Tag Archives: A Calmer You Column

Here’s why I love jealous people

Why are you giving me such strange looks? I’ve never claimed to be normal, have I? You’re offended because you, like all of us, were taught at school that jealousy is a very bad thing. That it breeds hatred and discontent. Despite that, you could never help that feeling of something snapping inside you when your best friend scored more in math or when the prettiest girl in the class accepted his proposal for friendship.

A lot of you who work know that feeling when the boss suddenly turns all against you because a jealous colleague bitched behind your back. Or when your brand new car wakes up with scratches because the friendly neighbour had difficulty digesting that you could afford one. We, my dear people, were born with the J gene. All of us. The only difference being that while most of us manage to accept it as a natural emotion and keep it in check, some others decide to express their unhappiness with, well, your happiness. Today’s column is dedicated to these people. I think they are just fabulous. Here’s why.

Here's why I love jealous people-a-calmer-you-column-ht-city-22-jan-2012

Source:HT City, Hindustantimes.com

[stextbox id=”info”]Why Should You Love Jealous People [Calmness Tips][/stextbox]

1. They reaffirm your success

Someone being jealous of you is the biggest proof that there’s something right, and good, happening in your life. Lakshay, a regular reader of this column, wrote to me last week about a friend of his, “He calls himself my best friend, but it is so obvious that anything good happening to me upsets him. I told him that dad’s getting me an iPhone 4S and suddenly there were these murmurs in the class about what a big show-off I am. I know who started it. How can people be so double-faced?” Hmm … well people are double faced so that you remain confused about which face to slap!! Sorry, that was a bad joke. But, hey Lakshay, don’t forget to thank and love your dad for getting you the iPhone now that you have proof that it’s something worth showing off.

You see, what the jealous people unknowingly do is put a firm stamp on the fact that your life, in some ways, is better than theirs. It could be materialistic, or even emotional. A lot of friends may be jealous of how your boyfriend sends you heart-shaped balloons each week. (Really? Don’t smile, that’s so cheesy. Why are you still with him?). The problem is only when we start paying more attention to their jealousy than to our success. As long as you are not rubbing your happiness in someone else’s face and making them feel small, you have every reason to celebrate and enjoy the fact that life’s treating you nicely. Stop feeling sorry about your success or apologising for your achievements. Say a big thank you in your heart, to everyone who’s jealous of you. You would have felt like such a loser if no one in this world envied you. No?

2. They make you strive harder to hold on to your success

Jealous people are such noble souls. They sometimes deliberately express their displeasure in such mean ways that you take it up as a challenge to hold on to your win. My friend Priya used to be very tense because every time she would get a promotion at her workplace, some colleagues would start rumours about her proximity with the boss. She decided to take it up as a challenge and worked so hard at her performance that the no one could ever question the rise in her career graph. The bitterness sometimes ignites a fire in you to prove and sustain that you were worth feeling jealous of. So, aren’t you eternally thankful to those who made it possible? If it hadn’t been for their envy, you would have easily taken your success for granted, rested on your laurels and fallen off the pedestal while asleep. Thank them, silly, rather than resenting their presence in your life.

3. They help you see the true colours of people

First, go give a big hug to someone you think is jealous of you, and then I’ll tell you why. See, the J-ones mostly take out their frustration by going behind your back and saying mean things to those in your life. It could be your friends in class, colleagues in your office or even relatives in the family circle. Ask Bubbly aunty and she’ll tell you her theory on how all sister-in-laws should be called sinister-in-laws. Haan, coming back to the point, when the J-brand people bitch behind your back, it’s a wonderful opportunity to see who in your circle falls for it and who doesn’t. THAT will tell you who you can trust in your life and who is not worthy of it. If a close friend believes someone who is back-biting you, maybe that close friend shouldn’t be close anymore. Think about it. They were doing you such a big favour and you’ve been feeling low about their actions. Go hug.
After all this unsolicited gyaan, a word for those who are honest enough to admit that they’ve been feeling jealous of someone. Dekho bhai, my great grandmother Erica Jong used to say ‘Jealousy is all the fun you think they had’…arthaat, door ke dhol suhawane. From a distance, someone else’s life looks all rosy, because the thorns are too small to notice. They prick only the one who’s holding them. So, before you go all green with envy and those around you can smell your heart burning, count your own blessings and thank God that you are you, and not someone else. Because you know your own problems and can deal with them. The unknown devils in someone else’s life are far more dangerous. Calm it.

Sonal Kalra wanted to launch a ‘Are you J? Come, here’s a hug for you’ campaign but a friend told her it sounds a bit obscene. Maybe she’s J.

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Thank God it’s over. The whole New Year’s Eve stress, I mean. Did you too, like me, had to answer almost every homosapien in your universe about where you are going for the New Year bash? And then to worry about how boring it’ll sound to answer ‘Nowhere. Just staying at home.’ I used to think it’s one of those polite questions for which people don’t wait to hear an answer. So, when a colleague asked me in the corridor, I casually replied I’m inviting some strippers home for New Year’s Eve. She heard me. So did three others. Moral: People do hear stuff, and judge you… and give you weird looks. So watch what you say.


Anyway, as I said, the tamasha is over and we have nicely stepped into another year. Waise, please allow me one more silly thought… what’s with ‘ushering in’ the New Year? You don’t have to usher anything, woh apne aap aa hi jaata hai (it will come on its own). Try kar lo (try it).
Okay, enough of digressing into weirdness. I’ll come straight to the point. This whole ‘New Year resolution’ funda is pretty outdated. Say things like ‘I’ll lose weight or I’ll quit smoking’ and you’ll be considered ancient. The cool thing apparently is to claim that you don’t have any resolutions. Well, as uncool as I am, I actually have one this year. And that is to fall in love…with myself. Do NOT make a face and say it’s a cliché, just yet. Hear me out.

In a very scientific way, I went about searching a common thread in the several hundred emails this column gets. (Are you able to see through my attempts to indirectly mention how popular the column is? I’m ashamed). Every damn mail is about how people are dissatisfied with something in them. ‘I am not good looking, so guys propose to my friend instead’ or ‘I flunked the exam because I can’t concentrate’ or ‘I’m too shy, can’t speak in public’ etc etc. We are too bloody hard on ourselves. All of us. So quick to find faults in us, indulge in self-bashing and self-pity day-in and day out.

 [stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips to Fight Against Self-Pity and Inferiority Complex[/stextbox]

Well, enough. This year, I’m going to woo myself, because as my uncle Oscar Wilde said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” Here we go

1 Learn to take and believe a compliment:

This point is more for myself than anyone else. If ever someone says something nice to me, my first instinct is to say, ‘That can’t be. I don’t deserve this.’ Bullshit. Ab diya hai toh kuchh soch ke diya hoga (if it has been given then some thought was put into it). And if the other person is faking a compliment, it’s his problem not mine. We’re too quick to believe people when they say nasty, hurtful things about us. And too quick to disregard something good being pointed out. Not anymore. This year, I’ll let self-love score over self-doubt. I’ll allow myself to accept compliments gracefully, and feel happy about them.

2 Enjoy the courtship:

No matter how much you argue on this, the fact remains that your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have. It’s vital that you love yourself. And I’m not referring to masturbation, you silly, though I’m no one to tell you how to express your love. Just remember the last time when you gifted yourself something really nice. Not something you needed, but something you wanted. When is the last time you took yourself out on a date? Enjoy your courtship with yourself, it’ll strengthen all other relationships you have. Set aside some time, and money, every month for pampering your self. Sometimes it’s not wrong, or selfish, to think of Valentine’s day as a day for YOU. Try it.

3 Do you like yourself…as is?:

You know, there’s a thin line between genuinely giving yourself credit for something good in you, and turning conceited and arrogant. The latter is a big put-off and I’m sure even you don’t like narcissists who are too full of themselves. So, if I suddenly see people liking their own Facebook statuses from tomorrow, I will jump from a building and leave your name in the suicide list because of your staunch inability to understand that there’s a difference between healthy self respect and a creepily adoring your own stupid-self.

But, that said, it is really important that you appreciate yourself, just the way you are, and not what you aspire to be. Take a paper, and write down the qualities you admire in people you like. Then see how many of those you yourself have. And please, all those who are going to use vague words like ‘nice’ for themselves can fix an appointment with me to receive their first slap in the New Year. What’s with this word — ‘nice’. You use it for everything — a gesture, a person, an animal, a movie. Thoda vocabulary improve karo (improve your vocabulary). Using the same word for everything is not quite… err..nice.

4 Have your ‘I-don’t-care-moment’:

Again as I said, don’t turn rude or arrogant, but once a week, stand in front of the mirror, think of someone who hurt you, and loudly say ‘I don’t care’. Do not spend your life seeking approval of others. Because others would never stop saying things. At some point, you have to stop torturing the person inside you with all the crap going on in your life. Give yourself a break. Just like you won’t bother a girlfriend or boyfriend with only negative stuff and would try to say soothing, calm things to them, it’s important to treat your innerself the same way. Hey, sorry if I’m beginning to sound a bit creepy. If your parents drag you to a shrink after this, please don’t say I asked you to do all this. Please.

5 Forgive yourself:

We kill ourselves over our mistakes. It doesn’t occur to us that like others, we also deserve forgiveness from ourselves. Remember, there is no mistake in this world which is not pardonable. No more torturing yourself because you are an easy target. And yeah, in the quest of loving yourself, don’t aspire to be 100% like someone you idolise. As talented as they are, duplicates of super-stars can never be super-stars themselves. Be your own super hero. The original one. I’m suddenly reminded of a few lines from an old hindi song I quite like. Makes a lot of sense to me… hope it does to you, too.

Aur nahi toh kam se kam, itni toh taqlif karo; logon ki tareefon mein, kabhi apni bhi tareef karo
Sab se toh tum khush ho, apne aap se kyun naraaz ho … Lekar apna naam kabhi, tum khud ko awaaz do

(At least do this much, while complimenting others, sometimes compliment yourself; you are happy with everyone, why are you upset with yourself..sometimes take your name and call out to yourself)
Happy New Year

Sonal Kalra just went overboard and posted an I love you card to herself. She’s being dragged to the mental hospital now.

Thak gaye hain, pak gaye hain!

Did you know that India has the largest concentration of irritating people in this world? No, seriously. I’m quite sure if someone were to do this research, we would be right up there. One, there are human beings everywhere. And two, they all seem to want to talk. Chalo even that may still be acceptable, but there’s something in those talks that makes sanity seem like a big virtue.

tips-to-deal-with-irritating-people-calmer-you-column-11-dec-2011-Thak gaye hain, pak gaye hain

See, after your heart tugging response to last week’s column about homosexuality, I was all set to take up yet another thought provoking, serious topic this week. Between you and me, I thought this may just be the right opportunity to change my image from a weirdo joker to that of a serious columnist. But no, people of this nation wouldn’t let that happen.

No sooner did I sit to write intelligent, intellectual stuff, the king of boring times dropped in. My friendly neighbour Chaddha ji. My noteworthy achievements in the next forty-five minutes include managing to say ‘yes’ twice and uttering ‘hmmm’ full three times. Over a long winding account of how cumbersome it is to get oneself registered for the Unique Identification Card (UID) being issued by the government, He.Ate.My.Brain Up. All of it.

Pardon me but after this unsolicited verbal onslaught, I’ve deferred the idea of writing on that serious topic. Instead I’m dedicating this column to all the victims of a ‘PP’ attack. Pakaau Person. In other words, one who specializes in ensuring that the more boring a topic is, the longer it is discussed for.

I know so many PPs. They are mostly in love with the sound of their own voice, and possess a nauseating amount of knowledge on whatever bad is happening in the world — theirs and ours. Don’t misconstrue that I have a problem with people discussing topical, serious issues — those are what polite, social conversation actually ought to be made of.

I just have a problem with how the PPs are generally not sensitive at all to any signal that the other person has had enough of a topic and does not wish to engage in it till eternity. What if apocalypse strikes? I don’t want to die discussing registration of UID cards with Chaddha ji. I have stuff to do yaar. I’m sure so do you.

So, in the larger interest of mankind, I’m giving you my very own, secret wriggle-out-of-a-PP’s-attack tips. After today I’ll have to think of some new ones for myself, but what the heck. Anything for you.

 [stextbox id=”info”]Tips to Deal With Most Irritating People  (Pakaau Person)[/stextbox]

1 Emit ‘disinterested’ signals:

Warning: This works on amateur PPs, not the hard core ones. Use your body language to indicate that you are getting bored. Yawn (fake it, dummy). Scratch your nose, head — everywhere it won’t look vulgar. Look here and there. If the cacophony still doesn’t stop, increase the intensity of your signals. Check your watch — every three minutes. Nod vigorously as if you are physically dragging the conversation to its end. If you are lucky to get a chance to open your mouth, utter conclusive phrases that actually mean nothing but still could be said in any situation, like ‘anyway, that’s life’ or ‘khair jaane do’. If nothing works, kick yourself and move to step 2.

2 Use your phone’s magic:

I’m not particularly fond of that object called mobile phone, but boy, is it useful when it comes to getting out of a boring conversation. Keep it on vibration mode and at some unbearable point in the discussion, pretend as if you’ve suddenly got an important call. Run, run… while fake-mouthing some serious stuff into the phone. If nothing comes to your mind, just say ‘okay’ into the phone several times, with each okay signifying more urgency than the previous. Scare the Pakaau person into believing that something seriously urgent has come up. Just get away. Some models of cell phones even have an in-built applications that give you a fake call on the press of a button. Hail technology.

3 Your life-saver room:

If there’s any room that has contributed more to saving lives than any other architectural space, it is the washroom. And not just for the obvious reasons. trust me, toilet is a life saver in PP situations (suddenly, reading this sentence aloud makes it sound a bit obscene but I swear it was unintended). Anyway, wriggle out of a endless boring conversation by saying you’ve got to visit the washroom. Urgently. This works like magic, because some things in life, even the most pakaau people can’t question. Don’t come back.

4 Deviation therapy:

In the middle of a long winding diatribe by an irritating jabber jaw, suddenly narrow your eyes, take your face closer to his and say something alarming. Like ‘What’s that on your eye? Is that a sty? There’s some swelling’ They’ll instantly get worried about what’s wrong with them. Look around, call out to someone else standing nearby and ask them to reaffirm your observation. Leave that person to diagnose the imaginary swelling in the PP’s eye. Slip away. Apologise to that other person later. Unless he’s a PP too.

5 Tell them:

This one’s serious. The pakaau person may just be someone you are close to — a friend, a family member. They are not bad people, they just don’t realise when they inadvertantly turn a dialogue into a monologue.

If you want their good, you should tell them that they have a tendency to stretch their conversations much after the listener has lost interest. Don’t say it in a hurtful way, but get your point across, so that no one else avoids them in future. They’ll thank you for it.

Sonal Kalra wonders if anything in this week’s column made any sense. Khair jaane do.

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.is.not. 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?

Man, some people are just RUDE!!

I sometimes bump into this woman on my way back from work. Whenever she sees me, she asks me one, and only one question. “You look tired, are you unwell?” For a long time I kept telling myself ‘aww, how sweet. She is so concerned for me.’ And even though I didn’t really feel tired or unwell, I would politely reply, ‘yeah, it’s been an awfully tiring day at work’.


But, to be honest, I don’t quite enjoy being told everyday that I don’t seem okay, and it is now bugging the hell out of me. Yesterday, she said, ‘You are getting dark circles under your eyes. Have you been partying too much or are you sick?’ I could have gone and fretted in front of the mirror for an hour, but this time I took my face closer to hers and asked, ‘are they as dark as yours or even worse?’ The last I know, she had booked a doctor’s appointment for a check-up.

See, I know you are still wondering what’s the big deal in what she said, and, in all probability think my reply was rude. Well, yes it was, but so was her question. We, in India, are taught a skewed and rather limited definition of the term ‘rude’, while we are growing up. We are told that if a person raises his voice or speaks in a harsh, unpleasant way, it is rude.

So we tend to focus only on the packaging of the words and how they are being delivered, more than what is being said! We don’t realise that it is totally unacceptable even when the ‘packaging’ is super sweet but the content smacks of nothing but ill-manners.

A colleague of mine was visiting his hometown recently when a woman relative asked him what he does, for a living. ‘I work in a newspaper,’ he replied. “Achha? Kitna daal lete ho?” she asked. Wondering whether she mistook him for the newspaper vendor (in his place, I would’ve wondered if she was fond of making obscene remarks!), he stood quiet. And then she elaborated. ‘Har mahiney kitna daal lete ho bank mein?’ (how much goes in your bank every month?). Ahh, so she was asking him about his salary. No big deal, you may again say. Damn rude, I think.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips to Deal with Rude Questions of People[/stextbox]

Sadly, we see nothing wrong in crossing the boundary and asking fairly personal questions of people, sometimes even strangers. Well, I think it’s unfair to put up with them in the name of politeness. Here are some of the rude questions we Indians specialise in asking, as if it’s the compulsory thesis for a Phd in ill-manners. Since I don’t wish to be seen as advocating rudeness a la ‘an eye for an eye’,

I suggest two possible ways of coping up with the question — the polite answer (TPA), and the I-am-taking-you-on answer (TYOA). Choose yours, at your own risk.

1 What’s your salary?
TPA: (sheepish smile) “God’s been kind. Bas kaam chal jaata hai. It’s just the start of the career, but it will get better in a few years…etc etc” (ugh)
TYOA: I’m happy you asked. Do you want a loan? I charge really high interest but can afford to lend big amounts at a short notice. I didn’t know you were having trouble with finances. How much do you need? (disclaimer: don’t try with the tribe of chachis, maamis, mausis etc or your parents would kick you out)

2 When are you having kids?
(or in desi style: ‘good news’ kab de rahe ho?)
TPA: Smile. ‘When the right time comes. These things are in God’s hands.’ (go, cry in a corner)
TYOA: (Looking them in the eye): We are waiting to see how your kids turn out before we decide. And feeling very anxious at the way it’s going so far.

3 To the parents/siblings of a girl who got married recently – ‘She’s happy, no? (khush toh hai nah?)
TPA: Yeah, she calls me every evening and for two-and-a-half hours, tells me how happy she is.
TYOA: No, yaar. She tried to poison her mother-in-law yesterday but the neighbour’s stupid cat drank the milk. I’ve asked her to wait before the next attempt.
4 Have you noticed that you’re getting fat? How much do you weigh?
(look down embarrassingly): Yeah, don’t ask. I’ll start working out from this New Year.
TYOA: Shit, really? It totally skipped me because the mirror at home is broken. 450 kgs isn’t much. And the paunch is the latest style trend in the west. You should try it, though it’s not easy.

5 Why exactly did you break-up?
 We were just not compatible. It was not meant to be.
TYOA: (very seriously): She wanted to try her luck in Hollywood. And I was always in favour of our own cinema. You’ve got to be patriotic. No? By the way, the idiot-store called. They are running out of you. You better rush.

6 To a heavily pregnant woman: ‘Oh God, you look huge. Are you having twins?’
TPA: (sheepish): No, just one, a little healthy, I guess.
TYOA: No. Are you?

Okay, fine. My answers above are rude and perhaps you should not try them at all. But I hope you do get the point. Do not venture so much into peoples’ personal lives that you leave them awkward and embarrassed when it is you who is at fault here. If they feel like sharing personal stuff with you, they would do so on their own. Let’s try and not be experts in ill-manners. This is one Phd we should not mind dropping out of, mid-way. Whatsay?

Sonal Kalra is considering cosmetic surgery for non-existent under-eye circles. Maybe that woman indeed has the power to see things that others can’t. Will ask her about her family background in detail tomorrow.

Yes, I admit it. I am a misfit

Raise your left hand if you’ve ever felt like a misfit — in school, college, workplace, social gatherings. Now raise the other hand if you’ve killed yourself (not literally, Einstein!) trying to change yourself because it made you feel inferior. If both your hands are up, GOOD. At least for the next few minutes, this should be your punishment for being so stupidly harsh on yourself.

If you must know, my one hand is raised too, and believe me, it’s not easy to type out this column single-handedly. See, I have nothing against people trying to better themselves. Constant improvisation is what dictates an individual’s growth. But then getting a complex because you don’t look, talk or dress like everyone else in your group is just.not.done. Suna Kya?

a calmer you column calmness tips to overcome inferiority complex
Last week, I got a mail from a 24-year-old engineer from a town near Dehradun. This guy recently moved to Gurgaon to work with a software giant. And within a few weeks, things have come to a stage where in his mail, he asked me for a therapist’s reference because he is depressed. “In corporate world, life can be hell for someone who is from a small town. I am worried all the time that perhaps I don’t come across as being as smart and fluent as others in my team. Even when I know that I can beat the s*** out of everyone when it comes to technical skills, I’m made to feel under-confident. I’m utterly depressed because I don’t speak or look as modern as they do.”
Oh Dehradun wale bhai… depression is not flu that you can catch standing at the bus stop. Therefore, please don’t use heavy-duty medical terms to scare yourself further. What you are going through is a problem that troubles even those who are not from small towns. Can’t you see so many from Delhi, Chandigarh or Lucknow reading this column right now with both their hands up, and trying to fool their family or friends by saying it’s some new yog asan?

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips to Overcome Inferiority Complex[/stextbox]

Let’s deal with your problem right now.

1. Being the odd one is NOT a crime:

If you’ll remember that one truth, you are likely to sail through life being way happier than others. You may not be as fluent in English as some hoity-toity classmates whose parents raised them by singing English loris every night (uff, lullabies, for those who didn’t get lori. Doob maro!). You may not dress as well as your colleagues who could easily double as beauty pageant contestants after work hours. You may be an introvert who doesn’t like to talk much while others in your group deserve a bandage on the mouth for non stop chitter chatter. You may speak with a regional accent that some mean colleagues try to poke fun at, while forgetting that they started rolling their ‘R’s after they went to US for just three days, that too on company expense.
Seedhi baat?…you could be any of the above and it is still OKAY. Don’t try too hard to transform into someone that
you are not, overnight. Dress sense, language fluency etc are things that anyway change, hopefully for the better, during the various phases of a person’s life. Give yourself time to go through that natural evolution. For those who make fun of you because you don’t belong, I’m typing these words with my middle finger now.

2. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for being different:

Author Carlos Castaneda, in his popular Teachings of Don Juan said, “In every explanation, there is an apology.” So, unless you’ve done something wrong and malicious that causes harm to someone else, how you speak, dress, behave is no one’s business but yours. Offering an explanation would seem like an admission of your shortcomings and would suggest that whoever was making fun of you is right. Be proud of the way you are, people get impressed more by inner confidence than anything superficial.

3. Misfits are necessary:

Imagine how hellishly boring life would be, if all friends in a group dressed, spoke or gelled their hair exactly the same way. Those who are different, add spice to interactions. In fact, a lot of those who history has termed genius, considered themselves misfits in the conventional sense. It worked for them. It’ll work for you. Haan, don’t try to grab attention by intentionally try to act different or cool. People who have the problem of d.a.s.t (desperate attention seeking techniques, you dirty mind!) come across as cheesy and tacky. You are good the way you are.
Okay, hands down now. Tomorrow morning, your arms will hurt so much that you’ll look and behave different than others. Mission accomplished.

The Tension-Not calmness trophy this week to
– Nicky Kulwant, for being one of the most positive people I’ve ever come across in life
– Naveen Arora for a spectacular sense of humour that’s entirely unmatched; and
– Maninder Singh for a rare combination of extremely sensible thinking and superb technical expertise.
Calmness to all of you…

Sonal Kalra wants to eradicate the disease of inferiority-complex from this world. But she thinks she’s not intelligent enough. How depressing.

Do you know who my dad is?

You think I’m being sarcastic? Tsk tsk… I have such bad reputation in your eyes. I’m serious. I will start a campaign in aid of all those who suffer from mysterious bouts of amnesia and have to ask who they are or who their dad is, especially if their car bumps into someone else’s. I saw such a person outside a shopping mall this weekend. He was reversing, someone else was progressing (I know it’s wrong English, just sounded funny, thanks). His car brushed the other’s bumper, very slightly, in a peck-on-cheek-of-a socialite-at-a-page3-party way. I wouldn’t have even noticed had I been in that car because, you know, God blesses some with stereos which have a physical disability and you can’t reduce the volume.

calmness tips to avoid fights road rage feelings of insecurity

Anyway, that ‘gentle’man noticed and how. He got down. Inspected the rear of his car by bending at various undescribable angles. And then. SHOUTED. Shouted so loud that even the birds mating on the nearby electricity wires decided to get a room. “Oh teri…(inappropriate).” “What the…(inappropriate)”, is how it began and went up to a stage where every word would have to be beeped out, hence not reproducing here. The guy in the other car also got down. He was trying to explain, very unsuccessfully, while this one had started hyperventilating, pointing to the almost non-existent dent on his car.
Waiting for my own car to arrive, I, along with all other typical delhiites present, were watching the scene with keen interest. Am sure some had even thought of ordering popcorn and pepsi. I was thinking what a crude man… all those abuses for a small dent on the bumper? And then he said it. Loud and clear. “Do you know who I am?” He then turned around menacingly towards the mall parking attendant. “Oh, do you know who my dad is?”
Suddenly I felt this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. We were cursing this poor man, judging him merely because of his colourful language. When he had suffered a loss of memory because of the accident. You tell me, who deserves sympathy … the guy who can’t even explain why he decided to let his car greet the other’s so physically, or this poor man who has, because of an obvious shock due to the dent on the bumper, lost all memory of his identity and was left asking strangers. I asked a fellow by-stander to help him and take him to a doctor but he gave me a weird look. Lots of people do that these days.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips to Avoid Road Rage, Fights and Feelings of Insecurity[/stextbox]

Anyway, here are my three tips of dealing with such forgetful creatures as the man in the parking lot that day.

1 Remember that the louder a person shouts in an argument, the more insecure he is from inside:

Aur kya. If you have to depend on volume to make a point, there must be something wrong with the point nah? Don’t get intimidated by raised voices. If someone, specially in a road rage episode, suddenly becomes loud and abusive, look him in the eye and say ‘let’s sort this out when you bring your voice down.’ And go stand in a corner. Haan, it’s another thing that in places like Delhi, he may just pounce on you for saying that, but take your chances.

2 Remember that saying sorry can prevent a lot of regrettable drama:

It is hard to keep screaming at a person who is apologising profusely. Isn’t it? In traffic situations where vehicles are being driven bumper to bumper, it is highly probable that cars or two-wheelers touch each other. Sometimes just a wave of hand from inside your car, acknowledging and regretting it, can save a lot of needless shouting and screaming later. Don’t let ego come in the way, even if it wasn’t your mistake. Think of all the time you’ll waste if a monster decides to descend from the other car and vent all his life’s frustration there and then.

3 Remember that in most cases where the person is shouting ‘contacts’, it works to call the bluff:

“I will make one call and then you’ll feel sorry,” is a sentence we often hear. Ask him/her to go on and make the call. Meanwhile, you also furiously start keying in random numbers on your cell phone. Dial your dry cleaner if you wish, but it is the expression that matters. Even if that guy happens to be a relative of the Prime Minister, it’ll be tough for him to get undue support. Bhai, Anna Hazare ka zamaana hai… even those in power are scared of using their influence unethically. And most importantly, remember that if you are right, you will have the conviction to face anyone, anyway. Don’t think too much before calling the cops if it starts to get bad. We have a false notion that involving cops would mean dragging the matter. Their presence may just help to keep things under control, and believe me, they too prefer to settle a matter amicably than filing reports as it adds to their own lawlessness statistics. And no, they wont ask you for bribe. It’s wrong to generalise, and paint all cops with the same brush. Keep an Anna cap in the car anyway.
It helps.
The Tension-Not calmness award this week to
– Tanveer Nishat, for being the first person to read and give wonderful feedback on this column every week, even sitting far away in the middle-east.
– Supavitra Sachdeva who, incase there is an award for the most mischievous reader in Chandigarh, will win hands down, along with his partner-in-crime Aseem Aggarwal; and
– Aman Budhiraja, who, at a very young age, displays excellent wit and sense of humour on this column’s facebook page, day after day. Long live calmness!!

Sonal Kalra wonders what happened to the guy in the mall who forgot who he was. Hope he reached home safely. Would you pray for him?