Category Archives: Etiquettes Tips

Swachh Bharat: C’mon, it’s time to come clean

I recently saw a video that­ people have been sharing on Facebook. It shows a ­helmet clad, unidentified woman biker in Russia, who waits by the road side.

The moment she sees someone roll down their car- window and throw trash on the road, she picks up the trash, follows the car till the next traffic signal, knocks on the window and throws the trash back into the car. This form of vigilante made me wonder if such an idea of shaming a litter-bug would ever work in India.

Swachh Bharat C'mon, it's time to come clean

Even if we were to discount the fact that in this case, a woman was being a brave anti-litter crusader, back home in India, even a man would run the risk of ugly quarrels and threats if he were to object.

Hamein toh ji apni apni si lagti hain hamaari roads. Ice cream kha kar wrapper phenkna ho, yah thandi hawa mein open-air susu karna, hamaari dharti maata welcomes us with open arms. Someone dare not take this right away. Democracy hai, after all. Right?

Actually, the shamelessness when it comes to thinking of public spaces as dustbins-with-no-boundaries is so deeply engrained in our psyche, that this trait is a big leveller of status, race, caste or cultures. There’s no discrimination- we are equally indifferent when someone throws a crushed cola can from a Mercedes, as we are if someone threw a banana peel from an autorickshaw.

Aur haan, those empty beer bottles tossed out of loud music-blaring SUVs are actually symbolic of our values and love for humanity. We don’t want parents to know that we’ve been drinking in the car. So, you know, such evident respect for elders. Then we know that some poor road-side beggar will get a rupee or two by selling the empty bottle (if it hasn’t hit him in the head, that is), so it’s also donation for a good cause.

One of my rather shameless friends (I have several) once even joked that her ‘cleanliness drive’ is to ensure that the car she drives is clean, and hence she can’t hold used tissues or burger wrappers in it even for a minute. It suffocates her to see her car dirty, so she tosses them out of the car, dustbin or no dustbin.

‘Roads are anyway so dirty, and we pay taxes to have them cleaned by the sarkari sweepers’ was her defence. The fact that I made her stop the car, picked up the used tissues and held them in my hand till we reached a trash-bin, and that marked the end of me partaking in her ‘clean-drive’ is another matter.

For years after that, I was branded as this foolish activist fighting for a lost cause, by the same people who would chew gum for two hours before they saw a dustbin in Singapore, but would stick it on a park bench here in India in no time. I learned to live with it, with a sense of hopelessness, just like a lot of us activist-types.

Something suddenly changed this week. It started with our Prime Minister’s speech in America. While political pundits in Armani suites debated in TV studios about whether the focus will be on foreign investment or industrial growth, he gave the call of ‘Swachh Bharat‘ or ‘Clean India’.

sonal-kalra-swachh-bharat-column

He followed it up later with an challenge to celebrities from various fields, urging them to use their influence to turn our country clean, before we embark on our mission to make India the superpower it so richly deserves to be.

‘If every Indian takes a step forward, we would take 125 crore steps forward,’ he said.

Now I’m leaving the task of smelling political motive in all this, to the intellectual columnists and intelligent TV-debaters. Mujhe toh zyada samajhdaar baatein­ samajh bhi nahi aati. But what I saw the next morning was a Diwali gift much before Diwali for all those like me who time had turned from activist-types to pessimist-types over the years.

Everyone, especially the Gen-X seemed ultra-kicked about the idea of a clean India. Right from schools to college canteens to Facebook to Whatsapp, people seemed to be motivating each other about cleaning up our country.

Also Read:  Is Modi using Kejriwal’s Broom?

Basis our individual political-affiliations, we can, of course, find faults with this campaign, like all others. But at least it woke everyone up to the very desperate need of cleanliness as a pre-requisite before we think of bigger plans for India. So, for all those who, like me, have been seeking calmness from the stress of muck all around us, here’s what we need to do…

1. First of all, don’t let the tempo die. Public memory and interest span over things, especially good ones, is dismally short. Before some stupid scandal of a voyeuristic nature takes over peoples’ attention, do promise that you’ll keep up the momentum of the Clean India drive, in your own way.

Forwarded jokes, chori ke quotes aur cute puppies ke pics toh hum whatsapp or FB pe daalte hi hain, beech beech mein keep reminding your friends about your continued promise to work towards Swachh Bharat. It’ll give you a great feeling, trust me. And don’t worry, you’ll get as many likes, if not more, than the obviously photoshopped DP 🙂

2. If you see someone throwing trash on the road, don’t just shake your head and feel sad for the state of our country. If you can’t go up to that person and politely tell them to not do it, or if they’ve conveniently sped away, do take a minute to pick up the trash and toss it in a bin.

What’s the point in getting repulsed by the thought of picking up someone’s discarded ice cream wrapper? It’s just a mindset. Okay, if the thought of germs bother you, which, by the way, would anyway spread with that trash lying on the road, then keep a pair of disposable gloves in the car with you, and do the good deed. Full nakhre ke saath karo but karo toh sahi yaar.

3. Take the pledge of at least making small changes in your own behaviour. If chewing paan or tobacco is that very important to your happiness, keep doing it but wait a minute longer to spot a trash bin and then spit out. Keep a small ­paper bag in the car to discard a ­wrapper till you spot a dustbin.

And yeah, the RWAs can do well to offer one less samosa per person at community festivals and donating that money to put up bins or make a loo for the poor drivers waiting all day outside fancy cars. If art colleges come forward, the creativity of their students can be used to give a makeover to the boring old dustbins and turn them into funky works of art. Here’s to a cleaner, prettier India. Kar ke dekhein?

Sonal Kalra spotted Chaddhaji sneakily putting his trash bag in the neighbour’s dustbin early morning. She now knows what to gift him this Diwali.

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Why don’t you marry your phone?

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Yesterday, my corporate honcho friend, Jayant, went from being super-happy to being super-depressed, in a matter of two hours. And when he came crying to me, I told him it’s his own doing. He’s calling me insensitive but I want you all to tell me if I was right or not.

 Why dont you marry your phone

Yesterday he was all excited about going for lunch with an old friend, a girl he used to have a crush on, in school. They had lost touch over the years and Facebook got them back in contact. Their date began on a great note but soon the girl told him he’s being rude and left the lunch in-between. You know why? Because Jayant-the-stupid was texting on his cellphone the entire time.

‘What’s rude in that? I wasn’t talking on the phone, just exchanging some important messages,’ he asked me. ‘It is definitely not done if a human being around you has to compete for attention with a gadget in your hand,’ I said, knowing well that I, too, suffered from always-checking-the-cellphone-syndrome. But one day of being on the receiving end of this treatment made me realise how it feels when the person you’re talking to, is constantly typing away on his or her mobile.

It could be anyone doing it… your friend, your spouse, your colleague or even your teenaged son/daughter, and they may think that they are attending to something earth-shatteringly important … but you know what, it’s wrong and you should not put up with it.

Things have become worse with Whatsapp or BBM or imsg or some such nonsense that doesn’t even cost anything… or so you think. What it could cost you is your friendship, your relationship… or simply your basic manners.

Here are three ways of dealing with people who have a cellphone surgically attached to their hands:

Set a rule that your meeting with them will be cellphone free. Unless your friend is the Prime Minister of the country or an emergency surgeon, there’s no reason why he/she can’t put the phone in the bag for a little while. Actually, even the Prime Minister can. Cellphones have made it possible for us to stay connected all the time, they haven’t made it necessary that we do.

Constantly exchanging messages with someone remote only shows that that person or email is more important than the real conversation happening in front of you. And if that was true, you would not have been sitting here in front of someone else. And two-timing’s never right, is it?

2 Don’t carry on talking to someone whose eyes (and thumbs) are constantly on the phone. It’s wrong to be wasting your words on a person who may be uploading his dog’s picture on Facebook as you speak. If you stop saying anything, the person is bound to look up and in all probability, will say, ‘Go on, I’m listening.’ Just reply, ‘No it’s okay.

First finish what you are doing as it may be important.’ That usually gets the point across and they put the phone away. You need not be rude to a rude person, and there shouldn’t be any guilt in saying something that’s only logical. Just remember to be clear, not sarcastic.

Pick up your own phone and text the person sitting in front of you, saying something like, ‘Hi, sitting here and waiting for your full attention’. It may seem like a joke but would make them realise that others feel it’s the only way to get their attention and how that’s just not right, or acceptable. A final word to those addicted to texting or checking their cellphones all the time. I know you are itching to say that it’s necessary and you do it only because there are important work-related mails or messages to answer, which can’t wait.

Remember that this is how all addictions begin. We start out by replying to crucial messages and soon it becomes a habit for us to attend to everything on our phone instantly… even if it means forwarding a joke while you’re having a meal or a conversation with a friend who may feel ignored. And remember, the phone companies have a vested interest in giving the facility of typing out multiple messages in one go, but that should not make you forget that the very definition of SMS is Short Message Service, while we end up typing essays on our phone.

This time when you go out with friend, try ditching the phone instead of ditching human beings around you. Believe me it feels good.

Sonal Kalra will no longer be called ‘Phonal Kalra’, after this piece. She will make sure she texts this link to all her friends throughout the day.

A Calmer You: Hey Zuckerberg, get some sanskaar!!

The other day Mark Zuckerberg wrote to me. Arrey, had hai. Why are you rolling your eyes? Did I object when so many of you gloated about the call you got on your phone from Arvind Kejriwal? Did I? I toh don’t ­interact with anyone less than ­international celebrities. Anyway, bechara Zuckerberg pareshaan tha. Apparently for the first time since it started in 2004, Facebook’s popularity has reduced in the last few months. I wrote a long email to him, telling him that with a surname that resembles an iceberg, he should just chill about these ups and downs. Due to some technical fault, my response mail has bounced back saying ‘you can’t respond to an auto-generated message’ but what the heck. Apni garaj hai toh phone kar lega woh mujheMera toh, you see, daily contact hai aise logon se, just that I don’t have the habit of flaunting my contacts. Anyway, till I speak with him, I thought of writing some suggestions over here so that his CEO etc who are regular readers of this column can convey the tips to him.

A Calmer You - Hey Zuckerberg, get some sanskaar

Vaise, in my view, Facebook’s popularity has not come down one bit. Mujhe toh ab bhi agar mere office mein koi apni seat pe kaam karta hua nahi milta, toh Facebook pe mil jaata hai. But, yeah, it has become a tad boring, simply because it pushes a user to only be good. Ab for how long can you keep making friends and ‘liking’ peoples’ statuses? In the name of equally valid values like irritation and meanness, Facebook has few things – one of which, of course, is the ­obnoxious ability to be able to ‘poke’ people. It is my resolve that when Zuckerberg comes ­visiting me someday, I will take him to Shimla and ‘poke’ him when he’s standing at the edge of a cliff. Anyway, so all else is goody two shoes and I’m sure people are getting tired of being so sanskaari. So, here are a few new buttons, apart from ‘like’ and ‘comment’, that I propose Facebook introduces. Tell me if you think they make sense, then I will call Zuki and tell him…

1. One tight slap (OTS) BUTTON: Why should I only ‘like’ your status, or keep quiet if I think you are being the moron that you are, by posting ‘Ohh…it’s so cold’ 27th time in the month of ­December. I would like to tell you explicitly about the ­emotions your status is generating inside me, when you post a senti status, and order me to share it with minimum ten friends. Or when you insist on posting a photo of every activity your two-year-old does – sleeping, eating, dancing, doing potty…everything. I demand a OTS button, right next to the ‘like’ one. Maybe it could be avoided on exceptional pages, like Zuki’s own, Obama’s, Poonam Pandey’s or Fans of Sonal Kalra. Wahan toh koi sense nahi banegi, but in all other cases, it is a must. Enough of ­liking everything.

2. Lapeto BUTTON: How about having a ‘lapeto’ button for all the status updates that show-off more than Rakhi Sawant and Veena Malik ­collectively did, in their entire career. Kuchh log itni lambi chhodte hain … Sheikh Chilli would also get embarrassed. I bet, they wouldn’t even hesitate before calling Mark Zuckerberg their friend. Idiots. Pics of international vacations, pics of rocking parties, pics with ­filmstars, there’s no end to flaunting. By the way, if any of my FB friends is reading this, do know that my account has been hacked several times in the recent past. I’m ­getting the IT department to investigate. Otherwise, kahan mein, kahan show-off.

Anyway, if your friend can pray to God and look like Salman Khan in his DP, while looking like Paresh Rawal in real life, then you can pray for lapeto ­button to vent your feelings. No?

3. Stolen from where BUTTON?: Aam aadmi party should take this up, at Ramlila Maidan. Chori ke Facebook status pe ­minimum three years imprisonment, without access to Facebook, in jail. Sabse pehle mein hi andar jaaoongi but then I don’t fear ­sacrificing for a noble cause. No one has made better use of the copy-paste feature invented by my mamaji, Lawrence Gordon Tesler, than Facebook users. No wonder you find your friend Javed Chikna who can’t speak proper grammar to save his life, suddenly put up an insightful status of 250 words in such perfect English that even Prince Charles will have to use a dictionary. If only there was a ‘kahan se chepa?’ button under such status updates, at least you wouldn’t see seven friends on your timeline come up with the exact same joke. Am I right or right? Tell me.

4. Aashirwaad BUTTON: After ­suggesting such mean ­buttons above, the Alok Nath in me has suddenly woken up with a thunder. Getting back to ­sanskaars, I propose an ­‘aashirwaad’ button under a ­status. You see, of late, parents ki poori generation ne dhaava bol diya hai Facebook pe. Ideally, someone in the FB technical team should have had the sense to invent a feature where the ­computer would automatically detect a parent, grand parent, chachaji, buaji, mamaji etc and disable their option to send a friend request to the helpless youngsters in their family.

But woh toh kiya nahi, and now ­people are stuck. Because, being sanskaari, and also ­realising that pocket money gets into danger if dad’s friend request is not accepted, bechaare bachchey end up adding them. The elders are also overwhelmed at seeing that the same Pappu who gets 39 out of 100 in English, puts up William Shakespeare’s quotes on Facebook. So for such emotionally touched generation, there should be something better than the silly ‘like’. For them, we should have the ‘aashirwaad’ ­button. Technical glitches may just see a ‘sloshed after 3 tequila shots’ status from Priya Kumari get an aashirwaad from mummy ji, but then errorskahan nahi hote. Go for it!

5. Finally, I demand a button that, by some magic, removes the ‘likes’ on someone else’s ­status. Of course we’ll use it ­judiciously, we are sanskaari. Because you see, itne jhoothe likes hote hain kuchh log ke ­status pe. PS: If a thought about the likes on my FB statuses even remotely crossed your mind just now, remember that there is God up above and my friend Zuki down on this earth, and both will curse you. Haan, toh these jhoothelikes happen because some people have the disease of liking just about anything. Go on, test it. Post ‘dying of constipation for the past 3 days’. If you are not a serial killer with no friends, I guarantee you a ­minimum of five likes before you visit the loo for your next attempt. Oh Facebook, give us the power to take away at least such ­embarrassing ‘likes’ down. We’ll not misuse power. We have sanskaars. And now we have Kejriwal.

Sonal Kalra has suddenly realised that this column will be suicidal for her FB page’s ­popularity. Will Zuki get that it’s a joke? Implement toh nahi kar dega nah?

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.

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: 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.

A Calmer You: no instant reply equals instant stress

So, Sonal, I have a topic to suggest for your column,” said a usually reticent Divya in my team. “The other day I sent you a message asking if I could report a little late for work,” she went on. “And you didn’t reply for a few minutes. In those few minutes, I was horribly stressed that you are upset about something.”
Arrey, but I was busy with something and didn’t see your message immediately,’ I said. “Yeah, I know. But it does lead to tremendous stress if the boss doesn’t reply instantly,” she said. I joked with her about how she’s making me feel like a guilty boyfriend. And then I recalled a conversation I’d overheard in a restaurant just a day before.

technology-and-relationships
Would you stop judging me already? I don’t eavesdrop, the guys were too loud. Well, okay. I eavesdropped. But suno toh sahi, it was a damn interesting conversation.
Jaan le rakhi hai yaar Richa ne,” said one guy to his friend. “I love her and all that. But she’s constantly on my case if I’m not available online 24X7. She keeps a track of my last seen time on Whatsapp and gives me such grief if I’ve been online otherwise but haven’t responded to her message yet.” “Girls are like that only,” replied his genius friend, shaking his head.
Well, I don’t know if girls are like that, but technology surely is like that these days. Overwhelming, and overbearing. Before the instant messaging monsters invaded our civilisation, we were okay with not hearing from our loved ones all through the day. But in a bid to outdo each other, telecom companies have taken slogans like ‘stay connected’ too literally, and sadly so have we.
In the day and age when instant noodles and pre-mixed coffee is called a meal without blinking an eyelid, instant replies on SMSs, BBMs or Whatsapp have also become a measure of how much you care for the person on the other end.
And ironically it has become so justified to feel upset about why someone did not respond to our message immediately that the other person is left with no choice but to act guilty and defensive, without realising that there is no such rule in life that says you don’t care for the sender if you do not respond within 7 seconds of reading a message. Then there are BBM or Whatsapp groups where copy pasted jokes arrive from all directions at the speed of missiles and everyone in the group is supposed to ‘lol’ well in time to be safely considered a social animal.
In some ways, this stress of always being available also manifests itself in the way we respond to phone calls. You could have sat down to eat a meal, which by the way, still remains the primary thing you are living and working so hard for, and the phone rings. Immediately, the meal takes a backseat and you either get up to take a call or now since cell phones are almost appended to our bodies like an extended limb, you just take the call there and then.
If you don’t and there is an emotional loved one on the other side, your entire day can go in making amends. There is a colleague who starts most of his conversations with me by complaining about how I didn’t take his call the last time. Once I tried telling him politely that till the day I spend on buying a cell phone and pay its monthly bills, it’s I who will decide when to pick up a call, not the caller. He took truck loads of offence but thankfully the grumbling ceased for a while.
My point is simple. Technology is a facilitator, not the master of our life. If the state of our relationships is going to be dictated by the stress of how much we are making use of that technology, then we’ll only end up tying ourselves in knots. If you are one of those who happens to get all worked up about how your friend has not responded instantly to your message, consider this:
1. By getting constantly upset that your boyfriend isn’t responding to your messages at the speed of light, you are not showing love, you are showing insecurity.
2. Frequent display of insecurity will not make him come closer to you, it’ll make him Google for ways to hide his online status from you.
3. 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.
4. Lying in a relationship weakens its very foundation, further fuelling insecurity.
5. Finally, there is no proof to support the notion that relationships based on two people constantly connected to each other are stronger than those where each person gets space to breathe.
On the contrary, the latter may just be stronger since there’s no stress to lie or keep defending oneself.

Here’s some unsolicited gyan for Richa, jisne jaan le rakhi hai. Do remember that the definition of love got written ages before human beings learned to even spell technology. Don’t suddenly make advancements in technology the basis for a thing whose basis can only be trust, and nothing else. The day your boyfriend gets the confidence to say ‘I was chilling out with friends’ rather than saying, the phone was in the pocket and I didn’t hear the beep, he’d be in a much secure space in the relationship. And the day you learn to chill out with your own friends without being under the stress of checking your phone every second for his reply, you’d be in bliss too. Try toh karo.

Sonal Kalra has discovered that by simply blocking a contact for a few minutes and then unblocking them, you can effectively hide the ‘last seen’ time-stamp from whatsapp.
Also if you read a message on BBM and without touching the trackball or pressing any key you press the red, call disconnect key, you can read a message without the dreaded, R, appearing next to it.

Chalo, kuchh toh kaam ka seekha aaj.

"My Parents Just Dont Understand me" .. like .. really ?

Aeons have passed since the apparently ‘never going to end’ war between the not so modern parents and their so very inexperienced kids has been going on! Almost everyday I come across this topic, posts of children on social networking sites railing against their parents for not being modern enough to accept their child’s romantic relationship with someone else followed by the morose “Why me ?” and the melancholic “ My parents just don’t understand me” … I mean come on people they are YOUR PARENTS doing everything just for you and you harass all their concern with this “Why me?”

Kids Fight with parents relationship issues

Why ME” Revisited.

Just the other day a cousin of mine (13 years and 4 months old to be precise) almost on the verge of drowning in the lake of depression started telling me how her parents suspected her without any reason and kept a check on her phone without any fault of hers which yet again was followed by the morose “why me” ,and not to forget..the melancholic “My parents just don’t understand me” with such a deplorable expression that it actually made me go “ Ohh poor her ! How insensitive can parents be sometimes” when just the next minute with a current of exhilaration in her voice did she start telling me about her ‘boyfriend’ (oh yes and its the very boyfriend without any space or hyphen between the BOY and the FRIEND) , Mr Dude , and how she loved to spend time with her Mr Dude ! Oh come on … there you are … that is the very reason why you are in the “Why me” state.

Well i know all the youngsters out there must be snarling at me but just think .. think of the reason the elders tell us not to get involved in this stuff! I know how it feels for I’m not a fairy-tale princess either but I’ve grown up learning from my experiences as well. After all these years I can feel that I’m a better person bereft of all sorts of worries and tensions and not to forget , the fear of being ‘caught’ . Yes I’m just another teenager but more than that i am a person who learns from the experiences. And i definitely do not fall in with the sentence that one can learn from others’ experience , unless one is a total cheater cock , just like one’s thirst can never be quenched by seeing the other gulping down water! But all i intend to do is instil a thought in your brain which will coerce you to give it another thought .

Lessen The Burden!

The fact of the matter is that we are actually kids. Yes, kids switching over to adulthood, but not yet adults and this fact makes a mammoth of a difference. The thing is that when YOU actually become an adult, you’ll laugh at (or sometimes even regret) all this. Parents are somewhere actually right because it is the “happy times” we’d be missing on by involving in relationships.

The reality is that we actually can’t handle it because we aint mature enough ! Lucky those people are who are able to but as far as I’ve seen and the recent Confession pages on Facebook have shown, most cant . No wonder we see umpteen number of teens feeling depressed and OVERBURDENED because of this extra burden they carry which they aren’t even ready to carry!

The grim truth is not that the parents aren’t supportive but that you aren’t smart enough and it is but natural. You feel infatuated , you become friends, you get in a relationship , you do blunders , it finally ends up , you regret and are left with sheer bittersweet memories which attract you and sway you away. You end up sleeping on wet pillows, updating distressing statuses, becoming a mere hardboiled recluse. You end up disliking fun and finally become a humdrum person until you again come at the first infatuation stage and the cycle continues.So many heartbreaks, unfulfilled promises and nonsense done. But did you ever think how nice it would have been if you had limited it to just becoming friends. Then you would have been bereft of all kinds of fears and worries and would have even continued to be with that person instead of being ruefully separated like in your case! You would have been happy then. You would have felt free, no one to blame, nothing to regret. Now if you are not as flickering as the streetlight near my house, you would have got my point!

These years are the golden years of your life where you get a chance to be free and ENJOY because after that you will eventually have to face the vagaries of life. Why not just enjoy this freedom with no regrets and morose “Why Me”s . All you gotta do is be real and sensible and live the life which you’re meant to live. Love is a big word and if it is love, it doesn’t end so quickly.

However, since you can see that it mostly doesn’t ‘work out’ you should give it a thought that it is an imposter in the form of love, fooling you all the way long. The decision remains in your hand : to be or not to be a fool. For one thing we all know is that to find a 13-year-old , or even a 16-year-old for that matter, falling in “love” can sometimes be really hilarious but we all that once even we had gone through this stage. Life is all about choices you make .. so make better choices to make your life better! Stay Happy!

If you are a bit too much addicted to social networking sites, do join us on Facebook and follow us onTwitter to get the tips on how to get rid of this habit. Smile.

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Social De-addiction-Satisfaction Guaranteed

social-networking-addict
There was a time when parents used to warn their children to return  home from  the park at the specified time or else they would be locked in the perpetually non-existent “Chuhon wala Kamra” for coming back home late and now, the parents whine that their kids hardly step out of home. Even if they do, the universe knows whether they are at Nathu Ram departmental store or at Bondhu Lal sweet shop. All thanks to the position update option available at numerous social networking websites. Sitting at Mcdonalds, you fail to spend quality time with the persons sitting at the opposite side of the table because you were occupied telling your imaginary friends/followers on facebook, twitter and whatsapp that you have ordered the happy price menu & the bill amount inclusive of all taxes is Rs. 99.99. A strong impulse to crack that criminal case on facebook conquers the need to work out a strategy for the exam tomorrow.

Social networking websites are manufacturers of desire. The desire to check facebook notifications when your mind says that ‘I am bored’, desire to browse tweets when your mind says ‘lets see whats going on around the world’. The desire is so intense that even while you are doing some important work, social applications are running behind the Word processor window on a computer or minimzed to tray on your smartphone. You put our phone away for a while and the thought of checking texts, emails, notifications etc. lurks in your mind, you take a short break from work and check your social accounts in that time.

If you get to hear “you are always logged on”, “put your phone away”, “kabhi computer/phone ko saans bhi lene diya karo” like sentences more than twice a day and depict all/any of the traits mentioned in this para, you should admit that you are a social addict. At least, ‘I admit that I am’ and I don’t support the point of giving up social network completely because ‘excess of everything is bad’, be it social addiction or social de-addiction to an extent that we flee from the social front. The only goal of this writeup is to bring myself and the readers back to being a social animal from being a social wild animal which the low cost internet packages have made us. Lets talk about the steps we can take to achieve our goal of being a social animal from being socially wild:-

1.) Motivation:- The first thing you can do to achieve any objective is to motivate yourself to do the same. Write down a few things you can do if you don’t use social sites for a few hours, a few benefits of not being on social sites for a few days etc. Read these points daily. “Motivation is doing the thing you said you would do long after the time the mood you said it in has left you.” Read these points everyday to stay motivated to achieve your goal. This motivation technique can be used to achieve any goal in general.
motivation

1.) Shut-down timers- Shut-down timers are very minute size softwares available liberally and easily on the internet which shut down your computer at the time you specify . So, if you are really serious on getting rid of the ‘checking habit’, install this in your PC. The next time you log-in to your social account, set a timer of 30 minutes or 1 hour and the computer will automatically shut down at the specified time. Even if you bang your head in the monitor screen or scream “Nahiiii….” Loudly because you wanted to ‘Like’ the status of your girlfriend, the computer won’t pay heed to your actions or words and perform its job. You may also set an alarm on your cell phone for this purpose but, I won’t support that because it is very easy to turn off the cell phone alarm and continue the session.
free-shutdown-timer

2.) Cut the connection– Secondly, you should reduce the means through which you can access your social network. Cell phones are fundamentally meant for making and taking calls and sending short messages, if you’ll not recharge your cell phone internet pack the next time, that’ll surely help you get rid of the habit forming technology.
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3.) Respect the rules- Internet serves various other purposes apart from being a means for you to connect socially. Avoid the use of social networking sites while being at workplace because the bills of that connection are being paid to appreciate the output you have achieved through the productive use of internet, not to appreciate the criminal cases you have solved on facebook. Ask a colleague to block the social networking sites from your workplace system, if you are an addict, you won’t block it on your own.
parental-control

4.) Parental controls- If you are a parent and wish to restrict your child’s usage of social network or the computer in a broader sense, use the parental control option in windows vista, windows 7 and later versions of windows. This option allows you to restrict the time and days for which your child can use the computer and also the websites your child can visit. For users of windows xp and other operating systems, softwares serving the same purpose are freely available on the web. You won’t have to complain about your child’s addiction anymore.
parental-control-social-networking

5.) Take a break – Take a piece of pen and paper, write down the things you can do in your free time, except social networking. It can be writing an article, working out, reading a book etc. Next, delete all the web browsers, social applications and their setups from your computer and cell phones, USB drive for a week. Ask a person you trust to change the password of your social account. I do this for a month every year and always achieve the self-improvement objectives I set. This technique is very useful if you are keen on quitting social network for exams or an important project you wish to focus on. If you are highly addicted to social media try doing this for 2-3 days. See the results and then you’ll love taking a break as I do.  Remember: Don’t tell the world that you are taking a brake if you seriously wish to achieve your goal or else you’ll end up checking how many people liked your decision on facebook.
break-time

6.) Sticky notes- Set up a wallpaper on your phone or PC which reminds you that you have to restrict your usage of social networking sites and applications. I placed a sticky note on my computer screen and wrote on the white board in my room in bold letters “I AM NOT A SOCIAL ADDICT” when I wanted to achieve this objective. Reason: “OUT OF SIGHT IS OUT OF MIND”.Obtain a printout of this piece of writing, read it, re-read it and tell me your progress.

After giving this free fund advice I would say one thing “YOUR PARENTS WILL NEVER BE PROUD IF YOU ARE ADDICTED TO SOMETHING- BE IT DRUGS OR SOCIAL NETWORK

Waiting for ‘Likes’ and ‘comments’ on the first FRIDAY FUNDA. Mail me at: techsoftwarez (at) gmail.com or join me at facebook.com/mohit.unconventional.

The Real Face of Facebook

We all love facebook , don’t we. Atleast 90% of the world does And its not just limited to teenagers now. Facebook is in fashion now. Orkut ka toh ab naam bhi bhul gaye log, its all thanks to facebook. It is the most important thing in the world for the young generation. I am a lecturer and I ‘ve seen my students busy with their status updates and pic uploads even in the classroom. And they have their own ways to do that and escape my view. Their eyes under the table, as many students as possible on the last bench trying to adjust, just to manage their company with their mobile phones on facebook. Though they do get caught but that’s not the point. The point is Kya jaadu kar diya hai iss facebook ne. It is the only thing in the world on which every young chap is very much focussed.

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Here are a few wonderful things about facebook which makes it even more amazing. Do appreciate my keen observation

facebook-friends

Friends, friends and more friends: Yes, if you don’t believe me check out your friends list and honestly tell me, how many of them are really your friends. I saw a facebook account recently with 1000 + friends on facebook. How on earth is it possible that you know those 1000 even casually forget about being  friends.  In real life, even if you call any one you know a friend, I bet you don’t really have even half as many as on your friend list. And students love to be teachers friends on facebook. All students and teachers are actually friends even though in real life a student would hate a particular teacher like anything but on facebook they are friends, Amazing!!

Likes: This can be a parameter for your popularity. The number of likes on your pics and status updates and even what you share from others walls make you so happy as if you got a Nobel Prize. But there is a horrible aspect to this. Post that you are down with fever and I promise you’ll get a few likes there too. As if people are too happy that you are down with fever. Is’nt that fantastic??

Mr/Ms. Photogenic: And then you get crazy about your pic uploads in different styles and poses, uploaded by dozens. Even you won’t see them all again yourself. Recently someone had a fracture and then uploaded that pic with plaster on, as if it was the most fantastic thing that happened to you and you just cant afford to miss sharing.  And you know what, it even got a mind boggling number of likes.

Unfriend / block: I sometimes wonder why facebook  guy gave this option. Probably he was sure that with the provision of having so many friends, likes on even unpleasant posts  and ofcourse comments, kuch  na kuch panga zarur hoga 🙂

And mind you, don’t you dare think that I am backward enough not to have a facebook account  ….:) 🙂