Tag Archives: Calmness Tips

A Calmer You: how about turning NOYB-sexual?

Not hetero, not homo, let’s all become none-of-your-business sexual.

I was aimlessly roaming about in Khan Market one evening a couple of weeks back, when two young boys called out to me. ‘Are you Sonal Kalra?’ one of them asked. When I nodded, he said, ‘We regularly read your column. And specially wanted to thank you on behalf of our friend, on whose request you wrote a column on gays around two years ago. It changed his life forever.’ They were referring to.

A Calmer You how about turning NOYB-sexualA Calmer You piece I wrote on December 3, 2011, titled ‘So your friend is gay? Big deal’. I was left very humbled that day. You see, what I write each week in this column is neither intelligent, nor important enough to change lives. Most weeks in this space, you and I laugh about inane stuff and needless, day-to-day stresses. For it to change someone’s life can at best be by fluke, so I was mighty pleased.

Also what impressed me was the confidence with which those two boys referred to their gay friend, quite in contrast to a few years back when the volume and tone of most people would subconsciously go a few notches down on switching to the topic of homosexuality. Today, as I  write this piece in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling that seems to go against the freedom and rights of gays, I feel terribly sad and sorry for that confidence. I’m sure the newspapers today are, as they have been this past week, full of intelligent, in-depth analysis against or in favour of the court ruling. I consider myself not qualified or capable enough to fully understand or decode the background or implications of the heavy duty legal terminology these laws and judgments entail. What bother me, however, are the following few questions that stress me, even as a layperson.  Do they stress you too?

 1. what’s wrong with our priorities?:  If we had been a country like Denmark or Switzerland, where the crime rates are the lowest in the world, I would have still understood the need for people to focus their energies on making laws that govern the future of human evolution. Like who will sleep with whom and whether that is amenable or detrimental to the society at large. We, my dear countrymen, belong to a nation where crimes of all nature  — some way more grave than choosing a wrong gender to express love — are rampant.

How about spending our energies in filing petitions, making laws, enforcing guidelines etc on those, so that we can aaraam se someday reach a stage where we can afford to have drawing room debates about whether guys should sleep with guys. I would hate for someone to get me wrong here and think that this is undermining the importance of such issues. Oh Puhleez, you’ve got to admit that neither homosexuals nor heterosexuals should want  — or can afford —  too much focus on issues of such personal nature at the cost of problems that affect all of us equally, like corruption, for instance. How about getting our priorities right, people?

2. what’s the obsession with sexuality, anyway?: Even though sociologists, anthropologists, criminologists and all other
kind of gists may want to kill me for trivialising this, but I’m sorry I fail to understand our never-ending interest in dictating something as private as sexuality. Whether it is homosexuals or heterosexuals, whether it is Khap Panchayats telling girls and boys of same gotra to not marry, or religious panels telling people of the same gender to not fall in love — we just seem too interested in passing guidelines about what should or shouldn’t go on in peoples’ bedrooms. Everyone seems to have turned guardian to something — traditions, religion, morality… even rights. I think valid concerns about these things should begin from the point when someone’s sexual behaviour takes even the slightest tones of being criminal or exploitative in nature. Two consenting adults, whether gay or straight, do not need your attention unless they pose a threat or harm to anyone by what they are doing. For once, can we try changing from heterosexual or homosexual to none-of-your-business-sexual (NOYBsexual)? I’m telling you, life would be so more peaceful.

3. can we drop the aggression please?:  I know this is the age of much-needed activism and God bless the change that our country is finally waking up to, but I for one am, frankly, tired of being angry. In the past few years, our collective blood pressure as a nation would have certainly gone up by a few significant points.

We are JUST. SO. ANGRY all the time. Thankfully, in a lot of issues, this anger is being channelised effectively to bring about systemic changes and reforms, but a lot of this anger is also simply spilling over the brim, turning us into generic aggrieved parties. Aggrieved about scams, aggrieved about crimes, aggrieved about system failure, aggrieved about lack of rights — like maniacs we shift our focus from one anger point to another, depending upon what topic the hyper aggressive TV debates or screaming headlines of the newspapers have chosen for you on that day.

You know how a lot of you loved watching Amitabh Bachchan as an angry young man in Deewar a few decades back? He brought forth a fresh wave of anger, which jolted a seemingly repressed society from its slumber. Now imagine having to watch the same, highly relatable, angry young man, over and over again in 30 films back to back. Zyada ho jayega nah? Jab Sunny Deol Gadar mein gussey se handpump ukhaadta hai, we all whistle and clap. If he starts to pull out handpumps in all films, our claps would go on
our foreheads. That’s what’s happening right now. Don’t go overboard in harbouring and fuelling so much stress and anger in yourself over every issue that you forget to look at small, happy things that also make up your life. Society toh chalti rahegi, but each one of us has finite number of years to live. By all means take up causes and fight for them with all the passion, but don’t forget that you owe it to yourself to consciously be a healthy blend of joyful and angry, not just the latter. Stress will anyway come on its own, happiness ko thoda dhoondna padta hai. Go look for yours today. It’ll be worth it.

Sonal Kalra feels strongly about gay rights. She also feels strongly about everyone’s right to be gay …and happy

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A Calmer You: Mujhe arranged marriage se bachao!

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Are you too desperate to fall in love, for the wrong reasons? The wedding season is upon us. And brings with it a truck load of stress, as always. I toh anyway firmly come from the shaadi is barbaadi public school but I recently realized what a tension a wedding can be, for the bride or groom’s single friends. ‘The moment your best friend gets hitched, the pressure on you to get married too, starts to mount,’ said Minakshi from my team yesterday. ‘And because you don’t want to give in to the pressure and agree to an arranged marriage, the stress of falling in love quickly takes over,’ added Neha. ‘The stress of falling in love? I thought love happened to people on its own, in fact, far too soon these days, ‘I said, and they both laughed, before rolling their eyes in a very ‘oh-we-are-stuck-with-an-imbecile-cavewoman-as-a-boss’ kinda way.

 arranged-marriage

My hesitant queries on this subject to my own younger cousins eventually told me how right Minakshi and Neha were. So one has to try really hard to make love happen these days, varna ghar waale pakad ke arranged marriage kar dete hain. I wondered if this desperation to escape the possibility of being tied to a virtual stranger for life, is also making people get into relationships without too much thought. A mail from a 24-year-old girl from Indore, who didn’t wish to be named, cleared all my doubts. ‘We are a group of four close friends. All the three, apart from me, have either got married or engaged. Mom does nothing else these days but remind me that good rishtey won’t come if it gets too late. My parents are broad minded enough and asked me if I like someone. Now there is a guy in office who I somewhat like. I’m not 100 percent sure if he’s perfect for me but he’ll be better than someone totally unknown. Shall I quickly do friendship with him?’ Well, I don’t know, girl from Indore. Seems like we are deciding on buying a dress or something. Anyway, it’s much easier for me to give you gyan, than for you to go through this stress daily. But, then gyan is all I have right now and it may just make sense to you. Please remember….

1. People don’t want to be with a desperate drama case: The more hurry you are in to get out of the ‘single’ status, the more you’ll ward off the right kind of people. Because whatever said and done, desperation shows. Coming on too strongly can intimidate, scare or simply put people off. And frankly, why should someone else make such an important decision in a hurry only because there’s pressure at your home to get married? It’s a question of their life too, equally. Isn’t it? Don’t put someone else’s — and your own future happiness at stake out of sheer desperation. All that a good decision ever wants in life, is time and thought. Give it both.

2. It’s too old fashioned to think you are too old: There used to be a time some decades back when marriage would start to get discussed at home when a girl or guy would turn 20. Elderly women, with a grim expression, would also declare from time to time that ‘the family must be complete by 30 years of age,’ whatever that meant. Now, that mindset has thankfully gone from at least the educated middle class, and so should the stress. Of course there’s always an ideal age to settle down, both from a biological view point and otherwise, but that notion of an ideal age can no longer be a sword hanging on a person’s head. If the choice is between marrying the right person and marrying at the ‘right’ age, and you go for the latter only to gain short-term peace of mind, let me slap you right now. Because life will, later.

3. Single doesn’t always mean sad, just as relationship doesn’t always mean happy: Kisi married bande se jaakar poochho, you’ll get the right gyan about what rushing into commitment does to peoples’ sanity. But then you won’t understand it, because all you can see around you, when you are single, is happy couples. Just remember that when they are done flaunting their ‘committed’ status, all they see around them, are happy singles. That’s the irony of human mind. Your happiness, whether you have a Mrs or Miss in front of your name, will only come from your own thoughts. If you’ve consciously chosen to be happy, the presence or absence of a girlfriend or boyfriend can only add value to it. It can’t be the basis of it. It just doesn’t work that way.

4. It’s your life…not theirs. One wrong choice and you’ll be stuck, not them: When I say ‘them’, I mean everyone, right from relatives to friends to even those who have proposed to you and waiting for you to say yes. None of them can, or should, influence your decision to get married. The voice, about the right time and the right person, has to come from within you. Whether it is getting into a hurried relationship to avoid an arranged marriage, or saying yes to an arranged match only because all your friends have
settled down, it’s finally your life that’s going to suffer. And your partner’s too. No relative will then own up to the responsibility of pushing you into an unhappy state. And even if they did, it wouldn’t change a thing. Take your time before you take the plunge. Even if it means taking forever. Staying single is not the end of life. It’s just another way of living a beautiful life, if you are peace, and in love with yourself. Anyway, whether you are married, unmarried, committed or single, there’ll always be some people who’ll envy you, and some who’ll thank God they are not in your place.That’s just how it is.

Sonal Kalra will someday open an ashram where only two kinds of people will be allowed. Happy married. And happily unmarried. No entry for negativity.

A Calmer You: who’s the joke really on?

Tired of being the butt of their jokes? Take pity on those who would have no laughter in life if YOU won’t oblige. Why Columbus would have never discovered America if he was married?’ asked a colleague the other day, reading an SMS joke he’d got. Before I could ask him how the sender was so sure of Columbus’s unmarried bliss, I saw him roll over with laughter while reading out the answers. “Because his wife would have said things like — Kab tak wapas aaoge?; main aur bachche bhi saath chalte hain; Ghar baithe baithe hi discover kar lo; agle hafte mere bhai ka birthday hai uske baad chale jaana; hamesha tum hi kyun karte ho — koi aur nahi kar sakta discover?”

A Calmer You who’s the joke really on
I soon saw him add a couple of points of his own to the joke and forward to yet another married friend. I too found it rather funny. And then the age old thought occurred to me that much like blondes in the West, how the funniest of jokes in our culture often target women. And Sardars. And lawyers. And mothers-in-law. And so on. And how I, like most of you, have grown up laughing away at such jokes in good humour and not thinking any further. But, the other day I got a mail from a regular reader, Vishakha Jain, who wrote “I have been driving a car — perfectly and way better than guys — for years now. So, when I get jokes and forwarded emails showing all women drivers as careless fools, it upsets me. Is it not stressful when you see horrible generalization in the name of humour?”
Well, Vishakha, to be honest I’ve never looked at it this way. Because I feel the whole point of a joke is that we don’t take it seriously. But now that you have raised this point, let me ask the readers of this column.
Does it secretly stress you out if you belong to a category that’s often the target of jokes? Does it stress you even more that you are ‘expected’ to take it all in good humour and laugh along each time? Here’s what I think about this, but I would surely wait to know what you all have to say.
1. Generalisation, according to me, is important to ensure that a joke remains just that. If it is specific, it could seem personally offensive to someone and that’s wh thene humour flies right out of the window. As it is, we are such a stiff and uptight society. We are ready to be offended at the drop of a hat. Half of us don’t even remember the last time we laughed our guts out. Even on the funniest of jokes, we take pride in curbing our laughter. I actually know a guy who wouldn’t let a smile escape his mouth, no matter what. Tell him a rib-tickling joke and you could notice, perhaps with a magnifying glass, just a slight twitch on the corner of his lips.
Because he thinks its un-manly to display emotions. And then there are those who specialise in killing someone else’s joke by interrupting and announcing ‘pehle suna hua hai’. So basically, a society where youngsters write LOL without even smiling most of the time, is anyway averse to actual laughter. Aise mein generalisation or not, at least keep the jokes coming as a saving grace.
2. Secondly, I personally feel those category of people on whom jokes are mostly cracked are way more evolved than others. Take wives, for instance. It’s only they who good-naturedly suffer jokes on them and their mothers. Can’t imagine husbands handling even half the pot-shots without there being raging ego battles. As for Sardars, even if the whole nation stands in salute forever in front of this hard working community, which not only gracefully allows us to crack jokes on them, but also laughs along, it won’t be enough. Those who can only laugh at the expense of others need to learn bigtime from their more mature counterparts.
3. And finally Vishakha, if you do indeed feel strongly offended by someone’s jokes, then perhaps you should express your displeasure. It’s a wrong feeling to live your life feeling you’re being steamrolled by others. But trust me, jokes are more often an expression of camaraderie than aggression. So, don’t be in a stress to turn the tables or prove a point needlessly. Men call women drivers careless only to hide the fact that they themselves are busy noticing them on the road. Chill. But hey, could you please still tell me why most women leave the handbrake on?.
Sonal Kalra is tired of hearing the same jokes. She’s willing to sponsor a community dedicatedly devoted to coming up with mean jokes on men. Any takers?

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

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

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

A calmer you Some people just WONT GROW UP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Calmer You: arrey kahaan ka inferiority complex?

Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’ Little did she know what we go through. Consent toh koi poochhta nahi, the world seems just determined to make us feel smaller over things as mundane as the number of Facebook friends we have,’ rued my neighbour Chaddha ji’s daughter, Bansuri, the other day. I sat looking at her with an open mouth. To tell her that being born to a blockhead ding-a-ling as Chaddha ji and then being christened Bansuri, were reasons enough for her to feel inferior, would have been too mean, so I kept quiet. But jokes apart, what Bansuri was trying to play … err … I mean say, was that in today’s show-it-off world, inferiority complex comes as quick ‘n’ easy as instant coffee.

A Calmer You arrey kahaan ka inferiority complex

But I still feel that while the opportunities for the world to make us feel inferior may have multiplied, there’s no change necessarily, in our capacity to resolve that we won’t let it. Thoda heavy ho gaya kya? Simply put, Roosevelt is still right. If any of the following give you inferiority complex, you need to sort your own self out.

1. Physical appearance: I mean things that you were born with, and have no control over (don’t even think about dragging surgery into the discussion) — your height, skin colour, balding pattern etc. Someone up there decided your model and make, you didn’t choose it yourself. Why on earth should you then compare yourself with someone who has a taller frame or a different body type? This, however, is not applicable to those whose lifestyle messed up their bodies. So, you my dear, with the jiggly potbelly looking perpetually pregnant, can count yourself out. But the others, please stop comparing and letting it ruin your peace of mind. A classmate who is taller or has a sharper nose has his/her own set of problems in life to deal with. You, too, should deal with yours, and appearance shouldn’t figure. What you can, however, do is to learn about how to look the best with the body you have. Focus, people.

2. Not being ‘classy’ enough: Lo karlo baat. There are many I know who have worked hard to earn what they have, but don’t enjoy and splurge, because they don’t feel confident and ‘classy’ enough to visit posh places. Don’t spend all your life hesitating because your knowledge of English, ability to pronounce fancy terms or even the clothes you wear, are not up-to-the-mark in your eyes. I’d much rather get a complex about not being a good human being than about not knowing if the roasted bread, bruschetta, on the menu is to be pronounced broos-keh-tah or broo-she-ttah and worse yet, not ordering it altogether worrying that the waiter will think I don’t know. The waiter doesn’t care. And if he does, it’s his problem. You have a finger. Point it on the menu, look at the accent-flaunting waiter in the eye and order what you want. You’re paying for it, remember? Where’s the scope for inferiority?

3. What your parents earn: This one I’m pretty sensitive about. It hurts to see a young person feel apologetic, in front of ‘richer’ friends, about the size or location of his/her house or the amount of pocket money parents can afford to give. If your friends are gonna judge you on how much your dad/mom earns or which car they drive, you need to ask yourself if you need such friends at all. And more often, friends actually don’t care. The comparison and the feeling that you’ll be judged, is all in your own head. I know a young man, who spent his entire college life faking a posh address and narrating vacation stories about international destinations he had never been to. Now he’s at a stage where he indeed has a posh address, but has no time to invite friends over … and no happy memories either, because when he did have time, he was too busy keeping friends away from his parents’ humble abode.

If you feel the compelling need to compete with others on materialistic things, please do it on things you have earned in life. Not just you shouldn’t, you have absolutely no right to feel inferior if your parents have less money than you think they should. Go, earn it yourself first.

Sonal Kalra thinks you already knew everything written above. She’s a worthless writer with no new ideas. Oh damn, this inferiority complex.

5 simple steps: Happiness guaranteed

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

a calmer you column calmness tips on how to be happy

Calmness Tips on How to be Happy

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

1 Check your surroundings

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

2 Take the Joy-Test

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

3 Kill the ‘when’ word

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

4 Try out something crazy, and new

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

5 Infect others

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

A Calmer You: Please DO NOT say that again

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

A Calmer You Please DO NOT say that again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Calmer You: hey, aunty mat kaho nah!

Our city is like one big happy family. No wonder everyone is our didi or bhaiyya.Aunty, which way to Connaught Place?” a man crossing the road asked me yesterday. I wish I could direct him to Antarctica. You see, I have no problems being addressed so by those who arrived on this planet a couple of decades later than I did, but this man?

A Calmer You hey aunty mat kaho nah

I’m certain he must have been a burden on mother earth already, when my mom was merely selecting her bridal outfit. I looked at him and then looked at myself. Thankfully, before I could contemplate going into depression for having become ‘aunty’ to middle-aged men, he directed his query at a fairly young guy who walked by. “Hello, uncle! Which road for Connaught Place?” Ha, ha… so the problem is with him, not me, I realised and moved on. But not before I noticed the young man muttering curses under his breath.

Looking older than one actually is can be quite a stress but that’s not what I’m talking about this week. I want to draw your attention at how utterly incapable most of us Indians are, at knowing how to address people. We fumble, we mumble or try to form an instant rishtedaari with someone whose face we are seeing for the first time. Let’s look at some of the common culprits who sorely need the ‘how-to-address-others-training’.

1. The ‘Bhaiyya brigade’: Doodhwalla is bhaiyya, rickshaw puller is bhaiyya, shop salesman is bhaiyya,husband’s best friend is bhaiyya…and the guy your parents collaborated to give birth to… is alsobhaiyya.
How come? We believe in universal brotherhood, that’s why. The female equivalent, ‘didi’ is also quite a killer, and is freely used for half the population of the country.
I know, I know, you’ll say that addressing strangers as didi, bhaiyya, uncle etc shows respect that’s unique to our culture. Only, I’m not quite sure if respect is the overriding emotion when we casually throw these terms at anyone. Watch Mrs Chaddha curse
and abuse the autowallah left, right and center while still calling him bhaiyya, and you’ll know what I mean.

2. The ‘Hello’ gang: These people must have an imaginary telephone attached to their mouths, because they address everyone
as ‘hello’. The other day, I was walking towards home in the apartment complex, when a neighbour’s son shouted out, ‘oh, hello!’. I turned back, said ‘hi’ and kept walking. ‘I’m calling you’, he said, and ran up to tell me that I’d left the car’s parking lights on. I then realised that he didn’t know how else to address me. Anyway, ‘hello’ or ‘listen’ is anyday better than aunty.

3. We, the ladies:  Last week, I went to a friend’s house and his new domestic help — a young guy — who I had never met earlier, opened the door. Since my friend wasn’t at home, he called her up and said, ‘koi ladies aayi hain’. I looked around to see if I’d suddenly sprouted another person and turned into two but I was all-alone. “why are you calling me ‘ladies’?” I asked. Because ‘you are ladies’, he replied, and the conversation had to be stopped for fear of it turning weirder. What’s with this fascination for plural form? Twice the respect, I hope. And talking of respect, what about those who address everyone as ‘Sir’? The British may die aspiring for a knighthood but in India, everyone — right from a buddy to a business colleague — is ‘Sir’.  Fascinating… ain’t it?

I know what you’re thinking now. That I’ve poked fun at all the ways we address people without saying what the solution is. To tell you the truth, I don’t know. I’d say always address someone by their name, if you happen to know what it is. It’s much better than getting into the ‘didi-bhaiyya’ routine.

But if it’s a stranger, you have to stop on the road and talk to, I would prefer to call out with an ‘excuse me.’ And would bang my head on the wall if I get the favourite Indian reply to that – ‘excused’!!

Sonal Kalra has no clue how to address people. She even asked Bubbly Aunty and Pappu Bhaiyya. Could you please help? 

A Calmer You: are you dating a drama queen?

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

A Calmer You are you dating a drama queen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Calmer You do you wish your boss were dead

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

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

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

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

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