Category Archives: Lifestyle

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.

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When Multi-Tasking Becomes MAL-ti-tasking

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Perhaps innumerable times, it has become the apt basis for heating up arguments between woman and man that which gender is more capable of doing multitasking in the most efficient manner.

But before you gals and guys out there, start raising their eyebrows and arming your minds by collecting every trivial detail about gender based corpulent allegations, I would quickly like you to know that my post revolves around a completely different point. Don’t you think that we humans have a very weird habit of start judging things (be it food or a post), just after having a few morsels.

Multitasking-men-vs-women

Here I am talking about women, who are considered as “Woe to Men” by many (Relax, I am strictly talking about the married ones and those having annoying and demanding girlfriends).

Generally it is considered that women are more capable of managing several tasks together, although in my opinion, it entirely depends on the person. This thought related to female proficiency in multitasking originated from an age old phenomenon. It was based on the fact that in earlier times, males were the sole bread earner, they used to go out while females back at home were used to shuttle endlessly between household chores, children and kitchen. Their Majboori” became their “Ability” to multitask.

Anyways, multitasking often becomes Mal-ti-tasking. And believe me this damn MAL-ti-tasking never spares either of the gender. This habit of doing several tasks together can yield disasters and leaves you empty handed.

When women wake up in the morning their minds automatically start prioritizing all the pending work of the day that they have to deal with. They instantly rush into it and try to do all things at one go. And they end up frustrated and tired. Till the end of the day most of the work they aimed at in the morning is almost completed but they get so drained up that they are not even in the state of appreciating their efforts and feeling happy and satisfied with their performance.

The point is that despite of this entire goof up, why women always try to multitask. Reasons for this are very clear.

  • Women think that all the household chores are only “their” responsibility. (Hope those men who would be and are married won’t sue me for this, yes go and help the ladies out there, believe me it won’t hurt you).
  • Women think that, only they can do all the work perfectly. (It’s a misconception lady, men is equally good at it, try them out, ;))
  • They hesitate to ask for help. They think that they will be blamed for seeking help from others. Don’t pay heed on such crap.
  • They think that only they are responsible for everything related to the home (even if they go out to work), and consider themselves as the key person in home management. But surely what two wheels together can do, can never be done by a single one.

When you try to do multiple tasks at one go, that only results in lesser quality and more quantity, in comparison to what you get on focusing on individually on each task. You lose your concentration and the hence a satisfactory outcome is compromised. Never hesitate in saying “I need help”. If necessary you can take help from outside too. And last but surely not the least,  don’t forget to “Take Rest”.

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There’s Always a First Time for Everything

Yeah….i know that you all know that there’s always a first time for every thing….like you walked once for the first time, you said maaaa and paaaa for the first time(your parents still tell you how happy they were listening to those incoherent words)….you danced,singed,played,ate,etc……..all for first time sometime in your life. But what i am talking about are the memorable things which we all do and remember for life time….however trifle they may be…they still hold for a memory in your heart. And yes….i am not talking about relationships or any other personal stuff……just pure general things:)

there-is-always-a-first-time-for-everything

So here are my favourite ten things which i feel are memorable first time things…..though they are funny and most of them must have been experienced by you too…..

1) GIVING SPEECH FOR THE FIRST TIME ON STAGE:

This is the time when you can actually hear your heart beat…..you are all cold and nervous. Cold sweats, wet palms…..and when you speak…..the voice is all shaky and well…..squeaky:).And if at that particular moment the microphone makes that screechy sound……god save you from a hysterical attack.I know it happens with most of the people(unless you are don’t belong to that elite class whose motto is”thappad se darr nai lagta….pyaar se lagta hai!!!!!)……but as we all are afraid of getting slapped so thats not our type:).but after you have given your speech, no matter how bad….you start to have a bit ease in doing that subsequently…..that is number of times on stage is inversely proportional to the intensity of fits during speech time.

2) SLAPPING SOMEBODY TIGHT:

Now after giving that slap theory….this point needs mention…..and what a feeling you receive by honouring someone with a tight one…..beyond words.The sound,the effects…..wah wah…..this sets the benchmark for the subsequent ones..High intensity, low intensity,almost similar……but make sure to please run away after giving one. Thats because a holy man once said”always be on the giving end….not the receiving one”

3) OPENING A BANK ACCOUNT:

From our childhood we wonder what exactly our parents do in bank…all that paper work and all.We always thought its a place where money is kept and you can have it any time(now that we have ATM’s…..so its for today’s kids).But once you turn 18 and your father take you along to open up a bank account….you are astounded by the number of people there….and suddenly bank appears like gringotts from harry potter. Then your first transaction happens….usually its a demand draft for a competitive exam. Now the people behind the desks literally appears like goblins who don’t give a damn to a kid standing in front(no offences to bank people though but thats what happened with me).But after an hour of queries and repeated cuttings you finally get your draft made and that is the time when you think that you have finally known what adults do in bank.And the next draft just take a mere five minutes to you but your first one will always be in your mind.

4) WEARING MAKE UP:

This one is especially for girls….all her life(i mean before make up)girl thinks that all these actresses look beautiful because they wear lot of make up…well, true to an extent but not totally.So when a girl tries make up for the first time, she thinks…she’s gonna rock the look….but sadly….this turns out exactly opposite for almost 85% of the girls.When she looks in the mirror after all her effort she feels horrible and thinks she was much better without it.But gradually things change and after repeated efforts and experience she manages that actress look and that too with an elan:)…..still…in her mind her first look always lingers and she has a great laugh thinking about that later:).

5) DRIVING OR ERRRR….RIDING A BICYCLE:

Remember your first time on bicycle when after removing those supporting tyres your father let you go all by yourself…..a mixed feeling of fear and joy…..aaaah….though you bumped yourself straight into those bushes or even worst on the concrete road,But you felt like a king that day…even though you may be driving a big SUV today…but that wound mark on your knee still freshen ups those memories.

6) FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL:

I know we all are just very very small that time but i really don’t know how we remember it.Usually you have very faint memories of that but still you remember whom you sat with on the very first day(usually that person is your best buddy now, though not always:)).You also remember who slapped you or pushed you or better vice versa…but they all are faint and still very close to heart.

7) GETTING SCOLDED ALONE AT SCHOOL OR COLLEGE:

This has happened with every one….and that too in front of the whole class or worse …..school…but the humiliation you felt for the first time is beyond compare.You keep grudges against that teacher forever….and by forever i mean literally forever.Subsequent scoldings start having less effect and by the time you reach your senior years you become a”chikna ghada” or in better words immune to it.Even if the teacher sends you out of the class….that moment becomes a point to celebrate and you thank your stars that the teacher herself did the needful!!!!

8) ADVENTURE GAMES:

Remember hrithik roshan from zindagi naa milegi dobara…..now imagine yourself in his role after he did that deep sea diving….satisfying!!!(anyone would feel that if the instructor is katrina kaif)……but on serious note…anyone who has done bungee jumping,scuba diving,para gliding and other sports would become extremely excited about their first attempt in that(how they fell,how they controlled…what were they thinking,how it was a near death experience….list goes on) but yeah the feeling is truly amazing and you would not forget it even when you have turned 107 years old.

9) GIVING YOUR FIRST JOB INTERVIEW:

Well…its almost similar to stage fright….but now you just don’t have to speak…now you have to answer.In your first interview you are naive,inexperienced,lack worldly knowledge…..but for most of us its the best we give(getting selected or not doesn’t matter).You always remember the face of your first interviewer…but in later interviews you even tend to forget the name of the company you went to.

10) VISIT TO THE DENTIST:

Now thats my favourite!!!!…..i myself being a dentist know how people feel:)They are horrified just by the site of the clinic.Though people shake every time they have to go there but first time….its the worst.Most of the people start having uneasiness by the sight of the instruments and if a minor procedure is to be performed….their blood pressure shoots and they usually faint!!!….everyday’s story:).But gradually they become IMMUNE to it and take anaesthesia shots with ease:)

So….these are my memorable things which i remember still…and probably would remember in years to come…..and i know you may have a totally different list of these things.Then why not you also add your “first’s” to this and make it really worth remembering:):):)

[stextbox id=”info”]And by the way, this was NOT the First guest post by Pooja. Do check out her other posts as well and don’t  be Kanjoos in giving likes to her post. And if  for some reasons, you didn’t like it, then there is a comment section available for the purpose.:-) [/stextbox]

Blurring indentity in the race of impressing others

Think for a while when was the last time you did something that you actually love , what you actually are. Next time you do something that is not you think aren’t you leading a fake life ? whether it is about listening Hollywood songs just to become cool among friends,whether it is about branded clothes ,or whether you apply lots of make up then excuse me miss. Make up can make you look beautiful from outside ,not from inside unless you eat makeup.

life-is-full-off-fake-people

One of my friend told me don’t laugh so hard u look ugly I told her is there a better brand of laughter so that I could buy .Who the hell is other person to judge you.

I’ll have to join twitter , Whatsapp , hike too to make an impression otherwise ill be called as backward : one year back when I had gone to attend my Fresher party one of my friend asked me are you on Facebook , I said no I don’t like being on Facebook. He told why aren’t you ? even kids use Facebook .If you are also a victim of such remarks then ask them how many good books have you read till date ? or how many curricular activities you have adopted till now ,or how many times have you genuinely talked to your relatives who have come to your place instead searching for notifications ,tags and superficial comments on your photographs which surely u had taken from Instagram.

oh now my English will decide what are my qualifications: language is just a way to communicate and surely my English will not decide what I m . Kudos to all those who love talking in Hindi and are much more informed ,confident and Expressive. So next time if someone starts a trial of his/her English vocabulary in your friend circle do not hesitate to ask them to talk in Hindi . Do what you love not what impresses others.

Listening to English songs will not prove that you have better taste in music:one my friends asked me what kind of music do you listen ,I told them I love listening to Kishore Kumar songs , Lata Mangeshkar songs , he burst out of laughter . He told me who listens to Hindi songs . Next time someone points out on your choice of music on the basis of language ask them are you asking me about my music taste or whether my English vocabulary.

Lead your life not impress people but to find yourself ,what actually you are and mind it don’t allow your clothes , language , footwear , makeup ,music choice etc define you .Be precious instead of being special because those who actually love you will love you in any form.

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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.

[stextbox id=”alert”]Do Join Us on Facebook to Continue to Receive All The Updates Before Everyone Else Do.[/stextbox]

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  ….:) 🙂

The So Called “Facebook” or “Fakebook” Friends

Once my brother told me that everyone whom I talk to is not necessarily my friend. That time I was quite young and probably didn’t understand what he was trying to convey, but now things have got much clearer in my view. One of the reasons why I have been able to understand what he said is my indulgence in social media or particularly facebook.

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[stextbox id=”info”]Who are The So-Called-(Fake)-Friends?[/stextbox]

Facebook got me more in touch of the people whom I call “so called friends”. Yeah!! indeed they are so called friends which are just like a mirage, fascinating from a distance but turns quickly into nothingness. Here are a few reasons:

1. The poke friends: These kinds can be easily found on facebook. They simply have nothing to do apart from poking others and guess what it hardly matter even if they know the person or not. In real life a tight slap would be a good answer to this virtual feature.

2. The likers: Well these kinds just keep sticking to your posts like glue. Be it anything and even if you post that you had an accident they would like the post. Disgusting.

3. The lovers: Just for the sake of time pass they would propose any random girl or in case of girls they would flirt with any damn boy. Theses kinds can appreciate a person to such a extent which the person certainly not deserves. This leads to a build up of nonsense attitude in such people.

4. The party lovers: Be it any incident in your life, they would always be ready to force you to throw a small treat for them. And when you try to escape they would land up at your home. Gosh!!

5. The nostalgic: It is really hard to handle these kind of friends. Whenever you talk to them, they would be drowned in their sorrows of life probably because some girl or guy left them alone and worst of all they would be repeating the same stories of their happy relationship times over and over again .

6. The optimists: This category is different. They seem to give advice to others as if they are living our lives. For every problem you encounter they will have a non sense positive answer. But they hardly realize that no man can step in other man’s shoes.

[stextbox id=”alert”]Do also check out Sonal’s calmness tips on all friends or “so called friends” related issues.[/stextbox]

Do check out Guest Posts Archive to read the articles submitted by other guest authors.

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Ten Things That Are Wrong With Television Today

I don’t know what it was like to decorate yourself infront of the television sets roughly 50 years back. The frenzy and hullabaloo about those millions of pixels that together lit up thousands of faces with glory, but proudly I’ve been very much a loyal witness to its metamorphosis from a slotted coup to en masse entertainment. My association with the television goes back to the times when shows like ‘banegi apni baat’ and ’hasratein’ were rich ongoing sagas on television. That was particularly the phase when more and more channels were being launched and more shows were concocted to become a pivotal part of indian families 24*7.

television-doordarshan-logo
television-doordarshan-logo

Today that same industry has expanded to colossal standards with not just an approach to entertain the ‘Aam insaan’ but also a highlighted idea of deeply engraved commercial values. As the platform today is bigger than ever, one cannot but observe the flaws conspicuous in the indian television firmament that are a solid deterrent to its progress. Some of the slip ups that need immediate rectification are :

1.SEASONS: How may serials could there be that we can vaguely recall to have watched till the last episode. RARE. Lack of shows with seasons have led to dilution of content. Serials that begin with a compelling idea behind them become hogwash as the show proceeds leading to which it loses grip with the viewers. Introduction of serials with seasons will give writers time to brainstorm on their product so as not to let it fall on the track of perversity.

2.TELEVISION=TICKET TO BOLLYWOOD: The fine line between bollywood and indian television blurred 25 years back when bollywood spotted its to-be-most celebrated actor in shah rukh khan of ‘circus’ and ‘fauji’ fame. Today television actors seems to be using television as a bridge to bollywood with no sense of commitment. The prime reason considered behind the sad fate of hit sitcom ‘’iss pyar ko kya naam doon’’ that was called off air point-blank is lead actor barun sobti who called it quits with the show which led to threat mails from a certain section of the viewers who felt that a stopgap was totally intolerable.

3.NEWS CHANNELS: Their menu subsume everything from celebrity spice to sting operations. However subdued they are still under immense pressure to sensationalize everything and fluctuate from being crusaders to vultures.

4.MAHA EPISODES: The whole idea behind maha episodes was to bring a convincing end to a long running track in a show, but off late I see many shows coming up with maha episodes more frequently and seems too passé. We’ve have had enough of that.

5.REALITY TV: When this new kind of television came into existence it promised out-of-the-box entertainment and Yes it did too. But today the only difference between a fictional television and reality shows is that the latter blatantly roars from hilltops that it is still very much a reality, something with which today’s sharp headed viewer begs to differ.

a-still-from-indian-tv-reality-show
Still From an Indian TV Reality Show

6.WEIGHT LOSS CHARLATANS: Show me one person who lost weight by wrapping sauna belts around and I’ll show you a bore. Such misleading advertisements unabashedly encourage viewers to lose weight without having to move an inch. ABSURD.

7.TRP: On many instances in the past shows with strong subtext became underdog to old sob stories merely due to TRP’s. With the present trend of more and more viewers resorting to online medium, using only TRP as the deciding factor is not just banal but incoherent too.

8.FAIRNESS CREAM COMMERCIALS: The protagonists are shown dejected and forlorn before using the product and become thriving and at the top of their game once the product arrives in their lives. The sad part is that today millions of viewers fall prey to such misinformed advertisements that otherwise mean to say dark skin is a MALEDICTION.

9.COMEDY SHOWS: Gone are the days of shows like ‘sarabhai vs sarabhai’ and ‘dekh bhai dekh’ that had every element of original comedy innate in them. Today we see more of slapstick comedy with shows like ‘comedy circus’ where the comedy often goes tasteless and bawdy.

The TENTH faux pas is that out of the above nine listed unambiguous shortcomings none is being addressed, let alone amended. If these points are taken care of, television viewing would once again become a celebration. The reputation it enjoyed a few years back. For it is not an idiot box BUT an unawarded educator.

A Calmer You: You’re missing the picture, dude

Are you too busy clicking or tweeting to enjoy the real thing? This world is full of one category of people. Experts. Everyone has some advice to give to others, ekdum free. That’s why I say it’s important that you become an expert in sifting out the meaningful advice from routine gyan that floats around. Anyhow, I’m not any less in trying to be a self-styled expert, so I gave some unsolicited advice to a guy last week. He didn’t like it.

A Calmer You -You are missing the picture dude
Well, that’s his problem but I want you all to tell me if I was wrong in what I said. Hua yeh ke I went to a friend’s place and met his cousin who had just returned from a vacation in Singapore. He was excitedly telling her about his visit to Sentosa islands, which is famous, among other things, for being among the top places in the world to watch the most beautiful sunset. And then he started showing us photos that he’d clicked, of the sun setting behind the sea. Beautiful photos indeed….and five hundred and seventy two in number.
‘How long did the sunset last?’ I asked him. ‘A few minutes,’ he replied and added, ‘after that you can’t really see much because it starts to get dark.’ ‘So, are you going to go back to Singapore to watch the sunset, because you missed it?’, I asked. ‘Huh, I just came back after watching it,’ he replied. ‘No you didn’t, your camera did. When are YOU going to watch it?’ I asked, and he got offended. What followed was a long debate over how photos are also important for memories etc but my point, my friend, is simple. What fun are second hand memories when you’ve got so busy in creating them that you missed the real thing? A similar sentiment was echoed by my colleague Damini, who recently went to Turkey and attended the famous night opera in a picturesque, old Roman amphitheatre, with full moon in the backdrop. ‘All I kept trying was to click the perfect photo, and before I knew it, the opera was over,’ she said.

A lot of us, me included, similarly make the mistake of getting too busy tweeting when we see something exciting. When India played Sri Lanka in the cricket World Cup final in April, excitement ran high and I was tweeting like mad at every ball. After a while, I was trending on Twitter lists in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore but you know what, I missed out on most exciting moments of the match. Because I got too busy in thinking about the perfect and funniest tweet to post. Kya yaar. Technology was supposed to serve us. We didn’t even notice when we became its slaves, and started clicking and tweeting our life away on gadgets. I’ve decided to, henceforth, set these three rules for myself, to claim my life back.

If you see sense in it, take the advice.

1. Stop looking at life as ‘moments to capture for Facebook’: It’s cool that some nerd invented these media that make it so easy to share our fun moments with friends. But surely not at the cost of taking the whole fun out of them, no? I’ve seen young parents, who attend the school function of their kids, rush closer to the stage with mobile phones or video cameras as soon as their child’s performance begins. All these dads and moms must remember that watching their child’s entire performance through the lens is only as good as watching a TV programme, not a live act. Why not let your eyes and heart remember the moment?

2. Set a limit for how many photos you’ll take and STOP at that: I have nothing against taking beautiful pictures that form cherished memories, but the next time I go for a vacation and see something spectacular, I’ll take twenty photos and no more. With conventional cameras, we at least used to stop when the filmroll got over. Thanks to digicams and mobile phones (technology again!!), we just don’t know where to stop. Tell me honestly, how many times have you actually seen all the ten thousand photos you took of the cow on the village road in Rajasthan with senti tears in your eye? Bas karo. Tourism is not a punishment and its not as if you have to submit a homework album with every damn thing you spotted. Leave the camera in the hotel sometime and go for a walk. DO that.

3. Finally, I’ve decided to set an hour of ‘unplugged time’ for myself everyday: I will not touch any electronic gadget in that one hour. And I’ll still go out and try to see something beautiful, without the tension of capturing it or worrying about missing a call. Don’t you now try to give me the ‘phone is for our safety’ argument. Human beings used to go out of homes even when mobile phones were not invented…and came back alive. And puhleez, I love twitter and facebook too but don’t tweet every waking moment of your life away. Because it’ll somewhere take your mind away from what’s actually happening. I remember a joke I read somewhere about a girl whose friend asks her what her first kiss was like. She hesitates for a while, and then says, ‘Hold on, let me check. I must have tweeted about it.’ Had ho gayi yaar.

Sonal Kalra has decided to grab every moment life has to offer. And that can’t happen till both her hands are busy holding the phone.

Calmer You: customer care rules my world

(FSGJZAD77FKW) They thanked me. Twice. They even wished me a nice day. What more do I want from customer care?  My sentiments have almost died of hurt after a lot of you felt that I was being sarcastic in last week’s column on hurt sentiments. Sarcasm and I are as unrelated as our selfless political leaders and corruption. I earnestly tried to respond to all your mails and explain that I was being dead serious but wasn’t able to because the GPRS on my cell phone, that’s needed to send emails, hasn’t been working inside the office building for days now. My phone that thinks of itself as very smart but is clearly not, only shows ‘GSM’ on the corner of the screen.

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For a long time I thought it stands for ‘Give some money’, so I diligently kept depositing more money to keep it recharged. Its hunger didn’t end, and then a colleague pointed out that the GSM sign means the data services are not working due to a technical glitch, so I should call the ‘customer care’.

Now, you know, I don’t like to bother human beings over God-given calamities like earthquakes or volcanoes or technical glitches. But, then this was giving me an opportunity to say hi to my telecom service provider who I totally and unconditionally love. They may have their share of technical glitches here and there, but then who doesn’t have glitches in life. Yesterday, Chaddha ji mistakenly flirted with a woman who turned out to be his son’s class teacher. The after-effects of this glitch were audible even in my balcony till late last evening.

And all glitches withstanding, my telecom service provider cares like no other. At least they don’t have a dog chasing me in the name of connectivity or inappropriately address me as Honey Bunny when my nickname may have been the reverse. Anyway, full of optimism and overflowing with gratitude, I dialled the customer care last week, with trembling fingers. And the touching experience has stayed with me ever since.

 [stextbox id=”info”]It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.
Henry Ford[/stextbox]

It’s rarely that I’ve been treated with such care and affection. A very sweet lady, in a very sweet voice told me that MY call is important to them, and that I should hold the line. I think she was looking for someone equally important to talk to me and that surely needed time. You know, sometimes my staff does this embarrassing thing of calling people and telling them how important I am.

Making a mental note of scolding my team that they should do this less often, I tried to strike a conversation with the sweet lady. But for some strange reason, she kept repeating that my call is important to them. I’m not sure but I think I blushed after she said this around 11 times or so. She may have realised my discomfort because suddenly she asked me to press 1 for English and 2 for Hindi. I pressed 3 for Hinglish, but I think she didn’t appreciate the joke, so she lovingly snubbed me for making invalid choices in life.

Anyway, for the next 10 minutes, we played the game of pressing keys till I pressed all the keys on my phone. The task of finding someone important to talk to me was still on in the background, so guess what, she did the most amazing gesture for me. She actually played a 12 minute flute solo, just for me! Can you believe it? The melody still rings in my ears when I’m taking a bath. I applauded so hard that my phone almost fell down, and even gave a standing ovation. Wish she could see it.

Anyway, then they did something else that totally touched me. They said that my call, MY CALL, was being recorded for training purposes. Choking with emotions, I realised what a big responsibility that puts on me because my conduct during the course of that call would shape the career of thousands of customer care givers in the near future. I’d just started thanking them again when a gentleman suddenly came online and said something so fast that I could only get the last two words ‘help you’. Life is all about helping each other, isn’t it? I described the problem, and he then told me, at length, what I should do. I took notes. I thanked him again and he thanked me in return.

He kept asking me if he could do anything else for me. I think he was lonely and tired, but still so caring. I’m sure it’s not easy to care for so many people all through the day. I wanted to ask him about his life in general and share my problems at work and home, but then I wasn’t too sure how this exchange will sound, considering my call was chosen as a model case study for training. With heavy hearts, we ended the call.

I showed the notes to my colleague. She laughed and told me that the caring guy had, in 19 elaborate steps, basically told me to restart my phone. I did it, anyway. GSM continues to flash on my screen, as if trying to make fun of my naivety, but I am not perturbed. When the data services are destined to work, they will. At least till that happens, I can get some more chances at revelling under the care of customer care department. Who knows, next time they may just play piano for me.

Sonal Kalra thinks that genuine care is so rare these days that we better start valuing the importance of customer care. She hopes they also start valuing the importance of customers.

The new volume of the compilation of these columns — More of A Calmer You—is available online and in bookstores now.

A Calmer You: Thank god for the diwali gifts!

3 life altering lessons the Diwali gifting tamasha teaches us. No one loves this season more than I do. There’s festive spirit in the air, and of course, viruses of different kinds. Both bind the nation like nothing else does. Happily sneezing away to glory, we all put up status messages claiming to love the festivities all around. And when we bump into strangers at parties, there’s no risk of running out of conversation starters — “Terrible traffic, no?”, “This change of weather is awful,” “Have you noticed the smog?” and so on. And then the one question that everyone is seen asking everyone else — ‘Aapki Diwali gifting ho gayi?’ For businessmen, the answer to this one question is more important than their annual balance sheet, for homemakers, this question could initiate non-stop verbal diarrhoea about the obligation of giving gifts to all rishtedaars, and for young boys and girls, it brings nerve- wracking visions of accompanying their parents to homes of near strangers, overloaded with gift boxes. And then being mock-scolded by mom who says, “Beta, yeh Dolly aunty hain. Namaste karo aur theek se milo.” — whatever that ‘theek se milo’ means. Strangely enough, when asked if they are done with gifting everyone in their universe, most people respond by saying they haven’t even begun yet. Even if it is 12 hours to go before Diwali. And these are the same people who were caught asking the building security guard to load gift boxes in their cars at seven in the morning the previous day, so that they beat the maddening evening traffic. Anyway, I totally love the concept of Diwali gifting. And when I tell you my crazy theory behind loving it, you may do so, too. I think this whole jingbang of exchanging gifts during the festival gives us some very important lessons in life. Lessons that we may know of, already, but don’t realise.

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Here’s what I mean…
1 What goes around, comes around: We’ve all heard this idiom in the serious context of the theory of Karma. But have you noticed how Diwali gifts teach us this lesson? So Bubbly aunty comes home carrying a gift packet, along with the now-necessary accompaniment of a chocolate or a sweet box. You open it after she leaves and make a face. Yet another set of cups and saucers. This must be the 17th this season. And oh, the handle of one of the cups even has a crack. Hmm…humein chala diya? You ask your maid to bring a fresh wrapping paper, and carefully wrap the box again. You have to leave for Pooja aunty’s home now. Last year, she also gave nothing great. Toh yeh unko chal jayega. After giving you sufficient gaalis once you are gone, Pooja aunty repacks the gift and gives it to her neighbour. After all, this is the only occasion when we get to meet and smile at people on whom we’ve called the police seven times through the year over car parking. The neighbour turns out to be a building contractor who wants to genuinely wish health, happiness and prosperity to the MCD inspector in his area. The cups and saucers are on the way again. Oh, but look at how small the world is. The MCD inspector is none other than Pappu chacha — your dad’s second cousin’s first cousin. He sends his sincere wishes every year, through the driver, with his official visiting card neatly taped on the box. The wishes arrive this year too and voila, the cup with the crack is staring back at you. ‘The b*$%&* has not even bothered to use a new wrapping paper. Just changed the cello tape on it,’ you mutter under your breath. “Don’t worry,” says your wife, opening the bed box to store it. “We’ll give it to Bubbly aunty only, next year.” What goes around, comes around.

2 Size matters: Ahem… and so does packaging. In Diwali too, just as in most other things in life. Just the other day, I got a gift packet the size of a center table. It was beautifully packaged with unidentifiable species of wild flowers painted in gold and silver stuck on the shining wrapping paper. Wow…it’s so big, collectively squealed my daughter and the maid, visibly impressed. Extremely suspicious of how an ex-colleague, who would cause anxious moments even before paying his two hundred bucks in contributory office parties, had become so generous, I started opening it. Please note that I’ve deliberately used the continuous tense instead of simply saying ‘opened it’…because opening it was quite a task in itself. There were layers on it — several. Discarding the wrapping sheets, and the newspaper sheets, and the cardboard, and another set of newspaper sheets (this time the one I work for!), and then enough dried straw to feed 250 cows in Bihar, we reached the gift – a rather nice wooden wall-clock, of the usual size. Still not sure why it was packed like a fragile TajMahal, I was pretty amused when I turned it around to see a Dinesh Verma’s card addressed to my colleague, sticking out of the battery compartment. It seemed like Mr Verma’s last ditch effort to ensure no one recycled his gift without it being exposed that it originated from him. Anyway, the sheer size and packaging of the gift has won hearts in my household, and my daughter has neatly saved all the gold and silver coloured beads and bushes for her school project. Point taken — Size matters.

3 Expectations cause stress: While growing up, I had a neighbour who was at an influential post in the income tax department. Every year around Diwali, it was a common sight to see a rush of people ringing his doorbell, carrying gifts of all shapes and sizes. As kids, we would envy them like hell, what with us having to mostly do with Bubbly aunty’s cups and saucers from Sadar Bazaar for excitement. His wife once confided in a neighbour that her husband had a list of ‘expected gift givers’ ready before every Diwali, and would get stressed if any of the expected people didn’t turn up to wish him. And then one day, he retired from service. Need I say more?

Sonal Kalra wants to start a part-time business of ‘gift packaging and recycling consultancy’. Aapki Diwali gifting ho gayi?