Category Archives: Stress

Finding yourself again

Any kind of experience in life either comes as a blessing, or as a lesson. The breaking up of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, a family problem, or any such experience can be really harsh on you. Even day to day stress piles up to make you forget who you really are. And although you somehow deal with the situation at that time, the aftermath is much worse. It affects you much more than you think. You get stuck in a rut.


Denial and acceptance

How often do you feel like you’ve lost yourself? As if you don’t remember how you used to be, what you used to do, what you used to love? And if you haven’t realized it yet, you’re pretty far gone. The first step to getting out of this vicious circle, is accepting the fact that you are stuck in a rut.

The only way you can help yourself is by consciously making an effort. No fairy godmother is going to wave her magic wand and make all the bad things go away! It’s only you who can get yourself to be fine again. You can’t just sit there in denial, surrounded by your own negativity. You need to get out and fix yourself. See, other people will never really care about you. No, they won’t. They’ll show that they do, and some might genuinely care – but not for long. In the end, it’s you on your own.

Don’t procrastinate, but if you really want to, do something crazy instead

After acceptance, the next step is to prioritize things and get to work as soon as possible. Don’t procrastinate. Putting off work will only make you feel useless. If you really want to put off work, then get out and do something crazy and fun. Do something that you’ve always wanted to do but never got around to doing.

Venting your overloaded frustrations can only give way to a lighter and newer start. But don’t get ahead of yourself and do something that you might regret later. That would only ensure that your mission of getting out of this rut is never accomplished. So, keep in mind that you want to find yourself, not lose yourself again.

Change And Renewal

Change what you don’t like. Stick up for yourself and your standards, and don’t ever settle for less. Yes, you should always make an effort from your side to make things work, but it shouldn’t reach the extent of being dragged. When we reach a certain age and stage in life, we stop introducing any kind of “new” to our life. Maybe it’s comfortable to have that kind of steadiness but maybe that’s what the problem is.

Anything new – be it a habit, a hobby, haircut or anything at all, has the power to make you feel or experience something which you have never experienced before.  Just think about it – even trying out a new dish is good for you – because even if you don’t like it, you not only expanded your taste palate but also gained exposure to a whole new variety of food!

From a very optimistic point of view, anything new will always do you good in some way or the other. And it’s never too late to try something new! Trying out something new will give you a completely different insight about yourself.

So go ahead, get out of that rut and find yourself again.

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A Calmer You: say it once more and i’ll slap you

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If a mosquito annoys us, it’s okay to kill it. If the same rule applied to humans, some people would’ve travelled to heaven long back. Chalo yoga karte hain. Maine naya naya seekha hai. You know, while I’ve been learning to practice spiritual yoga and hence hoping for the various asanas to help calmness descend into my unusually chaotic mind, someone in my life is working overtime to ensure that I pay back to Yoga, by inventing a new asana or posture of my own. And I’ve dutifully done that.

This asana involves standing straight, looking into the eyes of the person in front of you, slowly raising your right hand and landing it on his or her left cheek in a swift motion. I call it chaantasana, or for the faaltu firangs among you who claim to not understand basic hindi — the slap asan. Advanced followers of this practice can also learn the second part of this posture that involves physically lifting the target and throwing them out of sight, but you need to build adequate stamina and strength to reach that stage. Trust me, I’ve dreamt about doing this aasan everyday with Chadha ji and the calmness it gets me is unmatched.
But the hero of today’s column is not Chadha ji. Today, I have no choice but to tell you about the person who prompted me to think of chaantasana in the first place. For reasons that involve peace of mind, I will not be able to tell you the name, nor will it be possible for me to reveal this person’s gender. So as weird as it sounds, let me address ‘it’ as ‘Idlu’. Idlu is someone I have to meet every now and then, and by all outwardly standards, Idlu can be safely categorised as a good human being. However, all that goodness of the heart takes a back seat when Idlu opens the mouth and starts to speak. Because whatever Idlu says, important or not, relevant or not, Idlu repeats at least five times. EVERYTHING. Here’s a sample conversation.
Idlu: ‘It’s really hot today,
isn’t it?’
Me: Hmm, it is.
Idlu: ‘Even the forecast says
it’s really hot.’
Me: oh, ok.
Idlu: ‘Vaise whether the weather forecast says or not, when it’s hot, it’s hot. No?’
Me: That’s so true.
Idlu: ‘It is indeed hot. I’ve been feeling it since morning. You?’
Me: Come here. I have to show you a new aasan.
Idlu: ‘Wahin se bata do. Don’t even feel like getting up. It’s so bloody hot. Hai ke nahi?’
My life is an eternal quest to avoid Idlu, but mostly I lose this battle. I don’t know about you, but according to me, it’s people who have the habit of repeating the same thing over and over again — and not junk food — which has to be the biggest cause of hypertension in the world.
These people are either madly in love with the sound of their own voice, or they take others to be complete idiots who will not get their point in the first attempt. And to make it worse, they mostly end their statements with a question, so you have no choice but to play this chalo-ek-hi-baat-baar-baar-bolte-hain game with them.  It’s like every bit of your mind is screaming ‘Shut up. I heard you the first ten times’ and throwing imaginary bricks at them, but you feel helpless.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips for People with Habit of Repeating what They say[/stextbox]

While chaantasana should ideally set things in order, mostly these people are not bad at heart, and could also be physically stronger than you, so you can’t really slap them as many times as they repeat the stuff they say. So here’s what you need to do if you have a parrot like Idlu in your life. By the way, let’s be clear that I’m not talking about elderly people who, because of age conditions, sometimes tend to repeat things without realising it. If you can’t respect that and be patient with them, it’s you who needs chaantasana. Got it?

1. Play their game…and beat them at it.: The next time someone like Idlu unleashes their ‘hai-ke-nahi’ fury at you, reply in the same coin. “Haan hai toh. Aur hoga kaise nahi? When there is something, it has to be there. No? Because if it isn’t there, then it has no existence. And existence depends on whether it’s there or not. Isn’t it? So if it is there, it has to be there. Hai ke nahi?” In other words, confuse kar kar ke maaro. I’m sorry I’m teaching you to take revenge, but I’ve realised that in life, some people do not get the message till it is spoken in their language. Isn’t it?

2. Learn to focus…elsewhere: Real meditation is not always to sit in a yogic posture with your eyes closed, stressing about how not to stress. Real meditation is when you go into a trance like state while an Idlu repeats itself ad nauseum. Plaster a dreamy look on your face, narrow your eyes, just log off your mind and think about the lush green meadows of Ireland, or the hot new chemistry teacher. Come back well in time to hear Idlu’s last sentence so that you can give some kind of a coherent reply.
In any case, the last sentence would be the same as the fifteen spoken before it. Also, it pays to keep a few vague queries handy, so that the other person does not suspect that you’ve been mentally away to Switzerland. So in between, keep saying totally irrelevant things like ‘really? or ‘yeh kaise’ or aahh, I see’. These are life-saving phrases that have absolutely no meaning but can keep a situation from becoming messy. Try them.

3. Tell them: I’m serious about this one, beech mein hasna mat please. Many a times, people who you really love and care for have an annoying habit they are not even aware of. They mean no harm, but may just be driving others mad with their behaviour. If you genuinely care for such a friend or family member, sit them down and in the most gentle way, tell them what’s annoying others around them. Make sure you say it in a way that makes it clear that it’s the habit that’s irritating, and not the person. Someday they’ll thank you for it.

By the way, if after reading this, you’ve realised that there’s a hidden Idlu in you, try and practice chaantasana on yourself. It’s way better done alone, than someone else doing it on you. Trust me.

Sonal Kalra wonders how people can keep repeating themselves. Is there any point in saying the same thing again and again? Koi point hai? There’s no point. Isn’t it.

Do You Know How To Trust Yourself?

I was FRUSTRATED and ANGRY and WORRIED. It was December 2010 and I was preparing for my ISC Boards. I was okay in practical subjects but hated theory ones and it seemed that I was not able to remember my theory lessons inspite of my best efforts and it all seemed a big void. Suddenly my Dad came from office and I blurted out my problem to him. He replied in his cryptic manner “YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO REMEMBER YOUR LESSONS TILL YOU TRY TO REMEMBER THEM”


I was aghast and shouted at him that what kind of answer is that? He smiled and said that I shall ask how it can be done instead of shouting at him like that. I suddenly felt ashamed as Dad is a natural Adviser and I have seen so many people seek his advice on so many matters. It led to the following conversation which changed my thinking forever;

 [stextbox id=”info”]”Human Brain is amazing. It functions 24 hours for 365 days. It functions right from the time we were born and only stops when we TAKE exam.” – Unknow Author.[/stextbox]

Me : How it is possible?

Dad: It definitely is. You read so many novels. If I ask you can tell each and everything about plot .

Me: Yes I can.

Dad: Did you try to remember each and everything when you were reading it?

Me: No

Dad: Then how have you remembered it? What is the difference between novels and you study books?

Me: Well……….(silent)

Dad: You remembered it because you made no effort to remember. You simply read it and it is there in your mind. But you are trying to remember your lessons and you seem to forget everything. Our brains are just like computers with frontal memory (RAM)is used for immediate and important tasks and rest of the info is shifted to back memory(HARD DISK)to be retrieved as and when needed. If you try to cram frontal memory with info it would go to back memory and you would feel you have forgotten it. But it is there.

Me: How can we retrieve it during exams ? What is the guarantee I will remember it?

Dad: (Smiling) You would definitely if you would let it by having trust that you would remember it by being relaxed and by reading your subjects at least twice without trying to remember it and by making notes preferably by hand to jog your memory. It will be there in your mind from back memory when you need it.

Me: You have got me confused. Now I cannot read without trying to remember and if your system doesn’t work I will be doomed.

Dad: Well, You attempt your Prelims on this system and if your marks are not OK then I will take the responsibility and You can switch back to your own System. No harm in trying.

Friends, I trusted my Dad’s advice and attempted my Prelims by simply reading the theory papers and not trying to remember anything. I was fully relaxed and responsibility being Dad’s I tried to do as he said. And I was surprised by my performance in prelims and I scored better marks in theory papers ,in fact better than practicals in one case. I was elated and thanked Dad for handing me the golden key of success in exams He again smiled that cryptic smile of his and said TRUST YOURSELF AND YOU CAN DO WONDERS.

Really a simple way to trust my ability, faculty and capability of my mind has given me a dream run of securing top grades in ISC Exams in 2011, CPT in June2011 and IPCC Both Groups in May2012.In fact we are nowadays taught to trust nobody resulting in our inability to trust ourselves and our abilities. In fact we don’t trust our friends, teachers, books and anything. Confusion reigns supreme and tension is the result not letting us remember in time what we know during exams when it most needed and remembering it afterwards when we are relaxed but the info is not needed.

Moreover the proliferation of computers has put paid to the habit of making NOTES by hand and it is a fact that writing notes with your hands create a far stronger flags in the brain than reading with your eyes because writing notes is infrequent activity and it helps remembering content once we start writing exams. I have put my CPT And IPCC NOTES and in the process of putting many more on my blog I would request my friends to jot it down in their own way using the body of notes for their further reference and to use them during exams to revise their course.

I hope my fellow friends will trust me and try out the system to gain better understanding and higher success as I have achieved. Till then CIAO.

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A calmer you: The world is a stage, or is it?

On stage or off it, you just need to be yourself, and no one else. That’s all that matters. Chaddha ji’s son wrote me a mail saying he has a problem. I wanted to reply back saying that after being born as the son of one, he shouldn’t have a problem with problems anymore. But then, you know, I studied moral science in school. And we were told not to be impolite to people. Thankfully it didn’t say anything about not poking fun at them in a national daily. Anyway, Santoor wanted a solution to what’s worrying him. Okay fine, Santoor is not his real name but the day Chaddha ji named his first born Bansuri, I decided to not pay attention to the real names of any of his many children, and have a little fun of my own. Please allow me now to focus on Santoor’s worry.


“Please help me, Di. I have to give a speech in my college fest and I am soooo nervous about being on stage.” My perplexity at being addressed as Princess Diana lasted exactly five seconds before I recollected that Di is young peoples’ way of saving that extra second that goes waste in saying the good ol’ ‘didi’. Hope they spend all these extra seconds thus saved on charitable causes but looks unlikely since they seem to be spending time in adding extra o’s, just as in the ‘sooooo nervous’ bit. Anyway, what Violin is going through is nothing new. I’ve written about this stress before but clearly he believes more in writing to me than reading me. So taking it up again just for Guitar Chaddha and all those who get nervous butterflies fluttering in the stomach when they have to be on stage.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips on How to Deal with Stage Fright[/stextbox]

1. It’s OKAY to have stage fright: Everyone from Winston Churchill to Obama, and Mahatma Gandhi to Rahul Gandhi have had it. Stage fright is one of the most common fears people have, and you first need to remember that it’s absolutely okay to feel a bit jittery before addressing a large gathering. However, having a fear is not as important as deciding what you need to do about it, and whether you need to do anything about it or not. I would opt for the latter. In my rather short life span (C’mon, don’t roll your eyes so much, kisi din upar hi reh jayengi!), I have been on stage hundreds of times, and the butterflies in the tummy still refuse to leave. The only positive thing is that at some point, I decided to accept this fear rather than fight it. That helps in shifting the focus from trying to avoid being on stage to having fun with that fear while you are at it.
2. Know your importance: Dekho, there is a reason why you are on stage and no one from the audience is. That fact itself should keep you from worrying how the audience will judge you. They can’t, especially at that moment, because they were clearly not good enough to be where you are. So, stop bothering about what they will think if you fumble. It’s so easy to laugh at a speaker while sitting in the audience, it is so tough to be in that speaker’s position. Always remember that you have chosen to do the tougher thing, and that better make you proud of yourself.

 [stextbox id=”black”]“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” –Dale Carnegie[/stextbox]

3. Practice well: One thing that never fails, especially when it comes to public speaking, is practice. Without making it a big issue and telling everyone from the postman to your best friend about how nervous you are, just stand in front of the bathroom mirror and rehearse what you are going to say. That really, really helps. And hey, don’t bother Google baba for too many tips to deal with it. I tried. Google equates stage fright with ‘performance anxiety’ and kind of websites that are likely to pop up on your screen will either make you verry calm or will get you thrown out of the house. Don’t risk it.
4. Look out for positive faces: Somehow I’m stumped by our strange fascination with the negatives in life. So much so that most speakers end up looking at that one person in the audience whose girlfriend probably nagged him all night and he’s now yawning @ 5 times per minute. And then the roller coaster of negativity begins and you think the audience are getting bored or irritated. That adds to the nervousness like nothing else does. Arrey yaar, in even the most pathetic audience, there’s always a friendly, smiling face. Please look for it. And look at it. The moment you start to interact with just that one person, every face in the audience starts to seem positive. I remember once in school while I had to deliver a speech, I asked a close friend to sit in the second row, and smile and nod so that I could just look at her and feel confident. It’s another thing that she took her responsibility of being the best friend too seriously and changed that smile to the most idiotic grin in the world. I hence became the only speaker that evening who was laughing while explaining how global warming is going to kill all of us in thirty years. Please remind me to write next week’s column on how to choose sensible friends.
5. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes: Our biggest worry, when on stage, is what will happen if we’ll forget, or stammer or fumble. Just remember two things. Firstly, one-third of the audience is mostly busy thinking about when the event will get over and they’ll get to leave. So they’re not really listening well enough to even spot any fumbles. One-third of the audience is busy texting the whole world and its uncle on the silent mobile monsters in their hands. And the rest one-third that’s actually listening to you is doing so because they are genuinely interested. They will not laugh if you’ll make a mistake. They’ll only love you more if you’ll come across as a normal human being who can fumble, rather than a ratta machine who’s reading from a paper or throwing mugged-up words without even looking at them.

Go for it with confidence, Saxophone Chaddha. Despite the limitations of progeny, I know you’ll rock it. On stage or off it, you just need to be yourself, and no one else. That’s all that matters in life.

Sonal Kalra just read up on the stress of performance anxiety and realised that stage fright is no stress at all, compared to the other fumbles in life. Thank God for small mercies, Santoor!

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What do you want to be when you grow up?

The month of June sees quite a few fires in our country. Everywhere I turn, I see firemen and firewomen. No, not the kinds that bravely save our lives from flames, but those who believe in starting a fire. I know of many such fire-aunties and uncles. They go to a neighbour or relative’s house, ask the teenaged child about his marks and what course he wants to pursue, prod the parents on why aren’t they trying for a more popular alternative, and lo, ignite the spark for an argument. Chai pee, aag lagayi aur chal diye. That’s what is happening these days in your home too, nah? Bolo, bolo, sach bolo.


More than half the letters I get from readers in this month are about problems like ‘my parents want me to become an aaloo chat vendor but I wish to do my bachelors in jalebi making.’ Alright, replace aaloo chat and jalebi with engineering, CA, law etc. Khush bhi nahi hone dete.

Anyway, I do understand that decisions about career and higher studies are critical and all that but I can’t get my head around parents forcing kids to take up courses of their choice. Neither do I understand why kids have become so edgy that they sometimes refuse to see reason.

I’ve done a thorough research on this inherent conflict in East European laboratories and have come to a definitive conclusion. The root cause of this problem is a seemingly innocuous question we start asking kids when they can barely utter mama, papa and susu. ‘Beta, what do you want to be when you grow up?’
Now, at that age, with limited exposure and vocabulary, with tonnes of pressure from adults expectedly waiting for an answer, coupled with that of trying to not pee in the pants, the child says ‘doctor’ or ‘policeman’ or ‘pilot’ etc. You see he can’t answer ‘tonsorial artist’ or ‘hemorrhoid cream researcher’ even though these too are perfectly lovely occupations.

Okay, maybe not the hemorrhoid cream one, but surely the former, which is just another name for a hairstylist. Anyway, by the time the child grows up and gets exposed to a whole lot of choices, he has uttered ‘doctor’, ‘engineer’ and ‘CA’ so many times that he’s thoroughly confused about whether he’s now going back on his original promise of making his folks proud.

Parents, in the meantime, have their own hassles of how to explain it to their ‘circle’ why their son or daughter, who could have easily made it to the cut-off of a good professional institute, says they want to be a writer. Suddenly, the good marks become a devil’s sword hanging on the child, as they start dictating the career path, rather than the child’s own flair.

I know a couple whose son always got cent percent marks in mathematics. From the age of 11, that child heard his parents telling the world that they will make him a chartered accountant, because he’s ‘so good at math’.

Today that boy is 17, is immensely passionate about photography and dislikes accountancy and taxes with equal passion. But he continues to live under the curse of having got good marks in math all through, because that has limited his parents’ thinking enough to force him to enroll in a CA program. ‘Is se toh naa aate achhe marks,’ he told me last week. ‘Show 3 Idiots to your parents,’ I joked, but I knew reality of life is sometimes very different from films. Here’s my two bits of wisdom on the topic, it may just help someone.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips for Career Related Stress[/stextbox]

1.Mutual decision:

 I know a lot of youngsters reading this want me to suggest that parents should leave them alone to make their own choices but I’m afraid I can’t say this. For one, the promised amount for writing this has yet not reached my account, and two, I look forward to a better way of dying than being killed by some stranger’s angry dad.

Jokes apart, while every child has the right to craft his or her own destiny, it is also their duty to understand why the parents are insisting on something. Because as I’ve written previously in this column, if there is one entity in this world that you can blindly trust for wanting nothing but your good, it’s your parents.

The least you can do is listen to their argument without throwing a fit and explain your choices to them in a rational and calm way. The same goes for the parents. Convince or get convinced. Simple. If either the parents are sulking, or the child is forcefully dragging her feet through a course she can’t stand, it’s an unhappy situation. And life’s too short to stay unhappy, my friend. Chalo, ek dialogue to maar hi diya!

2.Not irreversible:

Sometimes you need to try something out to decide how much you hate it. Because there’s always a chance that you may start liking it. Foolish are those who make their career decisions based on what they’ve heard about the course from their friends. Because much like fingerprints that are unique to everyone, how your mind will react to a subject when you get into its depth is also unique just to you.
But if your heart is clearly telling you that it’s a mistake, don’t think much before reversing it. I don’t know why we make a big deal out of 1-2 years wasted in figuring out that a course wasn’t right for us. In the larger scheme of life, those two years won’t matter one bit. But before you take a bold step, ask yourself an honest question. ‘Will I ever regret this? Go ahead only when your heart… and mind, answers, ‘Never. No matter what.’


3. Finally, de-link subjects from career:

It’s not written in stone that if you are a qualified engineer, you can’t become a writer, painter or aaloo chaat vendor. Give your best to whatever course you are pursuing, and then give your best to whatever you wish to do after studies are complete. Half of our national cricket team comprised of engineers at one point.

Did you know that actor John Abraham is an MBA and Ritesh Deshmukh is a qualified architect. Your degrees shouldn’t be road-blocks in life, they should be facilitators in helping you make intelligent choices. Go on, make yours.
Sonal Kalra went through Bachelors in Economics and Masters in Management before discovering her flair for weird-writing. She doesn’t regret it. Her readers do.

So whose cat is out of the bag?

I’m writing this in a very angry mood. Achha bhala socha tha (I had very well thought), of funny topics to write about this week and suddenly this stupid CAT jumped out of the bag and spoilt so many peoples’ moods. A lot of you have written to me about how unhappy and disappointed you — and those who claim to love you but actually love how well you do in a test— are with your scores in the MBA entrance exam.

Well, sorry to note that you are sad but there is nothing I have to say to you. Simply nothing. I’ve got tired of writing, several times in this column itself, about how I have little faith in the very concept of examinations —of any kind— as a measure of how well your life will turn out to be. Because, believe me, for every disappointed person who perhaps flunked some hi-fi exam, there are three ‘successful and yet depressed’ people waiting for their turn on the shrink’s couch. So if you still insist on making exam results or admissions as your index for happiness and self-worth in life, you deserve the misery.


Anyway, as I said, today’s column is not for students who gave the exam and did or didn’t score well. It’s not even for their parents who are either distributing sweets or avoiding relatives, depending on the results. Today’s column is for an entity called log or ‘people’, as they are the root cause of many a heartburn. “Sab ‘log’ result poochh rahe hain (everyone is asking the result), and I feel like crying,” writes Trisha, going into a long account of how she’s avoiding family functions because everyone would ask her how she did in the exam. These log comprise you and me — relatives, neighbours, colleagues — people who have no direct bearing on someone’s exam results but knowingly or unknowingly make their lives hell by showing interest in it.
Sir, koi kaam nahi hai aapke paas? (don’t you have any work) How can you not realise that your stupid, and mostly fake, interest, in someone’s life may rob them of their moments of happiness in the best age of their lives. Here, I want you to look into my eyes and take the following three pledges with me. Trust me, if you follow these, today someone else’s child will thank you silently and someday your own will love you for it.

 [stextbox id=”info”]Pledge 1: I’ll never ask anyone how they did in exams[/stextbox]

If someone wants to share the good/bad news of their exam result with you, they’ll do it anyway. Please don’t be under the impression that by remembering to ask what percentage someone’s son or daughter scored, you are showing that you care about them. Bull.Shit. You couldn’t care less about their percentile or whatever it’s called, but so often there’s no other topic of conversation, so the moment you meet the offspring of a relative you may not even have met in years, you shoot off typical questions like: kaunsi class mein padte ho? (In which class do you study) Oh you have board exams this year…hmmm…that’s serious (as if it’s a disease), exams over? result aa gaya? kaisa raha? (is the result out? how was it?)
In all probability, you will forget what they answered before you finish off your next gulab-jamun, but unknowingly, you may have touched somebody’s raw nerve and made a young boy or girl experience some anxious moments while answering your questions. Admit it. You don’t give a damn if they scored 62 percent or 82 percent or 102 percent (that day might also come at the rate things are going). You just asked for the heck of it.

Koi aur topic nahi hai?
(is there no other topic) Talk about their interests, something nice that they are wearing, something as silly as the weather…any damn thing. It need not always be related to their studies. Believe me, helping someone be relaxed and at-ease in a conversation is the biggest virtue. Adopt it.

 [stextbox id=”info”]Pledge 2: I will not be an uninvited career-counsellor[/stextbox]

Since advising is our national hobby, I can’t tell you not to indulge into it sometimes, but please keep a healthy check on it, if possible. For some strange reason, a lot of people derive pleasure in believing that they are most qualified to tell someone what to do with their life. But at least wait till someone asks you. In most households, there are differences of opinion between parents and teenagers about what course or career choice to pursue. Aise mein, some guests try and take sides with either of them just to score points.
Adding fuel to someone’s fire will not fetch you anything, my friend. If there is a genuine insight you can contribute in helping someone reach a decision, please do. But don’t make vague statements like ‘Engineering kar lo. Wahi best hai,’ (do engineering. That’s the best) when the poor guy may be at war with his folks as he wants to be a musician.
Remember, every word we casually utter adds to an unsaid pressure on the mind of someone who is going through a phase of confusion and turmoil. Don’t make it worse for them.

 [stextbox id=”info”]Pledge 3: I will know when to shut-up[/stextbox]

I’ve been told that this column has a huge readership. In so many followers, I’m sure there is someone who knows someone higher up in our central board of education. Mujhe ek sifaarish lagwaani hai (I want to give one suggestion). I want to pitch that at the elementary level, every Indian is made to compulsorily undertake a course on ‘when to shut-up’. Seriously. We’ll become a developed nation…or at least a happier nation, if we get this one thing firmly in our heads.
Koi sunta hi nahi (No one listens), everyone’s busy giving an opinion. All.The.Time. In the context of today’s topic, if we are at least observant enough to notice the moment when our interest in someone’s exam results turns them uncomfortable, and stop pursuing that line of discussion, we would attain nirvana. I’m sick of people who get so absorbed in listening to their own voice that they become insensitive to their audiences’ feelings. The next time you ignore the evident body language of a young child who is not comfortable giving you the subject wise break-up of his/her marks in front of the entire clan, I will personally pay the under-world and take out your supari.
Be sensitive, yaar. Did you enjoy discussing your report card with near strangers when you were a student? I’m sure not. (Are you saying ‘yes’ because you topped every exam?….what a scum you are).
Don’t ever do anything that made you nervous and uncomfortable while growing up, to another person’s child. Never to yours too!
Sonal Kalra takes the pledge of never writing about exam results again. Whether your Cat ever jumps out of the bag or not, is not her business.

Stress: Here’s what you can do to relax

Stress is the human mind’s response to physical, mental or emotional demands. When an actual or perceived challenge is sensed, the nervous system releases various hormones including adrenaline and cortisol to prepare the body to deal with the demand. These hormones increase the heart rate, raise blood pressure, make muscles clench, and heighten sensory perception. These help the body to focus on the problem at hand to find solutions or countermeasures. One important point to note is that the hormone release happens even if the challenge is not real, but only imagined. Some stress is good for the person and can act as the motivator to excel at what he is doing. For example, in creative people like artistes and musicians, some level of stress helps improve their performance from average to outstanding, likewise in competitive sports and even in business executives.


Continual stress is however harmful both for the mind and the body. Many people feel stress from even everyday events like traffic congestion, inability to get through on a phone call or even a delayed cup of coffee. This stress results in various physiological problems. Some can be transient like irritability or anger, but others can be more sustained like inability to sleep, nausea and indigestion, muscular aches and pain. The human reaction to such stress could take various forms like hitting out at other people or breaking things or in alcohol or tobacco abuse, binge eating etc., which lead to actual harm to the human body. In extreme cases, clinical depression has been caused by continual stress. Chronic stress also causes impact beyond the environment where it occurred. For example, workplace related stress is carried home into the family and stresses from the home front impact work performance.

The major concern with stress is that the continual release of hormones can become addictive so that the person actively seeks stressful situations. For example, even when the traffic is flowing, a stress seeking driver will change lanes and jump traffic lights. In meetings or discussions, the stress-addict would take an antagonistic stand to provoke an argument.

The first step in managing stress is to recognize the symptoms. The first important indicator is the human body itself. The first quick indicator is the breathing pattern. Any departure from normal is indicative of stress. Similarly, the clenching of hands or jaw muscles, rigidity of shoulders or arms indicates stress. Once the person recognizes the signals, it is possible to find the means to relax. For example, if the breath is rapid and shallow, you can pause and slow the breathing to a more normal cadence. If the hands or shoulders are clenched, you could consciously relax them and so on. The very process of checking for stress helps dissipate some of it.

Once stress symptoms are identified, it is possible to develop habits to avoid stress situations. To begin the process, it is good to write down each day, the events that led to the symptoms of stress. For example, if it is traffic, whether one can start early, take a different route or even if the time can be used productively to listen to music or play an audio-book. If it is work pressure, whether some tasks could be deferred. It is also important to realize that all events cannot be controlled, and many have to be accepted as they happen.
The following relaxation methods are known to work in overcoming stress.

[stextbox id=”info”]Relaxation Tips to Beat Stress[/stextbox]

Below are some of the great tips to relax and beat day to day stress.

Deep breathing – Relaxation Tips to Beat Stress

Deep breathing is fundamental to various relaxation exercises. The breathing has to be from the abdomen. When the breath is drawn in, the stomach should rise. Exhalation should be through the mouth and prolonged to expel all air. Both inhaling and exhaling should be slow and controlled. Typically, the person is asked to count slowly to six both for inhaling and exhaling. This focus on deep breathing not just increases the oxygen intake to the body but also focuses the mind on the act of breathing and avoids other thoughts, including the event that caused the stress.

Progressive muscle relaxation

This is another good way to reduce stress. Adopt a comfortable posture and take deep breaths to relax the body. Start with, say, the right foot. For about ten seconds, tense and relax the foot focusing all your attention only on that foot and its sensations. Thereafter, work on the ankle, then the calf and the knee and so on each part of the body. This muscle relaxation exercise done at least once a day, is a good stress-busting technique.

Meditating on the body

This can follow the muscle relaxation process described above. In this exercise, no muscles are tensed or relaxed but only the mind is focused on each limb in turn for a minute or two. Starting, say, with the same right foot, the mind focuses on the sensations in the foot without any attempt to modify or change what is felt. This process is followed in turn for each body segment. This practice is also established as a good stress avoidance exercise.

Focusing the mind on the present

The human mind is constantly switching from reliving past events and worrying about imagined future events. This is one reason for stress. In this exercise, sometimes called mindfulness, an effort is made to keep the mind focused on the present instant. To help in this, an artifact like a candle or the thumb or a religious picture or icon can be used. The mind is focused on the object and all other thoughts are consciously avoided. This practice can also be done, for example, when walking or jogging. The attention is focused on the footfalls and the breath to the exclusion of other thoughts.

Yoga and Tai-chi

Both Yoga and Tai-chi depend on controlled movements of the body in consonance with breathing. Practice of these ancient exercise forms are also known to be effective stress management methods.

In conclusion, it is important to recognize that continual stress can harm the human body and mind. To avoid stress, the first step is to identify the causes and to think of ways to avoid being affected. Mind and body relaxation techniques help overcome susceptibility to stress.

Above is a guest post by Alia Haley who is a blogger by profession and currently she is writing for Fisher Price Toys for Toddlers.

So your friend is gay? Big deal!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

1 No drama, please:

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

2 Don’t let it bother you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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