Being bilingual has its perks. You can make puns in more than one language. And if you mix two languages, the pun gets even better. Two Indian-origin friends have taken their love for all things pun-ny and started an Instagram account dedicated to Punjabi pronunciations, mispronunciations, quirks and cross-cultural misunderstandings.
The result is a series of illustrations that leave you chuckling. They poke gentle fun at the stereotypical Punjabi way of life and accent, and also reimagine English phrases with a desi lens. While minimalist in nature, the posts score high on being relatable and clever.
The female duo behind the Instagram account, Punjabi Puns, prefers to remain anonymous, only referring to themselves as MG1 and MG2. Their humour stems from their upbringing – both were raised in a traditionally Punjabi household in North America. Today, 25-year-old MG1 resides in Toronto, while 23-year-old MG2 is based in Washington DC. Both are doctors. “We wanted to combine our mutual Punjabi and North American roots in a way that could bring young adults, like us, together. We found that in creating puns that traversed both English and Punjabi humour, we could try to bridge perceived gaps in a witty manner,” says MG1.
MG2 adds, “Any North American raised Desi can take a step back and find humour in their parents who pronounce various words differently from them. It’s great to be able to appreciate the diversity in a light-hearted way instead of a critical way.”
Many of their posts refer to contemporary popular culture. Be it songs like Sorry by Justin Beiber and God’s Plan by Drake, or movies like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter. MG1 says, “Although MG2 grew up in America, and I grew up in Canada, our parents kept us connected to our Punjabi roots by teaching us the language and upholding Punjabi traditions. We also take a lot of inspiration from modern day pop culture and try combining it with a South Asian twist to create a comical fusion of both.”
A lot of their relatable puns have stemmed from their own experiences with the Punjabi culture. For instance, when they came up with ‘Sugar Dadi’ (a play on words of the modern day ‘Sugar Daddy’), they could barely contain their laughter. MG1 says, “It took us back to moments of visiting our own grandmothers, whether in the pind back in India or here in North America. All we could think of was constantly being fed paranthas and sweets until we could no longer breathe, and being flooded with money and gifts. We found that reminder of being showered with love and goodies to be the perfect inspiration. This also helped us gain bases to a lot of our food puns. Indians are known for their rich spices in foods, as well as our love for dance and alas, we put on some bhangra and found ourselves ‘gulab jammin’.”
MG1 and MG2 met in medical school in Dublin, and got closer when they realised they share a similar sense of humour and upbringing. Talking about their creative process, MG2 says, “It starts with MG1 thinking of a pun and approving it with myself, who does the drawing. MG1 will often come up with puns randomly and have an idea of what a drawing should look like. I either modify that idea or draw up what works to create the perfect mix of both.”
In the future, they hope to understand incorporate other Indian cultures and also South Asian traditions. Meanwhile, they plan to continue putting the pun in Punjabi.
Follow @htlifeandstyle for more