Category Archives: April 2012

Lost a loved one? Don’t lose yourself

What? After 4 years of …err…at least attempting to make you laugh over the most idiotic things, I can’t even write one senti, sad column? That’s not fair. Itna toh banta hai yaar… life’s not always about grinning away problems, though actually, mostly it is. But somehow, I don’t quite agree with applauding only those who claim to laugh through every low point in life. Because, my dear calmness seekers, sometimes you just don’t feel like laughing. Because grief is an intrinsic part of our lives, just as happiness is. Because a big part of calmness is about dealing with the stress of grief. And because, it is okay to be sad some days in life. I’m at such a point in my life today. And I wanted to write about it only because I know I’ll not be here for too long. I lost a loved one recently, and even though we would all wish our lives to be immune and untouched by grief, the truth is that we all have, or will, someday lose someone we love – a friend, a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a child… a pet —to death. And everyone has to look for a way to deal with that grief. Sometimes in doing so, we subconsciously end up feeling ourselves, or making others, miserable. Let’s at least try not to do that, shall we? How about keeping the following in mind…

calmness tips death of loved one

[stextbox id=”info”]How to Calm Yourself on Death of Loved One[/stextbox]

1 Don’t blame yourself:

Ever. You know, I’m not a very religious person. But when it suits my convenience, I waste no time in quoting the theory of karma and destiny. That each one of us comes in this world with an account written somewhere of how each day will go. That when someone would die – and how- is all pre-destined. So, there really is no point in feeling guilty about someone’s demise, unless you genuinely feel responsible for it in some unfortunate way. The other day, I went to the funeral of an ex-colleague’s mother. The first thing that he said on meeting me was, “My sister kept telling me that we should seek a second opinion on ma’s condition. I somehow could not do it on time, or else she would have been alive. I’ll never forgive myself.”
One person died, and here, another was killing himself with such thoughts. I really wish people would someday realise the futility of  over-analysis, especially  after something as permanent as death has happened. Leave it yaar…it’s pointless.

[stextbox id=”black”]The angels are always near to those who are grieving, to whisper to them that their loved ones are safe in the hand of God.

– The Angels’ Little Instruction Book.[/stextbox]

2 Allow yourself the right to grieve—the way you want to:

Don’t hate me for saying this, but one of the things that puts me off the most is how most people in our country behave when they go to mourn someone’s death. In other words, mujhe afsos hai ke hamein afsos karna nahi aata. Most of the people start by asking some supremely idiotic question like ‘zyada beemar the?’ Yeah, yeah, I know that they mean to ask if the death was sudden or the one who died was unwell for a while. Still somehow this question seems inane to me…like someday someone would reply “no, not at all. He just sneezed once but we wanted to see how he’ll look dead. So we asked him to go all the way.” And then, the person who’s already undergoing tremendous pain for the loss of a loved one is made to undergo the additional pain of recalling the entire sequence of death to relatives and visitors of all kinds. Even those relatives who may not even have bothered to call once in years. Why? Just because that’s how it happens in our society. I’m sorry, I don’t buy this. If you want people around for support and feel like voicing your emotions, do so by all means. But if you want to grieve without having to cry in front of the whole world, please claim your privacy. It’s your right. That we all have to go someday is fixed, but how you are supposed to mourn the loss is not written in cement. Hell to the way it happens in our society.

3 Give it time:

This may be a horribly clichéd statement but is so darn true that I have to make it. Time heals. I’ve seen it heal the worst of wounds. Losing a loved one to death is one of the most painful experiences, and it’s very normal to feel that life will never be the same again. Maybe it indeed won’t in some ways, but what definitely doesn’t last forever is the pain of the loss. The best thing to do, actually, is not to do anything. In terms of trying to make it go. Give that pain a chance to complete its course. Cry if you feel like, as much as you feel like. And with time, your mind will start a soothing healing process on its own. However, this is the time when some people get onto a guilt trip because their pain has lessened. Please remember, moving on with your life is not an insult to the one who died. It is in fact, the best gift you could give to their memory. Oh, by the way, I’m not looking for such a gift from my husband, in case I decide to, you know, take leave. Please tell him. Tell yours too.

Sonal Kalra knows the trick of dealing with healing. Just don’t try to fast forward it.

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Save me from Vitamin S-complex

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I’m sick and tired of Chaddhaji. No, seriously. It’s another thing to joke about his eccentricities, but tolerating some of the unadulterated nonsense that oozes out of him is good enough to fetch a lot of people the Nobel. Just yesterday, I heard him talk to Ankush, a rather sweet and well-mannered young man in the neighbourhood. Ankush had barely mentioned that his Blackberry sometimes hangs in the middle of a conversation that Chaddhaji interrupted him mid sentence and hijacked the conversation. “Mine hangs all the time. Even when I’m SMSing.” And then to my horror, he added, “Chalo, your calls may anyway not be that important. Who cares for you? But imagine MY phone getting hanged!” I could tell from Ankush’s face that he was secretly imagining Mr Chaddha getting hanged instead. Just a little info, while Ankush is a successful, and humble Chartered Accountant, the only calls Chaddhaji gets on his centuries-old antique Nokia phone, while squatting flies all day, are personal loan offers from telemarketers. Anyway, that’s not even the point, and he may as well have been the Prime Minister. What I just don’t get is how some people think so highly of themselves that they don’t think for a moment before running someone else down.

Superiority Complex

Such people have an overdose of Vitamin S complex, aka Superiority Complex or SC, in their head. You may have also come across some such idiots around you — those who think they are divine gifts on this earth and all others are worthless. I’ve decided that the purpose of my life is to be on a mission to help them set themselves right. Are you with me?
You could either know an ‘SC’ person who makes everyone else’s life miserable, or you may even be one yourself, without realising. The first step is to identify.
Do you have a tendency to cut into peoples’ conversation and start recalling your own experience even before they’ve finished narrating theirs?
Do you use the word ‘I’ more than any other word in whatever you speak?
Do you secretly feel you are the best placed to accomplish anything and that others would never be able to do it as well?

If the answer to the above questions is Yes, please make the effort of doing something that’ll help you become someone who people want around them, and not avoid like plague. Ask someone close to you — a family member, your best friend, anyone you trust — to record a short video of your conversation with someone, at a time when you are not aware. Once they do it, watch the video and see what proportion of the conversation you dominate with stuff about just you, yourself and your life. Be honest in judging if you come across as being miserably self-centered and opinionated when you talk to someone else. On the face of it, people with a superiority complex may not even be criticising someone, but subconsciously, their mannerism always turns to being condescending about others. So, my dear, if you have unfortunately passed this one test, you need help.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips for People with  Superiority Complex[/stextbox]

Here’s what to do…
1. Remember, that while it is very important to have self-confidence and faith in your own abilities, still there is always someone in this world who is better than you in something. Yes, even if you are Sachin Tendulkar.
2. Remember that nothing will stop or come to an end if you chose to vanish from the face of this earth tomorrow. Yes, the flow may get interrupted for a bit, depending on what role you played in the grand scheme of things, but the show goes on. You are not indispensable, nor is anyone else around you. Stay grounded.
3. Speak less, listen more and advise only when asked. That’s pretty self-explanatory. Or, to put it simply, don’t be a pain in the arse for others. If you paid a little attention to the body language and expressions of people around you, you would know if you are.
4. Avoid always having yes-men and sycophants around you. For every four friends who will nod and agree with whatever you say, have one friend who won’t hesitate to point out if you are becoming a pest. We all may love being around only those who appreciate us, there’s no point being surrounded by ‘friends’ who are patting your back even as you are digging your grave. Is there?
5. If you genuinely feel you are better than others in something, the best way for everyone to know it is through your actions, not words. Lead by example, as the law of attraction is far more superior to any amount of invasive self-promotion. People get put off if you keep saying ‘I’m the best.’ Why not do something that shows them, instead?
I have just realised, to my utter horror, that I have preached so much in this column as if some Nirmal Baba’s aatma has entered my body. I hate Chaddhaji for turning me into this gyaan spewing and must-be-hellishly-boring soul. But while in this avatar, let me end by quoting Vanna Bonta — “I’d rather have inferiority complex in life and be pleasantly surprised, than have superiority complex and be rudely awakened.” Pranaam. And oh, just realised that Nirmal Baba is very much alive. Sorry.
Sonal Kalra is trying to shake off the saintly-ness that’s suddenly engulfed her. Please ignore whatever she said above. The real remedy for those having Vitamin S-complex is OTS. One Tight Slap

Oh, this gender bender nonsense

I’m terribly ashamed to admit that almost all of you saw through, with spectacular ease, my April Fool joke about discontinuing this column. Even those who ended up sending me mails with a plea to not give up writing, also seemed to be trying to humour me – letting out a stifled laugh while making a serious face, asking me not to leave. Koi izzat hi nahi hai meri dhamki ki, I tell you. Anyway, I’m here, a la Raj Kapoor’s Jeena yahan marna yahan style, and we are yet again trying to seek calmness in this world full of idiots like you and me.

calmness tips confused gender names people

Today’s topic is courtesy Shakti — who is an amazingly good humoured girl, for someone with a name that reminds most people of an on-screen rapist. Shakti wants me to write about people who are saddled with gender-bender i.e girls who have boy-names and guys who have typically girlie names. Around two years back in this column, I had briefly touched upon the stress of having an odd-sounding name. But it didn’t seem like something that could put people into a state of depression.

[stextbox id=”info”]How to Avoid Stress of Confused-Gender Names [Calmness Tips][/stextbox]

‘Oh yes, it can,’ says my colleague Chirag — a girl who says she’s spent her entire life living an ‘identity crisis’. ‘People call up and ask me to hand over the phone to Mr Chirag. When I say it’s my name, they sound surprised, mostly amused,’ she says, and casually shows me her desk, full of letters addressed to her name shown as the male gender. Now that I sit back and think about it, I’ve known so many such people in my life. I’m sure so did you. My geography teacher in school, a beautiful woman, was called Vinod. And an ex-colleague — a rather burly bearded guy — Madhu. In fact come to think of it, there was a phase during my work life that my colleagues in a certain project had these first names — Saroj, Kamla, Indu and Madhu. They were all guys. Oh yeah, there was one girl colleague — her name was Jasvinder. Quite a bit of our time used to go into explaining this odd nomenclature to people who would call up and insist that their perception of what the gender ought to be is stronger than reality. Reality is harsh for some people, my friends. In certain communities, like the Sikhs, girls and boys do get the same names. The differentiator earlier would be the middle name of ‘Singh’ or ‘Kaur’, but a lot of younger generation has dropped the middle name, happily adding to the gender confusion. I know of families where both husband and wife are called Ravinder. And if their determination is strong enough, that’s the name of the kid too. Anyway, if you or someone you know, suffers from the gender-bender stress, here’s food for thought…

1 People will always assume. Let them: Some people get very angry if mistakenly addressed as the opposite gender.

While it is indeed irritating to be having to explain all your life that your parents had a rather quirky sense of humour, it never helps to lose your cool. In fact, having the ability to laugh about it will endear you to most people and they’ll not mock you. A friend’s mom whose name is Prem, always used to introduce herself as ‘Prem, thankfully not Chopra’ and people would instantly warm up to her.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
–  William Shakespeare

2 See the positives: Remember that an unusual name helps you stand out in the sea of people with predictable names.

Does any of you recall a time when every other boy was Rahul and every second girl, Pooja or Ritu. I never had less than three Poojas in my class, throughout my student life. And oh, the nicknames made situations hilarious, because they were the worst in gender bending. There was a point when all four of my close girl friends were called Sonu, at home. And then I got married to a guy, who, along with all his close guy friends, was also called Sonu. My marriage was perhaps the largest congregation of Sonus in the world. You just had to shout out the name, and half the guests would leave their plates and come rushing, in Saris and Suits alike. So if, my friend, you have an unusual name, it may not be a bad thing after all. People would remember you. Explaining the genesis of your name could be a good conversation starter for those who are otherwise short of things to talk about, at social gatherings. You may just begin to enjoy the attention.

3 Finally, if despite all the gyan I just tried to give you, you still can’t stand your name, go ahead and change it.

Koi patthar pe lakeer hai? It’s easier than you think. Check out a newspaper and it’s full of those classified ads where people announce a change in name. If you’re leading your life in misery while hating your name, but don’t change it because your great-great grandfather’s last great wish was to name his grandchild Om Prakash even though it turned out to be a girl, I’m truly sorry for you. Dadaji toh already chale gaye, aur tum chale jaaoge, cribbing all your life. And even on your tombstone, somebody will write ‘Mr’, by mistake. Do one of these — either make peace with your name and begin to love it, or change it. There are anyway so many problems in life, it’s the worst to be fretting all the time about why the Citibank operator called you Ms Cheenu Gupta when you are Mr Cheenu Gupta. Why the hell are you Cheenu in the first place?

Well, whatever. Sonal Kalra is forever thankful to danseuse Sonal Mansingh for becoming famous so that people got to know that ‘Sonal’ is a female name. Otherwise she would have changed it to…hmm…Cheenu.

5 guaranteed signs of stupidity

It must be in the air. Or maybe something we all eat. Whatever it is, it is making the human race slowly become mentally challenged. The more you look around, the more people you’ll find indulging in awe-inspiring idiotic behaviour. A few months back, I had written in this column about ‘obvious, hence stupid’ things most people say. Normally columns are meant to trigger off a process of introspection and social change. But mere likhne se koi farq pada? Zilch. In fact I feel there is a new breed of ingenious morons that has ripened up now. The kinds who wear their stupidity proudly on their sleeve and believe in actions, not just words.

5 guaranteed signs of stupidity - a calmer you column

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips for Impulsive, Impatient and Illogical People [Fool’s Day Column][/stextbox]

Three days back, I saw this man in his 50s who’s been mentally stuck at the ‘angry young man’ era Amitabh Bachchan started in 1970s. His mission in life is to teach an unforgettable lesson to anyone who makes the grave mistake of parking their car on the ‘public space’ outside his house. He has spent money on getting a board painted, complete with the Police logo, which announces ‘Don’t park here. Tyres will be deflated’. So when yesterday a guy who had come to visit someone in the neighbourhood parked his car outside, he spent a fair amount of time deflating all the four tyres of the car. It became such a collective endeavour for the entire family that when he couldn’t easily open the knob to let out the air from one of the tyres, his wife promptly offered her hairpin. A few hours later, the guy who owned the car came back, saw all four tyres deflated, shook his head, took an auto and went back home. He had a flight to catch the next morning. The car with four punctured tyres stays parked right outside the angry old man’s house ever since.

Calmness Tips for Impatient People [stupidity]

image credit

So you see, some people specialise in actions that have a triple III rating — Impulsive, Impatient and Illogical. Let me tell you about five such people. If you see the signs, stop and touch their feet. They are powerful enough to have stalled the nature’s process of mental evolution.

 [stextbox id=”black”]”Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity and I’m not sure about the former.”      -Albert Einstein [/stextbox]

1 Scenario: Outside a doctor’s cabin at rush hour.

Each patient has been given a number, according to which they will be called inside by the doctor. The triple III moron will: Stand right outside the partially opened door and peep inside every two minutes. He believes that either the power of his peeping head will magically cure the patients before him so that his turn comes early, or that the doctor will somehow notice his face and decide to call him inside sooner than his turn. Sadly, none ever happens. The stupids continue to do it.

2 Scenario: There’s huge traffic jam.

The vehicles are stuck and can’t inch forward. The triple III moron will: Start moving forward from the wrong side. Will give a condescending look to the drivers who’ve been waiting patiently in their respective lanes. Will soon realise that traffic also comes from the opposite side. Will curse everyone in sight, won’t be able to turn back, and make the jam worse. Worse still, will start honking to scare away the car which is legitimately coming from the front. Stupid, I told you.

3 Scenario: Public transport — rail, road or air.

The journey is about to come to end, as that is the last stop. The triple III moron will: Get up, tightly clinch his/her bag, and stand 1.5 cm away from the doors, waiting for them to open. I suspect such people believe that they are so desirable that the staff of the bus/train/aircraft will again take off with them on some new, unknown journey, if they don’t get down in the few seconds of it stopping.

4 Scenario: You are somewhere outside, wearing an evidently visible watch.

The triple III moron will: Come closer, point at his/her own wrist and ask you what’s the time. You may not have noticed it but they all do, even when they have asked for the time loud enough for you to hear. I just don’t get this needless usage of sign language in conjunction with verbal. Obviously the watch is on the wrist, where else would it be? Why don’t such people point at their crotch when asking where the toilet is? Just a thought.

5 Scenario: You are busy in a meeting.

Your cell phone rings, and you disconnect since you can’t take the call at that moment. The triple III moron will: Not give up. Will call again, in less than three seconds. You disconnect again, he’ll call again. You will think earthquake has struck some part of the world, take the call and he’ll start with ‘hey, I’ve been trying for a while. So what’s up.’ You feel like killing them. But you don’t. Inability to take the hint is directly proportional to the levels of stupidity. You have to bow before that.

Anyway, I’m pretty sick and tired of stating these obvious things week after week. Sach mein kuchh farq nahi padta. We continue to thrive happily in our ‘hum toh aise hi hain bhaiyya’ philosophy, which is rather charming. But it leaves me with nothing much to grumble about, each week. So, I’ve decided to take a break and this is my last column. It has been a great journey of trying to turn you all into calmer souls. Even though it may not have worked, it was fun. Someday we’ll meet again. Keep a note of today’s date as our last encounter with each other. Kuchh samajh mein aaya?

Sonal Kalra has got triple III certificates printed and framed. That’s her way of honouring the unique talent some people have.