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20 things that make you happy at someone else’s expense, and still not make you die of guilt. I could be in serious trouble after this week’s column. My bosses may just decide to drop it altogether and if that happens, remind me to post their numbers on some anonymous blog, after which you can flood them with messages saying how your life is incomplete without this weekly dose of calmness. (Don’t you know all columnists whose columns get discontinued resort to this time-tested trick?)
Anyhow, I tread risky ground because I’m going to tell you to turn mean. Not mean in a, you know, mean way… but just a little mean for the sake of happiness.
Because frankly, we are mostly slugging through our lives, doom mongering and feeling miserable about things and people that bother us. We shake our heads while reading in the morning paper that India-Pak continue to behave like sisters-in-law, forever competing about who’s better at letting the other down.
Then, we shake our head when we find a car parked, in gear, behind ours; when the traffic moves like there is a baraat dancing up ahead; when, on coming late, the boss gently reminds us that we are not doing enough to earn our food — the one that’s badly cooked by the maid at home — the one who runs away four days after taking the commission… you get the drift.
Basically, we struggle to look for happiness, contrary to what all those saints tell us about happiness being within us (how? how?). And, since we are inherently good people, we don’t want to do bad things to feel good.
We want happiness only through noble thoughts and deeds, for everyone in the world. Right? Wrong. Secretly, we all have a mischievous, mean streak in us that tickles us if we see someone else who is more screwed than us.
C’mon, accept it. Remember, I’m not asking you to feel good by harming anyone… but go through this list of twenty random situations where circumstances, and not you, have been mean. And then let me know, in all honesty, if any of these ever made you happy. I’ll wait for your replies.
1. Seeing the one you had a crush on in school end up with a fat, ugly partner.
2. Noticing a bad dent on the car of the neighbour who fights with you every day over parking.
3. A film you hated being attacked and shred to pieces by critics.
4. Seeing a socialite you are secretly jealous of (but air kiss nonetheless), have a wardrobe malfunction — with the media in attendance.
5. Noticing a dog poop outside the door of the neighbour who plays music at full volume after midnight.
6. Seeing the look on the face of the coach of the team you are not supporting, the moment the linesman in a soccer match declares their goal offside.
7. A relative’s son or daughter, the same age as yours, getting less marks in exams.
8. Realising that your mother-in-law has mistakenly put too much salt in the food, after listening to endless praises of ‘mom’s food’ by your husband.
9. Seeing the classmate who always comes first turn up ten minutes late for the exam due to bad traffic.
10. Overhearing that your devil neighbour’s maid ran away — with the driver of the one who fights over parking.
11. Meeting a childless couple who was married before you, when you’ve been trying hard to conceive.
12. Reading gossip about how Shah Rukh and Salman Khan almost came to blows in a party.
13. Seeing a yesteryear sex bomb turn into a fat aunty.
14. Reading a vague, speculative report that the bank you’ve taken a home loan from may close down.
15. Getting to know that your ex-husband/wife got divorced again.
16. Realising that your heartless boss has been denied a promotion in his annual appraisal.
17. Finding out that an event in which you were not allowed to participate has been stopped by authorities for lack of permission.
18. Seeing your office rival pay a compliment to the receptionist and she reporting it to HR.
19. Hearing your husband’s best friend narrate how his wife — who your spouse raves about — has made his life hell.
20. Realising that the restaurant has mistakenly not billed you for the last two Patiala pegs.
Be honest !!
Please read – Book review of Sonal Kalra’s new book More of a Calmer You.