Tag Archives: Calmness Tips

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

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

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A Calmer You: there’s no party tonight!!

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Hey, all those who are sick and tired of being asked by people how they are partying on New Year’s eve, let’s do a party. Party of the so-called ‘bores’ who, for whatever reasons, don’t want to go out and paint the town red on 31st December. I’m one of them. I have nothing, in principle, against being four drinks down and not quite remembering which year is starting when the clock strikes twelve, but I have issues with doing this under peer pressure.

There were those good ol’ days not many years back when we would excitedly discuss what would come on television on the night of 31st December. The whole family would huddle together to clap and cheer some not-so-successful film stars who would oblige TV viewers for once, by making an appearance on Doordarshan’s new year eve special programme. Usha Uthup, wearing her big large bindi and chanting Happy New Year, in her heavy voice, would ring into our years well past midnight. Then came the barrage of private TV channels, and they started running telecast of various film award shows on New Year’s eve for vellas like me who wouldn’t be out partying. Ab toh shayad woh bhi nahi aata…usually TV channels have some blockbuster film being aired for the 23rd time…just as to say…here, take this, losers. If you are that aalsi or anti-social that you prefer sitting in the rajai as the world welcomes the new year, you deserve no more than the dialogues of Chennai Express when the calendar changes dates. Well, theek hai, I’m okay being called anti-social because I’m running out of excuses when I’m faced with the dreaded question. Sample this conversation I had with a colleague the other day:

He: So, what’s your plan for the New Year’s?A Calmer You there’s no party tonight
Me: I’ll avoid going out. Too much fog on the roads.
He: This time no fog predicted on that evening. Some western disturbances from Rajasthan have blown it away
Me: Oh, good. But anyway, roads are full of drunk drivers
He: Our own paper has done stories about how the police is too strict this time to check drunken driving.
Me: Actually, restaurants have too much of waiting…it’s as if the whole city is out to eat.
He: Do you want me to book you a table? I have contacts. You must go to a place with live entertainment … that’s the whole point of New Year’s eve.
Me: No, thanks. Actually I’ve been waiting the whole year to watch if Usha Uthup comes on some channel at midnight.
He: You are quite weird.

Ab stress hoga yah nahi? It’s as if you have failed an interview if you don’t have a good enough
reason for not doing something that the whole world loves. You see, I have nothing against those who love partying and look forward to this break but the problem is with having the same expectations from those who either don’t want to, or cannot for some reason, have any party plans. To add to this, here are two sub-stresses:

1  The SMS your wish stress: Come the last few days of December and we get bitten by the SMS bug. Copy, paste, create — do whatever — but the wishes have to be texted to the 1400 contacts in your phone book. It’s party time for the telecom service providers because some polite people also diligently respond with a ‘Thank you’ message after each wish. A friend recently told me about some new Chinese app that lets you send these bulk messages on a discount without them seeming like the kanjoos ones that come through the bulk-sms-websites. But Chinese… and discounted… what if this app leaves out something from my wish, to cut costs? Health, happiness, prosperity mein se koi ek-aadha be chhoot gaya toh? I’d rather pay extra for the ‘right quality’ SMSs or make an excuse that I’ve lost my phone or something. I also once tried the excuse that I don’t message anyone because I don’t believe in the ‘English calendar’s New Year’. Someone asked me when the Hindu new year was. I didn’t know. Stress.

2 The post your party pics on Facebook stress: Ab New Year’s eve pe bhi Facebook mein kuchh update nahi kiya toh why are you alive, you moron? Everyone will update their party plans, then their party pics, then their hangover pics. If the pics and status show you dancing away in Goa…suddenly you’ve justified your existence on this planet. If by chance it’s Bali or Ibiza in place of Goa…oh boy, you have arrived, and how. The stress of competing with vacation-flaunters is no mean task I tell you. Himika from my team just told me about this ex-friend of hers (assuming that he’ll no longer be a friend after this) who would be under so much stress to post vacation pics on Facebook that he would download some ‘touristy’ pics of an exotic place like Jamaica from Google, post them up with updates on how he’s enjoying his vacation, and go underground for a few days. It’s only when the photos never showed him — or any other human being for that matter — that someone investigated to find him holed up at home. The poor guy didn’t know enough to photoshop himself on those pics. I also once tried faking an exotic vacation pic. Facebook took revenge by showing ‘posted from Shakurpur’ underneath my ‘Frolicking in Venice and loving it’ status update. I don’t like these social networking sites ever since. Technical blunders, you see.

Anyway, on a serious note —party hard, by all means. But please don’t stress others out by badgering them with questions about their plans. If they have plans and want to flaunt them, they would anyway not stop from telling you. What are you
wearing, where are you going, how are you spending — kind of questions are conversation starters for most people, without realising that they can put the other one in some kind of complex about not having a ‘happening’ enough live. Let me suggest an alternate, polite conversation starter to you. How about — ‘Is Usha Uthup performing in any TV studios this New Year’s eve?’

Sonal Kalra has decided to holiday in Jamaica, this New Year’s eve. Watch out for the pics. She has learned how to switch off ‘location info’.

All for the two blue ticks from hell

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

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

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

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

1. Take a deep breath

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

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

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

2. Ignore if you must

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

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

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

3. For the sender

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

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

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

Swachh Bharat: C’mon, it’s time to come clean

I recently saw a video that­ people have been sharing on Facebook. It shows a ­helmet clad, unidentified woman biker in Russia, who waits by the road side.

The moment she sees someone roll down their car- window and throw trash on the road, she picks up the trash, follows the car till the next traffic signal, knocks on the window and throws the trash back into the car. This form of vigilante made me wonder if such an idea of shaming a litter-bug would ever work in India.

Swachh Bharat C'mon, it's time to come clean

Even if we were to discount the fact that in this case, a woman was being a brave anti-litter crusader, back home in India, even a man would run the risk of ugly quarrels and threats if he were to object.

Hamein toh ji apni apni si lagti hain hamaari roads. Ice cream kha kar wrapper phenkna ho, yah thandi hawa mein open-air susu karna, hamaari dharti maata welcomes us with open arms. Someone dare not take this right away. Democracy hai, after all. Right?

Actually, the shamelessness when it comes to thinking of public spaces as dustbins-with-no-boundaries is so deeply engrained in our psyche, that this trait is a big leveller of status, race, caste or cultures. There’s no discrimination- we are equally indifferent when someone throws a crushed cola can from a Mercedes, as we are if someone threw a banana peel from an autorickshaw.

Aur haan, those empty beer bottles tossed out of loud music-blaring SUVs are actually symbolic of our values and love for humanity. We don’t want parents to know that we’ve been drinking in the car. So, you know, such evident respect for elders. Then we know that some poor road-side beggar will get a rupee or two by selling the empty bottle (if it hasn’t hit him in the head, that is), so it’s also donation for a good cause.

One of my rather shameless friends (I have several) once even joked that her ‘cleanliness drive’ is to ensure that the car she drives is clean, and hence she can’t hold used tissues or burger wrappers in it even for a minute. It suffocates her to see her car dirty, so she tosses them out of the car, dustbin or no dustbin.

‘Roads are anyway so dirty, and we pay taxes to have them cleaned by the sarkari sweepers’ was her defence. The fact that I made her stop the car, picked up the used tissues and held them in my hand till we reached a trash-bin, and that marked the end of me partaking in her ‘clean-drive’ is another matter.

For years after that, I was branded as this foolish activist fighting for a lost cause, by the same people who would chew gum for two hours before they saw a dustbin in Singapore, but would stick it on a park bench here in India in no time. I learned to live with it, with a sense of hopelessness, just like a lot of us activist-types.

Something suddenly changed this week. It started with our Prime Minister’s speech in America. While political pundits in Armani suites debated in TV studios about whether the focus will be on foreign investment or industrial growth, he gave the call of ‘Swachh Bharat‘ or ‘Clean India’.

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He followed it up later with an challenge to celebrities from various fields, urging them to use their influence to turn our country clean, before we embark on our mission to make India the superpower it so richly deserves to be.

‘If every Indian takes a step forward, we would take 125 crore steps forward,’ he said.

Now I’m leaving the task of smelling political motive in all this, to the intellectual columnists and intelligent TV-debaters. Mujhe toh zyada samajhdaar baatein­ samajh bhi nahi aati. But what I saw the next morning was a Diwali gift much before Diwali for all those like me who time had turned from activist-types to pessimist-types over the years.

Everyone, especially the Gen-X seemed ultra-kicked about the idea of a clean India. Right from schools to college canteens to Facebook to Whatsapp, people seemed to be motivating each other about cleaning up our country.

Also Read:  Is Modi using Kejriwal’s Broom?

Basis our individual political-affiliations, we can, of course, find faults with this campaign, like all others. But at least it woke everyone up to the very desperate need of cleanliness as a pre-requisite before we think of bigger plans for India. So, for all those who, like me, have been seeking calmness from the stress of muck all around us, here’s what we need to do…

1. First of all, don’t let the tempo die. Public memory and interest span over things, especially good ones, is dismally short. Before some stupid scandal of a voyeuristic nature takes over peoples’ attention, do promise that you’ll keep up the momentum of the Clean India drive, in your own way.

Forwarded jokes, chori ke quotes aur cute puppies ke pics toh hum whatsapp or FB pe daalte hi hain, beech beech mein keep reminding your friends about your continued promise to work towards Swachh Bharat. It’ll give you a great feeling, trust me. And don’t worry, you’ll get as many likes, if not more, than the obviously photoshopped DP 🙂

2. If you see someone throwing trash on the road, don’t just shake your head and feel sad for the state of our country. If you can’t go up to that person and politely tell them to not do it, or if they’ve conveniently sped away, do take a minute to pick up the trash and toss it in a bin.

What’s the point in getting repulsed by the thought of picking up someone’s discarded ice cream wrapper? It’s just a mindset. Okay, if the thought of germs bother you, which, by the way, would anyway spread with that trash lying on the road, then keep a pair of disposable gloves in the car with you, and do the good deed. Full nakhre ke saath karo but karo toh sahi yaar.

3. Take the pledge of at least making small changes in your own behaviour. If chewing paan or tobacco is that very important to your happiness, keep doing it but wait a minute longer to spot a trash bin and then spit out. Keep a small ­paper bag in the car to discard a ­wrapper till you spot a dustbin.

And yeah, the RWAs can do well to offer one less samosa per person at community festivals and donating that money to put up bins or make a loo for the poor drivers waiting all day outside fancy cars. If art colleges come forward, the creativity of their students can be used to give a makeover to the boring old dustbins and turn them into funky works of art. Here’s to a cleaner, prettier India. Kar ke dekhein?

Sonal Kalra spotted Chaddhaji sneakily putting his trash bag in the neighbour’s dustbin early morning. She now knows what to gift him this Diwali.

A Calmer You: Abki baar, careful yaar

Ma’am mujhe phir se sachcha pyaar ho gaya hai,’ writes Mukundan Dixit. He sends me a mail whenever he falls in ‘true love’. He sends me a mail every two months. I have several problems with Mukundan. To start with, he should remove either the first two letters or the last two letters from his name, because, you know, you can’t force-mix two perfectly valid names to produce something that requires your lips to form an awkward circular shape, each time you call out.

A Calmer You Abki baar careful yaar

Maybe, just maybe, this ­awkwardness is not letting sachcha pyaar stay on in his life for long. Who knows. Vaise who knows what sachcha pyaar is, in the first place. I don’t. Mukundan certainly doesn’t. Half of the young janta reading this column right now and texting their ‘steady’ ones from the other hand don’t. Most of us latch on to the first relationship that seems ­reasonably okay to us, and try to squeeze-fit it into the sachcha pyaar mould. Which is actually not a bad thing, considering that relationships are meant to be a lot about accepting and adapting. But then anything you squeeze too much, bursts out after a while. Science ka kuchh funda hota hai, so don’t ask me why.

So Mukundan and others like him, stay in a perpetual quest for true love and send mails to velle columnists like me, who themselves may be going through shit in life but never lose an opportunity to shell out advice just because they are perceived as experts. Well then, Muku, here’s what I think. Relationships being a very personal thing and all that, I probably can’t tell you who to opt for, but I can sure tell you what kind of a person to NOT go for. And since I don’t know or care which way you swing, this advice is gender-neutral. Run the latest candidate of your sachcha pyaar through these five moulds. And if she/he doesn’t fit in either, hang on in this relationship. And do not send me another mail so soon.

1 The unapologetic: A relationship in which only one person is always seen apologising is the most doomed of all to not be happy. An unapologetic partner – boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, is always trying to tell you that all that’s wrong is your fault. The partner who gets used to apologising for everything so that fights and arguments can be avoided, is actually getting used to slowly killing his/her self-esteem. And that, is never good in life. Close your eyes and recall the last time your partner said sorry to you over something. No matter whose fault it was. If what flashes before you are visuals only of yourself pleading and apologising, it’s time to open the eyes. Literally and otherwise.

2 The polar opposite: Yeah, I know ‘the opposites attract’ theory but if only life was till the stages of attraction. Life actually begins when the attraction settles down. And it is here that similarities matter way more than differences. I’ve seen people gloating about how they and their partners are like north-south poles, completely different, and yet so synchronised, and that adds spice to their lives. It’s absolutely great if it works for them, but in most cases, the extra spice starts to choke you, if you know what I’m saying. There isn’t too much distance to travel between ‘I LOVE my boyfriend’s shy nature’ to ‘Oh God, kuchh bolta hi nahi hai’ to ‘I can’t stay with him, he has complex issues.’ Don’t look for a replica of yourself in another gender, but don’t also fall for one who you share absolutely no common interests with. That’s two lives wasted. We are quick to match horoscopes even in this day and age. How about a compatibility quiz as annexure?

3 The non committal: A person who keeps hanging you in the lurch for small or big decisions is not just not respecting you enough, but also giving subtle hints that the relationship itself may not matter enough to them. I get countless mails from young people who are stuck in a ‘I love him/her but they say we are only good friends’ stage. Yes, not everyone is as proficient in moving on as Kundan and normal people need time to take decisions about committing but if for months or years, someone is just giving you the ‘let us explore where this goes’ line, they are bullshitting and you should know it. Now puhleez, don’t you go ‘But, I can’t take her out of my mind’ on me. Devdaas dekhne ko maine kaha thaa? Move on. There are Madhuri Dixits waiting ahead. (PS: Mukundan Dixit, this advice is not applicable to you)

4 The Unequal: You know, I have no regard for differences of caste, culture, religion, age, race etc when it comes to love. As long as the two people share a certain common value system that they imbibed while growing up. If there’s way too much inequity in the very socio-economic set-up two people grow up in, it takes its toll on a relationship. Bollywood films that show a coolie falling for a multi-millionaire’s daughter or TV documentaries about an American tourist marrying an illiterate farmer in an Indian village, make for an interesting watch, but perhaps not a very practical life. Anyway, I might be incorrect and also sachcha pyaar may be above all these differences, but I see no harm in keeping the ears open in case alarm bells about a wide inequity between you and your crush are somewhere ringing in the background. Do you?

5 The guilt-giver: This kind of a partner will ruin your life. Almost surely. A person who claims to love you but consistently makes you feel like a loser is not just being consciously or subconsciously manipulative, but is also distorting the very idea of what’s right or wrong, in your head. Sample this mail I got yesterday from a 16-year-old in Indore: “I and my boyfriend love each other too much. On the day he proposed, he made me promise that I won’t talk in a friendly way to any other boys in the class. I always kept my promise but last week when a boy commented on my FB post, I replied back with a smiley, and exchanged two comments with him. I have been feeling horrible ever since and I confessed to my BF. He shouted at me and says he wants to break-up as I’ve broken his trust. How do I tell him I’ll never repeat the mistake?” Well my dear Indore-girl, yes there is a grave mistake in your life. Sadly, you’ve not written his name. Need I say more?

Sonal Kalra is writing a ‘how to find sachcha pyaar for dummies’ guide. Any publishers interested?

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

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

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

A Calmer You So, are you a shakki partner

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

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

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

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

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

A Calmer You: I am in love with Board Exams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely.

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

A Calmer You: can I have a tissue, please?

A Calmer You disclaimer: Before I begin, let me inform you that I’m a clean person, lest this write-up gives you a wrong impression. I brush my teeth daily and try to take a bath on most days. However, I continue to suffer from a phobia of those who have a phobia of germs

I know a woman who says, ‘can I have a tissue, please?’ every 30 seconds. No seriously, I do. Fine, the 30 sec bit is an exaggeration but she does it every thirty minutes and THAT is not a lie. Sometimes I think of telling her that by using, and discarding, so many tissues around her, she may be facilitating the formation of a germ country in her surroundings but I fear she’ll give me a dirty look. I’ve nothing against the poor tissues — they are a good invention, though I continue to lament the death of good ol’ cloth ‘hankies’. They were pretty and had so many emotions attached. Somehow, it doesn’t have quite the same ring to say, ‘he handed a tissue paper to his crying girlfriend’. Khair jaane do. I feel that as we have got more progressive with the changing times, we’ve also got more paranoid and fussy about our surroundings.

A Calmer You can I have a tissue, please

And let’s be clear, I’m not referring to those who unfortunately suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which is a recognised medical condition and must be treated by qualified medical professionals. I’m talking about the rest of us who’ve formed certain rules and restrictions — with or without any basis — in our minds. And they keep up from enjoying life to the fullest, because we’re stressed about complying with these self-created rules.

Let’s take a look at what these myths make us:

1  The neat freaks: You would surely find one such person in your close surroundings — it could be your mom who begins her day by telling you how your room resembles a war-torn city and that your cupboard is fit for newly wed rats to start a family. Maybe it is. But the frequency with which you are reminded about it could drive you to the wall. And it’s dreadful if she decides to clean it herself, even though your porn collection is safely locked away.

It could be your hostel roommate who scoffs every time you leave your towel on the bed. It could be a nagging spouse who wants his/her things stacked at 36 degree angle, spick and span. It could even be a friend, a visit to whose house could give you a heart attack inducing complex, because clothes are arranged as per colours and books on the rack are in an alphabetical order. These people have a method to their life and I truly admire them for it. As long as they accept that there’s a also method in the chaos of other peoples’ life, who are not as organised as them.

My desk may still have unanswered official letters dated 2008 but I manage to find whatever I’m looking for, amidst that madness. And I certainly won’t take too kindly to anyone who will try to forcibly try and remove the much-loved dust on my table. I may have an important phone number written on the dust with my finger and you can’t just cruelly wipe it away. My point is simple. We all have our own definitions and degrees of cleanliness. Don’t impose yours on mine, and there’ll be lesser scope of stress for both of us.

2. The fussy eaters: These people will not enjoy the good things in life, and they will not let you do it either. The thought of street food gives them a stroke and you may find them ‘trying’ to enjoy gol gappas in a fancy restaurant where the waiter wears white gloves and calls them ‘puchkis’, with an accent.

Well, I’m sorry for you, really. It’s not that I want to die of cholera after drinking unfiltered water from a drain, but then I don’t think the excellent tea that the roadside chaiwalla serves in a small glass has the potential to kill me. The germs may just think of me as a friendlier person and refrain from attacking me.

The tip is simple, again. Set your own standards in terms of what you want to eat, and where from. But don’t deny anyone else the pleasure and right of exercising their choice. Also don’t put needless fear in their minds by narrating stories of how you suffered from loose motions the last time you ate at a dhaba. It may well have been because of the meal you ate at a five star hotel the previous night, when the waiter spat into your food because you were making his life hell over how the daal was at 1.37 degrees colder.

3. I-will-burst-but-I-won’t-pee gang: When God made an organ in our bodies called the urinary bladder, He didn’t know some people will make it a mission of their life to torture it endlessly.

These are people who have problem attending to the nature’s call unless they happen to be near their own toilets that are washed with dettol every hour and have hand sanitisers. These people will go to extra length to stick ‘leave the seat dry and up’ kinda notes in office/college loos, but they’ll avoid using the same rest rooms. They flush with their elbows and touch the door knob only with 20 meters of toilet paper or tissues in hand. Actually, to be honest, I don’t blame them. Because it is a fact that public toilets in our country are usually in a sad state and are the biggest source of infection, because of those who don’t follow the most basic hygiene practices. But if you will squirm uncomfortably in your seat the entire length of a movie but won’t visit the cinema hall’s rest room, you need to re-think about your paranoia levels.

The final word: Live and let live. Cleanliness is a way of life and that’s undisputable. Just don’t turn it into a stress monster. Go out and have gol gappas. I promise you won’t die. Just a little food poisoning, that’s it.

Sonal Kalra has taken a pledge to clean her office desk, definitely before the next New Year.

A Calmer You: Hey Zuckerberg, get some sanskaar!!

The other day Mark Zuckerberg wrote to me. Arrey, had hai. Why are you rolling your eyes? Did I object when so many of you gloated about the call you got on your phone from Arvind Kejriwal? Did I? I toh don’t ­interact with anyone less than ­international celebrities. Anyway, bechara Zuckerberg pareshaan tha. Apparently for the first time since it started in 2004, Facebook’s popularity has reduced in the last few months. I wrote a long email to him, telling him that with a surname that resembles an iceberg, he should just chill about these ups and downs. Due to some technical fault, my response mail has bounced back saying ‘you can’t respond to an auto-generated message’ but what the heck. Apni garaj hai toh phone kar lega woh mujheMera toh, you see, daily contact hai aise logon se, just that I don’t have the habit of flaunting my contacts. Anyway, till I speak with him, I thought of writing some suggestions over here so that his CEO etc who are regular readers of this column can convey the tips to him.

A Calmer You - Hey Zuckerberg, get some sanskaar

Vaise, in my view, Facebook’s popularity has not come down one bit. Mujhe toh ab bhi agar mere office mein koi apni seat pe kaam karta hua nahi milta, toh Facebook pe mil jaata hai. But, yeah, it has become a tad boring, simply because it pushes a user to only be good. Ab for how long can you keep making friends and ‘liking’ peoples’ statuses? In the name of equally valid values like irritation and meanness, Facebook has few things – one of which, of course, is the ­obnoxious ability to be able to ‘poke’ people. It is my resolve that when Zuckerberg comes ­visiting me someday, I will take him to Shimla and ‘poke’ him when he’s standing at the edge of a cliff. Anyway, so all else is goody two shoes and I’m sure people are getting tired of being so sanskaari. So, here are a few new buttons, apart from ‘like’ and ‘comment’, that I propose Facebook introduces. Tell me if you think they make sense, then I will call Zuki and tell him…

1. One tight slap (OTS) BUTTON: Why should I only ‘like’ your status, or keep quiet if I think you are being the moron that you are, by posting ‘Ohh…it’s so cold’ 27th time in the month of ­December. I would like to tell you explicitly about the ­emotions your status is generating inside me, when you post a senti status, and order me to share it with minimum ten friends. Or when you insist on posting a photo of every activity your two-year-old does – sleeping, eating, dancing, doing potty…everything. I demand a OTS button, right next to the ‘like’ one. Maybe it could be avoided on exceptional pages, like Zuki’s own, Obama’s, Poonam Pandey’s or Fans of Sonal Kalra. Wahan toh koi sense nahi banegi, but in all other cases, it is a must. Enough of ­liking everything.

2. Lapeto BUTTON: How about having a ‘lapeto’ button for all the status updates that show-off more than Rakhi Sawant and Veena Malik ­collectively did, in their entire career. Kuchh log itni lambi chhodte hain … Sheikh Chilli would also get embarrassed. I bet, they wouldn’t even hesitate before calling Mark Zuckerberg their friend. Idiots. Pics of international vacations, pics of rocking parties, pics with ­filmstars, there’s no end to flaunting. By the way, if any of my FB friends is reading this, do know that my account has been hacked several times in the recent past. I’m ­getting the IT department to investigate. Otherwise, kahan mein, kahan show-off.

Anyway, if your friend can pray to God and look like Salman Khan in his DP, while looking like Paresh Rawal in real life, then you can pray for lapeto ­button to vent your feelings. No?

3. Stolen from where BUTTON?: Aam aadmi party should take this up, at Ramlila Maidan. Chori ke Facebook status pe ­minimum three years imprisonment, without access to Facebook, in jail. Sabse pehle mein hi andar jaaoongi but then I don’t fear ­sacrificing for a noble cause. No one has made better use of the copy-paste feature invented by my mamaji, Lawrence Gordon Tesler, than Facebook users. No wonder you find your friend Javed Chikna who can’t speak proper grammar to save his life, suddenly put up an insightful status of 250 words in such perfect English that even Prince Charles will have to use a dictionary. If only there was a ‘kahan se chepa?’ button under such status updates, at least you wouldn’t see seven friends on your timeline come up with the exact same joke. Am I right or right? Tell me.

4. Aashirwaad BUTTON: After ­suggesting such mean ­buttons above, the Alok Nath in me has suddenly woken up with a thunder. Getting back to ­sanskaars, I propose an ­‘aashirwaad’ button under a ­status. You see, of late, parents ki poori generation ne dhaava bol diya hai Facebook pe. Ideally, someone in the FB technical team should have had the sense to invent a feature where the ­computer would automatically detect a parent, grand parent, chachaji, buaji, mamaji etc and disable their option to send a friend request to the helpless youngsters in their family.

But woh toh kiya nahi, and now ­people are stuck. Because, being sanskaari, and also ­realising that pocket money gets into danger if dad’s friend request is not accepted, bechaare bachchey end up adding them. The elders are also overwhelmed at seeing that the same Pappu who gets 39 out of 100 in English, puts up William Shakespeare’s quotes on Facebook. So for such emotionally touched generation, there should be something better than the silly ‘like’. For them, we should have the ‘aashirwaad’ ­button. Technical glitches may just see a ‘sloshed after 3 tequila shots’ status from Priya Kumari get an aashirwaad from mummy ji, but then errorskahan nahi hote. Go for it!

5. Finally, I demand a button that, by some magic, removes the ‘likes’ on someone else’s ­status. Of course we’ll use it ­judiciously, we are sanskaari. Because you see, itne jhoothe likes hote hain kuchh log ke ­status pe. PS: If a thought about the likes on my FB statuses even remotely crossed your mind just now, remember that there is God up above and my friend Zuki down on this earth, and both will curse you. Haan, toh these jhoothelikes happen because some people have the disease of liking just about anything. Go on, test it. Post ‘dying of constipation for the past 3 days’. If you are not a serial killer with no friends, I guarantee you a ­minimum of five likes before you visit the loo for your next attempt. Oh Facebook, give us the power to take away at least such ­embarrassing ‘likes’ down. We’ll not misuse power. We have sanskaars. And now we have Kejriwal.

Sonal Kalra has suddenly realised that this column will be suicidal for her FB page’s ­popularity. Will Zuki get that it’s a joke? Implement toh nahi kar dega nah?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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