Category Archives: Stress

A Calmer You: Hamara neta kaisa ho?

I never thought I would live the day to see Chaddha ji saying anything sensible, ever. But yesterday, he said something that set me thinking. Seeing him in a crisp white kurta pajama, I jokingly asked  if he was ­planning to turn politician, now that election fever is at its peak. “Oh nahi ji. Badi Thankyou less life haipoliticians ki,” he said. 98% of my attention immediately and involuntarily turned into this desperate urge to correct ‘Thankyou less’ to ‘thankless’ but then it’s Chaddha ji. Unko kaun aaj tak correct kar saka hai.

 A Calmer You Hamara neta kaisa ho

I didn’t know if I agreed completely with Chaddha ji. I mean, all our top politicians do look and dress different. Whether it’s Modi’s half sleeve kurtas or MMS’s blue turban or Kejriwal’s mufflers. But what’s common is a clear attempt at ­trying to deflect any undue ­attention on how they look. Politicians cringe at any ­compliment on their looks, as if being good-looking and being dedicated to the nation have to be mutually exclusive. “Is it really our fault?” asked a young ­politician when I mentioned this to him one day. “The day I entered politics, I was advised to dress plain, because that’s the most outward indicator of us leading a simple life. I dress like a person twice my age. All my favourite denims are now for ­get-togethers where I am sure there won’t be any press photographers,’ he sighed. Well, vanity is a vice if you’re in public life but that conversation made me realise that it’s not just about clothes or looks. How, we as a nation, are so ready to judge and stereotype politicians as a ‘breed’ that we forget to allow them the simple pleasures of life that we all very proudly and openly enjoy. Many years back, I was assigned to do a photo feature on ­candidates from various political parties, relaxing, at last, a couple of days after the polling got over.  Three out of the five wanted to be photographed playing with their pet dogs, one at the dining table with his wife and kids, and one, on the couch, reading a book and listening to Indian classical music. “What is the first thing he does to relax, after a tough day of campaigning?” I asked the PA of one of the politicians while he was getting into a ‘whiter’ kurta for the shoot. “He opens a chilled beer,” the PA replied. I asked the politician if we could photograph him with a mug of his favourite beer in his hand, and he looked at me the way I normally look at Chaddha ji. “Have you lost your mind?” he just said. 

I know there’s very little ­sympathy ever in peoples’ minds for politicians, and maybe for valid reasons, considering the extent of rot in the system. But just look at the stress they, too, are under, because of our over-aggressive tendency these days to have an opinion on everything they do.

Because of certain buffoons in their profession who have a ­perpetual foot-in-mouth disease, making irresponsible statements every now and then, most ­politicians live under tremendous stress of analysing and ­reanalysing their statements before saying anything. “I don’t know when the social media, and all others, would pounce on me for a simple statement or a tweet. It’s a perpetual paranoia,” says a politician.

Politicians, and their families, have to live with hearing the most favourite remark of anyone and everyone in our country — ‘sab ke sab politicians chor hain’.  Anywhere, anytime. Now, I know you are itching to lecture me on how this statement has a strong basis, but that’s not the point I’m making here. I’m talking about the stress of having to bear with the torture of generalisation. Trust me, no doctor’s child would be happy, either, to hear his ­classmates say ‘All doctors in this country are corrupt.’ I’m ­assuming politicians also get hurt when everyone in their ­profession is bunched together for the purpose of making loose remarks. One of my friend’s ­college-going sister fell in love last year with a young man who seemed absolutely perfect in every sense, till he revealed that he wanted to join politics, like his maternal uncle who is an MLA. “Oh God, uncultured, gundey jaisi family hogi uski.  Get ­anyone else as a boyfriend and we are okay, but not a politician,” said my friend’s mom. Just like most of us, she has a Bollywood-created image of netas in her head. It is sad that a lot of them indeed have a criminal ­background, but then again, what about those who are clean, educated, and genuinely want to take up politics as a perfectly valid profession? We have ­political science as a much sought-after subject, but most of us would laugh or faint if our child wrote ‘I want to grow up to be a politician’ in a school essay. Sad, isn’t it?
It’s not easy to live a life that’s constantly under public scrutiny. Yes, the politicians have chosen it for themselves, and yes, there is enough wealth and power in this field to make up for all things lost, but next time, think twice before saying something general and vague like, ‘haww, desh mein log mar rahe hain and this ­politician is busy looking stylish at an awards show.’ Especially when you’re watching FTV on the television, and have a ­well-earned drink in hand. 

Sonal Kalra will get gaaliyan, as usual, for writing against popular sentiment, yet again. But she’s becoming thick-skinned. Like politicians, perhaps.

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A Calmer You: Hey doc, I’ve been waiting

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Of all the people, doctors can’t be the ones adding to our stress. All those who scolded me left, right and centre for not writing the column last week, please note that medical leave is allowed even in the prison camps of Guatemala. Areey, I was down with a terrible bout of viral infection that caused bad cough and cold.

calmness-tips-doctors-stress

Bekaar mein beemar ko daant diya. Aap dekh lena if Kejriwal comes to power, we may even start getting special cough-leave per month. Anyway, I promised some of you on Twitter that this week, I would recount the stress one faces when one has to visit a doctor.

Especially during the viral infection season, which now lasts twelve months in a year.  I toh have a standard line if I see someone unwell, no matter what season or month it is. I make a wise, grim face, shake my head and say ‘Changing-weather hai. You must take special care these days.’ I swear by Mayawati that I don’t know what ‘changing weather’ technically means but people buy this remark with all seriousness any time of the year. Anyway, so here’s what happened when I went under the weather last week. True story, no exaggeration.

 Me: I have fever and bad cold since morning. I think I should see a doctor.

Colleague 1: Viral hoga. Antibiotic le lo. Augmentin 625 mg. Do gargles and inhale steam.

Colleague 2: Don’t take such strong medicines. Take ginger and honey and black pepper.

Colleague 3: Homeopathy works like magic in this viral. Hum toh preventive bhi le lete hain. No side effects, you see.

Me (Next morning): The cough has worsened. Let me see a doctor today.
Colleague 1: I know the best physician. It’s a bit crowded at his clinic. Let me know when you’re going, I’d give him a call.

Me: That’s okay. Just give me the number, I’ll fix an appointment.
So I call up at the doc’s clinic and ask for a 6:30 pm appointment
Receptionist: Sorry, 6:30 slot is booked. I can give you 7:18pm.

Me (pleased with the professionalism): Okay, that’s fine.
I reach at 7:10 for my 7:18pm appointment and see at least 40 patients, all at various degrees of distress and coughing at various volumes. I go up to the receptionist.

Me: I have a 7:18pm appointment.
Receptionist (notes down my name): Please wait. The doctor is about to reach from his other clinic.

Me: When will my turn come? I’m on time for my appointment.

Receptionist: When he comes, we’ll start with the patients from the 5:30pm slot first. You are at Number 42.

Me: What’s the point in giving me an appointment for a certain time then?

Receptionist: Yawwwwn. Aap meri TV screen ke aage aa rahe ho. Please sit and wait. Dr saab will reach anytime now.

The good doctor comes in at 7:30, and suddenly the coughing in the waiting lounge becomes louder. Mr Verma and Mr Kapoor, both with the 5:30 appointment are, by then, fighting with the receptionist on who will go inside first. ‘Hum Noida se aaye hain,’ says Verma. ‘Noida koi America hai,’ argues Kapoor. Meanwhile the receptionist calls out for Mrs Malhotra out of turn and sends her inside. Suddenly Verma ji and Kapoor ji are united-in-victimisation and question the receptionist. ‘Woh Dr Saab ko personally jaanti hain. She only has to show her reports,’ the highly irritated, and highly irritating receptionist replies. ‘Isiliye Kejriwal rota hai. Everywhere corruption hai ji,’ Verma ji shakes his head. Finally my turn comes at 9:40pm, and exactly 22 seconds later, I emerge with a prescription that  advises: Augmentin 625, do gargles and inhale steam. ‘700 rupees’, the receptionist says. ‘Please give change,’ she adds. “Please change,” I tell her, while dishing out 700 bucks. She doesn’t get the sarcasm.

I don’t really know what calmness tips to give in the situation I described above. By no means can we undermine the importance or value of doctors and the significant role they play in our well being. Having some close friends in the medical profession, I also know the stress and challenges doctors have to face everyday – the biggest one being having to deal with the ‘Internet doctors’ all patients have become these days. We google our symptoms, we google medicine names, we google test reports. This awareness can sometimes be a blessing, but is more often a tool to question a doctor’s advice with cynicism. But that said, the doctors also need to see if the entire experience of visiting them is reducing, or adding stress to their patient’s condition. In this season of manifestos, may I put forward these demands to our doctor friends….

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips when Doctors are the reasons for your stress.[/stextbox]

Please schedule your day in such a way that you reach your clinics on time. An exceptional emergency is perfectly understandable in your profession, but having a room full of sick and already stressed people constantly staring at the clock and sighing, everyday, is not.
Please do not take up more patients than you can practically see, and pay attention to, on any given day. I know this means less money, but it also means getting a life. Reaching home at midnight everyday with stacks of cash still means reaching home to family members who are asleep.

Please fix a separate time during your day, if possible, for pharmaceutical representatives and influential patients who come with sifarish. To a patient who is in a bad condition and waiting for two hours, it isn’t easy to digest another person cutting the queue and breezing in, just because you wanted to oblige someone. They’ll not say it on your face because yours is a noble profession (?) and you are a life saver, but it hurts the respect that should naturally come for you.

Please hire polite and cheerful receptionists. Please.

Sonal Kalra just googled her symptoms and realised that she might be suffering from lymphocercoma of the brain due to changing weather. Please suggest some specialist.

A Calmer You: I am in love with Board Exams

Stand up. Don’t think just stand up. Walk up to the nearest mirror. Look at the face that stares back at you. Does he or she seem like a dimwit moron? No? Then, why does life treat you like one, yaar? Note: All the lazy ones who have now sat down in the washroom to continue reading the paper among, err… other activities, have lost the right to answer this question.

Competition, they say, is one of the foundations on which human race thrives. We need to compete with each other to bring out the best in us, and grow in life. Fair enough. But that sounds like a good, happy reason, while the manifestation of competition in our lives is such that it brings bucketloads of stress and tension from an early age. Ab mujhe hi dekh lo. At such a young age (ha!), I’ve been buried under this stress that my column constantly needs to compete with others, and to prove its worth, it has to focus on — no, not what I want to write about— but topical issues, like board exams, and that too in a ‘positive’ light. Arrey bhaad mein gaye board exams. They used to give me grief several years back, and they are giving me grief even now.

a calmer you column in board exams ki tou calmness tips fight stress

Just realising that my brief is to talk about things in a positive light, I must add that despite the minor irritants of depression, nervous breakdown etc, board exams are indeed a great way to judge our capabilities in life. So much so that human race may just cease to evolve and grow if we didn’t have them.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips To Fight the Stress of Board Examinations[/stextbox]

In fact, I demand that we have board exams every five years in our lives, till we turn 65, after which they could be held every two years, because, you know, life expectancy etc. Why should the pleasure of this life changing concept be restricted to the 17-year-old brats who don’t even value its worth and insult its inherent goodness by endlessly calling helplines to seek psychological counselling. Morons. Here, let me give you psychological counselling.

Do this.
1. Go up to three people you admire in life and ask…. Oye, I don’t mean ‘admire’ in that sense, you idiot. It’s not the Valentine’s Day column, we are talking serious stuff here. You actually deserve to give boards every year. Okay, coming back to the point I was trying to make. Go up to three people you admire and idolize. Could be your parents. Should be your parents.

Ask them to rattle off their subject wise marks in board exams. They wouldn’t know. Some of them may boast of an aggregate percentage etc, in which case you have my sympathies. This is just to tell you a simple fact. To become such a person in life that someone would admire, idolize and might want to emulate — you don’t necessarily need a mark sheet with A1 written in the column on the right.

You just need to be good at who you are. Yes, that A1 helps, it gets you further when it comes to admissions etc and I’m not denying its importance. I’m just denying its status as sole criterion to judge your worth in life. Itna toh banta hai.

2. Stop making a monster out of a simple thing: You have been put through examinations ever since you took admission in school and still used to pee your pants. So what’s so big and bothersome about board exams? It’s just that the question paper has been set centrally and that you have to go to a school other than yours to take them. Achha hai. In your own school, your reputation precedes you. So even if you’ve been behaving the way readers of this column are known to behave in public life, the invigilator at the examination center won’t know and would treat you with respect.

Isn’t that great? And as far as the question paper is concerned, the fact that it’s meant for a wide range of students with varying intelligence levels actually makes it comparatively easier to tackle, as compared to the one being set by a teacher who knows the strengths and weaknesses of the class she’s taught through the year. Think positive.

3. Promise me — whether you are taking board exams or are 58 years old — that you’ll see forward in life and not crib about whatever’s already done and over with. Which means that I strictly forbid you from minutely dissecting the question paper once you’ve given that exam… and trying to compare how you’ve done vis a vis that drama queen in the class who has a crush on the same guy as you.

You know, when God was making the human body, everything was decided after a lot of thought. There’s a reason why we have eyes and hands in the front, and they can’t revolve 180 degrees to turn backwards. Because God always intended us to look ahead. So the physics paper sucked? Well, for once, physics is now history! What’s done is done. Deal with the devils when they confront you, not the ones that reside in your imagination. Based on the marks you ultimately get, sit in peace and figure out options for your future course of action. Trust me, there are plenty of them, for all kinds of results.

Finally, an ode to the creators of the board exams.

Sir, ma’am
— you’ve been great thinkers. We wouldn’t have figured out a way to evolve, had you not come up with this beautiful, well justified, thoroughly proper system, of judging what course a 17-year-old’s life should take. It’s vital to channelise them in this age itself. They wouldn’t have known what to pursue in life, and would have wasted time trying out new things. At least these marks don’t leave them with much choice, hence avoiding confusion.

And of course, competition thrives a society. So in order to identify the stronger ones among us, it’s important that those who are weak at grasping the nuances of certain subjects be handed over a documented proof that they are losers. They should take it in their stride. And surely, you’ve ensured that there are enough helplines for psychological guidance.

Please, do consider my suggestion that we all take board exams through our lives. It’ll be healthy. A humble thank you from me and the 17-year-olds.

Sincerely.

Sonal Kalra is fondly remembering her board exam days. Mom would make coffee all night, dad would cancel official tours. The whole family was united in tension. Is yours too?

A Calmer You: Kisi ke paas charger hai?

I know what some Einsteins among you must be thinking right now. Cell phone toh likha nahi, charger likh diya. Hai nah? Bolo, bolo. Look at my photo above. Bewakoof lagti hoon? Some things in life are understood yaar. Phone toh hai hi by default, but tell me, hand on heart, how many of you get stressed about how much charge your cellphone battery has or doesn’t, several times during the day. So many nah? That’s why a charger has rightfully made it to the list of our basic needs. And when there is need, there is also stress if it doesn’t get met.

A Calmer You Kisi ke paas charger hai

 Aur charger na hone ka stress toh khatarnaak hai. The same desperation and frequency with which you hear shout-outs in the college or office saying, ‘So who’s coming to the loo?’ can be now sensed when you hear ‘kisi ke paas iPhone ka charger hai?’. Earlier the good’ol traffic signal vendors would sell the humble cotton candy, now they sell phone chargers of all sizes. Vaise this size bit reminds me, what an unfair thing by the telecom ­companies that they can spend ­millions on launching newer, sleeker phone models but can’t come up with the option of using the same charger on every make, every model of a cell phone.

This half-eaten Apple wala company is the worst tease. They changed the charger slot itself when they moved from iPhone4 to iPhone5. Such an ­encouragement for the ­show-offs… where you’d earlier say, ‘does anyone have an iPhone charger’, now you have to declare in a shamelessly capitalistic way that you need a ‘chhota pin wala iPhone 5 charger’. Imagine the extent to which universal ­brotherhood would have got a boost if, along with caste, creed and colour, we all could shed our Nokia, Samsung, Blackberry, iPhone, Micromax biases and use the same charger for phones whether they cost 2K or 50K.

I think I’m the only one who is thinking of patriotism at this high level on Republic Day, no? Aap log toh baithe hoge rajai mein, with five different phones in the family, plugged with five different kind of chargers on the switch board. Sigh. Anyway, this whole charger obsession also made me observe a few varied…and weird kinds of behaviour some people display when it comes to feeding their phone ­batteries. Let’s analyse these breeds…

The charge hunters: For these people, the biggest quest doesn’t relate to finding the true meaning of life, it begins and ends at finding a point to plug in their phone charger. They’ll check into a hotel for a vacation, and before keeping the luggage down, would hunt down the charging point and plug in their phone. All the souls ­wandering around an airport lounge, looking highly confused and lost, are also the ones not looking for their boarding gate, but for a phone charging point. Whether in the office of the ­college canteen, or in their fancy cars, their phone would be plugged to the wall, much like a leashed and tied dog, and I’m sure, cursing its owner in ­telecom language. These people are so obsessed that their phone battery should be fully charged all the time, that the besharam of the lot would not even think twice before removing someone else’s phone getting charged and plugging in their own. The ­identifying traits of this breed – 100% phone battery… and high blood pressure.

The charge-less: This is the other end of the rainbow. These people do not wake up to the hunger pangs and cries of their phone battery till the charge reaches 1%, or passes away. Their friends and family are by now are used to listening to the ‘The number you are ­trying to reach has been switched off’ message in the beautiful voice of Airtel or Vodafone ­aunties. Their wives and girlfriends and bosses shout at them everyday, but somehow they can’t remember to carry the phone charger. Identifying traits – 0% phone battery… and high blood pressure.

The charge savers: Yeh intelligent log hainPadhe likhe…with too much time at hand to read up on the various ways you can save your phone battery. They’ll be too happy to give you tips on how to increase ­battery life. If they are close to you, they might just snatch your phone and switch off some background applications so that your battery gets more life. They are the same people who are always ready with ­naturopathy cures for all your diseases and tell you to eat healthy and exercise everyday. They are also savvy enough to save their hard earned money in buying phone covers that come in-built with extra batteries, and portable battery backups. Identifying traits – two batteries for every phone… 0% blood ­pressure problems.

The charge ­borrowers: Shameless morons who are either too ­kanjoos to buy their own ­chargers or too forgetful to bring them from home. So they are always seen begging for a ­charger. Banks should come up for easy ­instalment schemes for this breed. I also proudly sit in this category and my work day begins with bowing my head down before a Ganpati idol in my office, followed by a ‘kisi ke paas charger hai?’ query. During appraisal times, my query is ­­­met with a prompt and willing response by my team, but in other months, I can hear them mutter ‘Apna kyun nahi laati?’ under their breath. Samarth, the music editor in my team curses the day he and I ended up buying the same phone models… now he hands over the charger as soon as I reach, without me even ­asking for it. AND cries helplessly when I sometimes even take it home with me. Identifying traits: Blood pressure problems – Borrower 0%, lender 100%!

So which breed are you? Dekho whatever it is, some stress about charger stays… right? Join me in this cause to promote national integration and harmony by demanding a universal phone charger. Modi or Rahul or Kejriwal or anyone else – whoever makes it their first manifesto promise is getting my vote. Yours?

Sonal Kalra just cleaned up her drawers and found 7 phone ­chargers. None of it works with her current cell phone. Is Red Cross interested in a donation?

Shun that competition with your own buddies, you TOXIC FRIENDS!!

THE ONLY COMPETITION WORTHY OF A WISE MAN IS WITH HIMSELF – WASHINGTON ALLSTON QUOTES.
How does it feel when one of your best friends cries when the exam results of both of you are out? It hurts if he ( instead of writing he/she again again, I am using only the pronoun ‘he’ for convenience ) has scored low. The meaning of this word ‘low’ is subject to variation in context to different people and situations as well as depend on the kind of scale-mark used for measuring the achievements one has so laboriously made. But , it literally ‘SUCKS’ when your dear pal has scored fairly good marks , as measured from a general scale-mark of scores and…. is still sulking like hell just because damn you, his own sukh-dukh ka saathi has scored two or five marks more than him.

competition-with-friendsCompeting with your own Buddies

Now, this piece of writing doesn’t refer to you , poor soul!! It contains nothing to console you guys. I promise I shall do that in my successive article. This is my big helping hand that I lend out today to restore peace in the lives of all those TOXIC FRIENDS on earth (Baat ko samjho na yaar!! I am starting with solving the root cause of your problem).
So, this write-up calls out to all those who often commit the ethical offence of creating stress in others lives (Ha! Don’t you know competition is one of the top ten stress- causing things. Moreover, you drag your friend into the race without asking his willingness and he suffers involuntarily ). The ultimate jealous friends of some genuine people! Read on what follows, it’s specially written for you who fit more as a rival than a friend in your buddy’s life.

Give yourself some time to grasp the wisdom words written below and do apply the ‘gyaaan’ drawn out from it in ‘unmiserablising ‘(so what?? who said you cannot invent a term of your own??) lives- both of your own as well as of your friends)-

1. Behave like a mature adult– Stop sulking, you idiot. Behave sensibly next time such an occasion greets you. You are friends and not rival runner-ups of a million-dollar reality show. If your buddy gets good scores, its good na! Remember he is your friend. How you react really matters to him- your smile and even your tears. Don’t spoil his happiness , your own and the moment in comparisons.
2.Value the bond of friendship– Understand what value friends hold in life. Place yourself in their shoes and think for once, how it feels. It may sound rude but such an insensitive behavior may cost you your friendship. Of course, you are being insensitive to his hard-work and success if you are sulking due to his achievements. Make sure you don’t lose a loved friend in your race to win. Else, be ready to be the biggest loser.
3.Promote Healthy Competition in every aspect of your life– Healthy competition not only means that you analyse your weaknesses and try to improve them, but also that you respect and appreciate other party’s efforts irrespective of who comes out more successful.
4. Its just marks- Stop re-reading the title again again. Yes, you read it right. Yes, it does contain the word ‘just’ just before ‘marks’. As every other thing on this diverse planet, marks are just a part, not the whole, not everything. Trust me, you will despise your own such actions, ten or twenty years henceforth. And, more so if such habits would have affected your million-dollar friendship.
5. Avoid Die-hard competition– Puhleeeez, DO NOT spoil your calmness in comparing exam scores, number of girlfriends/dresses/shoes owned, job salary, etc with your friend’s. It provides amusement to none. There is much more to life and if you indeed need to compare , go ahead compare with yourself only. Compete with yourself and you will definitely be amused.
6. Convince your family-If your parents or family be the reason behind your such competitive attitude and jealousy, and you actually do not want to repeat those offenses , make them understand that you are happy with your position in life and convince them that you do not want to compete with anyone but yourself. Else, the next time they vex you by starting a comparison between you and your friend, hand them the paper and make them read this write-up.
Believe me, earth would be a calmer place to live in if you go by above five rules to let go your impulsive competitive attitude. For all those who are still not ready to believe that competition is NOT ‘an inevitable human nature’, let’s hold a ‘SLAP-YOURSELF COMPETITION’ for all of you.

All good things in life are for free?

Life- undoubtedly the most beautiful and the most precious gift one could ever get. The unfathomable bliss in listening to the chirping birds, in feeling the warmth of the balmy spring; to give and to get love, to smile and to laugh. Yes, this was only what life was supposed to be about. It was supposed to be about working hard, utilizing all the bountiful blessings of the Almighty and Nature, and rejoicing. However, since Adam and Eve did their sin and descended to the Earth as a penalty, we being their descendants have to bear the brunt. As such, life today is not only about smiles and laughter, but also about sobs and sniffles which we ourselves and allowed to dominate over us.

life-and-living

In the present scenario, life is not about ‘living’ happily, but about managing, anyhow, to earn a handsome ‘living’. We are at a phase where people have started treating this very ‘living’ as a permission to enjoy living their own lives. Consequently, we see people engrossed in a rat race, foregoing, or rather losing all that they have. No wonder we see estranged families, envious colleagues and selfishness all around. We see people drowning in the quagmire of melancholy because they couldn’t make it to the top and we see people flying in the airs of arrogance because they managed to make it to the top. These very causes are perhaps the major reasons as to why we started being pessimistic about life and its ways, as to why we started being cynical enough to compare life with an insurmountable problem. What we don’t realize is that life is not about getting but about giving. Nobody can in any way stop us from sustaining in the society but we ourselves.

All good things in life are for free

It doesn’t matter how much living we make, for as rightly said, “All good things in life are for free”. What would be the living of a person who is at a higher post than yours? Perhaps a few thousands more? Does this fact ever make his family love him more and your family love you less? Or does nature become more bountiful to him and less to you after getting to know your wages? No. The status of his rank only and only defines how much living he makes, not the way he lives his life.

The living you make never describes the character you have or the person you are. You might be a lower class fellow, or even a middle class one for that matter, and still earn loads of love, respect and plenty of compassionate helping hands if you are good to others. On the contrary, you might be the Boss of a big company, earning a very handsome salary. But will the salary ever earn true love, respect and compassion for you? People might even hate you if you aren’t’t good to them. This way, you will rather end up earning more hatred and curses, more plotters and haters. Consequently, you will have a very uneasy and treacherous life, full of loneliness, fear and insecurity. Better to say, you will have no life at all.

We have been blessed by God in order that we may bless the lives of others. The wealth accumulated over the years will have no meaning or use once you depart from this world. On the other hand, the love, support you gave to people will always be in their hearts. Beautiful acts of spontaneous generosity will give you that unfathomable and inexpressive inner happiness which is hard to find in the modern day.

As rightly said, what we give to others is what we get. If we do our bit to make other’s lives better, they will do their bit in making our lives better. If we give love and respect to others and help them in their need, we will get love and help from others in our need. Herein we see that by giving life to others, we give life to ourselves, the life as it was supposed to be-full of compassion and smiles. The living we get has nothing to do with the lives we make and this is aptly summed up when we say, “We make a living by what we get, we make life by what we give.”

A Calmer You – here’s a resolution: let us gossip

The secret formula for a stress-free, long life is now revealed.

In January 2011, I had written a column about making a resolution that I shall not indulge in gossip. In January 2014, I want to slap myself for it. Nasht ho gayi zindagi in teen saal mein, saara mazaa hi chala gaya lifese. Of course, aspiring to have good values was the intent, but I never bargained for turning into Alok Nath! And on top of this self-invited boredom, I also compromised on my longevity, you see. Because as a recent study by the University of Michigan says in its report — which by the way I have framed and light agarbattis before, every morning — people, especially women, who gossip, live longer. Gossiping apparently elevates levels of progesterone; a hormone that reduces stress and makes you feels good.

Kya baat hai, University of Michigan, pehli baar koi interesting teer maara hai. Now, you see, whether I like it or not, I would have to gossip in the interest of science and research.  And humanity. And divinity.  And while on this trip, my mind has figured out some valid benefits of gossiping. But woh batane se pehle let me break my fast and tell you what I overheard coming from Chaddha ji’s house this morning. His daughter Bansuri was playing, I mean wailing. Not that it’s new, she’s been crying about pretty much everything ever since she turned a teenager. But she was crying out rather loud, so purely out of concern and sympathy (ha,ha), I went out to the balcony and heard this…

Bansuri: Daddy jiii, yeh dress poori nahi aa rahiA Calmer You - here’s a resolution let us gossip
Chadda ji: Dress toh wahi hai,  tum poori nahi aa rahi hogi
Bansuri: Mummy jiii, daddy ji mazaak udaa rahe hain
Mrs Chaddha: Inse kaho pehle apne shaadi waale suit mein poore aa ke dikhaayein
Chaddha ji: Us manhoos suit ko toh meine 10saal pehle lohri mein jalaa diya thaa
Mrs Chaddha: #$%^&**Y%#@

Phew! Thank God I could tell someone all this. If you have neighbours like the Chaddhas, AND you have the permission from University of Michigan to gossip, why would stress anyway come near you. Haan? So here’s why I think that research would have allowed us this oldest pleasure known to mankind…

1 Law of diminishing hatred:  You see, the moment you gossip about someone, pangs of guilt overtake your mind. I’m not referring to the typical readers of this column, but this happens at least with most normal, good people.

That guilt suddenly makes you want to be all nice to the victim of your gossip. So without that person even knowing the reason for it, you go out of your way to be good to him/her. Dekha? The devi of gossip actually enhances goodness and bonding between people. Jai ho.

2 It is social work, in disguise: Gossiping about someone else’s bad behaviour is simply your way of warning everyone else about it. Toh aap toh charity kar rahe ho. Isn’t that supposed to be a noble thing? The other day two girls at work were gossiping about the behaviour of the office  Casanova. Since I was Alok Nath at that time, I immediately went up to lecture them about the sanskaar of not gossiping, but before I could say something, a third girl who was overhearing them, also joined in and they realised that Mr Casanova had used the same pick up line on all three, pretending to be only interested in them. Bas! Girls safe and happy, Alok Nath ji chup.

3 Six degrees of separation: Whether you like it or not, gossiping is perhaps the best way to discover people who are exactly like you. Lifelong rishtey ban jaate hain ji, over gossip sessions. We all outwardly take a stand that we hate gossip mongers, but deep inside we know the thrill of being able to high-five a person whose mean-ness levels are exactly the same as ours. A person at work who is my gossip partner would know exactly what I mean. And you know what, people who gossip also have to be creative. Because you can’t excel at gossiping unless it’s told in an entertaining way. Mehnat lagti hai, talent bhi lagta hai, koi mazaak hai? Denouncing an activity that stimulates the mind at so many different levels is sacrilege.

Ab thoda serious ho jayein, just for a minute? See, I wrote all of this in good faith towards your sensibilities and intelligence. I hope you know the difference between malicious backbiting and relatively harmless, idle chatter. It’s easy to act Puritans and deny it, but I can bet my AAP jhaadu that there’s not even a single person who hasn’t done the latter, at some or the other time. I’m only asking for an admission of the truth here, as long as we are aware of our boundaries.

Spreading false rumours about someone with an intent to harm his or her reputation is not gossip, it is sin. The thumb rule that I apply to myself is simple.

I imagine a situation where the person I’m gossiping about, turns out to be standing behind me when I’m speaking. If I can still say the same thing about them playfully to their face, I’m doing okay. Don’t ever say anything behind a person’s back, that, if the need or situation be, you can’t repeat in front of them. And, finally, to the victims of harmful gossip. Dekho yaar, there’ll always be people in life who would love to see you fail, simply because they didn’t succeed. They’ll keep talking behind your back, but you’ve got to realise that they are ‘behind’ you for a reason.

Here’s a random, confusing, but golden advice, a la Chaddha ji — ‘Agar aap hi har waqt yeh sochenge ki log kya sochenge, toh phir log kya sochenge?’

Sonal Kalra is wondering if all the sweetness and goodness in trying to be Alok Nath, gave her diabetes. How will she handle a very long life now?

A Calmer You: change your password. Right now!

Errr… may I please keep it as password123? Just this one time? “Ma’am, please try to remember,” said the IT guy, adjusting his nerdy glasses. He looked as frustrated as the class teacher of a child who, despite being paid special attention through the year, has failed yet again in the exam. I stared back at him, not knowing what to say. ‘Ek baar try the same with the first letter uppercase,’ I mumbled. He keyed it in, shook his head, and looked around hopelessly.  ‘You had only asked me to keep changing the password,’ I chided.

A Calmer You change your password. Right now
“Yes, because it’s good for security. But, I had also asked you to ‘remember’ the new password,” he snapped back. A colleague, who has recently joined and was clearly unaware of the extent of my hopelessness when it comes to such things, intervened: ‘Why don’t you use the ‘forgotten password’ option?’ The IT geek growled back with the pent up frustration of not getting enough sleep all through his four years in the engineering college, “That is what we are trying. She does NOT remember the answer to the forgotten password question!” The colleague looked at me incredulously, the IT guy hopelessly, while I stared at the computer screen, shamelessly. ‘You see, the answer to the forgotten password question is supposed to be the name of my pet. Now, I had pets of various breeds and kinds in different periods of my life. Then there was the neighborhood cat that was technically not my pet but I had kinda adopted her, and named her. She used to come for milk every evening,’ I started and the emotionless descendant of Bill Gates hastily got up. “ma’am, I’m going. Had this been our internal server, I would have retrieved the password. Please talk to customer care.” The colleague fled too. And I was left with the screen that said, “Sorry, the user id/password is wrong”. ‘At least tell me which one of the two is wrong,’ I wanted to cry out. But, what’s the point? This is all done for ‘security’. Well, I am secure. So secure that even I can’t access my account anymore. And so, so sick of passwords. I know by now you think I’ve lost it, but please meri baat suno. I’m sure there are at least some people reading this who have the same disorder of not being able to remember passwords. And our suffering is compounded a thousand times by the so called ‘security regulations’. Now sample this:

1. The password can’t be too simple. It can’t be too short. It can’t be too similar to the user id. It can’t be too similar to the old password. It can’t be just letters of the alphabet. Basically as rightly put by some victim of this security torture, your password must be combination of  ‘at least 11 upper-lowercase letters, a numeral, a special character, lyrics of a Himesh Reshammiya song, the first letter of the surname of your maid, the tail of a lizard, a zero to signify your loser status and the blood of a virgin.’ Phew! I sometimes wonder if I’d secretly prefer my account getting hacked.

2.  In order to let the IT guys sleep peacefully at night and catch up for all the rest lost while formulating policies, the password needs to be changed often, sometimes as often as some people I know take bath. Kya yaar, at least let me be the one to decide if I want to change it. What if I’m secretly in love with my password and never want to change it? Don’t stop me from accessing my bloody account. There are anyway hardly any secrets in there. Heck, if I could remember secrets, I would remember passwords.

3. The passwords need to be different for different accounts and services. Fair enough. But this leaves me with the requirement of two dozen freakin’ passwords, all conforming to the above regulations. Clearing job interviews has been easier. Thinking of complicated passwords is, well, complicated.

4. Some people (read I) are so, well, innocent, that they don’t know the answers to the trick questions to retrieve forgotten passwords. What if I don’t have a favourite movie? What if I didn’t have a pet? What if I don’t know my mother’s maiden name? What if my mother never married? I’m getting into a depression here, do you see? To make matters worse, the retrieved password is sent to the email. And what is needed to access that? You got it! ‘A combination of 11 letters, a numeral, special character, blah, blah and blah’.

5. Because it is important to ensure that it is a human being and not a metal-hearted robot trying to retrieve the password, I am also expected to read a passcode phrase and type it back, as it is. Except that some sadist who hated humankind devised the most illegible font for that phrase. Not only do I have to tilt my head to unimaginable degrees to read it, every effort has been made to ensure that the letters look so grainy that your eyesight goes for a toss in trying to tell a ‘o’ from a ‘e’. Check this out. Ha ha.

6. Some genius in a business suit also once warned me that I should never, ever write my password anywhere. Because that’s the easiest way for it to get stolen. Toh phir suno, tie waale bhai, that if I die, no loved one will be able to get access to the wealth I have generated all these years. In fact, I myself will not be able to use my own wealth soon, because my bank has recently written to me congratulating  me, and themselves, for having completely shifted to e-banking. No cutting of trees any longer to make cheque books and print statements. Now everything will be electronic. With ‘three tier robust security ensured by encryption and several password layers’. I fainted.

Sonal Kalra swears she can listen her computer going ‘bwaaaahaaa’ every time she enters a password. Which psychiatrist will take up her case? Will she need a password to pay?

Science suck all of us not always but sometimes !!!

Having completed  two years of my B. tech course most of my friends will surely consider me insane when I am the one saying so but most of you will get to know why I m saying so soon after reading this . After a deep retrospection I have concluded that many of the inventions of science has actually ruined our lives ,oh! wait The science lovers please don’t take it too personally, I beg. Whether it is about telephone ,mobile phones ,television , SMS, Facebook or on an advanced level of destruction all the nuclear weapons and missiles . Actually the fact is

The goal of Science and Engineering is to create better mousetraps where the goal of the nature is to make us better mouse

Telephones : Ok I understand that telephones were invented for building healthy  relations by bridging the gap between people being miles away but what about two people residing at a distance of 1/2 km. People residing at a distance of 1/2 km don’t even see each other for months and all thanks to telephone .

science-sucks

Mobile phones : I remember an incident when my friend came to my house where instead of pressing the door bell she opted  calling me for opening the door . Thanks to mobile phones that now girls have one more reason to worry about the sexual abuses  taking place . Imagine a gadget attached to you twenty-four hours as if it has become your body part.

 SMS : where SMS was a short message service it is no more like that. Judging someone’s emotional state through smileys present on SMS is like smelling a food and waiting for Domino to deliver a pizza .

 One recent piece of research shows that “periodically checking your e-mail lowers your cognitive performance level to that of a drunk.” I don’t understand then why the hell it was invented .

Facebook  : Ample credit goes to Facebook for unwrapping our privacy and impairing our social life. Now if a  person  goes for a movie instead of watching movie he/she updates the status sitting in a cinema hall .Yes off course through Facebook you have the ability to pry into those people social , and in some cases, their private lives. Earlier we used to wait eagerly to go on a vacation and discuss each and ever moment you enjoyed there with your friends and now around thousands of friends know in which restaurant you will be  having  dinner tonight .

Where science has played so much with the environment creating havoc the sad part is it is very much escapade in providing its cure . A recent example is flooding of Uttarakhand area . Even the helicopters which have been counted as one of the most important inventions of science were incapable in saving most of the people ultimately army men saved the struck people in that havoc.

“they predicted that the world is going to end on December 21 , where they can barely predict weather”

nuclear weapons and missiles : if we look into broader sense may be the inventors had an intention of destroying a country and encouraging terrorism while creating it .

 All the laws of thermodynamics , Newton, Einstein fails when it comes to the effects  these weapons cause on a human being or any living creature

I am not sure how clouds get formed. But the clouds know how to do it, and that is the important thing.”
No wonder science has made our lives extremely comfortable but in a long run it has made us its  slave leading us to live an artificial life . We cannot run away from science as it has done a lot of good things to us for sure but we can plan our schedule in such a way that we get enough time to breathe without stress of not texting someone or when we have missed out to put a status or when we haven’t received your friend’s call .
Selecting a day in  where you are away from  mobile phones, laptops, interne and television.
 Switching of your mobile phones and not using camera’s while we are on vacation.
 ” Some of these points will surely help us in giving us time to live life rather spending it and then science will not be a sucker anymore”.

A calmer you: an open letter to the cut-off list

My dear list, am not sure if I need to ask if you are doing well because we all know how high you stay most of the time. I’ve always wanted to ask you how it feels to have a name like ‘cut-off.’ Because, you know, in us humans, we have names that tend to have positive meanings, not ones that bring-in violent imagery in the head. Though it may just be interesting for some to be named such, like Terminator Chaddha, but let’s not take away your uniqueness.  Am sure you are aware of, and enjoying being in the news headlines these days. Who doesn’t want their very mention to create ripples? But do you know that most of us deeply dislike you for the immense stress you have been giving us over the years? You are the number one stress point right now for lakhs of students who are spending sleepless nights fearing you would come in the way of them getting admission into a college. You are not going to like it, but today I’m going to tell those students, and their equally anxious parents, to not give too much importance to you. Sorry, I know your ego will be hurt but then you stay so high, you can manage it! So here’s the deal..

A calmer you an open letter to the cut-off list

“Not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck”: Dalai Lama

1. There was life before you, and there is life beyond you: The parents who are today on the edge of their seats while their children ride the rollercoaster of college admission process would remember that there used to be no dreaded cut-off lists during their time. But there was still fierce competition… the world was still called cut-throat… and that all of them still managed to do something fairly good with their lives. Those parents today have the opportunity to give the best gift ever to their children — the faith that no matter how many admission lists don’t carry their name, something good is ultimately written in their destiny. It’s just a little far for them to see it right now and feel reassured. As I keep reminding, God has a plan for each and every one of us, and sometimes that’s all we need to know.

2. Disappointments are temporary: All of them. I know of a couple who was apparently severely disappointed when their son didn’t get admission in class nursery in the school they thought was the best. ‘Ek baar yeh ho jaata toh life set thi,’ is what his dad told my father at that time. Anyhow, the child got through in another school where he excelled in studies all through and got 91% in class XII board exams, 14 years later. ‘Bure nahi hain, but these days students are getting 95-96%’ is what his evidently disappointed mom said, when the result was announced. The boy studied like a maniac for engineering entrance but couldn’t clear the IIT exam. ‘Ek baar yeh ho jaata toh life set thi’, repeated the dad, after 15 years of uttering the same sentence. Anyhow, after doing engineering in a regional college and a couple of years of job hopping, the boy was recently hired by an IT giant that offered him a record-high salary package. ‘So, how is it going?’ I asked his beaming dad the other day. ‘Ekdum badiya. Life set hai,’ he replied. I wish he knew that life was set the day his son was born. Disappointments don’t stay for long. The way we feel about them today is not how we will feel about them a few years later. So, why let them bog us down?

students-cut-off

3. Success is never about the college… it’s about the person: It’s not really needed for research to say this but since some people believe a statement only when ‘scientific studies show’ precedes it, let me inform you that scientific studies the world over have shown that there is absolutely no correlation between which college a person studied in and his/her ultimate success in the career. And right now, I’m sticking to success, not even saying happiness, because there’s no correlation between these two either. When one reads about a student of IIT or AIIMS committing suicide because of depression, or highly ‘successful’ CEOs dying of stress induced cardiac arrests at the age of 40, you begin to wonder if we even know what we are aiming to achieve by being in this mad race of competition. Success doesn’t come from the name of the college written on your degree. Heck, if I’m not wrong, the college’s name is not even mentioned on the degree issued by a university. Success comes from how meaningfully you are utilising the knowledge gained from the classes you attended, no matter in whichever college building. At the end of the day, buildings are all that colleges are. Your success, and ultimately happiness, can only come from within you. Coming back to you my dear dreaded list, the walls on which you are so vainly stuck may differ from one college building to another, but the temporariness of your relevance remains unchanged. No matter how many colleges reject admission to a student because of you, he would remain the person that he was. You can make him anxious and take away his sleep for a night or two, but you can’t take away his destiny if he chooses to be successful and happy. That’s the permanence of our victory over you. Now get off our backs, please

Sonal Kalra changed three colleges in the first three months of taking admission. Because somehow she didn’t like their buildings enough.