A little bit of humor is always nice when the times are critical. It works as a dose of respite, a distraction from everything that’s going wrong. Although the crisis in the Gulf is serious, it’s largely at a political level. The people are mostly unaffected. But, it does take a toll on the mind because you are in the middle of it.
So when popular Indian stand-up comedian, Amit Tandon, who’s also a successful entrepreneur, visited Doha recently for his maiden performance there, it was a huge breather for the people of Qatar, especially the expats. He tickled their funny bones and for a few hours, they forgot that they were surrounded by a staggering crisis.
In an exclusive chat with Doha News, the mechanical engineer from IIT-Delhi, also an MBA, said he can’t wait to come back for another show because experience-wise, it was a new one.
“This was my first experience in Doha and I had a lovely time. The audience was amazing and I never knew I could get such a response. They were very supportive and amazingly on time… although the audience was a mix of Indians and Pakistanis, everybody came in on time and we could start on time, which was one good experience,” he finished with a laugh. Well, we get the joke. Audiences in India and Pakistan are not quite particular about keeping to the schedule.
The audience at the Radisson Blu, where Amit performed, was a mix of the expat community.
“Brilliant audience. It was a mix of North Indians and Pakistanis and some people from Bangladesh. I get a lot of response from Pakistan, although I have never performed there. So whenever people outside of India get an opportunity, they come in large number.”
The language barrier was a strong reason for the absence of the local Qataris. “There were no locals because my performance was a mix of Hindi and English. So I don’t think a lot of people would understand Hindi there. And since a lot of references were also from India, it was primarily India and Pakistan.” This is also a small, but significant, example of how the hostility between India and Pakistan is also purely political, and has nothing to do with how the people of the two countries perceive each other. People-to-people contact has always been warm and they have always enjoyed each other’s company.
Amit didn’t lose the opportunity to intermingle with the expat community and found the experience quite revealing. “I got to interact with a few people, yes. I was surprised to see that there was stand-up scene building up locally in Qatar. There were two local comedians who were both from India, originally, who performed before me. It was fantastic to see that there was some local scene in comedy that’s going on there. I didn’t know much about Qatar, but when I visited there I found it to be an amazing place. There was a lot of energy in the city.”
Coming to Doha and not getting time to explore its expanding glory is unfortunate, but there is always a next time.
“I didn’t get to discover Doha because I had to leave the city the same night, around 4am I had a flight. But we went out for dinner and got great Indian food options. My experience in those 18-20 hours that I spent was very positive. I know FIFA 2022 is going to happen there and a lot of work is being done. Next time I am in Doha, I’d love to visit the stadiums and see all the exciting stuff that’s happening in Qatar.”
He also called upon Arab countries to quickly resolve the issue.
“I know the crisis situation in the Gulf is grabbing headlines and it’s pretty sad because these are countries that are neighbours and must support each other. It’s tough to say anything… In Qatar when I landed, the airport was very welcoming, the immigration process was pretty convenient and I hope it gets resolved soon because it’s affecting the entire region. I met families where the husband is in Dubai and the wife in Doha. For them it’s a huge issue.”