Tag Archives: A Calmer You Column

Wanted: A doc, not havoc. Of all people, doctors can’t add to our stress.

If you think I’m again going to irritate you by talking about my bout of dengue, then…then…then you are so right. How perceptive of you, no? And so shameful. Beemar bande ka mazaak udaate ho? Everyone I know knows someone who is sick right now. Ab Kejriwal ke raj mein toh we might even start getting special cough-leave per month, even though he seems to have found a surgical cure for his. By the way, sick-talk also has its etiquettes.

calmness-tips-for-doctors-sonal-kalra

Watch the below video for the complete column;

Today's Viral Video - Must Watch & Share. Subscribe to My YouTube Channel.

All for the two blue ticks from hell

Today's Viral Video - Must Watch & Share. Subscribe to My YouTube Channel.

Chalo ji, ek naya syapa start ho gaya hai. C’mon, you don’t know ‘syapa’? Okay. My dear body-in-Bhogal-but-mind-in-Berkeley friend, a nightmare has begun, bro! I had gone blue in the face telling everyone that the colour blue would someday ring a death bell for all of us, but no one believed me. Now, it has taken a firang tech company to make you all go, ‘Holy Sh**, what is this?’

Yeah, yeah, I’m referring to nothing but the two blue marks from hell, the ones that indicate that you’ve actually read someone’s whatsapp message on your phone. Till now you were in a state of bliss, you had quit Blackberry because of the wretched ‘R’ (for read) that would replace the less feared ‘D’ (for delivered) in a second, moved to Whatsapp because over here, the two grey ticks could only ­indicate that a message had been delivered to your phone, but not necessarily read by you…so life was all cool. Your boyfriend/­girlfriend was back to being in love with you, your boss was all understanding, your wife didn’t turn into a Durga avatar every now and then, your parents didn’t freak out all so often. Then suddenly, the grey turned to blue. And chaos descended.

whatsapp-blue-ticks

Don’t Let the Whatsapps Blue Ticks Make You Stressed.

All the ‘I love you baby’ is soon going to turn into ‘Are you ­ignoring me? You read my ­message two hours back. Am I not important for you anymore?’ You’d no longer be able to tell the monster boss that the urgent mail he asked for got sent four hours later because you had missed reading his instructions on Whatsapp. Chat group ke har stupid forwarded joke pe nakli ka LOL karna padega…uff.  There’s panic in the air. Dil se bad dua nikal rahi hai. Morons. Don’t they have any worthwhile ­innovations to spend their ­creative genius on? Maybe not. But, now that the stress is here, can the calmness tips be far behind?

1. Take a deep breath

Inhale from one nostril and exhale from the other. Sorry, I know this has nothing to do with Whatsapp. Style maarne ke liye tha. You see, any advice on ­calmness that starts with deep breathing has a greater ­acceptability, internationally. Coming back to the point, before the two blue ticks give you a ­nervous breakdown, allow me to take your memory back to ­another epidemic that had struck our Whatsapp universe not so long ago.sonal-kalra-a-calmer-you-column

Remember the ­life-threatening disease called ‘last seen at…’? Millions died of it, countless relationships were buried in mass graves amid shouting matches. The doctors worked relentlessly on finding a cure. All of us, for once, left cast, creed, religion, nationality, behind and  prayed. Together, we found the solution, and the option to switch off the ‘last seen’ stamp magically appeared in the privacy settings. We just need to have faith in life.

For those in tearing hurry, there’s always the cheat-route of ­switching off your internet ­connectivity, reading the ­­message, and then switching it on without clicking on the ­specific Whatsapp message. For others, the net gurus and ­spiritual tech babas will soon start posting solutions on the forums. Vishwaas rakhein, kripa aayegi.

2. Ignore if you must

You know what, the biggest problem is that most of us ­mistake being ‘online’ as ‘being available to chat’. These are two different things. The invention of all these messenger services and free chat applications does not mean that a sword is now hung on your head that you have to respond to each and every message anyone decides to push your way. And NO, it’s not rude to not reply immediately even after you’ve evidently read a ­message, because the other ­person sent it out knowing their own convenience and situation, not yours. It’s the same mistake that people make ever since mobile phones came into our lives.

If the phone rings, most people immediately pause ­whatever they are doing — ­having a meal, listening to music, watching a film, talking face-to-face with someone – and receive the call. It’s like an ­obligation for us to give priority to a phone call, because someone invented an instrument that we carry everywhere in our hands. Well, that someone did it for good reasons, not to add to the stress in your life and make you a slave of perceptions about what the caller will think if you won’t respond to a call or message right away.

Unless it’s an ­emergency, you always have the right to decide when to respond to someone reaching out to you. Don’t turn every chat-ping into an emergency. You paid for your cellphone, remember? And don’t let your friends give you grief about not responding ­immediately to their every ­message even after reading it. If they are friends, they would respect your value for your time and know that your bond with them is beyond the two blue ticks.

3. For the sender

This one’s for those of you whose messages will be read but still the other person would not reply. You know what, it’s OKAY. Please don’t be a hyper-sensitive drama queen and rush into drawing meaning out of every ­unresponded chat message. The other person might just be ­genuinely caught up with ­something and might want to reply at peace and not for the heck of it, in a hurry.

Do ­remember that in life, if someone really wanted to ignore you, they would not wait for a chat feature to indicate it. Your gut would tell you. So, don’t let your sensitivity pressure your friends into ­finding out ways to evade your messages. It’s stressful for them, it’s stressful for you, too, to keep waiting. The moment it starts to bug you that your pings are not getting replied to, don’t drive  yourself crazy to check the phone. Just chuck the phone. Go for a nice walk. And yeah, take a deep breath. Inhale from one ­nostril and exhale from the other. Whatever.

Sonal Kalra can never aspire to become a brand ambassador for technology. Maybe cellphone companies would pay her someday to quit writing.

A Calmer You: So, are you a shakki partner?

Today’s relationships: you can touch each other but not each others’ phones. Can’t help it ma’am’… is how Suvir describes his behaviour to me in an email. In reference to how he can’t help but doubt his girlfriend’s loyalty, every now and then. It wasn’t Suvir, by the way, who got in touch with me to begin with. It was his girlfriend who’s a regular reader of the column, and wrote to me asking for calmness tips on overcoming a bitter breakup.

Breakups don’t catch my attention, as you know, but the reason here did. ‘I found him checking my phone when I was in the loo,’ she wrote. ‘I’m sick and tired of telling him that I’m not cheating on him. He still gets these pangs of suspicion. It was suffocating to be spied upon like this,’ she wrote, marking a copy of the email to Suvir. Fair enough, girl. It is indeed suffocating to be mistrusted by your partner or spouse. But curious as I was to know why someone would risk jeopardising a good relationship by being overly suspicious, I wrote back to them. Here’s what Suvir had to say. ‘I know I’m behaving crazy but I’m paranoid. The thought that she may be seeing someone else when she’s not with me drives me mad. What makes it worse is her reluctance to reveal her phone or email password to me. I won’t go around reading her mails, but the thought that she refuses, puts one hell of a doubt in my head. When I’m ready to share my passwords with her, why can’t she do the same to put me at ease? I feel so terribly stressed.’

A Calmer You So, are you a shakki partner

Sad, isn’t it? No, I’m not talking about his girlfriend’s situation. It’s of course unfortunate to be stuck with a partner who doubts your loyalty, but imagine how traumatic it must also be for the person who’s constantly agonised by suspicious thoughts, the ones that are known to eat you from inside. So while there’ll be several shoulders for Suvir’s girlfriend to cry on, since her perspective is obviously in the clear, I want to extend mine to Suvir today, and analyse his stress. Let’s look at how to come to terms with the incessant urge to suspect your partner…

1. Accept the problem: This may make me sound arrogant, but I refuse to advise people who are not ready to believe that they have a problem. Bahot time waste hota hai, with people who don’t listen with an open mind and think that their viewpoint is always the valid one. Maybe it is so sometimes, but at least open up to the possibility that it isn’t. If you are constantly jealous and suspicious of your partner, irrespective of the gender, and always try to justify it by saying that you do it only because you love them, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. Admit it. There’s a difference between pretending to be playfully possessive of your partner in front of friends, and creating fake Facebook accounts and sending a friend request to your boyfriend. If most of your free time goes in thinking about why he/she was online on WhatsApp late at night, and those thoughts become the cause of a majority of your fights, you, my dear, need to do something about it sooner than you think.

2. Take the suspicion test: Ask yourself these questions each time you suffer from an uncontrollable bout of jealousy or doubt about your partner and are unsure if it is the right thing to do…
a) Am I being guided by the present or the past?: In a surprising majority of cases, people doubt their current partners because they are scarred by a previous relationship where someone cheated on them. It’s natural. It’s still not justified. A lingering pain from the past can keep you from objectively looking at your partner’s completely harmless action. Do remember that if someone broke your trust in the past, it’s precisely why you aren’t with them today. The matter ended there. It wasn’t the doing of your present partner. Do not make them suffer for someone else’s faults. Stop living in the past… God’s already made the correction here, hasn’t He?
b) Am I reacting or responding? : There’s a big difference between the two. You react to emotions, you respond to facts. Getting into a heated argument with your husband on seeing a girl’s SMS on his phone is a reaction. A knee-jerk at that. Try asking him first — politely — on what it’s all about. And be open to trusting his answer. If you still find him evasive, maybe it’s justified arguing it any further. Otherwise you would have just wasted a few moments you and your partner could have spent in saying, or doing, something nice!
c) Am I insecure? : In most cases, it is a deep sense of insecurity that makes people throw a suspicious fit. Stop thinking that you aren’t good enough for your partner. People are smarter than you think. We may keep talking about love at first sight and some such blah but deep inside, everyone analyses a potential partner before diving into a relationship. Your partner hasn’t got into it blindfolded. He or she found you good enough, and if at some point they don’t, your jealousy is not gonna make them stay. So stop this self-bashing and feel good about yourself. Only then someone else will.

3. Is it worth it? : One of the easiest but the worst thing we often do in a relationship is shove the obvious signs that something’s wrong, under the carpet. We prefer to live in denial, only because we aren’t brave enough to face the repercussions. If you find yourself in a relationship where your partner’s actions are leading to a fight almost everyday, be it an affair or marriage, think about whether it’s worth being in it. I know, I know, you are itching to give me gyaan on how it’s easier said than done, how it’s practically not feasible etc. But being miserable yourself and making another person miserable in the name of practical feasibility is no genius act either. Base your decision to stay in a relationship on facts, not suspicion. On evidence, not instincts. On happiness, not fear. And then if the logical thing is to move away, so be it.

Sonal Kalra showed this writeup to a colleague and he called it useless. Instead, give practical tips to hack into your girlfriend’s phone without getting caught, he said.

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: Some people just WON’T GROW UP!

If I could catch hold of the word ‘cute’, I would beat it up with a hammer. When it comes to weird people, there are several varieties in this world. But talk about so-weird-they-make-you-feel-like-jumping-in-front-of-a-train, and the list may not be that long. Prominent in that list of mine are childish adults. Childish to the point of exhibiting an unrecognised trait of dementia, which, I’m certain, will some day make it to the list of medically untreatable imbecilities.

The reference to the train is because I happened to see one such CA (childish adult; No, the chartered accountants can’t sue me, they are all busy filing some return of the dragon or something), when I happened to travel by the Delhi metro recently. There was a guy in the compartment, with his CA girlfriend who was driving him, and everyone else, nuts with her kiddy-talk. ‘No, no, no.. I told you I want to travel in the pink coach. Pink is so cute,’ the 20-something-girl said, stomping her foot thrice. My eyes widened at this unabashed display of utter horror. ‘But pink coach is only for women. We’ll have to travel in different coaches,’ reasoned her boyfriend. ‘Toh? Mein tele chhe phone pe baat talungi nah,’ (So? I will talk to you on the phone) she replied, actually mimicking a 2-year-old’s voice, complete with a hand gesture of talking on phone.

A calmer you Some people just WONT GROW UP

I glared at her boyfriend with a look that screamed ‘Slap her, slap her right now.’ But the poor thing looked as helpless as everyone around them were amused. And then, as their destination was about to arrive, this girl suddenly crossed her arms, refused to get down, and with a fake-pout, declared ‘you don’t love me’ to the hapless guy. I swear I involuntarily moved an inch and a half towards her, contemplating where to dispose off the body if I kill her. But then visions of Sridevi in Sadma and the possibility of the drama queen actually suffering from some disorder stopped me. But I still feel all that she was challenged of was sensible, mature behaviour. Anyway, itni lambi kahaani ka point is that some people forget that they are supposed to grow up with their age, and turn into the highly irritating breed of CAs. Here’s how to recognise them

1. Tantrum throwers: A behavioural trait that should have ended when they were five continues even when they are 45 – throwing tantrums when things don’t happen the way they want. Even at workplace, you may have seen calm, rational looking adults sometimes act very juvenile in situations. Much like a toddler refusing to eat green vegetables, they would refuse to see logic in an argument and won’t budge from their position.

The same could happen if you are in a relationship with a CA. Your partner would suddenly sulk for days, without telling you the reason, or behave in a really immature way when something upsets him or her. The best way to deal with tantrum throwers is actually to not deal with them at all. If you pay attention to a tantrum, it only grows. Leave them to sort it out and make it clear that you will entertain only rational behaviour.

2. Cutie pies: If I could catch hold of the word ‘cute’, I would beat it up with a hammer. Such a misused expression, I tell you. Because most CAs of the world try and get away with obnoxious behaviour hiding under this one expression. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t endorse people who are gloomy and serious all the time in the name of acting mature. To a certain extent, it’s very important to bring out the child in you. But if that child refuses to go back, then my dear, you have problem.

I know of a girl nearing 30 who speaks, dresses and behaves like a 6-year-old a majority of the time. Maybe when she initiated this behaviour, someone called her ‘cute’. Her computer’s wallpaper has two furry ‘cute’ cats, her T-shirts have cute puppies on them and her wallet has poor Snow White dangling from the chain. Anyway, all that is her personal choice. But the trouble is that she brings this inner child to work with her. And doesn’t even realise that she may be a subject of mockery because of this. My advice: curb the cute, bring out the sensible — most of the times. If you manage to do that and the cute comes out only occasionally, people would genuinely find you endearing, rather than going all ‘awww, how chweet’ on your face and throwing up when you turn around.

3. Cry-babies: These people may not actually cry, but their behaviour sure makes others feel like it. I know this guy who has whined close to 98% of his living time on this planet. Always cribbing, always complaining. He must be in his 30s but does the noble task of reminding me of all the small children of this world, the moment he opens his mouth. Right from the weather being too hot to the girlfriend not being hot enough, his life seems like a big mess. Well, it’s actually not. To anyone else, he’s had it going pretty good and life’s treated him with kid-gloves. Kid-gloves? Oh damn, that may have been the problem.

Net, net, here’s the deal for all the CAs out there. Life’s not to be taken too seriously, but neither so non-seriously that you make a joke of yourself. All the baby-talk, pouting, sulking will work only when done in moderation, and maybe in private. But beyond a point, it’s not funny. It’s rather icky to people who have managed to keep pace with their calendar age. Knock it off!

Sonal Kalra wants to apologise to the kids of this world because some adults have encroached their territory. What? We are forgiven? Awww… how cute.

5 simple steps: Happiness guaranteed

This world has two kinds of people, those who keep waiting for the right time to be happy, and those who…Chalo ji, tension over. I thought with life being so unpredictable, who knows till when will I get an opportunity to give you gyaan about calm-sutra. Let us, in one stroke, figure out the magic formula for happiness. I can see that some of you have already put the cynics’ cap on, and are rolling your eyes on this 243567th attempt by a self-help writer to tell you how to be happy. I wish I could humour your cynicism further by saying things like, ‘no one, but I, can teach you how to be happy’, but all that is bullshit and you know it.

a calmer you column calmness tips on how to be happy

Calmness Tips on How to be Happy

Nothing I ever say in this column is something you don’t already know. But you still read it, right? Please allow me to share the steps I recently followed to drag myself out of a phase where I was feeling a bit low and out of sync. Believe me, these five steps work, no matter what the nature or cause of your unhappiness is. Because, this formula, my dearies, focuses on the solution, not the problem. Instant satisfaction guaranteed. Please send Rs. 1000 by cash/cheque/Bank DD (It had anyway started to sound like an ad to cure impotency, so added that for effect :)).

1 Check your surroundings

Close your eyes (not now, Einstein, after you finish reading the column) and think about the people you normally spend your day in the company of…colleagues, boss, classmates, facebook friends. Ask yourself if you are spending your days being around people who are mostly happy. If the answer to that is no, please stand up. Bend your right leg backwards and raise it till your foot reaches the right level. Kick yourself in the a**. Heart patients and pregnant women, please abstain. Those who are planning to write to me saying it’s impossible to kick yourself over ‘there’, please remember that you will have to first admit that you actually tried it.
Anyway, the point is this. Happiness is an infectious trait. You have to be around positive people to catch the right infection. If you are wasting away your time in the company of
constant whiners and people who have nothing good to say about anyone or anything, you will, sooner or later, start to sound like them. Avoid. If you have to be physically around them out of compulsion, learn to switch off mentally at the very moment someone starts to say something negative. Start thinking about Rakhi Sawant saying she wants to marry Baba Ramdev, but remember to nod at frequent intervals, with an utterly serious expression, to not give it away.

2 Take the Joy-Test

Every Friday evening, take a piece of paper and on one side, make a list of problems you are going through. (Note: if your list mentions the word boyfriend/girlfriend more than twice, stand again and repeat the exercise you did in step 1, you loser!). On the other side, make a list of things that gave you joy in the past week. Simple pleasures like sharing a cup of coffee with an old friend from school and remembering the crush you both had on the biology teacher. Or indulging in that extra helping of French fries you had when no one else was looking. Or waking up to see that beautiful bird perched on your balcony at sunrise. For every two joys on your list, give yourself one mark. If the total number of joy-marks are more than the number of problems on your list, you have passed the joy test for the week. Treat yourself to something you really enjoy, on Saturday. Make it a rule to do this for six months and you’ll start adding more joys to make every Saturday of your life memorable.

3 Kill the ‘when’ word

The biggest rule in the happiness formula is simple – abhi nahi toh kabhi nahi. If you ever talk about being happy in a sentence, which has the word ‘when’ at the end, you’re not getting it right. ‘I’ll be happy ‘when’ – I will – get good marks, get admission, get a job, be rich, lose weight, get married, have babies, buy my dream car, get retired, blah, blah and blah.’ The moment you use the word ‘when’, you put a condition on your happiness. Since your mind is not your slave, it retaliates by ensuring that when you achieve any of these, the condition shifts to the next benchmark. Kill the when. Right now.

4 Try out something crazy, and new

If the first thought that came to your mind was ‘drugs’, I’m alarmed at what kind of weirdos read my column. It is a scientifically proven fact that doing something you’ve never done before releases happy hormones in your body. I checked it in my own state-of-the-art laboratory. And no, you don’t have to now suddenly think of bungee jumping or deep sea diving. Ek toh movies ne hamein bigaad diya hai. We don’t look at simpler things. How about spending an entire day-out, just with yourself. Go, watch a movie alone, then head off to the market and gift yourself something really nice, get into a restaurant and enjoy a lavish meal with a nice drink. For a lot of us, even that has never been tried before. We are too busy putting riders on our own enjoyment. Give yourself a break.

5 Infect others

If as per step 1, your happiness rests on having happy people in your life, surely you also have to be one such person for those who have you in their lives. Last week I happened to be invited to a party where I did not really know anyone from before, except the host. I was obviously wary of spending much time in the company of people I hadn’t met before, and kept looking at my watch every five minutes, till I got introduced to this group of women who were laughing the loudest. They turned out to be so full-of-life and happy that the next time I looked at my watch, it was 4am. Happiness, as I said, is infectious. It would have been fairly easy for those women to have spent time cribbing about jobs, kids, mother-in-laws, weight … but they chose to spend time laughing and cracking jokes. If you spread laughter, God figures out a way to reward you by giving more reasons to laugh often. If you become the reason for someone else failing their joy-test, you are unlikely to pass yours for too long. Simple.
Sonal Kalra has given kuchh zyada hi deep philosophy this time. What should be her punishment.

A Calmer You: Please DO NOT say that again

There are two kinds of people: those who repeat themselves and those who repeat themselves.Hello good people, I’m back from the fictitious vacation to hell that the heartless editor sends me on, when I’m not able to submit this column on time. And each time I get back, she asks me to write within the deadline and… err … sensibly. Undue expectations, I tell you. If there were sensible things happening in my life, I wouldn’t need to seek calmness, would I? Ab jaise look at the new problem bugging my peace. These days I find myself getting increasingly irritated by the totas around me. Wait a sec you fellows with no character, did your mind go straight to the Punjabi slang ‘tota’ that apparently means a hot chick? Arrey kuchh sharam karo. I am referring to ‘tota’ – the beautiful green coloured bird …woh red beak wala that keeps repeating whatever he says… over and over again.

A Calmer You Please DO NOT say that again

I have some chalte phirte totey in human form around me. Like there’s this new tenant Chaddha ji has rented his second floor to. This woman often comes over, the visits based solely on her assumption that I have nothing to do. “Mummy said it won’t make sense to buy non modular furniture. Vaise bhitwo floors chadhaana kitna tough hai,” she started one day. ‘Yeah, your mom’s right’, I replied. “Kyunki modular furniture works betternah, it’s convenient to shift,” she added. ‘Haan, absolutely,’ I answered. “So like mummy was clear that beta do as per your wish but I won’t let you buy non modular furniture,” she said. ‘If she won’t let you, how will you do as per your wish?’ — is what I wanted to ask, but all that I mumbled was ‘hmmm’. “Mummy was like, aaj kal everyone goes for modular only. It’s easy to separate out the parts while packing,” she said. At this point I found myself involuntarily moving towards her, like a possessed being, my hands itching to throttle her and pack her off to her modular-obsessed mummy.

Thankfully, better sense prevailed, as it always does when I feel this extreme urge to at least deliver a tight slap to these walking parrots. How many times can you say the same thing repeatedly, yaar? Note that I’m not referring here to those, especially elderly people, who sometimes tend to narrate their old stories again and again. I love listening to those, each time with renewed interest, because that’s their way of reliving their happy moments. It’s the habit of some to just incessantly keep making the same point ad nauseum is what gets my goat. So here’s a bit of advice if you happen to be stuck with a tota.

1 Understand the psyche of a repeater and try to figure out why they’re saying the same thing over and over. In all likelihood, it happens when they feel they’re not being heard. So it’s important to let them know, through the right body language and responses, that they have your attention.

2 Interject, interrupt, intervene — do any of these fancy words when it starts to get out of hand. Reassure the person that you’ve understood what they want to convey.

3 Learn to zone out. It’s an art to be able to mentally switch off an annoying conversation, while still giving signs, physically, that you are listening. Arm yourself with vague responses that fit all questions you may be asked. For instance, if I’m not really listening to someone who turns around and asks me “isn’t it?”, I mostly reply, ‘it depends’. Such life savers, these vague terms, and the ability to zone out. Mild intoxication helps. Okay, fine that was a joke. No it wasn’t.

4 Avoid such people, if there’s nothing you can do to stop wanting to physically hit them. It’ll be good for your blood pressure, and you won’t face any legal risks. Fake a call — on phone, of nature — anything, but get away from the situation the moment your hands start to itch.

5 Sit the tota down, and tell them politely that their habit causes irritation. No one wants to come across as a pest in conversations. If you gently tell them that people avoid talking to them because of this reason, you might actually contribute in them shedding a negative habit. Remember that between laughing on a person behind his back and telling him his weaknesses, it’s always the latter that makes you a better human being.

Sonal Kalra wants to know if it is indeed easier to shift modular furniture. Would modular furniture be easier to shift? Bolo. Easy hota hai? Has your mummy told you about modular furniture’s benefits while shifting?

A Calmer You: so, are you an inch-tape parent?

Will you stop measuring your child up against others? Please? Right now?

Hello Maa’m, Sir, You don’t know me, but the living proof of your reproduction capabilities, who has just handed over the newspaper to you and is now discreetly checking out your facial expression as you read this, does. And it is for him or her that I’m writing this letter to you.

A Calmer You so are you an inch-tape parent

Not sure if you noticed, but your offspring hasn’t really been happy lately. By lately, I mean ever since a few minutes after his birth, when you first uttered ‘the complexion is good but the birth-weight is a little less than the boy born yesterday in the adjoining room.’ That marked the entry of your child, who I am certain you love most dearly, into your ‘inch-tape’ world.

An open letter to ‘inch-tape’ parents-tips deal with growing kids

As he or she grew older, your inch-tape started closing in on her, with reminders that unlike her, the neighbour’s child drinks milk without any fuss, or that her cousin is 2 cm taller even when she’s forty days younger. As years passed, the calendars on your wall changed, but your measuring tape did not. Because the cousin was not just still taller, she had also got 94 percent in exams when your poor Pappu was languishing at mere 92.7.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Parenting Tips to Deal with Growing Kids[/stextbox]

Your constant reminders that the others will get admission at better places, that the others will get better jobs and that the others will have a better life, are actually contributing towards ensuring that the others indeed get a better life. Because your child is too busy trying to deal with your inch-tape. Can you, for the sake of their happiness and world peace, do the following three things? (‘world peace’ added just to make it sound cooler. Not everything in life has a logical explanation, people!!).

1 Can you give your son or daughter a 30-minute appointment today?

Closed door, heart to heart meeting, in which you will let your child (only up to 80 years old) tell you, in whatever words they can manage, how much it hurts them when you compare them with someone else, be it an outsider or even a sibling. You will not interrupt, argue or say that you do it only for their betterment, because they already know that. They know that no one in the world wants their good more than you do. It still hurts. Just 30 minutes, let them vent it out. They’ve
already promised me they’ll be most respectful. I’m not asking for you to change. I’m just asking you to listen. They deserve to be heard.
And all those who know that their child may not be as expressive verbally, could you please encourage your child to write it all down, in a letter or an email, which you will patiently read? Pakka Promise?

2 Can you manage to find some peaceful moments this week, to sit alone, without your mobile phone or TV anywhere nearby, and remember your growing up years?

Try to remember how you felt being measured up against others, how during exams, a bigger cause for tension than not getting good marks was your friend getting more marks than you. And then ask yourself if sub-consciously, you are becoming the reason for a similar tension in your child’s life? You know how we are so fond of saying things like, ‘I couldn’t afford this lifestyle when I was growing up, so I’ll make sure my child gets it’. The same is applicable even for peace of mind. If you didn’t get it as a child because of constant nagging or comparison, it’s all the more important you make sure your child does. Basically, if among all other things, you have unknowingly inherited your parents’ inch-tape as well, please put it away now. Also, do you remember how you secretly began to hate everyone who your parents compared you with? So, what are you doing now may just be making your child dislike or hate a classmate, friend or even a sibling for no fault of theirs. Don’t do that. It’s just not right.

3 And finally, ask your spouse, or some close friend to look at your life at present and honestly evaluate it. You’ve done pretty okay, haven’t you?

Not being able to utter a word when the kid next door was singing rhymes, not being as tall as Pooja aunty’s son, not getting as many marks in the board exam as the boring geek in the coaching centre or not cracking the IITs or the IIMs like your elder brother, didn’t really keep you from having a fairly good life, no? You know why? Because coming on top in a comparison is just no assurance of a happy life. And you know that. Right? Don’t just nod, kuchh karo na yaar, about this profound realisation I’ve just spelt out. (thank you, taking a bow). Promise yourself that the next time you’ll start to give someone else’s example, in an unhealthy-comparison way, to your child, you will immediately stop.

In fact, if it makes it easier, set a code word with your son or daughter to remind you of this. The moment you start to compare, they’ll say the code word and you would be reminded of your promise. If you’ll do this for your child, I promise on their behalf that they will also take a vow to never compare you with anyone else’s parents. Deal?

Sonal Kalra got so senti after writing this that she actually threw away the inch-tape lying on the table. It belonged to the carpenter working in the house. Damn.

Note: This column is being re-run on reader feedback. It was earlier published on November 19, 2011

A Calmer You: are you dating a drama queen?

Only guys are allowed to give feedback on this week’s column :). Okay, so I have already ordered for a five-inch thick helmet. Itni maar padne waali hai, from girls, after this week’s column that it’s crucial to have adequate protection against possible brain damage. Some of you may think the brain was damaged before all this was written, but then who can stop some of you from thinking? I had vowed to not write anything incriminating against any gender, especially the one that begins with ‘F’, but then I can’t help it. A friend just narrated such a horrid tale of his love life that my radars have got stuck on drama queen girlfriends. So his girlfriend, who he’s planning a break-up with for over two years now, recently advised that they note down, in minute detail, every expense that they incur on a date. And then share it equally.

A Calmer You are you dating a drama queen

One would think it’s an applause-worthy move, considering a lot of guys still have to live up to the chivalry of opening the wallet — and keeping it open — each time they go out with their girlfriends. Just that this suggestion has come from her exactly two weeks after he lost his job, while she happens to have just got a well-paying job. For the past two years, while he was earning and she was jobless, he was the one picking the tab. Anyway, their financial matter is their concern, but what got me jumping on the couch with disbelief was the formula she devised to calculate the expense. Since they both smoke and happen to sometimes share a cigarette, she wants to divide the expense on the basis of the number of drags or puffs each one has taken on a cigarette. Stumped? There’s more. She’s clarified that if they happen to go out with common friends, the sharing of expense will be on the basis of whose friend that person originally was. Any violation of this code will invite screaming matches after the date. I’m so utterly fascinated by drama queens, I tell you. This is just one of the various kinds that exist.

Actually, if you look at it objectively, such quirky behaviour is not limited to girls. A guy can be equally weird and therefore be a bigger drama queen (DQ) than the girl. But let’s just focus today on how to identify if you have been dating or married to a DQ. I’m admitting right now itself that I won’t be able to give you any tips on dealing with them. Because our religious scriptures say that we are all supposed to go through the torture pre-written in our destiny because of karma etc. You can revel in my abundant sympathies if you wish.

1. DQ1: The tantrum thrower: Stuck at the mental age of five-and-a-half, this girl has the superhuman capacity to pick up a fight over anything. Everything. How dare you forget the seven monthly anniversary of the first time she called you ‘baby’? Now she has a valid reason to sulk for at least seven days. And each time you’ll ask what’s wrong, she’ll say ‘nothing’ at the speed of light. So go figure what crime you committed…err..this time. Vaise achha hai, it keeps your mental faculties alert. You’re living a quiz all the time, wondering what you did wrong this time to deserve a cold shoulder. And the day she’ll burst out and tell you what’s bugging her, you’ll get the bonus of being reminded of all the grudges of the past years.

2. DQ2: The friend hater: She expects the day you get into a relationship with her to also be celebrated forever as the day you got out of a relationship with all your other friends. Well, you have her, why do you need other friends? And have you not noticed how ill-mannered and shabby all your friends are? Any time spent hanging out with them is a sheer waste, considering you could have productively utilised it in saying ‘I love you jaanu’ to her 27 times. With her by your side, you are ‘settled’ in life, so better not behave like a free bird and hang out with the guys. And if your friends happen to be girls…ha ha…consider taking part in India’s-most-suicidal championship this year itself. You may not be around to opt for it next year, you see.

3. DQ3: The time-keeper: Shouldn’t you be happy that someone is selflessly spending her entire mobile bill in tracking where you’ve reached after work? And in exactly how many seconds will you make a sakshaat appearance before her eyes? These DQs were math toppers in school, so don’t try to fool them by saying ‘I’ll be there in 30 minutes, when a distance of 18.5 kms, travelled at an average speed of 55 km/hr can be covered in 22 minutes 45 seconds.(PS: If any of you actually tried to calculate this using some Godforsaken formula and write to me that I got it wrong, I promise I’ll come over to your home and slap you). With such a woman in your life, getting late for anything is an award-winning recipe for disaster. And, ‘stuck-in-traffic’ is a fool’s excuse, because she can switch on the radio and check the traffic condition of your area. If you happen to be late because you are with a friend, the powerful forces of DQ2 and DQ3 will collectively curse you. Basically you are dead.

4. DQ4: The Money-saver: What? You gave some money to your brother? Why…how? Tum unke liye kamaate ho? How can you be so foolish and spend real money on someone other than her? She’s only trying to save up for your future. Why will your stupid friend need an actual birthday gift when you can give him the pleasure of an additional notification on facebook. Okay fine, if you feel so bloody close to him, wish him on your own timeline in addition to his. But no need to spend hard-earned money on such things. And God help you if you decided to spend the evening treating him on his birthday, and get late in the process. That’s DQ1+2+3+4. Good bye, my dear. Strive to be born as a DQ next time.

Sonal Kalra has only one advice for those stuck with DQs. Try to change her… if it doesn’t work, well, change her.

A Calmer You: do you wish your boss were dead?

‘Absolutely not,’ replied a horrified Neeraj when I asked him the question that’s the headline of today’s column. ‘I can’t wish death for someone, no matter how horrible he is,’ he said, and before I could feel proud that my friends belong to the human race, he added, ‘haan, saal mein 4-5 baar fracture ho jaye saale ka toh badiya.’ Hmmm, I’m back to questioning the kind of people I hang out with, but you please spare a moment for soul searching to see if you were secretly tempted to answer yes to the headline. Because a new research in the UK (I sometimes wonder how the British get time to do research amid worrying about life altering developments like the birth of a royal baby etc.) says that an overwhelming majority of people are sick of their bosses to the extent of wishing grave harm to them. Vaise, I’ve been unusually lucky in the boss department and by the way, so is my team, which has been suitably bribed or threatened to not dispute this claim. But I’ve seen a lot of people go through unimaginable stress at work because of a species who have the working title of bosses but are actually monsters from hell. Well, if you are a victim, take heart in two facts — one, you have company and two, there are always ways to deal with difficult people in life, and that includes bosses. Let’s first classify the devil that’s making your work life miserable.

A Calmer You do you wish your boss were dead

1. The Shirker: Hmm…this kind of a boss is rather common, but thankfully not very harmful. He doesn’t do much himself, and enjoys a comfy ride on the back of the mules he has around him. Ironically enough, such people also get promoted by some magic stroke of luck, leaving others to wonder if God’s promotion department software has some permanent virus. A typical hands-off person, he is quick to criticise when something goes wrong, and usually justifies his non-involvement by saying that he is ‘empowering’ his juniors. In most cases, this generosity of empowerment comes only because he has no clue or clarity in his head about what he wants out of his own life, let alone his team. No vision, no goal, and an uncanny ability to never own up to his team’s failure. That’s Mr Shirker for you. I call such a boss less harmful than other animals at workplace only because their laziness prevents them from turning vicious as long as their ego is not messed with. It’s best to enjoy their absence, keep doing the good work and being on generally friendly terms with such bosses. Let them feel happy by appearing to take credit for anything successful, but always remember that deep inside, people know who’s done all the work. Also, don’t forget that a useless person never enjoys an unbeaten innings – the good luck will run-out the day something changes on the top and they are held accountable for their performance. Wait and watch, with interest.

2. The Sulk: This boss, in his childhood, was the obnoxiously spoilt kid you see today lying flat on the floor of a shopping mall, throwing a massive tantrum because his mum is not buying him the seventh ice cream. He just likes to sulk, endlessly, over the smallest issues. I once had a boss, who wouldn’t respond to my good-morning greeting on the days he was sulking. Obviously enough, my mornings didn’t remain very good after that. A boss who sulks silently is often unsure of the validity of his or her displeasure with you. It’s best to help him come out of that mood by asking, not more than once, if you have something to do with what’s bothering him. If he chooses to not tell you, choose to assume it’s not you. Also, it’s best to not fuel mistrust in the minds of such bosses by having private conversations with colleagues, making them feel you could be conspiring against them. So no whispering and pausing a conversation the moment he passes by. Even if you were planning his surprise birthday party!

3. The Conqueror: Now we are inching towards the more harmful ones. A boss in the sulk mode is easier to handle, a boss in the hulk mode isn’t. This one’s all out to intimidate the daylights out of you. He bullies, he shouts, he swears. He won’t hesitate to throw you in front of the bus if it comes to saving his ass in front of the management. His strategy is to rob you of all your self-esteem, so you go home every evening feeling like a loser, no matter how hard you work. Dealing with this devil starts with the first, and the most important step of believing that the problem person in this situation is he, not you. And the next step is to counter an abusive behaviour with an irritating amount of calmness. Yes, you heard me right. Nothing rattles a violent, abusive drama queen more than his or her victim responding each time firmly, and calmly. If he abuses or shouts at you inappropriately in front of everyone, tell him clearly that you are not sure what this is about and would prefer to discuss this with him in detail, and in private. It’s tough to keep shouting when there’s a very formal, cold response from the other side. Send him a mail later, expressing ‘disappointment’ that you became a reason for him to lose his peace of mind, and ask him for suggestions on how not to be such a reason ever again. In all probability, you won’t get a reply. You won’t get abused either.

4. The Manipulator: This, according to me is the most harmful of the boss species. This guy devotes all his energies, to not learning his job, but the tricks of manipulation. A deeply insecure person, this kind of boss has the superhuman ability to play games to keep his team divided and fighting, so that no one’s left with any energy to notice his inadequacies. If the constant negativity is zapping you of your strength and spirit, it’s very easy for me to tell you to look for an alternate job. But then, when have I ever suggested easy routes to calmness? Here’s an opportunity for you to turn around an insecure, negative person into a positive, reassured one. The first step to dealing with such manipulative people is to somehow make it clear to them that you can see through their games, and that they don’t bother you enough to go into a panic mode. Half of their battle is lost if they can’t seem to rattle you. And you can make them lose the other half by involving them in your accomplishments. Even when — and especially when — they haven’t done much in a successful project, use the terms ‘our’, ‘we’ and ‘us’, instead of ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ when informing them and others about your accomplishment. Show them that you have no interest in being a threat to them by being more popular or successful. Remember the golden rule of dealing with manipulators — consciously refuse to be their victim. The moment you take away their target, you take away their strength.

Sonal Kalra’s team just called her to check if another photo of a horrible boss was required in this write-up, since there’s a pic of hers anyway. Guess who all are getting fired tomorrow.