Tag Archives: Behaviour

A Calmer You: Yahan toh baat mat karo, please!

A meaningful guide to avoiding meaningless conversation. Last kab karwaya thaa?’, she asked. I closed my eyes tighter, pretending I didn’t hear her, but I knew she’d repeat the question before 10 seconds passed. She did.

I mumbled ‘last month’, though I was so tempted to say ‘Kal hi karwaya thaa. Roz nahi karwaana chahiye?’ to the girl who was doing my pedicure. But that would have prolonged a needless conversation. Needless, yes, that is the word. I guess the staff at beauty salons and spas are told to strike a conversation with the clients so that the latter don’t get bored but what they are not taught is when not to start a conversation. In fact, ‘when not to strike a conversation’ is a question most of us would fail to answer.

A Calmer You Yahan toh baat mat karo, please

In a way, it’s a very sweet thing that we Indians are people-friendly, unlike the West, where people refuse to acknowledge even the next door neighbours. But then sometimes we take this friendly nature too far. Just as in a spa when all that one would want is peaceful silence, there are so many other situations where small talk is not welcome. But most people just don’t get it. Minakshi from my team, who travels by the metro, says she hates it when after a hectic day, the moment she sits in the train for her journey back home and begins to relax, some stranger decides to dive into a Modi Vs Rahul Gandhi debate.

Chalo that’s still topical and shows we care about who’s gonna lead us, but then people insist on discussing everything, right from the weather to the next episode of Bigg Boss — especially with the person who is visibly reluctant to talk. ‘The worst is when someone decides to ask personal questions,’ adds Navdeep, who recently got married and sports a ‘chooda’, narrating how she gets free advice to ‘deal with the in-laws’ in the metro, when she had never asked for it. Well, I am of a rather talkative nature and think of small talk as a good way to pass the time, but then I do see a point in what these girls said. More than what is being discussed, it is the setting or the situation which sometimes makes conversations needless, pointless and if I may say so, inappropriate.

So here are some situations where, if you start a needless conversation, be sure that someone will go home and crib about you. 1Elevator chit-chat: I’ve always seen people behave very oddly, inside a lift. Some of them cut off what they are speaking mid-sentence the second the elevator door closes, and almost stop to breathe till it opens, as if they are being held hostage. Some depressingly stare at the ceiling like it’s going to fall any second. And some decide to start the most uncomfortable conversation ever. ‘Phir uske boss ko pata toh nahi chala?’ is what a colleague recently asked me in a lift full of people, going up by 17 floors. I silently slapped her thrice in my head but not sure if she got them, because my silence was met by ‘hain?’

All I could reply was ‘I’ll just tell you’, wondering why she would not have the common sense to not indulge in risky office gossip in a lift full of colleagues. We just don’t know how to behave in an elevator, period. As it is, it’s tough to deal with the irritation of people stopping the lift only to go up by one floor, and paranoids repeating their floor number like maniacs to the lift operator. On top of that, an inappropriate, loud conversation in front of strangers could be a killer. My advice? Save the oxygen being used up in talking. Who knows when the lift may get stuck for hours? 🙂 2Hospital sympathy talk: The logic for people wanting to talk in the hospital waiting rooms is mostly anxiety. You are worried about your loved one admitted for treatment, and you reach out to someone else who may be in a similar position. All that is understandable. But sample this. ‘Hua kaise yeh?’ ‘Kya kehta hai doctor?’ The answers to these questions have to be repeatedly given by the patient’s attendant to all the visiting relatives, and also to all the strangers who decide to talk. In a mental state that sometimes craves only for some peaceful moments to pray.

If you feel that an anxious soul in the hospital waiting room is looking for someone to share the anxiety with, by all means reach out. But if all you’re getting is uncomfortable looks and one-word answers, it’s time you got the message, no? 3Loo Hullabaloo: I know, I know, you don’t want to hear this when you are reading your morning newspaper over a hot cuppa. But then some of you may also be reading this in exactly the place I can’t help but talk about here. What is with people wanting to talk while peeing? See, I don’t know how it goes with the guys but one of the biggest mysteries which I’ve finally given up exploring the cause of, is why girls don’t like going to the washroom alone. It’s like a community thing to do, perhaps it encourages bonding. ‘Who’s coming to the loo?’ is usually announced with much festive cheer in classrooms, restaurants, offices. And then 2-3 women chirpily move towards a place meant to answer the nature’s call — IN PEACE!. But no, that won’t happen, because, you know, girls and lips. They have to move. So a conversation that starts on the way, carries on even when one of them has closed the door and deposited herself on the seat. Now here’s why I have a problem with it. n It’s weird, it’s unnecessary, it can wait n Others can hear you. Among other sounds they can’t avoid hearing n It can cause…umm… performance anxiety if the topic of discussion is intense. What if it stops mid-stream? Think about it. Before the girls decide to kill me, Let me say that I’m sure the guys do this too.

And from whatever I have seen in movies, they stand too close to each other in the act, and that should make it more awkward to have conversations. 2-4 minute wait kar lo yaar, aisa kya toofan hai? And yeah, sometimes it can cause acute embarrassment. I once went to the public loo in a market, the one which had two cubicles. The first one was occupied, so I got inside the second one. The moment I, well, started, a girl’s voice from the adjoining cubicle said, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ Finding it most weird but not wanting to be rude, I mumbled ‘fine, thanks.’

After a few seconds, the voice said, ‘So what are you up to?’ Rather shocked at the gall, I snapped back ‘exactly what you are up to’. The next thing I heard was ‘Sorry, I’ll call you back. Some idiot woman in the next toilet is answering all my questions.’

Lesson learnt.

Sonal Kalra used to take lectures on how to start a conversation. Now after this, no one will invite her anymore.

What a sad end to a career.

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A calmer you: Some people just WON’T GROW UP!

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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.

A Calmer You: Is the green-eyed monster attacking?

When someone is jealous of you, it only means you have what they want. She came, she sat, she cried. That’s pretty much how I can sum up every visit of Bansuri Chaddha to my house. As bugged as I get of the very un-bansuri like sounds she makes while crying, I never deny her the shoulder. It’s not easy to be born to, and to then live in the same house with one of the most irritating men this world has seen. And talking of Chaddha ji, I’m perpetually amazed at his here’s-a-new-way-to-piss-you-off ability. Bansuri narrated, in great detail, how the whole family is now reeling under his newfound obsession with envy. So Chaddha ji, who is a property dealer, was negotiating a deal for the sale of a plot in our area. Another property agent, whose son happens to be Bansuri’s classmate, managed to outdo Chaddha ji in striking the deal. Now he’s jealous.

A Calmer You Is the green-eyed monster attacking
And jealous with such uncontrollable zeal that he doesn’t mind expressing it in the most juvenile manner. So not only is this other property agent finding strange and sudden mishaps ranging from deflated car tyres and excessive garbage around his house, Bansuri has been ordered to stay away from his son. “He doesn’t realise that jealousy is turning him into such a negative person. How to harm that other family is all that we talk about at the dinner table these days,” cried Bansuri. Keeping my mean streak from telling her that nothing can ‘turn’ her dad into a negative person, I simply nodded. Jealousy is a pretty powerful emotion… it not only consumes the person who suffers from it but also ropes in unwilling participants. So if two sisters-in-law are jealous of each other, their husbands will have little more than woes to listen to, all the time. If a colleague suffers from bouts of jealousy, his behaviour will spread nothing but negativity around the team.
In today’s column, I had a choice between addressing either the victims of someone else’s jealousy or those who suffer from envy towards others. I’m choosing the latter because a person who suffers from jealousy pangs, simply because someone else has got a better deal in life, is usually in a much bigger state of stress than the subject of his envy. Here’s the thing…
* You feel jealous because you feel life’s been unfair towards you. That you should have got what the other, less-deserving person has managed to get.
* Your mind then gets all consumed by thoughts of how you can harm that person so that he can’t enjoy what he has got unfairly.
* This leaves almost no time for you to think about how you could improve your own fortune, or better yet, appreciate what you may already have.
* Not being able to do the above leads to a further gap between the other person’s fortune and yours.
So this my dear is the dreaded term – vicious cycle – that you keep reading about. Dekho, one simple point is that you can’t really change someone else’s destiny. So all the nasty, little tricks that you may try in order to harm the person you are jealous of, can actually tick God off into giving him even more. So woh toh karo mat. Focus instead on yourself and try these…

1. Ban the word ‘comparison’ : We all have a quick tendency to compare ourselves with people who we think are in the same strata as us. So you tend to compare your marks with a friend because he is in the same class as you. You compare your appraisals with colleagues who are in the same salary bracket as you. You compare the size of your car with a neighbour who lives in the same area as you. What you forget is how superficial these so-called similarities are. Look deeper and you’ll realise that every person, no matter how similar he may be in age, looks, social standing, academic background etc, has a very different story to him. And that you NEVER know someone else’s true story. A neighbour who is flaunting a big car and a big smile everyday may be drinking himself into coma every night out of depression. The colleague who gets promoted every year, may have his wife shouting the daylights out of him at home. The classmate who seems most popular may be running around counsellors to cure his or her insecurities and complexes. If outer trappings could be definite indicators of happiness, Shah Rukh Khan would be the happiest person in the country. Maybe he is, maybe he curses his life every night before he goes to bed. Who knows? The point is simple: when comparisons are anyway invalid because they are being done on wrong parameters, why kill yourself by feeling jealous over them? It’s like reading about the state of the economy in Greece and getting all stressed-out sitting in Bhatinda. Vele ho kya?

2. Love yourself, more than anyone else: Sounds selfish but I have a firm belief that it is the biggest key to happiness.  Jealousy stems from the belief that you are not as good as the other person. Now that we’ve decided to remove the other person from the scene, you have no choice but to focus on what’s great within you.
And there is always something unique and great within each one of us. We just blind ourselves to it. For a change, fall utterly, madly and completely in love with yourself — the way you look, the way you talk, the way you work. Bhaad mein jaaye duniya and the thought that you may be turning vain. We’ll control the vanity bit when it comes to that. For once, think of yourself as the best and jealousy would soon stop knocking at your door. It doesn’t like to wait for long in front of closed doors.

3. Feel happy for the person you’re jealous of: I know saadhu sant type advice hai, but try it out if you can. You’ll feel so good about yourself that it’ll be worth the try. Lemme give you a silly example because I specialise in those. If out of jealousy, you’ll keep wishing bad things and ill luck for your friends or classmates (for example wishing that they don’t get admission in a good college and you do), and if God happens to be in a weird mood and grants your wishes, do you know what will happen? When after a few years, you would want to do a reunion with your friends, you’ll end up in a gathering of depressed losers. Wouldn’t it be better to wish well for everyone and have a room full of successful, happy friends instead? This is true for everything in life. The happiness that comes out of seeing someone fall is momentary and fake. The one that comes with them walking side by side, giving you company, is way deeper and long lasting. Make a choice!
Sonal Kalra told Bansuri to discuss Shah Rukh Khan at the dinner table and stay away from jealousy. By the way, it’s an Italian dinner table. How could Chaddha ji afford it? Some people are so damn lucky.

Loving But Sometime Strange

Finally I am at home, enjoying  mama’s delicacies, 24*7 internet, awesome time with friends, no classes, no study( as if I studied in hall 9!),a bit of scolding every now and then and much-2 more!!

I have been writing a lot of poems lately, but I feel that the writer inside me is banging on the closet to get out, to be free… (He! He! I like fancy writing!!)

Ok! Now the writer is free. What about the TOPIC? What should I write about?..Hm..m..m..mm..hhh!..

As I was wondering, MOM came in. She looked serious.

“Beta! Why don’t you put that brown Monkey Cap.? It’s getting so cold; you will catch Cold soon “she asked.

I gave her an astonished look. “Come on! MOM! I am sitting in my room not on a mountain, am not gonna put that stupid-brown-monkey-cap anyways. (I was serious; I was not going to be a laugh stock for visitors!)

Loving But Sometime Strange

Mom gave me dirty looks. “With how much love, I had made it for you? And you used to like it earlier. But now you don’t care at all!”She said in a disappointed voice. Before I could try something, she went away.

I felt absurd. What’s my mistake? Should I have put that cause-of-matter cap? Did I hurt her? Was I rude? Ewwwh! How on earth I used to like that Brown-monkey-Cap?

Next, in a moment of sheer enlightenment I got my topic…… (Drum roll! Please?)…….PARENTS!!

Ok! I am sure about this fact that we guys don’t connect the word “interesting” with Parents (though the word LOVING is always attached to them) but I want you to ogle at this topic.

Everyone loves his parents. So do I. Could still remember, the day when I cried more than a bride when mom and Dad left me in school in K.G.?You know what? I got teased for this, by my female classmate till class 8 after which I went to a BOY’S school. I just took all that embarrassment to prove how much we love our parents… (You can salute me! I am ok with it)

They are our idol in some ways. I still couldn’t make out dads secret to handle situations so calmly and make friends so easily, when everybody around him is dead silent. Mom is really a very hard working woman, who has carried her responsibility so well and Mind it! She is a top seed bargainer … ( I never told her that I had bought the same jeans she gifted..But had to pay twice)

But we can’t skip the fact that parents can be really bugging at times. For instance, they won’t let you keep your mobile under your pillow at nights. They will safeguard you from the ghosts of late night talks and texts and if you protest “Dad why can’t I have my mobile with me at nights?”Then you better be ready for some cross questions (counter strike may be a better word….and i am a big pf the game also)

What do you have to do with it, at such a late time? Who calls you that late? What stupid, good-for-nothing jokes you have to send..?

“Dad! I keep my alarms on my mobile!” I replied to deliver some sense.

“NONSENSE! Who would require an alarm to get up at 10 in the morning?”He says angrily. Next, I forfeit.

Another time, you will play the awesome game of prince of Persia (warrior within) on your P.C. and Dad will come from behind, stare at the desktop and start his monologue” What aim do you think it will serve you? All you doing is banging the ‘poor’ keyboard buttons and killing people in that virtual world.”

Hello??  Dad! I am the Prince here, Prince Of Persia, to be precise and am just fighting for my empire! ( I could feel a sword in my hand that time)

Whatever? Finish it soon! I want you to read an editorial in today’s newspaper, written by Rajdeep Sardesai, be sure that you do it because I will discuss it with you later.

“DAMN…..!!” is all you say and that to softly.

If there is a special occasion like you going out with your family then MOM will make it sure that  you become a CLOTH-STOCK. She just decorates so many clothes on you that anyone can mistake you for a BOMB-DIFFUSING squad member than a party guy.

Don’t talk about social networking with parents. You don’t have to thank MR. KAPIL SIBAL for that, actually parents and social media have dynastic hatred. I was more screwed up than ARJUNA ( I just love putting those extra A) in MAHABHARATA when Dad  asked me the password of my GMAIL account. Poor I, LORD KRISNA didn’t come for my rescue.

i still remember the scenario when   i wrote the poem “Girl! Somehow, one day, you will read these lines”? No Son would like his parents to come across such a poem written by him only. At least I wouldn’t. But thanks to ALMIGHTY (who has decided to use all His might against me) it came across DAD.

Casually, DAD read the title loudly and he was shocked, he read it again (softer this time). He slowly went through the body (of poem, off course!), gave me a strange look, I nervously stood next to him. He continued reading (with every passing stanza his voice became softer). It’s really an absurd feeling to hear stuffs like “flirt”,” you will be mine”, an arrow struck at my heart”..etc..etc…in your DAD’s voice only.. I wanted to a dig a pit and slip into it till DAD forget about the poem, I also cursed myself for writing long poems.

Finally poem was red; DAD was silent and serious with his eyes still on poem. Tension had enveloped the environment. “So I guess all this stuff is imaginary?” he asked with his eyebrows lifted.

“Sure! Dad, it’s all about imagination” I meekly replied.

“OH! …..Nice Piece, anyways” he smiled with a hint of glee and then he went away.

It’s really hard to understand your parents sometimes. It may because till the extent of our perspective they are only parents and just-only parents, nothing else. But they are more …..just like us yet so different. So loving yet so strange.

A Calmer You: we have eyes. We will use them

Just as sun won’t stop rising from the east, some people won’t stop staring at others. Real scientific study: So you are in the public transport, or driving down a street when you notice someone staring hard at you. You go and ask the person what they are looking at.

Depending on which country you are in, this is what’s likely to be the response:

America: Well, sorry. Guess I was just looking through you.

Britain: I beg your pardon? Are you suggesting I have a vision defect?

Italy: Maybe because you are so good-looking, I couldn’t help it. Sorry.

India: Hamari aankhein hain, hum toh dekhenge. Kar lo jo karna hai.

Welcome to the land of stare-o-maniacs.

Hamein toh shauk hai bhai… We don’t really need any specific reason to stare. Arrey, we have to cover such long distances while going to college or office. Ab bore hote rahein? The only available entertainment is looking at people.Haan, it’s another thing that we are born lazy. Who will take the trouble of shifting the gaze from one person to other? So normally, we let it fix on someone and keep staring the hell out of him or her. Mostly her, but what the heck. Bandi nahi toh banda sahi. We will just stare, it’s our national preoccupation, and our democratic birthright.

A Calmer You - calmness tips to deal with staring eyes
I have written about them earlier also in this column, but stare-o-maniacs is a breed that never ceases to fascinate me. Some of them do not even need the usual setting of a public place to exercise this unique talent. Once I used to live in an apartment where the balcony directly faced the balcony of the opposite house. I would get up in the morning and go out to pick up the newspaper, only to find the nice woman in the opposite house staring straight and hard at me. I would instinctively nod and say good morning to her in the hope that it would end the staring session, but she would keep at it. After re-looking and revamping my nightclothes wardrobe  thrice in the fear that something in my appearance made her do it, I realised I was just getting paranoid. It was about her, not me.

Geetika Mishra, a reader of this column, wrote to me asking me to suggest calmness tips to deal with people who constantly stare. “Newton’s first law should have been: An eye that is staring will continue to stare with a uniform intensity in a straight line unless it is expelled by an external thrashing force to change its state of stare,” she wrote. Well, Geetika, that’s well put, though that proposed thrashing force or the chaanta has more potential to complicate the matters rather than bring about calmness. Here’s what I feel are the options if you find a pair of strangers’ eyes affixed on you for no apparent reason.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips to Deal with People Fond of Staring at Others[/stextbox]

1. Look the other way: Seems like the easiest solution, though you’d mostly find the creepy gaze still on you if you look back. But then why look back? If the situation permits, change your position in such a way that you can totally avoid looking at the stare. And please, for once, apply the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ adage here and stop wondering whether the person is still looking at you. This whole thing of ‘I could still feel his eyes on me even when I turned way’ is pretty bullshit. You feel nothing till you want to feel it. Truth of life.
2. Don’t be hypersensitive: Just as those who stare at others perhaps have a hobby of doing so, a lot of people also have the hobby of thinking that the world revolves around them. To them it seems like everyone is concerned just with how they look or behave, so they always find others staring at them. It won’t help in life to become so hypersensitive about self. All you’ll end up doing is picking fights with strangers or getting stressed within yourself. Learn to ignore, not just others but sometimes your own vanity. Hiding his online status just to maintain peace in the relationship is actually making him lie to you, something that he wouldn’t want to do if you were not this hyper about instant responses.

3. Assume you are awesome: When my Grandfather’s second cousin Mr Darwin proposed the theory of evolution, he generalised human beings as a species and showed us how we evolved from the apes. What he forgot to mention is that we may all decide to stop at different stages of evolution. So, you see, we as a breed are available in different shapes and sizes. Normally, people who get most stared at belong to the either extremes — either they are too blessed in the looks department or they stand out for some physical attribute or style of dressing that’s out of the ordinary. Rather than fret and worry what’s wrong with you, always try to assume that you belong to the first category.
Take it as a compliment that people can’t take their eyes off you because you are so awesome. In any case, there’s precious little you can do in most situations, why not at least feed your own mind with positive self-esteem. Haan, let these thoughts remain in your head only, don’t suddenly start acknowledging it to all those around you. A firang friend of mine once said that if someone in her country stares at her, she smiles back and it works. I told her that we would have liked to execute the same noble deed here, except that in our country if you start to smile at someone who’s staring at you, there’s more likelihood of him following you home than just reciprocating the gesture. To each his own. Sigh.

4. Get all funny: I have tried this and it works, but please do this at your own risk after evaluating the conditions. It’s fun to embarrass the one staring by making funny faces, or staring back at him or her full blast, as if challenging them to a ‘who-blinks-first’ game. I’ve even covered my face with my hands and slowly removed them to play  peek-a-boo with someone who wouldn’t stop staring. He looked away when everyone around started laughing. Sometimes people have no malicious intentions and they don’t even realise that they are staring. They can join the laughter too. It’s fun.

5. Confront: Well, the last resort. If you are certain none of the above is working and the stare is bothering the hell out of you, go upto the person and ask them what they are looking at. You could even shout your question out, as drawing attention mostly wards off a stare. No, wait, why not start pointing to your nose and picking it vigorously? That’s bound to put the creep off. I know it’s not nice or mature, but when did I claim to be nice…or mature?
Sonal Kalra has decided to join classes to learn the art of prolonged staring without blinking. With the second largest population, anywhere she sees there’ll be people. Might as well do it the right way. Kar lo jo karna hai.

A Calmer You: how to permanently kill your sense of humour

Even a flicker of laughter is henceforth banned on this column. You have to pass a test before I let you read this week’s write-up. Get up and go in front of the mirror. Carefully look at the photo of the girl on this page and then at yourself in the mirror. Ensure that your facial expression is as pathetic, forlorn and sad, if not more. Khabardaar agar smile kiya toh! Through advanced augmented reality, I’ll get to know who is smiling, and my curse will ensure that your face bears a constipated look every single time you get photographed for the rest of your life. Those of you who haven’t got married yet, apni wedding albums ke bare mein soch lo. You can’t afford to take this risk, can you? Now with the serious face, try to understand my point this week. After leading an utterly useless life that involved baring my teeth and giggling away to glory at the slightest provocation, I have finally found a mission in life.

sense-of-humor

To attain, and help everyone around me attain a state of zero sense of humour. Because in the past few days, some people have helped me realise that laughter is the silliest of human emotions. That it is frivolous and wasteful to tickle the funny bone when you can utilise that time to indulge in critical and meaningful activities like getting offended and preaching morals. And haven’t you noticed, serious people are way cooler than us idiots who can’t contain their laughter and let out strange, gurgling sounds from the throat. Toh maine toh decide kar liya. No cracking jokes anymore. In any case, most people don’t get my twisted sense of humour. And it gets me into trouble more often than I care.

Last week I went to the neighbourhood park for a walk, and then sat on the bench to watch small kids play on the swings. A woman sitting next to me tried to strike a conversation and asked which of the children was mine. Intently gazing ahead with a devilish expression, I replied “I’m still trying to decide”. Before I could pat my back on my brilliant joke, the woman had rushed to collect her child and warn others about the demented kidnapper on the bench. Reputation barbaad in the colony, permanently. Hasna hi nahi ji mujhe ab…not at all.

And this came exactly a day after a police constable scolded me, when, on seeing a road-side sign that said ‘Yeh bus-stop aage chala gaya hai’, I scribbled underneath – ‘Usey jaane kisne diya?’ I got a long lecture about how padhe-likhe people should not indulge in mazaak. Anyway, his scolding was justified, but this thing of how I can be cool, mysterious and intellectual only if I’m serious in life has entered my head strongly now. So, for myself, and for all of you who need growing up, here are tips to become permanently serious.

1. Be a joke killer: Go to a temple and take the oath that you’ll never let a joke break your resolve of not laughing like mad people who have no control over their emotions. If someone says a joke, stare at them as if they’ve lost it. In fact, read up all the jokes on the net, so that if someone tries telling a joke, you can kill their punchline, or make that genius remark – ‘Suna hua hai. Puraana hai’. I’ve seen people do this to others’ jokes and although all this while I hated such spoilsports, now suddenly I have newfound respect for them. In fact, I demand a special reward for those brave people who take pride in saying ‘hamein toh hansi nahi aayi’ when someone tells a joke. They are the real assets because of who India continues to hold a serious position in the global scenario, otherwise the velapanti gang of non-serious people would have laughingly destroyed our image. Flippant fools, I tell you.

2. Take everything literally: Wipe off the concept of metaphors or clever phrases from your head. Be an expert at missing the point and start taking everything anyone says literally. You may be branded as an annoying ass but so what? It’s all for a good cause. Argue endlessly with people as if they mean everything they’ve said. Slowly people will start avoiding saying anything non serious in front of you. The shallow frivolities will be out and life will become meaningful.

3. Make a mental bank of sad thoughts: Since I’m trying it out these days, let me tell you that reaching the zero sense of humour stage is not as easy as it sounds. Your body will want to revolt, a smile will try hard to escape your mouth in certain situations. But you have to be strong. What really helps is having a bank of sad thoughts in your head. The moment something funny starts to happen around you, retrieve an image from the bank – it could be the first time you got thrashed by the school teacher, or the moment when your girlfriend made you spend all your pocket money in a single date, or the state of poverty in Africa, or the rising corruption in our country. Anything that’ll keep you from feeling happy at that moment.  I’ll personally congratulate you once you’ll reach that level of turning sad anytime you want to. What an achievement sir ji!

4. Act depressed: This is tough, but together we can manage it if we try really hard. Stop wearing bright colors, switch over to earthy, dull shades. Keep your eyes a bit droopy all the time, and your expression confused and fed up. When you say something, don’t let even a hint of enthusiasm enter your voice. If someone else tries to speak to you, say ‘hain?’ with an utterly irritated expression at least thrice. Make them feel as if they are THE burden on mother earth and should not take the risk of saying anything non-serious in front of you. Every once in a while, go on facebook and leave sad, preachy comments on all the so-called funny status updates. Do it on my timeline too. Oh, you already do so? Okay.

5. Make fraandship only with serious people: Stick to people who are unfunny since birth. I once found one such woman in a hospital. She said she was there to ‘donate’ her eyes, rather than ‘pledging’ her eyes for donation. So I asked her, with all genuineness, if she had someone to take her back home since she won’t be able to see. She shouted so rudely at me that for a moment I was also tempted to be equally rude and add that if she decides to donate her entire body, a hungry family of four in certain countries could survive just on her right thigh for a year, but stopped myself just in time to avoid being slapped. I have now decided to pursue her till she makes me her best friend. Together we’ll spend our lives, spreading the message of seriousness all around us. Amen.

Sonal Kalra declares that nothing will make her laugh anymore. The only exception is Chaddha ji doing Kapaalbhaati aasan in the balcony…lol.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Calmer You: I dare you to judge me!!

If your friends poke fun at you for how you are, allow me to poke fun at your choice of friends. After the intense reaction to the re-run of last two weeks’ columns about girls vs boys, my rather odd belief that girls strangely tend to love the ones that hurt them, and that boys sadly tend to hurt the ones they love, was kinda reaffirmed. Anyhow, in the barrage of feedback mails that came my way, including the ones that first accused me of being a guy in disguise and the following week termed me a balls-buster feminist, there were two that stood out.

A-Calmer-You-I-dare-you-to-judge-me

These mails came from two distinct parts of India, and were written by two people of opposite genders, yet spoke of the same raw nerve. While Ambika from Lucknow said she loves her inclination to dress and behave like a tomboy, Ankur from Patiala confessed to hating the fleeting feminine traits he has in his behaviour. Both of them, however, share a commonality. They are both very, very stressed about the reaction of people around them to how they dress and speak. “Just because I love to sport short ‘boy-cut’ hair and only wear jeans and T-shirts, some of my friends have indirectly asked me if I am lesbian,” writes Ambika. “My friends tease me all the time that I’m gay, but believe me, I am not,” says Ankur. Well, Ankur, don’t ask me for my belief, because I, frankly, just don’t care if you are gay or not. And I will not even want to take this discussion to the gay-lesbian angle because as I’ve said earlier, which gender turns you on is your, and only your business. Not mine, not the world’s.

Let’s talk about the stress you are facing on account of friends teasing you for speaking or behaving like the members of the other gender. The very fact that both of you used the term ‘friends’ to describe these people smacks of irony, but I know your definition here includes classmates and acquaintances. So let’s just correct that definition first, shall we? Here, think about it…
1 If they are friends, they won’t judge you:
2 If they judge you, it’s twice as fun to ignore them
3 If you ignore them, you’ll start loving yourself
4 If you love yourself, they will want to be your friends
5 If they want you as a friend, they won’t judge you

I want to ask a question of each one of you who’s reading this just now. Can you, hand on heart, claim that never in your life have you made fun of a guy who happens to speak in a girlie way. I can’t. I’ve laughed at actors attempting such scenes in comedy films. Sometimes, with seemingly good intention, I’ve advised female friends to flaunt feminity and not opt for really short hair etc. But the more I think about it now, I realise how less I cared for what it must be doing to their feelings at that point. All that I perhaps cared for was to satisfy the stereotypes in my own head of how others should be.

Being judgmental comes very easily to us. And someone’s outwardly trappings such as appearance, clothes, accent etc are the easiest targets when it comes to feeding that habit. What we forget is that whatever we know of these trappings is borne out of our own conditioning, not by any rule of the universe. Somewhere while growing up, we acquired the knowledge that since a majority of guys and girls in this world walk or talk a certain way, that’s how we, or those around us, are supposed to. Now imagine for a moment that a new, inhabited country is discovered somewhere in the world. When our explorers reach there, they realise that all women in that country sport a short crop and all men have long, flowing hair. Suddenly all your beliefs would be turned upside down by the realisation that it’s all conditioning, and nothing else.

While I would like to reserve my right of holding an opinion on whether I like a girl who dress up as ‘tomboys’ (whatever silly origin that term has), I will have to accord the right to that girl to have the freedom of deciding what she wants to look like. If I need to tease a feminine guy or a masculine girl to get the laughter in my life, it’s my sense of humour that needs an overhaul, not their appearance.

And while on this point, this is what I want to tell all the Ambikas and Ankurs of this world. People are going to judge you or talk about you for as long as you live. They mostly don’t have anything better to do with their lives. But you do. And that’s achieving the high of being able to give them a royal ignore. You know, there’s a reason why the middle finger of my hand is my most favourite. Lest your so called ‘friends’ accuse me of obscenity, let me clarify that it’s only because God made it half an inch longer than the others. But you do get the point, don’t you? Embrace the way you are, the way you look. Go mad trying out whatever your heart desires, as long as you are not harming yourself or others in the process. Ek hi life hai yaar, that too pretty short. Either spend it their way, or yours. Something tells me that yours is so more fun.

Sonal Kalra realised that both guys and girls feel, equally strongly, that their lives are tougher. No one’s cakewalking. We’re all just trying to have our cake, and eat it too!

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A calmer you: Help! My girlfriend is upset

Just two days after we all bowed down, or were made to, before the ‘fairer sex’ (totally meaningless term, by the way) in the name of International Women’s Day, I dedicate this week’s column to the hapless guys all over the world. Hapless — and I could’ve said helpless too — because of the sheer torture they sometimes suffer at the hands of the girls in their life. The trigger is this mail I got from Krishabh from Indore, the excerpts of which I’d like to share here. ‘My girlfriend gets upset @ 5 times a day. That’s the minimum. I love her and all that, but I feel all my energy just goes in manaoing her and saying sorry a million times. It’s another thing that mostly, I don’t even know what I’m saying sorry for. She sulks endlessly and doesn’t bother to tell me what has hurt her. She says if I love her, I should know. Please help, and don’t disclose my name.’ Well, Krishabh, I so wanted to respect your wish of staying anonymous, but not being able to ignore your attempts at jamming my inbox by sending this mail nine times in the last one week, I’m only adding another letter to your name. So technically, I’m not disclosing your identity but secretly hope this does its bit in shooting up your girlfriend’s ‘average’.

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That said, you have my full sympathies for trying to deal with a sulk. It is never easy to be with partners or spouses who decide to use the relationship as a platform to unleash negative behavioural traits, the worst of which is sulking. Also I wonder why people forget the ‘friend’ part the moment they turn into a ‘girlfriend’ or a ‘boyfriend’ to someone. You wouldn’t treat your friends with a perpetually long face because you know they’d leave you in an instant. Just because a boyfriend won’t, it doesn’t mean you take him for granted. In my opinion, someone who often gets upset without caring to even tell the reason doesn’t really deserve to be cared for too much anyway. But then Krishabh my dear, you clearly are in ‘love and all that’ with the sulking beauty and well, to each his own. Here’s what you could do….

[stextbox id=”info”]Boyfriends Girlfriends Fight – Calmness Tips on How to Deal with it[/stextbox]

1. Stop apologising: You are not doing yourself a favour if you are saying sorry to your partner all the time, especially when you don’t know what you are apologising for. Because if you don’t know, you’ll keep repeating whatever has hurt her in the first place. Always remember that uttering ‘sorry’ without meaning it, is worse than not apologising at all.

2. Don’t indulge tantrums: Whenever a person sulks too often, they are essentially trying to manipulate the relationship to make you feel responsible for their emotional immaturity. Encourage this behaviour and you’ll be digging your own grave. I know a guy whose girlfriend’s pet phrase in life is ‘I’m not talking to you’. I and his other friends would see her do that to him in public, and the more he responded with ‘Why honey, what have I done’, the more difficult it was becoming for all of us to look for places to throw up after this excessive display of mollycoddling. Until one day, we sat him down and told him what she was turning him into. He had to realise that him constantly giving into her tantrums was making her feel she was winning at it, and would make her repeat the behaviour far too often. It was not helping either of them, or the relationship in the long run. Next time she said it, he responded with, ‘okay. I’m here whenever you feel like talking.’ It wasn’t negative, and it did the trick. Indulging the excesses of a loved one is a nice gesture at times. But only at times.

 [stextbox id=”black”]It’s completely impossible to find someone who won’t ever hurt you, so go for someone who will make the pain worthwhile. – Author Unknown.[/stextbox]

3. Understand the gender bender: No matter how much we talk about equality in relationships, it is important for both genders to understand the inherent behavioural differences between males and females. Since this week’s column is primarily addressing the guys, let me tell them how a girl’s psyche works. They want conflicting things, and are often unclear themselves about what exactly they are looking for. They’d want attention, but would freak out and call you possessive when you’ll give too much of it. They’d like to be pampered but would behave with defiance when you’ll be at it. In a nutshell, girls are pretty messed up in the head, most of the times… and then there is PMS! But these unpredictable emotional swings may just be the endearing thing about them. Try and understand that, and you’ll sail through. The idea is not to take their mood swings personally and let them know that you are around to care if, when and in the amount that they would desire that care.

4. Talk it out: Oh well, girls love to talk. Didn’t you know that already? Every girl’s favourite and every guys most dreaded sentence in a relationship is ‘We need to talk’. So go ahead, do it for once if her behaviour is taking a toll on your mental health. Tell her it’s not pleasant to see a long face several times in a day and remind her that constant fighting leaves little time for expressing love, and she may just enjoy the latter more.

5. Love or leave: I’m not asking you to dump her. Well actually I am, but only if you are sure that it’s not possible for you to go on being with an ill-behaved adult-child. Rather than living with the guilt of ending a relationship, give her the choice of ‘love or leave’. Tell her you would like to give your relationship a genuine try, but not at the cost of their mood being in the driver’s seat all the time. It’s not too much to ask for, is it? And if you explain yourself clearly, and she still doesn’t get it, it’ll be time to ask yourself some serious questions. Remember, once the charm of a new relationship wears off, the negative traits in a person seem all the more starker. It’s important to sometimes step back and foresee that situation.

Sort your life out, Krishabh. Five times a day is a pretty horrifying average. Bring it down, or bring it all down. And hey, sorry about your identity. But I may just have helped you. Do write back. Not nine times.

Sonal Kalra can never become a relationship counsellor. She’ll keep advising people to break-up and keep losing clients. Hey, is there a job called break-up counsellor?