Category Archives: February 2012

Love thy neighbour? Yeah right!

All those who have, at least once, wanted to shoot their neighbour say aye I feel like it every day. Not wanted to kill all of them, lest you think national dailies these days hire bloody psychopaths to write columns. In fact overall, I’m blessed with a fairly decent neighbourhood with some really nice people around. But you know how it is, when one household, exceptionally talented in bugging the life out of you, undoes the goodwill of the well-behaved.

Here’s this family that collectively, and firmly believes that none of its members will attain nirvana till they don’t fight over at least 286 issues with whoever has the misfortune of breathing the same air as them. No amount of smiling or greeting warmly works on such people, because, you know, where’s the competition between short-term peace and ultimate moksha.

calmness tips to deall with bad neighbours

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips to Deal with Bad Neighbours and Avoid Fights[/stextbox]

We’ve all had neighbours from hell, at some point or the other in our lives. Having had a hobby, since childhood, of watching people fight over the silliest of matters, here’s my take on the five kinds of devil neighbours, who can disrupt the peace in your life with amazing precision.

1.‘We-own-the-universe-and-everyone-else-is-a-tenant’ neighbours:

It’s not their fault. They genuinely feel they own the earth. All of it. So, they’ll decide where and how they will park their automobiles, they’ll decide how much and in what direction their house will be extended, they’ll decide who and what goes up and down the community stairs. Everyone else but them is low life and can jolly well go to hell.

2. ‘We-love-everything-loud’ neighbours:

Ab batao, why hold it against them if they understand music only when played at deafening decibel levels? You and your ear drums are your problems. And you are anyway low life, remember? So they’ll enjoy partying till late, talking long distance without bothering for a telephone instrument, and even practicing to be India’s first professional opera singers. You dare not step into their reign of musical terror.

3. ‘We-will-keep-a-pet-but-won’t-know-what-to-do-with-it’ neighbours:

They are noble souls. They have adopted (or stolen, whatever) a pet. Just that now they’ve left it chained to the balcony, for the poor thing to bark his lungs out. What? The balcony is next to your window? How is it their problem? Change the structure of your house and move the window elsewhere — after seeking permission from the ‘landlords’ of the first category. Don’t worry, they won’t allow. They never allow anything. You’ll just have to grow fond of the barking sound. Isn’t music in the ears of the beholder or something? And don’t you think about complaining that their beloved pet shits on the stairs. Take it as a gift from heaven. And they own the stairs, remember?

4.‘We-are-the-garbage-kings-and-you-are-the-dustbin’ neighbours:

At least they believe in the virtue of cleanliness. They could have retained all the garbage in their home and get the pleasure of watching the stench kill you, but are they doing that? No nah? If they are so nice, why are you creating a fuss if they throw all of it in front of your house.

5. ‘We-will-peep-till-we-sleep’ neighbours:

They like to watch. Ab is mein bhi objection hai? Maybe they are trying to learn new household techniques by constantly watching you cook in the kitchen. Learn to enjoy the stares coming from across the window, through the curtains, sometimes blatantly from the balcony. Have you not heard of the ‘neighbourhood watch scheme’ of the Government? Apparently it’s good for us.

So, you see, that’s the kind of people you could find yourself living next doors to. And ironically enough, I’ve noticed that mostly, the good neighbours move out after a few years but the ones from hell stay on permanently for dear life. Anyway, if the stress of annoying neighbours is keeping you from staying calm, try going through the following stages to deal with them.

Stage 1 – Ignore: At least till your patience runs out. Turning your neighbourhood into a battleground affects everyone, and doesn’t really help in the long run. If the neighbour inflicts minor irritants on you off and on, try living with it for the sake of your own peace of mind.

Stage 2 – Talk: Knock on the door and tell them politely that their behaviour is causing disturbance. Sometimes people don’t know or realise that their actions are bothering others till they are informed about it. Lack of intelligence or etiquette does not necessarily come with an unwillingness to improve. Actually it mostly does. Sorry!

Stage 3 – Complain: I’m not suggesting you become a police-phoner at the drop of a hat but if things are getting out of hand everyday, there’s no harm in taking help from those who get paid, out of the taxes you work you’re a** off to give, just to protect your rights. Call the cops.

Stage 4 – Get even: Now this one’s tricky, because many of you won’t agree with me. But kya karein, I’m not as saintly as all of us are taught in school to be. We are always told to not do anything wrong to anyone, and that’s very valid. Just that we forget that ‘anyone’ also includes us. My philosophy is simple: Don’t do anything wrong. And don’t let anything wrong happen to you. Now, how you interpret ‘getting even’ is up to you. A friend of mine who decided to move because she was sick of her neighbour’s ugly behaviour got inspired from a website and posted a ‘Flat on sale because the neighbour is an ass***’ note outside. That it didn’t really help her in getting buyers is another matter. But you do get the point, no? Step on to the darker side if being nice is not helping. Sometimes you’ve got to be a scumbag to deal with one. But hey, always stay within the law. Okay?

By the way, I’m running away for a few days after this brave attempt. So, no column next week. Maarna mat.

Sonal Kalra suitably bribed the newspaper vendor to not deliver today’s paper to the adorable neighbour. She later found out they don’t even subscribe to it. Clever vendor, you’re in trouble

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Find a home, away from home

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Because of my extremely good nature, so many of you trust me with your deepest troubles and problems each week. But, I don’t know why a lot of you keep asking me not to mention your name while discussing the topic. Don’t be so humble now. Isn’t it cool to see your name published in a national daily, Varun? So what if it’s in the context of you wanting to pee outside your neighbour Anil Sharma’s front door in Lajpat Nagar each morning because he’s such a pain and fights over parking? You’ve done it only thrice, as you clarify, but see the brighter side, you’ve now become famous. You’re most welcome, I already know about my optimistic, good nature.

calmness tips for migrants people with home sickness

Anyway, this week, I got a mail from 19-year-old Vivek Oberoi from Indore who is depressed. Haww, it just struck me that people may be writing fake names in their letters to me. Or maybe not. With a name like that, some amount of depression is inevitable.

Anyway, around six months back, Vivek moved to Delhi for higher studies. And he hates every minute of the six months he’s spent in this self-centred city so far. His words, not mine. “People in big cities are unfriendly towards those from smaller towns. I really feel out of place. I had so many friends back home in Indore, there’s so much warmth when I call them everyday. I hate it here, feel like crying,” he says. Oye hoye bachche, idhar aao, rona band karo. I can totally understand your problem but have you thought about what you may have done, unintentionally, for people to be unfriendly? Like tell them your name. Oops, that was really mean… but please don’t mind. You know I’m just joking, don’t you? I genuinely love all Vivek Oberois in this world.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips for Migrants and People with Home Sickness Issues[/stextbox]

Coming back to your problem, what I’ve gathered from a lot of things you have written about yourself in your mail— which I will not share here, because, you know, I’m fiercely protective of peoples’ privacy —I think you are a fairly nice, well mannered and sincere guy. Generally, people of all cities love those qualities. And although I completely agree with you about a sickening bias some people have against those who’ve migrated from relatively smaller cities, I would like to believe that most Delhiites are not like that.

And this problem of ‘not being able to adjust’ is not specific to Delhi. A lot of people, who are having to live away from their native place because of studies or work or any other reason, often feel anxious and stressed while missing home. It’s very natural to. But what makes the situation worse is their tendency to let this I-miss-home feeling keep them from embracing the new place in the true spirit. Although having never ‘lived’ anywhere outside of Delhi, I’m the least qualified to preach on this subject, but because of my spectacular wisdom and of course, extremely good nature, I’m telling you about three mistakes, in my view, that you should never make when trying to adjust into a new city.

1 Mistake 1 – Trying too hard to belong:

For all the ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ gyaan we’ve grown up on, I feel it’s a big mistake to shed your individuality in a bid to be like the people of the city you’ve moved to. Be the real you, if you want to stay away from depression. I remember, back in college, there was a girl who originally belonged to Madurai. Everyday in the college canteen, I would notice her being visibly uncomfortable and sad. One day I told her how I find certain rice dishes tastier when eaten straight from the hand rather than the spoon. She had an incredulous look on her face and said that she’s used to eating like that only and was always worried what ‘others’ would think of her. Lo batao. To hell with others, yaar, be what you are. That meal of sambhar-rice with our hands was the best meal I had in college because it came with such a rare smile from that girl. I’m not saying completely disregard the required etiquettes in a situation but don’t forego happiness either, in trying to be what you’re not. Don’t fake an accent, don’t fake style, don’t fake ‘cool-ness’, don’t fake a smile. It shows.

2 Mistake 2 – Harping about your own:

Remember, a city and its people can not warm up to you till you don’t stop harping endlessly about how much you miss your native place, and how much better it is. Every place has it’s own highs and lows. There may be too much crime in Delhi as compared to your town, but there may also be rare opportunities here to explore and discover culture like no other place. Try to leverage on the uniqueness of whichever place you are in.
Also, it’s much easier to make new friends when you are not always talking to— or about— your old friends back home. As we grow in life, we have to make new friendships. Don’t keep holding too tightly to the older ones so much that your hands are never free to shake them with new friends.

3 Mistake 3 – Forgetting to thank your luck:

Hear it from someone like me who was born, brought up, studied and worked in the same 30km radius all her life. Would most likely retire, die and be cremated within the same area. Sometimes it sucks. Just sit back and imagine the world as a globe before you. We get to live only one life. A lot of us spend the whole of it in the fraction of a dot that you can’t even spot on the globe with a microscope. Just be thankful if your dot is slightly bigger. It may be hellishly tough to adjust but every new place where you live, gives you two gifts — experience and memories. Cherish them.

Sonal Kalra is suddenly as depressed as Vivek Oberoi. For the totally opposite reason. Why does someone else always seem luckier than us?

Hey cupid, do i look stupid?

Arrey jao, nahi karna celebrate Valentine shalentine day, kar lo jo karna hai. Am sick and tired of every vella asking every other about their plans for V-Day. I just don’t get this needless pressure to celebrate, be it New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day. Do you? For me, the stress to plan or gift something only because a lot of people have asked, takes away the spontaneity and fun out of celebrations.


And as if Valentine’s Day — whose origin and logic is a mystery to more than 90% of those who dutifully flock restaurants, suffer long waiting, and end up paying twice as much — was not enough, now there is a Rose Day, a Propose Day, a Morose Day, an Afsos Day or whatever, in the run up. Anyway, I’m just ranting, the existence of these days is not the topic of discussion today. The spotlight, this week, is on those who are sitting, with a rose, and their head, in their hands because they are the unfortunate victims of OSL syndrome. One-sided-love. Typical filmi style, I love Sunita, but Sunita loves Anita…oops.. Amit, Amit loves someone else and so on. Aao sabko thappad lagaoon. What a big tamasha our life is.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips for People with One-Sided-Love Syndrome [Valentine’s Day Special][/stextbox]

And then suddenly this OSL becomes the focus of their existence, they can’t help but keep on thinking about the person they have a crush on, who, for some reason, does not feel the same way about them. I’ve been at the receiving end of several mails from OSL sufferers this week. And in the interest of humanity, I’m attempting calmness tips for them rather than for those mushy buffoons who’ve already spent three months of pocket money on buying gifts for their girlfriend which she would receive with an awww and tears on Feb 14 and exchange with the store on the 15th. No need to fret, the OSL gang, calmness awaits you.

1 Have you said it right?:

Before you go all teary-eyed on how the person you love doesn’t love you back, just be sure that you’ve expressed how you feel, clearly and in the right manner. The worst would be to move on from someone ‘assuming’ they don’t feel the same way, when they perhaps would have, had you expressed clearly. And since this one thing is likely to have a big impact on your future, be upfront, clear and un-dramatic, in the way you put across your feelings.

In other words, don’t get into the farce of waiting for the Propose Day, buying cards with hearts drawn on every free inch, and writing cheesy lines picked up from the Internet. And if a romantic relationship is what you are proposing, be mature, sensible and clear about it. Don’t mumble vague things such as ‘I want fraandship’ with you, which then gives the other person a chance to throw back equally stupid replies such as ‘but we are already fraands’, when they jolly well know what’s being implied in the proposal. So, unless your OSL is for someone who is already committed in a relationship — in which case go ahead, slap yourself — say clearly why you feel the two of you are right for each other, and how it would be a good idea to explore taking it to the next level. Sorry, now that I’ve written it, I realise that my advice sounds more apt for a corporate proposal. Sigh. Okay, buy the damn heart-shaped card but don’t be tacky. Please.

2 Learn to take ‘No’:

Now, you expressed your feelings but the other person replied that he/she doesn’t think the same way about you. Well, too bad, but that’s it. THAT’S IT. Not an earth shattering development and certainly not the end of the world. Yes, it is disappointing but do not make the mistake of over-reacting and thinking of it as a ‘rejection’ of you as a person. As I wrote in last week’s column about break-ups, someone not wanting to be with you is about them, not about you. Everyone has a right to choose who they want to be with. Grant them that right, and don’t go all bitter because you are not who they want. Also, don’t trample your self-respect by harping on it even after they’ve clarified their response. Remember, it’s not easy for them too, and a lot of people hesitate from giving a clear negative response to a proposal. But for your own good, learn to interpret it correctly, and to let go. Anyone who says things like ‘I do feel for you but my parents would never agree’ or ‘I think you are great and anyone would be lucky to have you, but right now my focus is my career’ is essentially saying ‘No, thanks’ but doesn’t want to be rude. Don’t prolong their agony, and yours, by not understanding their response and insisting that you’ll convince the parents when the right time comes. They know it already, and have still said ‘No’. Learn to take it.

3 Move on:

Are you the King of the World? Or God? Even if you are, there’s no guarantee that everything in life would work out the way you want it to. You felt for someone, but it didn’t work out. Now move on. There’s too much to do, to accomplish in life. Love, or the lack of it, is just a part of our life’s journey. Don’t try to convert that part into the entire whole. Doesn’t work that way. Staring for too long at a closed door takes our attention away from all the other doors that are lying open. Phew! Itna gyan toh Aastha channel pe bhi nahi milta. Please grasp it before I get indigestion from saying all these wise things. I promise not to write any more senti columns on the matters of heart. Too much ho gaya… here’s my parting advice and the most important, golden rule of love. ‘If ever there’s a choice in life, always go for someone who loves you, rather than someone who you love.’ Khush rahoge, mind it.

Sonal Kalra thinks Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest causes behind the state of bad mental health in India. Research, anyone?

Why let a break-up break you up

My elder sister Katrina’s photo proved so lucky for me that a record number of you wrote back on last week’s column. It’s another thing that some described, in vivid detail, how they curse me for casting an evil eye on their love affair with the rainy weather. Their curse seems to have worked, going by a rather traumatic experience I went through yesterday.

Why let a break-up break you up -5 feb 2012 calmer you column tips

Cut to last evening. Setting: my home. Weather: cloudy (aha!), Me: desperately wanting to sit in the balcony, have a cup of tea in peace, and watch neighbours quarrel over parking. And then she walked in, all geared up to spoil whatever peace of whatever mind I have. She sobbed. I gave her a tissue. She sobbed again, and extended her hand. Now tell me, don’t you think one tissue should last longer than a nano sob but it wasn’t the right time to act all kanjoos. I gave another. She then burst into a fit of tears and my heart sank. I had run out — of tissues, and patience.

Bansuri, my neighbour and emperor-of-the-irritating Chaddha ji’s daughter had been crying for over two hours now. In this duration, I had witnessed 17 different sounds and styles of crying but she hadn’t shared one minor detail with me — ‘why’.

If you have been following this column regularly (you better be!), you’d know how I’m blessed with unique neighbours. Apart from her name which gives me giggles no matter what the situation is (heartfelt sorry to some perfectly nice Bansuris I know… but it just doesn’t go with Chaddha), she has a lot of other things that are…emm… odd. Anyway, this time it was getting out of hand, so I had to confront her with the bitter reality of the situation — no more tissues — and asked her to tell me what was behind all this rain in my living room.

‘We broke up — Cheenu and I. Just two weeks before Valentines, it’s all over,’ she said. I wasn’t listening, my head spinning from trying to suppress a manic bouts of giggles over the fact that someone named ‘Cheenu’ was err… playing this Bansuri (sorry, I know I’m very mean. I’ll improve).

Anyway, apparently Cheenu had suddenly withdrawn from her, after seventy-two blissful days of courtship that had even survived a meeting between him and Chaddha ji. ‘I feel like ending my life… just can’t get him out of my mind,’ cried Bansuri. Going by the sheer number of young boys and girls feeling the stress of ‘break-up’, am sure a lot of you can identify with junior Chaddha and her trauma.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips on How to Deal with a Break-up in  Relationships[/stextbox]

Though I continue to firmly believe in my well-researched theory that deep inside, those in a relationship are equally dukhi if not more, here’s what I have to say to the ones who’ve recently had a break-up and finding life worthless a la flute Chaddha.

1 It’s a curse, not to be not in a relationship, but to be in one with an unwilling partner:

Whatever the reasons, the moment one partner says he/she wants out, the soul of the relationship flies out of the window. Please note that I’m not referring to the idiots who end every day — and every fight — by announcing that they are breaking up and are back to exchanging lovey-dovey emoticons over SMS the next morning. I’m talking about situations where one person has emotionally withdrawn but is dragging along only because we in India are experts in not being true to our own feelings and facing the consequences of it.

Watch out for signals

Sentences like ‘you deserve someone better than me’ or ‘I’m not ready for the real thing just yet’ or ‘I love you but right now I need to focus only on my future’ or ‘I need some space to get my thoughts together’ are all ‘BS lines’ or polite ways to say the same thing – ‘I don’t want this relationship anymore’ (BS stands for Bullshit but I’m not supposed to say it in print. You have no decency or what?) Anyway, what I’m saying is, no matter what BS line is being thrown at you, do realise that there’s absolutely no point in forcing someone to be with you if they don’t want it. You just need to remember that it’s not about you, it’s not a rejection of who you are. It’s about them, and only them, being so fickle minded that they can’t deal with the demands of a relationship they wilfully got into. Don’t let it even touch your self esteem, and you’ll do just fine. The golden rule — ‘If someone is stupid enough to walk away from you, be smart enough to let them.’

2 Deal with it, with your head held high:

I know it’s easier said than done. Life after a break-up seems worse than hell for a while. For.A.While. Do you get that? Nothing’s permanent, my friend. If even the mushy love slowly dies down in a relationship that otherwise may last 102 years, how can the pain of a break-up last endlessly? If you are not hell bent on making a Devdaas out of yourself (even he went on to Madhuri Dixit by the way, I mean Chandramukhi), nothing can stop you from feeling fine and happy after a while.

The period may differ, but with time, we all forget. That’s how we are wired from inside. In my view, what really helps in getting over a break-up is staying away from your ex, at least for some time, unless he/she is someone you have to see everyday in college or at work. Even then, it’s possible to stay away, emotionally. All that spiel about ‘being best friends’ and ‘staying in touch forever’ after a break-up is nothing but BS. Someone wise has said that saying we can still be friends after the relationship has ended is like your dog dying but your mom saying ‘hey, you can still keep it’.

3 Finally, don’t close all doors of your life after a break-up:

A relationship not working out means only one thing — another will. Each time you break up with someone, you are inching one step closer to the person who is actually right for you. I know, I know, I sound like Yash Chopra when I say such things, but let’s just be practical.

So many loving, sincere and hard working couples in our country have worked extra hard to take our population to the level where it stands. You can’t waste their effort by thinking that one moron, who just broke your heart, was the only one made for you. No, no, no. There are others. Many others. Give them a chance. Give life a chance. Another one.

[stextbox id=”download”]By the way, what do you think about gifting A Calmer You Book” by Sonal Kalra to your partner this valentine so as to know some ready tips on how to deal with relationships and even break-ups. Buy it online at maximum discounts from here.[/stextbox]