Category Archives: Behaviour

A Calmer You: Yahan toh baat mat karo, please!

A meaningful guide to avoiding meaningless conversation. Last kab karwaya thaa?’, she asked. I closed my eyes tighter, pretending I didn’t hear her, but I knew she’d repeat the question before 10 seconds passed. She did.

I mumbled ‘last month’, though I was so tempted to say ‘Kal hi karwaya thaa. Roz nahi karwaana chahiye?’ to the girl who was doing my pedicure. But that would have prolonged a needless conversation. Needless, yes, that is the word. I guess the staff at beauty salons and spas are told to strike a conversation with the clients so that the latter don’t get bored but what they are not taught is when not to start a conversation. In fact, ‘when not to strike a conversation’ is a question most of us would fail to answer.

A Calmer You Yahan toh baat mat karo, please

In a way, it’s a very sweet thing that we Indians are people-friendly, unlike the West, where people refuse to acknowledge even the next door neighbours. But then sometimes we take this friendly nature too far. Just as in a spa when all that one would want is peaceful silence, there are so many other situations where small talk is not welcome. But most people just don’t get it. Minakshi from my team, who travels by the metro, says she hates it when after a hectic day, the moment she sits in the train for her journey back home and begins to relax, some stranger decides to dive into a Modi Vs Rahul Gandhi debate.

Chalo that’s still topical and shows we care about who’s gonna lead us, but then people insist on discussing everything, right from the weather to the next episode of Bigg Boss — especially with the person who is visibly reluctant to talk. ‘The worst is when someone decides to ask personal questions,’ adds Navdeep, who recently got married and sports a ‘chooda’, narrating how she gets free advice to ‘deal with the in-laws’ in the metro, when she had never asked for it. Well, I am of a rather talkative nature and think of small talk as a good way to pass the time, but then I do see a point in what these girls said. More than what is being discussed, it is the setting or the situation which sometimes makes conversations needless, pointless and if I may say so, inappropriate.

So here are some situations where, if you start a needless conversation, be sure that someone will go home and crib about you. 1Elevator chit-chat: I’ve always seen people behave very oddly, inside a lift. Some of them cut off what they are speaking mid-sentence the second the elevator door closes, and almost stop to breathe till it opens, as if they are being held hostage. Some depressingly stare at the ceiling like it’s going to fall any second. And some decide to start the most uncomfortable conversation ever. ‘Phir uske boss ko pata toh nahi chala?’ is what a colleague recently asked me in a lift full of people, going up by 17 floors. I silently slapped her thrice in my head but not sure if she got them, because my silence was met by ‘hain?’

All I could reply was ‘I’ll just tell you’, wondering why she would not have the common sense to not indulge in risky office gossip in a lift full of colleagues. We just don’t know how to behave in an elevator, period. As it is, it’s tough to deal with the irritation of people stopping the lift only to go up by one floor, and paranoids repeating their floor number like maniacs to the lift operator. On top of that, an inappropriate, loud conversation in front of strangers could be a killer. My advice? Save the oxygen being used up in talking. Who knows when the lift may get stuck for hours? 🙂 2Hospital sympathy talk: The logic for people wanting to talk in the hospital waiting rooms is mostly anxiety. You are worried about your loved one admitted for treatment, and you reach out to someone else who may be in a similar position. All that is understandable. But sample this. ‘Hua kaise yeh?’ ‘Kya kehta hai doctor?’ The answers to these questions have to be repeatedly given by the patient’s attendant to all the visiting relatives, and also to all the strangers who decide to talk. In a mental state that sometimes craves only for some peaceful moments to pray.

If you feel that an anxious soul in the hospital waiting room is looking for someone to share the anxiety with, by all means reach out. But if all you’re getting is uncomfortable looks and one-word answers, it’s time you got the message, no? 3Loo Hullabaloo: I know, I know, you don’t want to hear this when you are reading your morning newspaper over a hot cuppa. But then some of you may also be reading this in exactly the place I can’t help but talk about here. What is with people wanting to talk while peeing? See, I don’t know how it goes with the guys but one of the biggest mysteries which I’ve finally given up exploring the cause of, is why girls don’t like going to the washroom alone. It’s like a community thing to do, perhaps it encourages bonding. ‘Who’s coming to the loo?’ is usually announced with much festive cheer in classrooms, restaurants, offices. And then 2-3 women chirpily move towards a place meant to answer the nature’s call — IN PEACE!. But no, that won’t happen, because, you know, girls and lips. They have to move. So a conversation that starts on the way, carries on even when one of them has closed the door and deposited herself on the seat. Now here’s why I have a problem with it. n It’s weird, it’s unnecessary, it can wait n Others can hear you. Among other sounds they can’t avoid hearing n It can cause…umm… performance anxiety if the topic of discussion is intense. What if it stops mid-stream? Think about it. Before the girls decide to kill me, Let me say that I’m sure the guys do this too.

And from whatever I have seen in movies, they stand too close to each other in the act, and that should make it more awkward to have conversations. 2-4 minute wait kar lo yaar, aisa kya toofan hai? And yeah, sometimes it can cause acute embarrassment. I once went to the public loo in a market, the one which had two cubicles. The first one was occupied, so I got inside the second one. The moment I, well, started, a girl’s voice from the adjoining cubicle said, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ Finding it most weird but not wanting to be rude, I mumbled ‘fine, thanks.’

After a few seconds, the voice said, ‘So what are you up to?’ Rather shocked at the gall, I snapped back ‘exactly what you are up to’. The next thing I heard was ‘Sorry, I’ll call you back. Some idiot woman in the next toilet is answering all my questions.’

Lesson learnt.

Sonal Kalra used to take lectures on how to start a conversation. Now after this, no one will invite her anymore.

What a sad end to a career.

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A Calmer You: who’s the joke really on?

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Tired of being the butt of their jokes? Take pity on those who would have no laughter in life if YOU won’t oblige. Why Columbus would have never discovered America if he was married?’ asked a colleague the other day, reading an SMS joke he’d got. Before I could ask him how the sender was so sure of Columbus’s unmarried bliss, I saw him roll over with laughter while reading out the answers. “Because his wife would have said things like — Kab tak wapas aaoge?; main aur bachche bhi saath chalte hain; Ghar baithe baithe hi discover kar lo; agle hafte mere bhai ka birthday hai uske baad chale jaana; hamesha tum hi kyun karte ho — koi aur nahi kar sakta discover?”

A Calmer You who’s the joke really on
I soon saw him add a couple of points of his own to the joke and forward to yet another married friend. I too found it rather funny. And then the age old thought occurred to me that much like blondes in the West, how the funniest of jokes in our culture often target women. And Sardars. And lawyers. And mothers-in-law. And so on. And how I, like most of you, have grown up laughing away at such jokes in good humour and not thinking any further. But, the other day I got a mail from a regular reader, Vishakha Jain, who wrote “I have been driving a car — perfectly and way better than guys — for years now. So, when I get jokes and forwarded emails showing all women drivers as careless fools, it upsets me. Is it not stressful when you see horrible generalization in the name of humour?”
Well, Vishakha, to be honest I’ve never looked at it this way. Because I feel the whole point of a joke is that we don’t take it seriously. But now that you have raised this point, let me ask the readers of this column.
Does it secretly stress you out if you belong to a category that’s often the target of jokes? Does it stress you even more that you are ‘expected’ to take it all in good humour and laugh along each time? Here’s what I think about this, but I would surely wait to know what you all have to say.
1. Generalisation, according to me, is important to ensure that a joke remains just that. If it is specific, it could seem personally offensive to someone and that’s wh thene humour flies right out of the window. As it is, we are such a stiff and uptight society. We are ready to be offended at the drop of a hat. Half of us don’t even remember the last time we laughed our guts out. Even on the funniest of jokes, we take pride in curbing our laughter. I actually know a guy who wouldn’t let a smile escape his mouth, no matter what. Tell him a rib-tickling joke and you could notice, perhaps with a magnifying glass, just a slight twitch on the corner of his lips.
Because he thinks its un-manly to display emotions. And then there are those who specialise in killing someone else’s joke by interrupting and announcing ‘pehle suna hua hai’. So basically, a society where youngsters write LOL without even smiling most of the time, is anyway averse to actual laughter. Aise mein generalisation or not, at least keep the jokes coming as a saving grace.
2. Secondly, I personally feel those category of people on whom jokes are mostly cracked are way more evolved than others. Take wives, for instance. It’s only they who good-naturedly suffer jokes on them and their mothers. Can’t imagine husbands handling even half the pot-shots without there being raging ego battles. As for Sardars, even if the whole nation stands in salute forever in front of this hard working community, which not only gracefully allows us to crack jokes on them, but also laughs along, it won’t be enough. Those who can only laugh at the expense of others need to learn bigtime from their more mature counterparts.
3. And finally Vishakha, if you do indeed feel strongly offended by someone’s jokes, then perhaps you should express your displeasure. It’s a wrong feeling to live your life feeling you’re being steamrolled by others. But trust me, jokes are more often an expression of camaraderie than aggression. So, don’t be in a stress to turn the tables or prove a point needlessly. Men call women drivers careless only to hide the fact that they themselves are busy noticing them on the road. Chill. But hey, could you please still tell me why most women leave the handbrake on?.
Sonal Kalra is tired of hearing the same jokes. She’s willing to sponsor a community dedicatedly devoted to coming up with mean jokes on men. Any takers?

A calmer you: Some people just WON’T GROW UP!

If I could catch hold of the word ‘cute’, I would beat it up with a hammer. When it comes to weird people, there are several varieties in this world. But talk about so-weird-they-make-you-feel-like-jumping-in-front-of-a-train, and the list may not be that long. Prominent in that list of mine are childish adults. Childish to the point of exhibiting an unrecognised trait of dementia, which, I’m certain, will some day make it to the list of medically untreatable imbecilities.

The reference to the train is because I happened to see one such CA (childish adult; No, the chartered accountants can’t sue me, they are all busy filing some return of the dragon or something), when I happened to travel by the Delhi metro recently. There was a guy in the compartment, with his CA girlfriend who was driving him, and everyone else, nuts with her kiddy-talk. ‘No, no, no.. I told you I want to travel in the pink coach. Pink is so cute,’ the 20-something-girl said, stomping her foot thrice. My eyes widened at this unabashed display of utter horror. ‘But pink coach is only for women. We’ll have to travel in different coaches,’ reasoned her boyfriend. ‘Toh? Mein tele chhe phone pe baat talungi nah,’ (So? I will talk to you on the phone) she replied, actually mimicking a 2-year-old’s voice, complete with a hand gesture of talking on phone.

A calmer you Some people just WONT GROW UP

I glared at her boyfriend with a look that screamed ‘Slap her, slap her right now.’ But the poor thing looked as helpless as everyone around them were amused. And then, as their destination was about to arrive, this girl suddenly crossed her arms, refused to get down, and with a fake-pout, declared ‘you don’t love me’ to the hapless guy. I swear I involuntarily moved an inch and a half towards her, contemplating where to dispose off the body if I kill her. But then visions of Sridevi in Sadma and the possibility of the drama queen actually suffering from some disorder stopped me. But I still feel all that she was challenged of was sensible, mature behaviour. Anyway, itni lambi kahaani ka point is that some people forget that they are supposed to grow up with their age, and turn into the highly irritating breed of CAs. Here’s how to recognise them

1. Tantrum throwers: A behavioural trait that should have ended when they were five continues even when they are 45 – throwing tantrums when things don’t happen the way they want. Even at workplace, you may have seen calm, rational looking adults sometimes act very juvenile in situations. Much like a toddler refusing to eat green vegetables, they would refuse to see logic in an argument and won’t budge from their position.

The same could happen if you are in a relationship with a CA. Your partner would suddenly sulk for days, without telling you the reason, or behave in a really immature way when something upsets him or her. The best way to deal with tantrum throwers is actually to not deal with them at all. If you pay attention to a tantrum, it only grows. Leave them to sort it out and make it clear that you will entertain only rational behaviour.

2. Cutie pies: If I could catch hold of the word ‘cute’, I would beat it up with a hammer. Such a misused expression, I tell you. Because most CAs of the world try and get away with obnoxious behaviour hiding under this one expression. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t endorse people who are gloomy and serious all the time in the name of acting mature. To a certain extent, it’s very important to bring out the child in you. But if that child refuses to go back, then my dear, you have problem.

I know of a girl nearing 30 who speaks, dresses and behaves like a 6-year-old a majority of the time. Maybe when she initiated this behaviour, someone called her ‘cute’. Her computer’s wallpaper has two furry ‘cute’ cats, her T-shirts have cute puppies on them and her wallet has poor Snow White dangling from the chain. Anyway, all that is her personal choice. But the trouble is that she brings this inner child to work with her. And doesn’t even realise that she may be a subject of mockery because of this. My advice: curb the cute, bring out the sensible — most of the times. If you manage to do that and the cute comes out only occasionally, people would genuinely find you endearing, rather than going all ‘awww, how chweet’ on your face and throwing up when you turn around.

3. Cry-babies: These people may not actually cry, but their behaviour sure makes others feel like it. I know this guy who has whined close to 98% of his living time on this planet. Always cribbing, always complaining. He must be in his 30s but does the noble task of reminding me of all the small children of this world, the moment he opens his mouth. Right from the weather being too hot to the girlfriend not being hot enough, his life seems like a big mess. Well, it’s actually not. To anyone else, he’s had it going pretty good and life’s treated him with kid-gloves. Kid-gloves? Oh damn, that may have been the problem.

Net, net, here’s the deal for all the CAs out there. Life’s not to be taken too seriously, but neither so non-seriously that you make a joke of yourself. All the baby-talk, pouting, sulking will work only when done in moderation, and maybe in private. But beyond a point, it’s not funny. It’s rather icky to people who have managed to keep pace with their calendar age. Knock it off!

Sonal Kalra wants to apologise to the kids of this world because some adults have encroached their territory. What? We are forgiven? Awww… how cute.

A Calmer You: Please DO NOT say that again

There are two kinds of people: those who repeat themselves and those who repeat themselves.Hello good people, I’m back from the fictitious vacation to hell that the heartless editor sends me on, when I’m not able to submit this column on time. And each time I get back, she asks me to write within the deadline and… err … sensibly. Undue expectations, I tell you. If there were sensible things happening in my life, I wouldn’t need to seek calmness, would I? Ab jaise look at the new problem bugging my peace. These days I find myself getting increasingly irritated by the totas around me. Wait a sec you fellows with no character, did your mind go straight to the Punjabi slang ‘tota’ that apparently means a hot chick? Arrey kuchh sharam karo. I am referring to ‘tota’ – the beautiful green coloured bird …woh red beak wala that keeps repeating whatever he says… over and over again.

A Calmer You Please DO NOT say that again

I have some chalte phirte totey in human form around me. Like there’s this new tenant Chaddha ji has rented his second floor to. This woman often comes over, the visits based solely on her assumption that I have nothing to do. “Mummy said it won’t make sense to buy non modular furniture. Vaise bhitwo floors chadhaana kitna tough hai,” she started one day. ‘Yeah, your mom’s right’, I replied. “Kyunki modular furniture works betternah, it’s convenient to shift,” she added. ‘Haan, absolutely,’ I answered. “So like mummy was clear that beta do as per your wish but I won’t let you buy non modular furniture,” she said. ‘If she won’t let you, how will you do as per your wish?’ — is what I wanted to ask, but all that I mumbled was ‘hmmm’. “Mummy was like, aaj kal everyone goes for modular only. It’s easy to separate out the parts while packing,” she said. At this point I found myself involuntarily moving towards her, like a possessed being, my hands itching to throttle her and pack her off to her modular-obsessed mummy.

Thankfully, better sense prevailed, as it always does when I feel this extreme urge to at least deliver a tight slap to these walking parrots. How many times can you say the same thing repeatedly, yaar? Note that I’m not referring here to those, especially elderly people, who sometimes tend to narrate their old stories again and again. I love listening to those, each time with renewed interest, because that’s their way of reliving their happy moments. It’s the habit of some to just incessantly keep making the same point ad nauseum is what gets my goat. So here’s a bit of advice if you happen to be stuck with a tota.

1 Understand the psyche of a repeater and try to figure out why they’re saying the same thing over and over. In all likelihood, it happens when they feel they’re not being heard. So it’s important to let them know, through the right body language and responses, that they have your attention.

2 Interject, interrupt, intervene — do any of these fancy words when it starts to get out of hand. Reassure the person that you’ve understood what they want to convey.

3 Learn to zone out. It’s an art to be able to mentally switch off an annoying conversation, while still giving signs, physically, that you are listening. Arm yourself with vague responses that fit all questions you may be asked. For instance, if I’m not really listening to someone who turns around and asks me “isn’t it?”, I mostly reply, ‘it depends’. Such life savers, these vague terms, and the ability to zone out. Mild intoxication helps. Okay, fine that was a joke. No it wasn’t.

4 Avoid such people, if there’s nothing you can do to stop wanting to physically hit them. It’ll be good for your blood pressure, and you won’t face any legal risks. Fake a call — on phone, of nature — anything, but get away from the situation the moment your hands start to itch.

5 Sit the tota down, and tell them politely that their habit causes irritation. No one wants to come across as a pest in conversations. If you gently tell them that people avoid talking to them because of this reason, you might actually contribute in them shedding a negative habit. Remember that between laughing on a person behind his back and telling him his weaknesses, it’s always the latter that makes you a better human being.

Sonal Kalra wants to know if it is indeed easier to shift modular furniture. Would modular furniture be easier to shift? Bolo. Easy hota hai? Has your mummy told you about modular furniture’s benefits while shifting?

A Calmer You: hey, aunty mat kaho nah!

Our city is like one big happy family. No wonder everyone is our didi or bhaiyya.Aunty, which way to Connaught Place?” a man crossing the road asked me yesterday. I wish I could direct him to Antarctica. You see, I have no problems being addressed so by those who arrived on this planet a couple of decades later than I did, but this man?

A Calmer You hey aunty mat kaho nah

I’m certain he must have been a burden on mother earth already, when my mom was merely selecting her bridal outfit. I looked at him and then looked at myself. Thankfully, before I could contemplate going into depression for having become ‘aunty’ to middle-aged men, he directed his query at a fairly young guy who walked by. “Hello, uncle! Which road for Connaught Place?” Ha, ha… so the problem is with him, not me, I realised and moved on. But not before I noticed the young man muttering curses under his breath.

Looking older than one actually is can be quite a stress but that’s not what I’m talking about this week. I want to draw your attention at how utterly incapable most of us Indians are, at knowing how to address people. We fumble, we mumble or try to form an instant rishtedaari with someone whose face we are seeing for the first time. Let’s look at some of the common culprits who sorely need the ‘how-to-address-others-training’.

1. The ‘Bhaiyya brigade’: Doodhwalla is bhaiyya, rickshaw puller is bhaiyya, shop salesman is bhaiyya,husband’s best friend is bhaiyya…and the guy your parents collaborated to give birth to… is alsobhaiyya.
How come? We believe in universal brotherhood, that’s why. The female equivalent, ‘didi’ is also quite a killer, and is freely used for half the population of the country.
I know, I know, you’ll say that addressing strangers as didi, bhaiyya, uncle etc shows respect that’s unique to our culture. Only, I’m not quite sure if respect is the overriding emotion when we casually throw these terms at anyone. Watch Mrs Chaddha curse
and abuse the autowallah left, right and center while still calling him bhaiyya, and you’ll know what I mean.

2. The ‘Hello’ gang: These people must have an imaginary telephone attached to their mouths, because they address everyone
as ‘hello’. The other day, I was walking towards home in the apartment complex, when a neighbour’s son shouted out, ‘oh, hello!’. I turned back, said ‘hi’ and kept walking. ‘I’m calling you’, he said, and ran up to tell me that I’d left the car’s parking lights on. I then realised that he didn’t know how else to address me. Anyway, ‘hello’ or ‘listen’ is anyday better than aunty.

3. We, the ladies:  Last week, I went to a friend’s house and his new domestic help — a young guy — who I had never met earlier, opened the door. Since my friend wasn’t at home, he called her up and said, ‘koi ladies aayi hain’. I looked around to see if I’d suddenly sprouted another person and turned into two but I was all-alone. “why are you calling me ‘ladies’?” I asked. Because ‘you are ladies’, he replied, and the conversation had to be stopped for fear of it turning weirder. What’s with this fascination for plural form? Twice the respect, I hope. And talking of respect, what about those who address everyone as ‘Sir’? The British may die aspiring for a knighthood but in India, everyone — right from a buddy to a business colleague — is ‘Sir’.  Fascinating… ain’t it?

I know what you’re thinking now. That I’ve poked fun at all the ways we address people without saying what the solution is. To tell you the truth, I don’t know. I’d say always address someone by their name, if you happen to know what it is. It’s much better than getting into the ‘didi-bhaiyya’ routine.

But if it’s a stranger, you have to stop on the road and talk to, I would prefer to call out with an ‘excuse me.’ And would bang my head on the wall if I get the favourite Indian reply to that – ‘excused’!!

Sonal Kalra has no clue how to address people. She even asked Bubbly Aunty and Pappu Bhaiyya. Could you please help? 

A Calmer You: Is the green-eyed monster attacking?

When someone is jealous of you, it only means you have what they want. She came, she sat, she cried. That’s pretty much how I can sum up every visit of Bansuri Chaddha to my house. As bugged as I get of the very un-bansuri like sounds she makes while crying, I never deny her the shoulder. It’s not easy to be born to, and to then live in the same house with one of the most irritating men this world has seen. And talking of Chaddha ji, I’m perpetually amazed at his here’s-a-new-way-to-piss-you-off ability. Bansuri narrated, in great detail, how the whole family is now reeling under his newfound obsession with envy. So Chaddha ji, who is a property dealer, was negotiating a deal for the sale of a plot in our area. Another property agent, whose son happens to be Bansuri’s classmate, managed to outdo Chaddha ji in striking the deal. Now he’s jealous.

A Calmer You Is the green-eyed monster attacking
And jealous with such uncontrollable zeal that he doesn’t mind expressing it in the most juvenile manner. So not only is this other property agent finding strange and sudden mishaps ranging from deflated car tyres and excessive garbage around his house, Bansuri has been ordered to stay away from his son. “He doesn’t realise that jealousy is turning him into such a negative person. How to harm that other family is all that we talk about at the dinner table these days,” cried Bansuri. Keeping my mean streak from telling her that nothing can ‘turn’ her dad into a negative person, I simply nodded. Jealousy is a pretty powerful emotion… it not only consumes the person who suffers from it but also ropes in unwilling participants. So if two sisters-in-law are jealous of each other, their husbands will have little more than woes to listen to, all the time. If a colleague suffers from bouts of jealousy, his behaviour will spread nothing but negativity around the team.
In today’s column, I had a choice between addressing either the victims of someone else’s jealousy or those who suffer from envy towards others. I’m choosing the latter because a person who suffers from jealousy pangs, simply because someone else has got a better deal in life, is usually in a much bigger state of stress than the subject of his envy. Here’s the thing…
* You feel jealous because you feel life’s been unfair towards you. That you should have got what the other, less-deserving person has managed to get.
* Your mind then gets all consumed by thoughts of how you can harm that person so that he can’t enjoy what he has got unfairly.
* This leaves almost no time for you to think about how you could improve your own fortune, or better yet, appreciate what you may already have.
* Not being able to do the above leads to a further gap between the other person’s fortune and yours.
So this my dear is the dreaded term – vicious cycle – that you keep reading about. Dekho, one simple point is that you can’t really change someone else’s destiny. So all the nasty, little tricks that you may try in order to harm the person you are jealous of, can actually tick God off into giving him even more. So woh toh karo mat. Focus instead on yourself and try these…

1. Ban the word ‘comparison’ : We all have a quick tendency to compare ourselves with people who we think are in the same strata as us. So you tend to compare your marks with a friend because he is in the same class as you. You compare your appraisals with colleagues who are in the same salary bracket as you. You compare the size of your car with a neighbour who lives in the same area as you. What you forget is how superficial these so-called similarities are. Look deeper and you’ll realise that every person, no matter how similar he may be in age, looks, social standing, academic background etc, has a very different story to him. And that you NEVER know someone else’s true story. A neighbour who is flaunting a big car and a big smile everyday may be drinking himself into coma every night out of depression. The colleague who gets promoted every year, may have his wife shouting the daylights out of him at home. The classmate who seems most popular may be running around counsellors to cure his or her insecurities and complexes. If outer trappings could be definite indicators of happiness, Shah Rukh Khan would be the happiest person in the country. Maybe he is, maybe he curses his life every night before he goes to bed. Who knows? The point is simple: when comparisons are anyway invalid because they are being done on wrong parameters, why kill yourself by feeling jealous over them? It’s like reading about the state of the economy in Greece and getting all stressed-out sitting in Bhatinda. Vele ho kya?

2. Love yourself, more than anyone else: Sounds selfish but I have a firm belief that it is the biggest key to happiness.  Jealousy stems from the belief that you are not as good as the other person. Now that we’ve decided to remove the other person from the scene, you have no choice but to focus on what’s great within you.
And there is always something unique and great within each one of us. We just blind ourselves to it. For a change, fall utterly, madly and completely in love with yourself — the way you look, the way you talk, the way you work. Bhaad mein jaaye duniya and the thought that you may be turning vain. We’ll control the vanity bit when it comes to that. For once, think of yourself as the best and jealousy would soon stop knocking at your door. It doesn’t like to wait for long in front of closed doors.

3. Feel happy for the person you’re jealous of: I know saadhu sant type advice hai, but try it out if you can. You’ll feel so good about yourself that it’ll be worth the try. Lemme give you a silly example because I specialise in those. If out of jealousy, you’ll keep wishing bad things and ill luck for your friends or classmates (for example wishing that they don’t get admission in a good college and you do), and if God happens to be in a weird mood and grants your wishes, do you know what will happen? When after a few years, you would want to do a reunion with your friends, you’ll end up in a gathering of depressed losers. Wouldn’t it be better to wish well for everyone and have a room full of successful, happy friends instead? This is true for everything in life. The happiness that comes out of seeing someone fall is momentary and fake. The one that comes with them walking side by side, giving you company, is way deeper and long lasting. Make a choice!
Sonal Kalra told Bansuri to discuss Shah Rukh Khan at the dinner table and stay away from jealousy. By the way, it’s an Italian dinner table. How could Chaddha ji afford it? Some people are so damn lucky.

A Calmer You: do you wish your boss were dead?

‘Absolutely not,’ replied a horrified Neeraj when I asked him the question that’s the headline of today’s column. ‘I can’t wish death for someone, no matter how horrible he is,’ he said, and before I could feel proud that my friends belong to the human race, he added, ‘haan, saal mein 4-5 baar fracture ho jaye saale ka toh badiya.’ Hmmm, I’m back to questioning the kind of people I hang out with, but you please spare a moment for soul searching to see if you were secretly tempted to answer yes to the headline. Because a new research in the UK (I sometimes wonder how the British get time to do research amid worrying about life altering developments like the birth of a royal baby etc.) says that an overwhelming majority of people are sick of their bosses to the extent of wishing grave harm to them. Vaise, I’ve been unusually lucky in the boss department and by the way, so is my team, which has been suitably bribed or threatened to not dispute this claim. But I’ve seen a lot of people go through unimaginable stress at work because of a species who have the working title of bosses but are actually monsters from hell. Well, if you are a victim, take heart in two facts — one, you have company and two, there are always ways to deal with difficult people in life, and that includes bosses. Let’s first classify the devil that’s making your work life miserable.

A Calmer You do you wish your boss were dead

1. The Shirker: Hmm…this kind of a boss is rather common, but thankfully not very harmful. He doesn’t do much himself, and enjoys a comfy ride on the back of the mules he has around him. Ironically enough, such people also get promoted by some magic stroke of luck, leaving others to wonder if God’s promotion department software has some permanent virus. A typical hands-off person, he is quick to criticise when something goes wrong, and usually justifies his non-involvement by saying that he is ‘empowering’ his juniors. In most cases, this generosity of empowerment comes only because he has no clue or clarity in his head about what he wants out of his own life, let alone his team. No vision, no goal, and an uncanny ability to never own up to his team’s failure. That’s Mr Shirker for you. I call such a boss less harmful than other animals at workplace only because their laziness prevents them from turning vicious as long as their ego is not messed with. It’s best to enjoy their absence, keep doing the good work and being on generally friendly terms with such bosses. Let them feel happy by appearing to take credit for anything successful, but always remember that deep inside, people know who’s done all the work. Also, don’t forget that a useless person never enjoys an unbeaten innings – the good luck will run-out the day something changes on the top and they are held accountable for their performance. Wait and watch, with interest.

2. The Sulk: This boss, in his childhood, was the obnoxiously spoilt kid you see today lying flat on the floor of a shopping mall, throwing a massive tantrum because his mum is not buying him the seventh ice cream. He just likes to sulk, endlessly, over the smallest issues. I once had a boss, who wouldn’t respond to my good-morning greeting on the days he was sulking. Obviously enough, my mornings didn’t remain very good after that. A boss who sulks silently is often unsure of the validity of his or her displeasure with you. It’s best to help him come out of that mood by asking, not more than once, if you have something to do with what’s bothering him. If he chooses to not tell you, choose to assume it’s not you. Also, it’s best to not fuel mistrust in the minds of such bosses by having private conversations with colleagues, making them feel you could be conspiring against them. So no whispering and pausing a conversation the moment he passes by. Even if you were planning his surprise birthday party!

3. The Conqueror: Now we are inching towards the more harmful ones. A boss in the sulk mode is easier to handle, a boss in the hulk mode isn’t. This one’s all out to intimidate the daylights out of you. He bullies, he shouts, he swears. He won’t hesitate to throw you in front of the bus if it comes to saving his ass in front of the management. His strategy is to rob you of all your self-esteem, so you go home every evening feeling like a loser, no matter how hard you work. Dealing with this devil starts with the first, and the most important step of believing that the problem person in this situation is he, not you. And the next step is to counter an abusive behaviour with an irritating amount of calmness. Yes, you heard me right. Nothing rattles a violent, abusive drama queen more than his or her victim responding each time firmly, and calmly. If he abuses or shouts at you inappropriately in front of everyone, tell him clearly that you are not sure what this is about and would prefer to discuss this with him in detail, and in private. It’s tough to keep shouting when there’s a very formal, cold response from the other side. Send him a mail later, expressing ‘disappointment’ that you became a reason for him to lose his peace of mind, and ask him for suggestions on how not to be such a reason ever again. In all probability, you won’t get a reply. You won’t get abused either.

4. The Manipulator: This, according to me is the most harmful of the boss species. This guy devotes all his energies, to not learning his job, but the tricks of manipulation. A deeply insecure person, this kind of boss has the superhuman ability to play games to keep his team divided and fighting, so that no one’s left with any energy to notice his inadequacies. If the constant negativity is zapping you of your strength and spirit, it’s very easy for me to tell you to look for an alternate job. But then, when have I ever suggested easy routes to calmness? Here’s an opportunity for you to turn around an insecure, negative person into a positive, reassured one. The first step to dealing with such manipulative people is to somehow make it clear to them that you can see through their games, and that they don’t bother you enough to go into a panic mode. Half of their battle is lost if they can’t seem to rattle you. And you can make them lose the other half by involving them in your accomplishments. Even when — and especially when — they haven’t done much in a successful project, use the terms ‘our’, ‘we’ and ‘us’, instead of ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ when informing them and others about your accomplishment. Show them that you have no interest in being a threat to them by being more popular or successful. Remember the golden rule of dealing with manipulators — consciously refuse to be their victim. The moment you take away their target, you take away their strength.

Sonal Kalra’s team just called her to check if another photo of a horrible boss was required in this write-up, since there’s a pic of hers anyway. Guess who all are getting fired tomorrow.

Loving But Sometime Strange

Finally I am at home, enjoying  mama’s delicacies, 24*7 internet, awesome time with friends, no classes, no study( as if I studied in hall 9!),a bit of scolding every now and then and much-2 more!!

I have been writing a lot of poems lately, but I feel that the writer inside me is banging on the closet to get out, to be free… (He! He! I like fancy writing!!)

Ok! Now the writer is free. What about the TOPIC? What should I write about?..Hm..m..m..mm..hhh!..

As I was wondering, MOM came in. She looked serious.

“Beta! Why don’t you put that brown Monkey Cap.? It’s getting so cold; you will catch Cold soon “she asked.

I gave her an astonished look. “Come on! MOM! I am sitting in my room not on a mountain, am not gonna put that stupid-brown-monkey-cap anyways. (I was serious; I was not going to be a laugh stock for visitors!)

Loving But Sometime Strange

Mom gave me dirty looks. “With how much love, I had made it for you? And you used to like it earlier. But now you don’t care at all!”She said in a disappointed voice. Before I could try something, she went away.

I felt absurd. What’s my mistake? Should I have put that cause-of-matter cap? Did I hurt her? Was I rude? Ewwwh! How on earth I used to like that Brown-monkey-Cap?

Next, in a moment of sheer enlightenment I got my topic…… (Drum roll! Please?)…….PARENTS!!

Ok! I am sure about this fact that we guys don’t connect the word “interesting” with Parents (though the word LOVING is always attached to them) but I want you to ogle at this topic.

Everyone loves his parents. So do I. Could still remember, the day when I cried more than a bride when mom and Dad left me in school in K.G.?You know what? I got teased for this, by my female classmate till class 8 after which I went to a BOY’S school. I just took all that embarrassment to prove how much we love our parents… (You can salute me! I am ok with it)

They are our idol in some ways. I still couldn’t make out dads secret to handle situations so calmly and make friends so easily, when everybody around him is dead silent. Mom is really a very hard working woman, who has carried her responsibility so well and Mind it! She is a top seed bargainer … ( I never told her that I had bought the same jeans she gifted..But had to pay twice)

But we can’t skip the fact that parents can be really bugging at times. For instance, they won’t let you keep your mobile under your pillow at nights. They will safeguard you from the ghosts of late night talks and texts and if you protest “Dad why can’t I have my mobile with me at nights?”Then you better be ready for some cross questions (counter strike may be a better word….and i am a big pf the game also)

What do you have to do with it, at such a late time? Who calls you that late? What stupid, good-for-nothing jokes you have to send..?

“Dad! I keep my alarms on my mobile!” I replied to deliver some sense.

“NONSENSE! Who would require an alarm to get up at 10 in the morning?”He says angrily. Next, I forfeit.

Another time, you will play the awesome game of prince of Persia (warrior within) on your P.C. and Dad will come from behind, stare at the desktop and start his monologue” What aim do you think it will serve you? All you doing is banging the ‘poor’ keyboard buttons and killing people in that virtual world.”

Hello??  Dad! I am the Prince here, Prince Of Persia, to be precise and am just fighting for my empire! ( I could feel a sword in my hand that time)

Whatever? Finish it soon! I want you to read an editorial in today’s newspaper, written by Rajdeep Sardesai, be sure that you do it because I will discuss it with you later.

“DAMN…..!!” is all you say and that to softly.

If there is a special occasion like you going out with your family then MOM will make it sure that  you become a CLOTH-STOCK. She just decorates so many clothes on you that anyone can mistake you for a BOMB-DIFFUSING squad member than a party guy.

Don’t talk about social networking with parents. You don’t have to thank MR. KAPIL SIBAL for that, actually parents and social media have dynastic hatred. I was more screwed up than ARJUNA ( I just love putting those extra A) in MAHABHARATA when Dad  asked me the password of my GMAIL account. Poor I, LORD KRISNA didn’t come for my rescue.

i still remember the scenario when   i wrote the poem “Girl! Somehow, one day, you will read these lines”? No Son would like his parents to come across such a poem written by him only. At least I wouldn’t. But thanks to ALMIGHTY (who has decided to use all His might against me) it came across DAD.

Casually, DAD read the title loudly and he was shocked, he read it again (softer this time). He slowly went through the body (of poem, off course!), gave me a strange look, I nervously stood next to him. He continued reading (with every passing stanza his voice became softer). It’s really an absurd feeling to hear stuffs like “flirt”,” you will be mine”, an arrow struck at my heart”..etc..etc…in your DAD’s voice only.. I wanted to a dig a pit and slip into it till DAD forget about the poem, I also cursed myself for writing long poems.

Finally poem was red; DAD was silent and serious with his eyes still on poem. Tension had enveloped the environment. “So I guess all this stuff is imaginary?” he asked with his eyebrows lifted.

“Sure! Dad, it’s all about imagination” I meekly replied.

“OH! …..Nice Piece, anyways” he smiled with a hint of glee and then he went away.

It’s really hard to understand your parents sometimes. It may because till the extent of our perspective they are only parents and just-only parents, nothing else. But they are more …..just like us yet so different. So loving yet so strange.

A Calmer You: we have eyes. We will use them

Just as sun won’t stop rising from the east, some people won’t stop staring at others. Real scientific study: So you are in the public transport, or driving down a street when you notice someone staring hard at you. You go and ask the person what they are looking at.

Depending on which country you are in, this is what’s likely to be the response:

America: Well, sorry. Guess I was just looking through you.

Britain: I beg your pardon? Are you suggesting I have a vision defect?

Italy: Maybe because you are so good-looking, I couldn’t help it. Sorry.

India: Hamari aankhein hain, hum toh dekhenge. Kar lo jo karna hai.

Welcome to the land of stare-o-maniacs.

Hamein toh shauk hai bhai… We don’t really need any specific reason to stare. Arrey, we have to cover such long distances while going to college or office. Ab bore hote rahein? The only available entertainment is looking at people.Haan, it’s another thing that we are born lazy. Who will take the trouble of shifting the gaze from one person to other? So normally, we let it fix on someone and keep staring the hell out of him or her. Mostly her, but what the heck. Bandi nahi toh banda sahi. We will just stare, it’s our national preoccupation, and our democratic birthright.

A Calmer You - calmness tips to deal with staring eyes
I have written about them earlier also in this column, but stare-o-maniacs is a breed that never ceases to fascinate me. Some of them do not even need the usual setting of a public place to exercise this unique talent. Once I used to live in an apartment where the balcony directly faced the balcony of the opposite house. I would get up in the morning and go out to pick up the newspaper, only to find the nice woman in the opposite house staring straight and hard at me. I would instinctively nod and say good morning to her in the hope that it would end the staring session, but she would keep at it. After re-looking and revamping my nightclothes wardrobe  thrice in the fear that something in my appearance made her do it, I realised I was just getting paranoid. It was about her, not me.

Geetika Mishra, a reader of this column, wrote to me asking me to suggest calmness tips to deal with people who constantly stare. “Newton’s first law should have been: An eye that is staring will continue to stare with a uniform intensity in a straight line unless it is expelled by an external thrashing force to change its state of stare,” she wrote. Well, Geetika, that’s well put, though that proposed thrashing force or the chaanta has more potential to complicate the matters rather than bring about calmness. Here’s what I feel are the options if you find a pair of strangers’ eyes affixed on you for no apparent reason.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips to Deal with People Fond of Staring at Others[/stextbox]

1. Look the other way: Seems like the easiest solution, though you’d mostly find the creepy gaze still on you if you look back. But then why look back? If the situation permits, change your position in such a way that you can totally avoid looking at the stare. And please, for once, apply the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ adage here and stop wondering whether the person is still looking at you. This whole thing of ‘I could still feel his eyes on me even when I turned way’ is pretty bullshit. You feel nothing till you want to feel it. Truth of life.
2. Don’t be hypersensitive: Just as those who stare at others perhaps have a hobby of doing so, a lot of people also have the hobby of thinking that the world revolves around them. To them it seems like everyone is concerned just with how they look or behave, so they always find others staring at them. It won’t help in life to become so hypersensitive about self. All you’ll end up doing is picking fights with strangers or getting stressed within yourself. Learn to ignore, not just others but sometimes your own vanity. Hiding his online status just to maintain peace in the relationship is actually making him lie to you, something that he wouldn’t want to do if you were not this hyper about instant responses.

3. Assume you are awesome: When my Grandfather’s second cousin Mr Darwin proposed the theory of evolution, he generalised human beings as a species and showed us how we evolved from the apes. What he forgot to mention is that we may all decide to stop at different stages of evolution. So, you see, we as a breed are available in different shapes and sizes. Normally, people who get most stared at belong to the either extremes — either they are too blessed in the looks department or they stand out for some physical attribute or style of dressing that’s out of the ordinary. Rather than fret and worry what’s wrong with you, always try to assume that you belong to the first category.
Take it as a compliment that people can’t take their eyes off you because you are so awesome. In any case, there’s precious little you can do in most situations, why not at least feed your own mind with positive self-esteem. Haan, let these thoughts remain in your head only, don’t suddenly start acknowledging it to all those around you. A firang friend of mine once said that if someone in her country stares at her, she smiles back and it works. I told her that we would have liked to execute the same noble deed here, except that in our country if you start to smile at someone who’s staring at you, there’s more likelihood of him following you home than just reciprocating the gesture. To each his own. Sigh.

4. Get all funny: I have tried this and it works, but please do this at your own risk after evaluating the conditions. It’s fun to embarrass the one staring by making funny faces, or staring back at him or her full blast, as if challenging them to a ‘who-blinks-first’ game. I’ve even covered my face with my hands and slowly removed them to play  peek-a-boo with someone who wouldn’t stop staring. He looked away when everyone around started laughing. Sometimes people have no malicious intentions and they don’t even realise that they are staring. They can join the laughter too. It’s fun.

5. Confront: Well, the last resort. If you are certain none of the above is working and the stare is bothering the hell out of you, go upto the person and ask them what they are looking at. You could even shout your question out, as drawing attention mostly wards off a stare. No, wait, why not start pointing to your nose and picking it vigorously? That’s bound to put the creep off. I know it’s not nice or mature, but when did I claim to be nice…or mature?
Sonal Kalra has decided to join classes to learn the art of prolonged staring without blinking. With the second largest population, anywhere she sees there’ll be people. Might as well do it the right way. Kar lo jo karna hai.