Santa: What is the name of your car?
Banta: I forgot the name, but is starts with 'T'.
Santa: Oh, what a strange car, starts with Tea. All cars that I know start with petrol.
A barely funny joke that you'd laugh at anyway because it's a Santa-Banta, no? But the point isn't about the joke or how funny it is. The best part is that a Sikh friend shared it.
In a day and age where people take offence as easily at the drop of a hat, Sikhs know how to laugh at themselves.
And that, my friends, is a power in itself. It is a character trait every human being should possess, not just to keep the air around them positive but also to maintain mental peace. The mitti pao attitude that Sikhs carry with them makes them drama-free people that everyone wants to be around.
However, even more important is the fact that Sikhs have progressed with the times but they're still extremely attached to their religion and their roots. This attachment is the kind that acts as a catalyst when it comes to growing into good human beings.
Coming from a religion that propagates equality, you'll never Sikhs differentiating between people based on gender, race, caste or creed. In fact, it is this very principle of Sikhism that has given way to the tradition of langar, a community kitchen which is for all people.
Anyone - irrespective of their socio-economic stature - can walk into the langar hall and rest assured, no one has ever walked out of it on an empty stomach.
For the homeless and downtrodden who live on the streets, the langar is an assured source of food. But even more interesting is the fact that even at the time of demonetisation, the various different gurudwaras made sure that all those who could not arrange for meals could feed themselves during the langar.
The ideal of service or seva manifests itself when it comes to the functioning of gurudwaras. Half the system is run by volunteers because the Guru Granth Sahib says that "no worship is conceivable without seva".
For 50-year-old Gurbaksh, doing seva at the gurudwara is a weekly affair. It's been that way since he was a child. He's seen his parents do it and now he does it. When asked, he says, 'this is how we worship our guru.'
You'll find volunteers of all ages sweeping the floors of the gurudwaras, cooking food and also washing the plates. Yet, you will find that the gurudwaras you visit are all well-maintained and hygienic.
Sikhs follow the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib, maintaining the essence of the text even centuries later but they are never scared of breaking the rules if it means standing up for humanity.
For example, the turban is a Sikh's most priced possession. Both women and men wear it as a marker of their community and the pride they take in being a part of it. Hence, parting with their turban is like their identity being snatched away from them. However, a Sikh student studying in New Zealand was recently broke strict religious protocol by taking off his turban to help save the life of a child hit by a car. What he told the Daily Mail is heartwarming:
I wasn't thinking about the turban. I was thinking about the accident and I just thought that he needs something on his head because he's bleeding. That's my job - to help.
Maybe it's this very nature and the vibe of being helpful that makes the presence of a sardar so comforting.
I wasn't too surprised when a friend told me of an incident where she was stuck outside a metro station at 11:30 pm and surrounded by a number of auto rickshaw drivers, she decided to go with a Sikh driver because she felt safe.
And have you ever noticed how you have never seen a sardar begging?
It is because they fervently believe what in written is the Guru Granth Sahib:
"Those who walk in the Will of the True Guru, never wander begging."
They believe in putting in hard labour for whatever they want in life, be it monetary returns or goodwill. It is also probably why Sikhs are revered for their honesty.
Moreover, the community sets high standards when it comes to the display of humanity. Treating all humans as equals and being the first ones to help whenever the need arises makes them more than just the jokes that they never take offence to.
From providing shelter to victims of the Paris terror attacks to setting up langar in IS territory to feeding the refugees at the Iraq-Syria border, the humanity displayed by Sikhs is known the world over. If you need a lesson on how to be a good human being, just follow the Sikhs.