Category Archives: December 2011

Thak gaye hain, pak gaye hain!

Did you know that India has the largest concentration of irritating people in this world? No, seriously. I’m quite sure if someone were to do this research, we would be right up there. One, there are human beings everywhere. And two, they all seem to want to talk. Chalo even that may still be acceptable, but there’s something in those talks that makes sanity seem like a big virtue.

tips-to-deal-with-irritating-people-calmer-you-column-11-dec-2011-Thak gaye hain, pak gaye hain

See, after your heart tugging response to last week’s column about homosexuality, I was all set to take up yet another thought provoking, serious topic this week. Between you and me, I thought this may just be the right opportunity to change my image from a weirdo joker to that of a serious columnist. But no, people of this nation wouldn’t let that happen.

No sooner did I sit to write intelligent, intellectual stuff, the king of boring times dropped in. My friendly neighbour Chaddha ji. My noteworthy achievements in the next forty-five minutes include managing to say ‘yes’ twice and uttering ‘hmmm’ full three times. Over a long winding account of how cumbersome it is to get oneself registered for the Unique Identification Card (UID) being issued by the government, He.Ate.My.Brain Up. All of it.

Pardon me but after this unsolicited verbal onslaught, I’ve deferred the idea of writing on that serious topic. Instead I’m dedicating this column to all the victims of a ‘PP’ attack. Pakaau Person. In other words, one who specializes in ensuring that the more boring a topic is, the longer it is discussed for.

I know so many PPs. They are mostly in love with the sound of their own voice, and possess a nauseating amount of knowledge on whatever bad is happening in the world — theirs and ours. Don’t misconstrue that I have a problem with people discussing topical, serious issues — those are what polite, social conversation actually ought to be made of.

I just have a problem with how the PPs are generally not sensitive at all to any signal that the other person has had enough of a topic and does not wish to engage in it till eternity. What if apocalypse strikes? I don’t want to die discussing registration of UID cards with Chaddha ji. I have stuff to do yaar. I’m sure so do you.

So, in the larger interest of mankind, I’m giving you my very own, secret wriggle-out-of-a-PP’s-attack tips. After today I’ll have to think of some new ones for myself, but what the heck. Anything for you.

 [stextbox id=”info”]Tips to Deal With Most Irritating People  (Pakaau Person)[/stextbox]

1 Emit ‘disinterested’ signals:

Warning: This works on amateur PPs, not the hard core ones. Use your body language to indicate that you are getting bored. Yawn (fake it, dummy). Scratch your nose, head — everywhere it won’t look vulgar. Look here and there. If the cacophony still doesn’t stop, increase the intensity of your signals. Check your watch — every three minutes. Nod vigorously as if you are physically dragging the conversation to its end. If you are lucky to get a chance to open your mouth, utter conclusive phrases that actually mean nothing but still could be said in any situation, like ‘anyway, that’s life’ or ‘khair jaane do’. If nothing works, kick yourself and move to step 2.

2 Use your phone’s magic:

I’m not particularly fond of that object called mobile phone, but boy, is it useful when it comes to getting out of a boring conversation. Keep it on vibration mode and at some unbearable point in the discussion, pretend as if you’ve suddenly got an important call. Run, run… while fake-mouthing some serious stuff into the phone. If nothing comes to your mind, just say ‘okay’ into the phone several times, with each okay signifying more urgency than the previous. Scare the Pakaau person into believing that something seriously urgent has come up. Just get away. Some models of cell phones even have an in-built applications that give you a fake call on the press of a button. Hail technology.

3 Your life-saver room:

If there’s any room that has contributed more to saving lives than any other architectural space, it is the washroom. And not just for the obvious reasons. trust me, toilet is a life saver in PP situations (suddenly, reading this sentence aloud makes it sound a bit obscene but I swear it was unintended). Anyway, wriggle out of a endless boring conversation by saying you’ve got to visit the washroom. Urgently. This works like magic, because some things in life, even the most pakaau people can’t question. Don’t come back.

4 Deviation therapy:

In the middle of a long winding diatribe by an irritating jabber jaw, suddenly narrow your eyes, take your face closer to his and say something alarming. Like ‘What’s that on your eye? Is that a sty? There’s some swelling’ They’ll instantly get worried about what’s wrong with them. Look around, call out to someone else standing nearby and ask them to reaffirm your observation. Leave that person to diagnose the imaginary swelling in the PP’s eye. Slip away. Apologise to that other person later. Unless he’s a PP too.

5 Tell them:

This one’s serious. The pakaau person may just be someone you are close to — a friend, a family member. They are not bad people, they just don’t realise when they inadvertantly turn a dialogue into a monologue.

If you want their good, you should tell them that they have a tendency to stretch their conversations much after the listener has lost interest. Don’t say it in a hurtful way, but get your point across, so that no one else avoids them in future. They’ll thank you for it.

Sonal Kalra wonders if anything in this week’s column made any sense. Khair jaane do.

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So your friend is gay? Big deal!

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It’s most humbling to receive hundreds of feedback mails for this column each week, and the nicest thing that’s common to most of them is when you say you liked it because you can ‘totally relate to it’. Well, some of you may not relate to what I’m going to write this week. But, that’s not stopping me from still taking up this topic because, who knows, a lot of you may just.


Last week, I got two mails from two very different individuals, but with a thread of irony connecting them. One mail was from a young college student, Kabir, from Delhi. ‘I’m gay. I’ve totally accepted this reality of my life, though my family and friends don’t know yet, though I’m sure they suspect. Now, I want to tell my best friend. But, I don’t know how he’ll react. What if he starts avoiding me once I tell him? I don’t want to lose his friendship.”

The other mail, interestingly in a gap of just two days, was from 18-year-old Akshit in Lucknow. “I have a serious problem. I’ve come to know that my best friend is gay. He’s not yet told me, but I feel he soon will. I’m absolutely cool with it, but I don’t know what’s the right way to react when he tells me. I don’t want to lose his friendship.”

Now look at this! The first thought that came to my mind after reading these was how most of our life’s stresses are because we are caught up in mind-webs of our own. We spend more time imagining and worrying about others’ reactions than dealing with things when and if they actually happen.

Anyway, coming back to the subject. See, much to an acute embarrassment of my intellect, this column has not turned out to be a forum for serious, intelligent talk. In my own way, I try and tell you how to deal with small problems in life, with simple solutions. In this case, however, I don’t think there is a problem to begin with.

 [stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips for People With Unnatural Sexual Orientation [Homosexual, Gay, Lesbian][/stextbox]

Without sounding as if I’m trivialising the issue bogging Kabir, Akshit or several others, I just want to say that I’ve had enough of people categorising something as basic and private as sexual orientation — homo or hetero — as a problem. I would say there’s a ‘problem’ if you or your friend is a pervert, dishonest, cheat, thief, ill-mannered (a crime in my dictionary. Yours?). Different sexual preference? I’m sorry, but no ‘problem’ there, my friend. Still, if it is stressing you out, there have to be calmness tips. Here’s my advice for Akshit and all those to whom a friend, or a family member has confessed to be homosexual.

1 No drama, please:

I don’t know why we think it’s imperative to react to every bit of news. I’m not saying you act indifferent to what someone tells you, but there’s no need for a dramatic reaction to everything in life. If a friend tells you he or she is gay, do NOT say something like ‘Haww. How come?’ or ‘Are you sure?’ or the worst of the lot — ‘It’s okay. I still love you.’ If you use the word ‘still’ as if they’ve told you about some crime they’ve committed, I will beat you up. I mean it. C’mon, man. Somebody is sharing a very, very private part of their life with you. Don’t let the stupidity of your own beliefs come in the way of reacting sensibly. Just tell them you love them, and leave it at that. I still vividly remember an evening 12 years back when one of my close friends told me she’s homosexual. All I felt at that time was, ‘My god, she must trust me a lot to share this with me.’ And my only response to her was, ‘Thanks for telling me.’ It’s one of the few things I’m still proud of. Be sincere. Be honest. Be simple. No tamasha.

2 Don’t let it bother you:

Frankly, I don’t believe in beating the chest and saying, ‘I support the rights of gays and lesbians,’ because that just segregates them from other people, when they are no different. I don’t care if you attend marches or parades holding placards. If you really want to make a difference, do just one thing. Don’t treat them differently. That’s it. Hate a gay friend if he or she is a bad friend. Just like you would have hated a straight friend for the same reason. Love them as much, not more, as you would have loved any other good friend.

I honestly don’t think what anyone does behind closed bedroom doors should make a difference to your friendship with them, unless they are doing something to harm you. The thought of homosexuality creeps you out? Fair enough. Who’s asking you to like it? But how does that give you the right to be unreasonable or mocking towards someone who does? Don’t judge people for feelings they can’t control.

I fail to understand why our society, including our cinema, believes in mostly portraying gays as comic characters. At the same time, I fail to understand why a lot of homosexuals are sensitive about that, because that would only mean taking a joke seriously, when it’s not supposed to be. I have a lot of gay friends, just as I have plenty of straight friends. Some are funny, some are a real pain. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with their orientation. Base your friendship on what sort of a person they are… trustworthy, truthful, sincere. Not what gender turns them on, because that’s none of your business. The day you get that fact firmly in your head, you would be sorted in life. And it’s a good feeling.

3 This one is for Kabir or anyone who’s having a hard time coming out of the closet. Dekho yaar… you do know, more than anyone else that your sexuality is not an acquired fad. It’s the reality of how you feel. And there’s never a point trying to shun reality.

I once read a graffiti on a church wall in Europe. It was not in the context of homosexuality, but it said, “If it is not a choice, it is not a sin.” You get the point, don’t you? If your parents, friends or family see a flicker of shame in your eyes, they would go on a wrong reaction-path. When you’ve not done anything wrong, why torture yourself with thoughts that someone will leave you. If they indeed do, it’s their loss. But, that said, don’t forget that while you may have spent sleepless nights thinking and coming to terms with your alternative sexuality, it is unfair to expect an immediate positive reaction from those who you break the news to, as a surprise.

Your friends may have grown in households where the thought of homosexuality is taboo. We all have. But then, there used to be a time when things like contraception or abortion etc also used to be taboos. Times change. Mindsets change. But not overnight. Give them time, answer their queries, have patience. If they love you, they will come around. Sexuality is just a trivial part of life… don’t make it the cause of all your happiness or sadness in life.

And puhleez, don’t get into an overdrive of trying to understand the psyche of those who just can’t get their heads around homosexuality. The more you try to convince someone, the more it would seem as if your self-respect is dependant on that someone getting convinced. I’m sorry, but It’s OKAY if they don’t understand how you feel. Some things people are just not meant to get. Big deal.

Sonal Kalra thinks that gay parades only reinforce the notion that homosexuals are any different from the others. But, she totally loves the rainbow masks. What to do?