L&T House, in which I worked, was located. I was the lead anchor, with employees from L&T House and nearby buildings joining for the pre-lunch sessions. At the stroke of 1PM participants would march to the L&T House pavement and begin their executive version of laughter club sessions, lasting 10 minutes instead of the normal 20 minutes.
In the meanwhile, during one of my visits to Mangalore, I held a week-long demonstration of laughter club sessions, at 6 PM, in the Lighthouse Hill Car Park, part of which was secured for me by the Traffic Police.
I continued to be in the forefront of Gateway Garden Laughter Club till I retired to Mangalore in 2000 and lived in Johnlyn Cottage at Bondel. It took me some time to assess the potential of Bondel as a laughter club venue and, finally, I launched Bondel Laughter Club on December 8, 2002. It drew members, including ladies, from the surrounding government quarters, Kudremukh Colony and local residents. Over the last seven years we have lost some members due to retirements, transfers and shifting of residence. New members are coming in and with a dedicated core group of a dozen laughter-cracks the show goes on.
Bondel Laughter Club received generous projection from print and electronic media because of my involvement in the media as a writer and beings friends with many journalists. Because of such media coverage I have been approached for demonstration of laughter club sessions and guidance in starting laughter clubs. It is against this background I ventured into offering this CD titled Laugh Your Way to Health –An Operational Manual for Starting, Anchoring and Sustaining Laughter Clubs. The CD includes in word format a number of articles written by me in newspapers in Mumbai and Mangalore on the subject of laughter and laughter clubs. They are stand-alone articles and there may be marginal over-lap which is unavoidable. Over all, they help readers to soak into the spirit of laughter.
I am thankful to Prof. K. M. Kaveriappa, Vice Chancellor, Mangalore University, for extending his support to the collective laughter movement by contributing the Foreword and releasing the CD at the Press Club, Mangalore, on July 17, 2008. I also thank DR. A. D. Monteiro, retired Consultant, United Nations Development Programme, for underwriting the cost of producing this CD. Special thanks are due for creative scripting, visualization and production of this CD to Mr. Joe Pan of Pansworld Television (India) Pvt. Ltd.
I thank in anticipation the media whose help I trust in for promoting the laughter club culture in quest of stress control and better health. I also thank all the laughter club members, particularly those who participated in the specially mounted sessions for video shooting at Johnlyn Cottage, with crew generously deployed by Daijiworld.
My only hope is that people will take advantage of the CD to spread the laughter club culture and benefit by collective laughter. Finally, the contents of this CD have been uploaded on my website, www.welcometoreason.com, and can be downloaded freely from its archives.
PS. What happened to Mr. Shahani who first inducted me into a laughter club? He stopped attending laughter club sessions, being weaned away by the daily discourses of Sadhu Vasvani who held sway on TV at the same time as the laughter club sessions. After the discourses, he goes for his morning walks. I run into him during my Mumbai visits and to his credit he has never raised the subject of insurance with me. I still attend Gateway Garden Laughter Club sessions on my visits to Mumbai and get six Patialas from the club members. They have added many new tri
Laughter Club Background
Bombay has seen the mushrooming of laughter clubs which hold sessions on playgrounds, in public parks and gardens. They are normally combined with morning walks.
I lived close to Gateway of India and got involved in the Gateway Laughter Club. I used to anchor many sessions of the laughter club. Incidentally, there is no president or official hierarchy in the clubs. There is only one functional position – anchor for the day. There is also no concept of head table. Participants stand in a circle where everybody is equal.
I started the first lunch-time laughter club for office people on the pavement outside our office building called L&T House in Ballard Estate. The sessions started at lunch break at 1 PM. It was a shorter executive package lasting 15 minutes. After the session participants went for lunch in their office canteens.
Both Gateway and Ballard Estate Clubs were the darlings of the media. Foreign TV teams stay in Taj Mahal or other star hotels in downtown Bombay and find it easy to shoot Gateway Laughter Club sessions at 7 AM. The late rising crew found it convenient to shoot at lunch time at L&T House. The two clubs have been featured in many national and international TV channels – BBC, German TV, Italian TV, Japanese TV and Business Channel CNBC.
BBC shot us at Gateway and on returning to London they found that their audio-track had failed while shooting. One night, at about 2 AM, I was woken up by a telephone by BBC requesting for laughter demonstration over the phone so that they could record it in their studio. When I finished doing this, my wife said that I had gone bonkers.
The Gateway Club also became a tourist attraction. For instance, batches of South Korean tourists used to stay in hotels near the Gateway. The tour operator used to bring the tourist to the Gateway to participate in the laughter club sessions. This was followed by still photography and video shooting of the tourists and hosts together.
How to start a laughter club? Someone has to take the initiative as I did for the lunchtime club at Ballard Estate in Bombay and Bondel in Mangalore. I am leaving behind the initial invitation to prospective members which might help those interested in starting a club.
Where to hold sessions? Ideally, it should be a open space like garden, playground or park so that public has easy access to it.
What is the ideal time? It is best to hold it early morning between 6 to 7 AM so that it can be combined with the morning walk. Or in the evening between 6 and 7 PM. It is important not to have the session on full stomach. The duration can vary from 15 to 25 minuites.
What is the ideal number of participants? . A minimum of ten would be good, 20 / 30 ideal and more the merrier.
There is strictly no touching others except during the initial greetings. Some amount of synchronisation would be good but you can’t put participants into a straight jacket. Laughter is no joke. There is a method in this madness. People stimulate each other, specially the next neighbours, by body language and eye contact. There are laid down sequences. They are flexible depending on the anchor’s ability to manage change. These sequences can be painted and displayed at the venue.
You will notice that the sessions are conducted in English. Language is no bar. Those not knowing English can take part because laughter , like love, has no language. It is acting out.
Initial launch is very critical. It can be a touch and go situation. Ideally one should take the help of an experienced anchor for launching the laughter session.
I have given enough low-down. Go ahead and laugh to your heart’s content.
John B. Monteiro
Bondel Laughter Club - Spreading Happiness
Laugh and the world laughs with you,
Weep and you weep alone,
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own,
- Ella Wheeler Wilcox, US poet (1855-1919)
The sad old world has more trouble and tension since the above lines were penned. Beyond mirth, there is now an extra dimension to laughter as reflected in the famous vintage registered trademark of a popular column of Reader’s Digest - “Laughter, The Best Medicine”. Beyond the written jokes, like in Reader’s Digest, people laugh without the aid of laughing gas in thousands of laughter clubs which have mushroomed all over the world over the last thirty years. Initiated into India about 25 years ago, they are a rage in metro cities and have now made even tertiary cities, like Mangalore, their home. Laughter is now sought to be exploited as a tension-reliever and health restorer. Many anecdotal accounts and expert opinions support the positive contribution of laughter to better health.
The book, Chicken Soup for the Soul, notes that the famous writer, Norman Cousins, was diagnosed as “terminally ill” and given six months to live. He reasoned that if worry, depression and anger were the cause if his illness, can wellness be created by positivity? He resorted to laughter as a way out of his illness. He saw funny movies, read funny stories and asked friends to call whenever they said, heard or did something funny. He fully recovered and lived another 20 happy, healthy and productive years. Since Cousin’s groundbreaking subjective work, scientific studies have shown that laughter has curative effect on the body, mind and emotions. The book wryly observes that ‘Some diseases may be contagious, but none as contagious as the cure…laughter.
That people can laugh without the aid of laughing gas is demonstrated by numerous laughter clubs that are functioning in the metros and now percolated even to district towns. The Bondel Laughter Club in Mangalore has notched up over 1500 days of uninterrupted daily sessions (Sundays excluded) with scores of participants lustily laughing away with even more curious spectators cheering the laughter cracks from the sidelines.
Bondel Laughter Club came to Mangalore via Mumbai through me as its anchor and promoter. I have been an anchor for many years at the Gateway Laughter Club in downtown Mumbai. I had pioneered a laughter club for office fraternity at lunch break. It was an abridged executive package lasting 15 minutes conducted on the pavement of L&T House in the business district of Ballard Estate.
I was perhaps the first to bring laughter sessions to Mangalore. While on a holiday in Mangalore in mid-1990s, I conducted week-long laughter sessions in the evenings at the Lighthouse Hill Car Park, with help from traffic Pplice to secure the space. I also conducted demonstration sessions at the Roshni Nilaya College of Social Work and Hotel Taj Manjarun. Since my retirement and return to Mangalore in July 2000, I was keen on spreading laughter club culture in the city.
Bondel Laughter Club commenced its daily sessions, at 6.15 am and lasting 20 minutes, on December 8, 2002. Computer-generated hand bills were distributed to surrounding residents and morning walkers were buttonholed with request to participate. These sessions were held on local maidans.
Many types of laughter that are sequentially raised during a session. The session starts with a silent prayer followed by Aha-ha, Ho-hoe, in a clapping mode. Then there are a series of light exercises lasting about 7 minutes – a type of foreplay for the laughter proper. These include deep breathing, side bends, joints and eye exercises, fast breathing, stationary jogging and free floating. To catch one’s breath after these exercises there is a spot of meditation.
The laughter proper part of the session starts with greetings/welcome laughter when participants approach each other with folded hands and light laughter, exchanging high-fives Then there is Aha-ha, Ho-hoe in the laughter mode with related body movements. The third laughter is called social/drawing room laughter which is interactive. This is followed by Patiala laughter, named after the famed extra-large Patiala peg. This is full throated, accompanied by upward movement of hands. The fifth laughter is called mouth-open-no-noise which is followed by pigeon laughter – mouth closed, head turning up and down as when pigeons are in a romantic mode. The seventh laughter is called crescendo wherein as the hands move upwards, the laughter intensifies from low to high. The next laughter is vowels – two bursts of laughter after calling out A E I O U. The participants step forward and backward after each laughter. The ninth is named after the tiger. Participants put out their tongue and imitate a tiger jumping at its prey, with forward stretched paws (hands). The last laughter is called the cocktail wherein the participants can laugh as they please. After two sets of laughter there is a break marked by physical stretches.
Apart from not using laughing gas, there is also no body touch or tickling. It is a matter of self combustion and interfacing with neighbouring participants through eye contact and facial expressions.
At the close of the laughter sequences start the self esteem declarations based on the premise that one is what he thinks he is. These declarations are: 1. I am the healthiest person in the world. 2. I am the happiest person in the world. 3. I am the luckiest person in the world. 4. I forgive everyone. 5. Every day and every hour I feel better and better. 6. I am not alone; God is with me. 7. We are members of the Bondel Laughter Club. The declarations are made twice each followed by lusty bursts of laughter. The rear is brought up by rhythmic clapping to the words:
“One, two, three; laughter is free.
East or west, laughter is the best”.
The Bondel Laughter Club has no membership list, no entry fee and no officials. Anyone can anchor the sessions. To facilitate this, the exercises, laughter sequences and self-esteem declarations were initially listed on placards and fixed to a defunct tree-guard.
“The most completely lost of all days is that on which one has not laughed.” – SRN Chamfort, French writer (1741-1794). That is why a group of morning walkers, dawn-cracks as I call them, banded together to launch and sustain Bondel Laughter Club. Many participants say that the happy mood for the rest of the day is set by laughing away in the morning. Even before Chamfort, another French writer, Jean De La Bruyere (1644-1696) had decreed: “We must laugh before we are happy, for fear we die before we laugh at all.”
John B. Monteiro, author, journalist and Editor of his website, www.welcometoreason.com, is also the founder and chief anchor of Bondel Laughter Club.
cks. But, I prefer to keep it simple and standardized in the original format, as I have done in this CD.
John B. Monteiro,
Chief Promoter & Anchor,
Bondel Laughter Club,
Mangalore 575 008, DK.
He Wants Mangaloreans To Laugh
John B. Monteiro, who worked for L&T in Mumbai, had his heart in Dakshina Kannada even before he settled down in Bondel. A product of St. Aloysius College, Mangalore, he started his career after his masterate from Mumbai as a lecturer for one year in the college. Then he drifted into journalism writing as a free-lancer and full-time scribe for economic papers. He wrote a book titled Corruption – Control of Maladministration, the first such book on the subject at the time of publication in the early 1960s. Later, he went on to work as a public relations professional in L&T. In 2002 he published his second book, Some Current Issues for Debate.
Monteiro is fascinated by the Tulu language and culture. He has done extensive projection of Dakshina Kannada institutions in the national media, including subjects like Ranjala Gopala Shenoy, Dharmasthala, St. Aloysius College and Kankanadi Fr. Muller’s Hospital. When The Illustrated Weekly of India, under the editorship of Khushwant Singh, carried a series of cover articles on Indian communities, Monteiro wrote a well researched and illustrated article on Mangalorean Christians, their customs, leading lights of the community etc.
Monteiro’s current concern is to spread laughter among Mangaloreans. When he approaches people on the subject, the first shot back is: “Don’t I laugh? I laugh all the time.” “I don’t need laughter club sessions.” However, he finds Mangaloreans quite reserved and insular, afraid to shed their old ways which go back to Tipu Sultan’s era. They are afraid of letting their hair down lest somebody would say something about them. They are very status-conscious and refuse to move towards the globalization era, despite the industrial edge Dakshina Kannada is acquiring.
Monteiro has been an anchor at the Gateway Garden Laughter Club in downtown Mumbai. He started the first and only lunchtime Laughter Club for office-goers in Ballard Estate, Mumbai. He was the first to introduce laughter sessions for a week in Mangalore in November 1998 at Lighthouse Hill Car Park, and held one-time demonstration sessions at Roshni Nilay and Manjuran Hotel.
Monteiro took the initiative to start Bondel Laughter Club on the open ground off Bondel Bus Terminus, commencing on 8-12-02 at 6:15 am (lasting 20 minutes), and thereafter continuing the programme daily at the same venue and the same time. There is no formal membership or fees and participation is open to persons of both sexes and all age groups.
For further information, please contact telephone number: 2484051
Come, Laugh Your Way to Health!