Tag Archives: People

A Calmer You: change your password. Right now!

Errr… may I please keep it as password123? Just this one time? “Ma’am, please try to remember,” said the IT guy, adjusting his nerdy glasses. He looked as frustrated as the class teacher of a child who, despite being paid special attention through the year, has failed yet again in the exam. I stared back at him, not knowing what to say. ‘Ek baar try the same with the first letter uppercase,’ I mumbled. He keyed it in, shook his head, and looked around hopelessly.  ‘You had only asked me to keep changing the password,’ I chided.

A Calmer You change your password. Right now
“Yes, because it’s good for security. But, I had also asked you to ‘remember’ the new password,” he snapped back. A colleague, who has recently joined and was clearly unaware of the extent of my hopelessness when it comes to such things, intervened: ‘Why don’t you use the ‘forgotten password’ option?’ The IT geek growled back with the pent up frustration of not getting enough sleep all through his four years in the engineering college, “That is what we are trying. She does NOT remember the answer to the forgotten password question!” The colleague looked at me incredulously, the IT guy hopelessly, while I stared at the computer screen, shamelessly. ‘You see, the answer to the forgotten password question is supposed to be the name of my pet. Now, I had pets of various breeds and kinds in different periods of my life. Then there was the neighborhood cat that was technically not my pet but I had kinda adopted her, and named her. She used to come for milk every evening,’ I started and the emotionless descendant of Bill Gates hastily got up. “ma’am, I’m going. Had this been our internal server, I would have retrieved the password. Please talk to customer care.” The colleague fled too. And I was left with the screen that said, “Sorry, the user id/password is wrong”. ‘At least tell me which one of the two is wrong,’ I wanted to cry out. But, what’s the point? This is all done for ‘security’. Well, I am secure. So secure that even I can’t access my account anymore. And so, so sick of passwords. I know by now you think I’ve lost it, but please meri baat suno. I’m sure there are at least some people reading this who have the same disorder of not being able to remember passwords. And our suffering is compounded a thousand times by the so called ‘security regulations’. Now sample this:

1. The password can’t be too simple. It can’t be too short. It can’t be too similar to the user id. It can’t be too similar to the old password. It can’t be just letters of the alphabet. Basically as rightly put by some victim of this security torture, your password must be combination of  ‘at least 11 upper-lowercase letters, a numeral, a special character, lyrics of a Himesh Reshammiya song, the first letter of the surname of your maid, the tail of a lizard, a zero to signify your loser status and the blood of a virgin.’ Phew! I sometimes wonder if I’d secretly prefer my account getting hacked.

2.  In order to let the IT guys sleep peacefully at night and catch up for all the rest lost while formulating policies, the password needs to be changed often, sometimes as often as some people I know take bath. Kya yaar, at least let me be the one to decide if I want to change it. What if I’m secretly in love with my password and never want to change it? Don’t stop me from accessing my bloody account. There are anyway hardly any secrets in there. Heck, if I could remember secrets, I would remember passwords.

3. The passwords need to be different for different accounts and services. Fair enough. But this leaves me with the requirement of two dozen freakin’ passwords, all conforming to the above regulations. Clearing job interviews has been easier. Thinking of complicated passwords is, well, complicated.

4. Some people (read I) are so, well, innocent, that they don’t know the answers to the trick questions to retrieve forgotten passwords. What if I don’t have a favourite movie? What if I didn’t have a pet? What if I don’t know my mother’s maiden name? What if my mother never married? I’m getting into a depression here, do you see? To make matters worse, the retrieved password is sent to the email. And what is needed to access that? You got it! ‘A combination of 11 letters, a numeral, special character, blah, blah and blah’.

5. Because it is important to ensure that it is a human being and not a metal-hearted robot trying to retrieve the password, I am also expected to read a passcode phrase and type it back, as it is. Except that some sadist who hated humankind devised the most illegible font for that phrase. Not only do I have to tilt my head to unimaginable degrees to read it, every effort has been made to ensure that the letters look so grainy that your eyesight goes for a toss in trying to tell a ‘o’ from a ‘e’. Check this out. Ha ha.

6. Some genius in a business suit also once warned me that I should never, ever write my password anywhere. Because that’s the easiest way for it to get stolen. Toh phir suno, tie waale bhai, that if I die, no loved one will be able to get access to the wealth I have generated all these years. In fact, I myself will not be able to use my own wealth soon, because my bank has recently written to me congratulating  me, and themselves, for having completely shifted to e-banking. No cutting of trees any longer to make cheque books and print statements. Now everything will be electronic. With ‘three tier robust security ensured by encryption and several password layers’. I fainted.

Sonal Kalra swears she can listen her computer going ‘bwaaaahaaa’ every time she enters a password. Which psychiatrist will take up her case? Will she need a password to pay?

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A Calmer You: Please DO NOT say that again

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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?

C’mon, stand up for yourself

Last week, I got a rather disturbing mail from a 14-year-old who was very stressed out. Since she wouldn’t like me revealing her real name, let’s just call her Ria. I’ve chosen to write an open letter to her only because her problem is one that plagues all of us at some point in our lives.

Here’s what she wrote. “I study in tenth standard. There’s this girl in my class who loathes me, without a reason. She has such hatred for me that she not only instigates others against me, but has also taken to spreading vulgar rumours about my personal life, including that of my parents. I’m very conscious of my reputation and this hurts me no end.

C’mon, stand up for yourself - a calmer you

Those who don’t know me well have started to believe all the lies she tells them. My patience is running out. I have spent half of my summer vacation crying alone in my room, and I’m even crying in front of my laptop as I write this to you. I feel helpless!!” Ok, well. Ria, wipe the tears please. Shedding them because you have a social rat in your life would be quite a wasteful exercise.

I’m sad at reading your mail but my disappointment is largely on account of you having to experience this while you are so young. Because as you grow, you’ll realise that it’s almost impossible to not encounter such pests at some point in your life, professional or personal. Very few of us can claim that they’ve never encountered a rumour monger in life and that’s probably because they’ve been busy being one. Every now and then, a person — classmate or colleague, neighbour or relative — enters our life with a mission to turn it miserable.

Their arsenal has the obvious weapons — vicious rumours, backbiting and mockery. Today, I’m trying to give you an arsenal of your own. Because, you know, it’s rather silly to counter an armed adversary with just tears. Let’s start with a smile, because nothing irritates your opponent like seeing you happy. And, then let’s adopt a strategy, which I call ‘T-ICK’, maybe because of the social rat analogy. T-ICK stands for ‘To choose — Ignore, Confront or Kick’. = 1Ignore: I know you are already shaking your head at the very mention of this option.

Because to most of us, the thought of ignoring an attack comes with the feeling of being weak. But, let me tell you, there are few weapons as potent as being able to ignore the one who’s out to get you. The trick is to dissociate ignoring a scumbag from the thought of being a coward.

And to remember that you are ‘choosing’ to ignore someone’s viciousness only for your peace of mind, and not because you can’t do anything about it. Years ago, a colleague who I had gotten into a professional spat with, went on a spree of passing bitter feedback and remarks on anything I did at work. My initial response was to counter all that he said by aggressively defending myself in an email exchange.

Soon, I realised that not only was this endless ping-pong of accusations feeding his negativity but also zapping me of my happiness. That moment, I could choose between reacting at every provocation and getting a faux sense of courage or ignoring it and gaining precious peace of mind. I chose the latter and haven’t regretted it.

Remember, a vicious person feeds on the victim’s response. Don’t give any, and you’ll starve him. 2Confront: This may seem like a contradiction to the above advice but it isn’t. Because rather than confronting the rumour monger, I’m asking you to confront the rumour instead. Don’t shy away from what’s being said about you, address it directly, especially when it’s untrue. When you acknowledge a rumour, you take the momentum out of it. A friend of mine who was sick of a classmate, Naman, spreading false rumours about him being homosexual, once turned up for class wearing a self-painted t-shirt that said, “No, I’m not gay. But even if I was, it wouldn’t be your business.” Without uttering a word, he ended up embarrassing the perpetrator and zapped the fun out of the rumour. It’s another thing that

I had suggested him to wear one that said, “Sorry, Naman, I’m not gay. Now you’ll have to hit on someone else.” I’m sometimes glad that not everyone takes my advice. 3Kick: Oh, this one’s my favourite, for obvious reasons. But just so I don’t get hate mail from your mom, let me clarify that this option should be turned to, only as the last resort. And that this does NOT mean you literally kick someone. Sadly. Anyhow, this implies getting even, but without stooping down to below-the-belt tactics. Take them head on and broadcast the rumour yourself, giving them credit for it, in public. You could also consider lodging a formal complaint with someone in authority or even reaching out to their friends or family and explaining what they are doing. But the best is to irritate the life out of them. Laugh whenever you see them. Uncontrollably. Loudly. Don’t give a reason, if they ask what’s funny. If they come down to hurling insults, utter this one magic sentence — ‘Why, no. Are/have/do you?’. Apply this in any situation and it’ll work. Sample this: “You crazy loser. Have you lost it?’ Why, no. Have you? ‘You sleep with every boyfriend on the first date.’ Why, no. Do you? Remember, continue to laugh, and look them in the eye when you say it. It works, try it. And hey, no crying again, okay?

Sonal Kalra once tried spreading a rumour about herself. She was told later that it has another name – showing off.

Do they irritate you too?

You know what, I’ve realised one thing. I may someday end up writing Pulitzer worthy stuff (ha!) but all that you guys would ever want from me is mindless rants like this one. Isn’t it? I’ve tried taking up seriously meaningful topics in this column, and yes, a lot of you do write back. But on occasions when I simply vent out against the walking pests around us, a floodgate of feedback opens. So, in the interest of the print equivalent of the TRPs, i.e very much on popular demand and not to ever concede that I may have run out of topics, here’s yet another list of people who bug the life out of me. For once, I’ve done serious research on the Internet to come up with these, so please don’t take it lightly. I also intend to add to this list every other week, and you are most welcome to add your pet peeves. Together we’ll make the happy whiners club. Here you go.

irritating behaviour

I can NOT stand….

1. People who, after waiting in the long queue at the checkout counter in a store, put their hands in their pockets to dig out the wallet only when their turn comes, AND who then proceed to make the life altering decision of whether to pay cash or credit. You want to know worse? Some of them, even at that point, turn around to their Pappus and say, “Mummy se poochho kuchh aur toh nahi lena?” If I’m the one waiting in agony after them in the queue, I’m sorely tempted to tell the child to consider me ‘mummy’ for this purpose but desist only to avoid catastrophic repercussions.

2. People who decide to come and sit next to you in a public transport even when there are other seats available. It’s like saying, ‘hi, I’m doing my Phd in stalking and creeping others out. Would you help me in my thesis?’ Like hell I will.

3. Couples who sit on the same side of the table even when there is no one on the other side. Awww, that is so sweet, no? Hand in hand, neck cricked at an angle that will hurt for the rest of the week. I salute your dedication towards love. Now, get a room, will you?

4. People who prolong an extraordinarily boring lecture by posing the most inane questions to the speaker. Sometimes, I feel such people are out to take revenge on humankind a la ‘Let’s torture people by showing off my intelligence.’ But hey, wasn’t the lecture torture enough?

5. People who pick up 20 paper napkins when they need just one, and then throw them all away. They either have an exaggerated idea of how un-clean their hands or mouth are, or simply do not care for the wastage just because they’re free. Sucks, either way.

6. People who are mean to animals. This may be a personal thing but I abhor people who ill-treat animals . If you want to act like a kid teasing a helpless animal through the fence, I would like to see you behind that fence. Game?

7. People who drive up the wrong side and worsen a traffic jam. Tell me, what percentage of brain is required to know that you can’t be blocking the path of the vehicles coming from the opposite side? 1.2%?

Nah, that’s too much to have. By the way, these are the same people who are stuck at the mental age of 12 and who zig zag in and out of lanes on the expressway, much like in a video game. Can the authorities please have a maturity test along with the usual one to see if they can handle brake and clutch while granting driving license?

8. People who toss trash towards the garbage bins, much like basketball stars. And leave it on the ground when they miss. Honorary morons.

9. People, as in scientists, who may have invented 10 different ways to land up on the moon but can’t give us a single remote for our television viewing. While we juggle between the ones for the TV, the DVD player and the set-top-box, the important news is over. Khair, humein vaise kaunsa samajh aani thi.

10. People who, in a crowded restaurant, bring their 27-member family to stand on the head of the hapless diner who is enjoying the last bits of his meal, and say, “aa jao, aa jao…yeh waali table khaali hone waali hai.” Tip: Order a coffee if someone does that to you. And take your time to remember each of your growing up years, after every sip. Five years onwards.

11. People who are compulsive ‘high-fivers’ and torture their friends by raising their hand to high five even if their joke would have won the Nobel for being the lamest. Sometimes you have to keep your coffee mug away, move your lazy frame several feet forward and bend at most awkward angles to high-five them. You might as well high-five with their cheek.

12. People who use the phrase ‘I’m 110% sure’. Of course you are. Because failing in mathematics is no guarantee for not being sure in life. I’m also 139% sure of the dead brain cells you continue to nurture. Let’s find a 100% cure for them… for you.

I could go on and on. Such lists are endless, but will only go on to reaffirm that I have nothing better to do. And that’s not true. I am, in fact, working on a super important research project to find out why some people occupy the arm-rests on both sides of their seat in a cinema hall. I shall not rest till I find out what percentage of that territory actually belongs to them. Pray for me.

Sonal Kalra is 110% sure this is one of the most nonsense articles she ever wrote. But, it still made you smile, right? C’mon, give a high-five.

So, When will you grow up?

When it comes to weird people, there are several varieties. But talk about so-weird-they-make-you-feel-like-jumping-in-front-of-the-metro, 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 soon make it to the list of medically untreatable imbecilities.

when will you grow up - a calmer you
The reference to the metro 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 boarded the metro recently to protest against the fuel price hike. 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 said I wanted to ride in the pink coach. Pink is my favourite colour. Unh unh unh..’ that 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,’ reasoned her boyfriend. ‘Toh? Mein tele chhe phone pe baat talungi nah,’ (So? I will talk to you on the phone)she replied loudly, actually in 2-year-old’s voice, complete with a hand gesture of talking on phone.
I glared at her boyfriend with a look that screamed ‘Slap her, slap her right now.’ But the poor thing looked so helpless as everyone around seemed amused. And then, as their destination station 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 physically moved an inch and a half towards her, contemplating where to dispose the body off if I kill her.

 [stextbox id=”black”]Age does not make us childish, as some say; it finds us true children.
-James Anthony Froude. [/stextbox]

But then visions of Sridevi in Sadma and the possibility of the drama queen actually being challenged stopped me. But I still feel all that she was challenged of what 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. You may have seen calm, rational looking adults sometimes act very juvenile even when it comes to workplace conflicts. 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 even in a party 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, no matter what you are. But if that child refuses to go back, sir, 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 desktop wallpaper is two furry ‘cute’ cats, her t-shirts have cute puppies on them and her wallet has poor Snowwhite dangling from the chain. Anyway, all that is her personal choice. But the trouble is that she takes this inner child to work with her. And she 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 puking when you turn around.

3. Cry-babies: These people may not actually cry, but their behaviour sure makes others feel like. 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 he 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 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 out 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.

Save me from Vitamin S-complex

I’m sick and tired of Chaddhaji. No, seriously. It’s another thing to joke about his eccentricities, but tolerating some of the unadulterated nonsense that oozes out of him is good enough to fetch a lot of people the Nobel. Just yesterday, I heard him talk to Ankush, a rather sweet and well-mannered young man in the neighbourhood. Ankush had barely mentioned that his Blackberry sometimes hangs in the middle of a conversation that Chaddhaji interrupted him mid sentence and hijacked the conversation. “Mine hangs all the time. Even when I’m SMSing.” And then to my horror, he added, “Chalo, your calls may anyway not be that important. Who cares for you? But imagine MY phone getting hanged!” I could tell from Ankush’s face that he was secretly imagining Mr Chaddha getting hanged instead. Just a little info, while Ankush is a successful, and humble Chartered Accountant, the only calls Chaddhaji gets on his centuries-old antique Nokia phone, while squatting flies all day, are personal loan offers from telemarketers. Anyway, that’s not even the point, and he may as well have been the Prime Minister. What I just don’t get is how some people think so highly of themselves that they don’t think for a moment before running someone else down.

Superiority Complex

Such people have an overdose of Vitamin S complex, aka Superiority Complex or SC, in their head. You may have also come across some such idiots around you — those who think they are divine gifts on this earth and all others are worthless. I’ve decided that the purpose of my life is to be on a mission to help them set themselves right. Are you with me?
You could either know an ‘SC’ person who makes everyone else’s life miserable, or you may even be one yourself, without realising. The first step is to identify.
Do you have a tendency to cut into peoples’ conversation and start recalling your own experience even before they’ve finished narrating theirs?
Do you use the word ‘I’ more than any other word in whatever you speak?
Do you secretly feel you are the best placed to accomplish anything and that others would never be able to do it as well?

If the answer to the above questions is Yes, please make the effort of doing something that’ll help you become someone who people want around them, and not avoid like plague. Ask someone close to you — a family member, your best friend, anyone you trust — to record a short video of your conversation with someone, at a time when you are not aware. Once they do it, watch the video and see what proportion of the conversation you dominate with stuff about just you, yourself and your life. Be honest in judging if you come across as being miserably self-centered and opinionated when you talk to someone else. On the face of it, people with a superiority complex may not even be criticising someone, but subconsciously, their mannerism always turns to being condescending about others. So, my dear, if you have unfortunately passed this one test, you need help.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips for People with  Superiority Complex[/stextbox]

Here’s what to do…
1. Remember, that while it is very important to have self-confidence and faith in your own abilities, still there is always someone in this world who is better than you in something. Yes, even if you are Sachin Tendulkar.
2. Remember that nothing will stop or come to an end if you chose to vanish from the face of this earth tomorrow. Yes, the flow may get interrupted for a bit, depending on what role you played in the grand scheme of things, but the show goes on. You are not indispensable, nor is anyone else around you. Stay grounded.
3. Speak less, listen more and advise only when asked. That’s pretty self-explanatory. Or, to put it simply, don’t be a pain in the arse for others. If you paid a little attention to the body language and expressions of people around you, you would know if you are.
4. Avoid always having yes-men and sycophants around you. For every four friends who will nod and agree with whatever you say, have one friend who won’t hesitate to point out if you are becoming a pest. We all may love being around only those who appreciate us, there’s no point being surrounded by ‘friends’ who are patting your back even as you are digging your grave. Is there?
5. If you genuinely feel you are better than others in something, the best way for everyone to know it is through your actions, not words. Lead by example, as the law of attraction is far more superior to any amount of invasive self-promotion. People get put off if you keep saying ‘I’m the best.’ Why not do something that shows them, instead?
I have just realised, to my utter horror, that I have preached so much in this column as if some Nirmal Baba’s aatma has entered my body. I hate Chaddhaji for turning me into this gyaan spewing and must-be-hellishly-boring soul. But while in this avatar, let me end by quoting Vanna Bonta — “I’d rather have inferiority complex in life and be pleasantly surprised, than have superiority complex and be rudely awakened.” Pranaam. And oh, just realised that Nirmal Baba is very much alive. Sorry.
Sonal Kalra is trying to shake off the saintly-ness that’s suddenly engulfed her. Please ignore whatever she said above. The real remedy for those having Vitamin S-complex is OTS. One Tight Slap

5 guaranteed signs of stupidity

It must be in the air. Or maybe something we all eat. Whatever it is, it is making the human race slowly become mentally challenged. The more you look around, the more people you’ll find indulging in awe-inspiring idiotic behaviour. A few months back, I had written in this column about ‘obvious, hence stupid’ things most people say. Normally columns are meant to trigger off a process of introspection and social change. But mere likhne se koi farq pada? Zilch. In fact I feel there is a new breed of ingenious morons that has ripened up now. The kinds who wear their stupidity proudly on their sleeve and believe in actions, not just words.

5 guaranteed signs of stupidity - a calmer you column

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips for Impulsive, Impatient and Illogical People [Fool’s Day Column][/stextbox]

Three days back, I saw this man in his 50s who’s been mentally stuck at the ‘angry young man’ era Amitabh Bachchan started in 1970s. His mission in life is to teach an unforgettable lesson to anyone who makes the grave mistake of parking their car on the ‘public space’ outside his house. He has spent money on getting a board painted, complete with the Police logo, which announces ‘Don’t park here. Tyres will be deflated’. So when yesterday a guy who had come to visit someone in the neighbourhood parked his car outside, he spent a fair amount of time deflating all the four tyres of the car. It became such a collective endeavour for the entire family that when he couldn’t easily open the knob to let out the air from one of the tyres, his wife promptly offered her hairpin. A few hours later, the guy who owned the car came back, saw all four tyres deflated, shook his head, took an auto and went back home. He had a flight to catch the next morning. The car with four punctured tyres stays parked right outside the angry old man’s house ever since.

Calmness Tips for Impatient People [stupidity]

image credit

So you see, some people specialise in actions that have a triple III rating — Impulsive, Impatient and Illogical. Let me tell you about five such people. If you see the signs, stop and touch their feet. They are powerful enough to have stalled the nature’s process of mental evolution.

 [stextbox id=”black”]”Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity and I’m not sure about the former.”      -Albert Einstein [/stextbox]

1 Scenario: Outside a doctor’s cabin at rush hour.

Each patient has been given a number, according to which they will be called inside by the doctor. The triple III moron will: Stand right outside the partially opened door and peep inside every two minutes. He believes that either the power of his peeping head will magically cure the patients before him so that his turn comes early, or that the doctor will somehow notice his face and decide to call him inside sooner than his turn. Sadly, none ever happens. The stupids continue to do it.

2 Scenario: There’s huge traffic jam.

The vehicles are stuck and can’t inch forward. The triple III moron will: Start moving forward from the wrong side. Will give a condescending look to the drivers who’ve been waiting patiently in their respective lanes. Will soon realise that traffic also comes from the opposite side. Will curse everyone in sight, won’t be able to turn back, and make the jam worse. Worse still, will start honking to scare away the car which is legitimately coming from the front. Stupid, I told you.

3 Scenario: Public transport — rail, road or air.

The journey is about to come to end, as that is the last stop. The triple III moron will: Get up, tightly clinch his/her bag, and stand 1.5 cm away from the doors, waiting for them to open. I suspect such people believe that they are so desirable that the staff of the bus/train/aircraft will again take off with them on some new, unknown journey, if they don’t get down in the few seconds of it stopping.

4 Scenario: You are somewhere outside, wearing an evidently visible watch.

The triple III moron will: Come closer, point at his/her own wrist and ask you what’s the time. You may not have noticed it but they all do, even when they have asked for the time loud enough for you to hear. I just don’t get this needless usage of sign language in conjunction with verbal. Obviously the watch is on the wrist, where else would it be? Why don’t such people point at their crotch when asking where the toilet is? Just a thought.

5 Scenario: You are busy in a meeting.

Your cell phone rings, and you disconnect since you can’t take the call at that moment. The triple III moron will: Not give up. Will call again, in less than three seconds. You disconnect again, he’ll call again. You will think earthquake has struck some part of the world, take the call and he’ll start with ‘hey, I’ve been trying for a while. So what’s up.’ You feel like killing them. But you don’t. Inability to take the hint is directly proportional to the levels of stupidity. You have to bow before that.

Anyway, I’m pretty sick and tired of stating these obvious things week after week. Sach mein kuchh farq nahi padta. We continue to thrive happily in our ‘hum toh aise hi hain bhaiyya’ philosophy, which is rather charming. But it leaves me with nothing much to grumble about, each week. So, I’ve decided to take a break and this is my last column. It has been a great journey of trying to turn you all into calmer souls. Even though it may not have worked, it was fun. Someday we’ll meet again. Keep a note of today’s date as our last encounter with each other. Kuchh samajh mein aaya?

Sonal Kalra has got triple III certificates printed and framed. That’s her way of honouring the unique talent some people have.

Love thy neighbour? Yeah right!

All those who have, at least once, wanted to shoot their neighbour say aye I feel like it every day. Not wanted to kill all of them, lest you think national dailies these days hire bloody psychopaths to write columns. In fact overall, I’m blessed with a fairly decent neighbourhood with some really nice people around. But you know how it is, when one household, exceptionally talented in bugging the life out of you, undoes the goodwill of the well-behaved.

Here’s this family that collectively, and firmly believes that none of its members will attain nirvana till they don’t fight over at least 286 issues with whoever has the misfortune of breathing the same air as them. No amount of smiling or greeting warmly works on such people, because, you know, where’s the competition between short-term peace and ultimate moksha.

calmness tips to deall with bad neighbours

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips to Deal with Bad Neighbours and Avoid Fights[/stextbox]

We’ve all had neighbours from hell, at some point or the other in our lives. Having had a hobby, since childhood, of watching people fight over the silliest of matters, here’s my take on the five kinds of devil neighbours, who can disrupt the peace in your life with amazing precision.

1.‘We-own-the-universe-and-everyone-else-is-a-tenant’ neighbours:

It’s not their fault. They genuinely feel they own the earth. All of it. So, they’ll decide where and how they will park their automobiles, they’ll decide how much and in what direction their house will be extended, they’ll decide who and what goes up and down the community stairs. Everyone else but them is low life and can jolly well go to hell.

2. ‘We-love-everything-loud’ neighbours:

Ab batao, why hold it against them if they understand music only when played at deafening decibel levels? You and your ear drums are your problems. And you are anyway low life, remember? So they’ll enjoy partying till late, talking long distance without bothering for a telephone instrument, and even practicing to be India’s first professional opera singers. You dare not step into their reign of musical terror.

3. ‘We-will-keep-a-pet-but-won’t-know-what-to-do-with-it’ neighbours:

They are noble souls. They have adopted (or stolen, whatever) a pet. Just that now they’ve left it chained to the balcony, for the poor thing to bark his lungs out. What? The balcony is next to your window? How is it their problem? Change the structure of your house and move the window elsewhere — after seeking permission from the ‘landlords’ of the first category. Don’t worry, they won’t allow. They never allow anything. You’ll just have to grow fond of the barking sound. Isn’t music in the ears of the beholder or something? And don’t you think about complaining that their beloved pet shits on the stairs. Take it as a gift from heaven. And they own the stairs, remember?

4.‘We-are-the-garbage-kings-and-you-are-the-dustbin’ neighbours:

At least they believe in the virtue of cleanliness. They could have retained all the garbage in their home and get the pleasure of watching the stench kill you, but are they doing that? No nah? If they are so nice, why are you creating a fuss if they throw all of it in front of your house.

5. ‘We-will-peep-till-we-sleep’ neighbours:

They like to watch. Ab is mein bhi objection hai? Maybe they are trying to learn new household techniques by constantly watching you cook in the kitchen. Learn to enjoy the stares coming from across the window, through the curtains, sometimes blatantly from the balcony. Have you not heard of the ‘neighbourhood watch scheme’ of the Government? Apparently it’s good for us.

So, you see, that’s the kind of people you could find yourself living next doors to. And ironically enough, I’ve noticed that mostly, the good neighbours move out after a few years but the ones from hell stay on permanently for dear life. Anyway, if the stress of annoying neighbours is keeping you from staying calm, try going through the following stages to deal with them.

Stage 1 – Ignore: At least till your patience runs out. Turning your neighbourhood into a battleground affects everyone, and doesn’t really help in the long run. If the neighbour inflicts minor irritants on you off and on, try living with it for the sake of your own peace of mind.

Stage 2 – Talk: Knock on the door and tell them politely that their behaviour is causing disturbance. Sometimes people don’t know or realise that their actions are bothering others till they are informed about it. Lack of intelligence or etiquette does not necessarily come with an unwillingness to improve. Actually it mostly does. Sorry!

Stage 3 – Complain: I’m not suggesting you become a police-phoner at the drop of a hat but if things are getting out of hand everyday, there’s no harm in taking help from those who get paid, out of the taxes you work you’re a** off to give, just to protect your rights. Call the cops.

Stage 4 – Get even: Now this one’s tricky, because many of you won’t agree with me. But kya karein, I’m not as saintly as all of us are taught in school to be. We are always told to not do anything wrong to anyone, and that’s very valid. Just that we forget that ‘anyone’ also includes us. My philosophy is simple: Don’t do anything wrong. And don’t let anything wrong happen to you. Now, how you interpret ‘getting even’ is up to you. A friend of mine who decided to move because she was sick of her neighbour’s ugly behaviour got inspired from a website and posted a ‘Flat on sale because the neighbour is an ass***’ note outside. That it didn’t really help her in getting buyers is another matter. But you do get the point, no? Step on to the darker side if being nice is not helping. Sometimes you’ve got to be a scumbag to deal with one. But hey, always stay within the law. Okay?

By the way, I’m running away for a few days after this brave attempt. So, no column next week. Maarna mat.

Sonal Kalra suitably bribed the newspaper vendor to not deliver today’s paper to the adorable neighbour. She later found out they don’t even subscribe to it. Clever vendor, you’re in trouble

Find a home, away from home

Because of my extremely good nature, so many of you trust me with your deepest troubles and problems each week. But, I don’t know why a lot of you keep asking me not to mention your name while discussing the topic. Don’t be so humble now. Isn’t it cool to see your name published in a national daily, Varun? So what if it’s in the context of you wanting to pee outside your neighbour Anil Sharma’s front door in Lajpat Nagar each morning because he’s such a pain and fights over parking? You’ve done it only thrice, as you clarify, but see the brighter side, you’ve now become famous. You’re most welcome, I already know about my optimistic, good nature.

calmness tips for migrants people with home sickness

Anyway, this week, I got a mail from 19-year-old Vivek Oberoi from Indore who is depressed. Haww, it just struck me that people may be writing fake names in their letters to me. Or maybe not. With a name like that, some amount of depression is inevitable.

Anyway, around six months back, Vivek moved to Delhi for higher studies. And he hates every minute of the six months he’s spent in this self-centred city so far. His words, not mine. “People in big cities are unfriendly towards those from smaller towns. I really feel out of place. I had so many friends back home in Indore, there’s so much warmth when I call them everyday. I hate it here, feel like crying,” he says. Oye hoye bachche, idhar aao, rona band karo. I can totally understand your problem but have you thought about what you may have done, unintentionally, for people to be unfriendly? Like tell them your name. Oops, that was really mean… but please don’t mind. You know I’m just joking, don’t you? I genuinely love all Vivek Oberois in this world.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips for Migrants and People with Home Sickness Issues[/stextbox]

Coming back to your problem, what I’ve gathered from a lot of things you have written about yourself in your mail— which I will not share here, because, you know, I’m fiercely protective of peoples’ privacy —I think you are a fairly nice, well mannered and sincere guy. Generally, people of all cities love those qualities. And although I completely agree with you about a sickening bias some people have against those who’ve migrated from relatively smaller cities, I would like to believe that most Delhiites are not like that.

And this problem of ‘not being able to adjust’ is not specific to Delhi. A lot of people, who are having to live away from their native place because of studies or work or any other reason, often feel anxious and stressed while missing home. It’s very natural to. But what makes the situation worse is their tendency to let this I-miss-home feeling keep them from embracing the new place in the true spirit. Although having never ‘lived’ anywhere outside of Delhi, I’m the least qualified to preach on this subject, but because of my spectacular wisdom and of course, extremely good nature, I’m telling you about three mistakes, in my view, that you should never make when trying to adjust into a new city.

1 Mistake 1 – Trying too hard to belong:

For all the ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ gyaan we’ve grown up on, I feel it’s a big mistake to shed your individuality in a bid to be like the people of the city you’ve moved to. Be the real you, if you want to stay away from depression. I remember, back in college, there was a girl who originally belonged to Madurai. Everyday in the college canteen, I would notice her being visibly uncomfortable and sad. One day I told her how I find certain rice dishes tastier when eaten straight from the hand rather than the spoon. She had an incredulous look on her face and said that she’s used to eating like that only and was always worried what ‘others’ would think of her. Lo batao. To hell with others, yaar, be what you are. That meal of sambhar-rice with our hands was the best meal I had in college because it came with such a rare smile from that girl. I’m not saying completely disregard the required etiquettes in a situation but don’t forego happiness either, in trying to be what you’re not. Don’t fake an accent, don’t fake style, don’t fake ‘cool-ness’, don’t fake a smile. It shows.

2 Mistake 2 – Harping about your own:

Remember, a city and its people can not warm up to you till you don’t stop harping endlessly about how much you miss your native place, and how much better it is. Every place has it’s own highs and lows. There may be too much crime in Delhi as compared to your town, but there may also be rare opportunities here to explore and discover culture like no other place. Try to leverage on the uniqueness of whichever place you are in.
Also, it’s much easier to make new friends when you are not always talking to— or about— your old friends back home. As we grow in life, we have to make new friendships. Don’t keep holding too tightly to the older ones so much that your hands are never free to shake them with new friends.

3 Mistake 3 – Forgetting to thank your luck:

Hear it from someone like me who was born, brought up, studied and worked in the same 30km radius all her life. Would most likely retire, die and be cremated within the same area. Sometimes it sucks. Just sit back and imagine the world as a globe before you. We get to live only one life. A lot of us spend the whole of it in the fraction of a dot that you can’t even spot on the globe with a microscope. Just be thankful if your dot is slightly bigger. It may be hellishly tough to adjust but every new place where you live, gives you two gifts — experience and memories. Cherish them.

Sonal Kalra is suddenly as depressed as Vivek Oberoi. For the totally opposite reason. Why does someone else always seem luckier than us?

Why let a break-up break you up

My elder sister Katrina’s photo proved so lucky for me that a record number of you wrote back on last week’s column. It’s another thing that some described, in vivid detail, how they curse me for casting an evil eye on their love affair with the rainy weather. Their curse seems to have worked, going by a rather traumatic experience I went through yesterday.

Why let a break-up break you up -5 feb 2012 calmer you column tips

Cut to last evening. Setting: my home. Weather: cloudy (aha!), Me: desperately wanting to sit in the balcony, have a cup of tea in peace, and watch neighbours quarrel over parking. And then she walked in, all geared up to spoil whatever peace of whatever mind I have. She sobbed. I gave her a tissue. She sobbed again, and extended her hand. Now tell me, don’t you think one tissue should last longer than a nano sob but it wasn’t the right time to act all kanjoos. I gave another. She then burst into a fit of tears and my heart sank. I had run out — of tissues, and patience.

Bansuri, my neighbour and emperor-of-the-irritating Chaddha ji’s daughter had been crying for over two hours now. In this duration, I had witnessed 17 different sounds and styles of crying but she hadn’t shared one minor detail with me — ‘why’.

If you have been following this column regularly (you better be!), you’d know how I’m blessed with unique neighbours. Apart from her name which gives me giggles no matter what the situation is (heartfelt sorry to some perfectly nice Bansuris I know… but it just doesn’t go with Chaddha), she has a lot of other things that are…emm… odd. Anyway, this time it was getting out of hand, so I had to confront her with the bitter reality of the situation — no more tissues — and asked her to tell me what was behind all this rain in my living room.

‘We broke up — Cheenu and I. Just two weeks before Valentines, it’s all over,’ she said. I wasn’t listening, my head spinning from trying to suppress a manic bouts of giggles over the fact that someone named ‘Cheenu’ was err… playing this Bansuri (sorry, I know I’m very mean. I’ll improve).

Anyway, apparently Cheenu had suddenly withdrawn from her, after seventy-two blissful days of courtship that had even survived a meeting between him and Chaddha ji. ‘I feel like ending my life… just can’t get him out of my mind,’ cried Bansuri. Going by the sheer number of young boys and girls feeling the stress of ‘break-up’, am sure a lot of you can identify with junior Chaddha and her trauma.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips on How to Deal with a Break-up in  Relationships[/stextbox]

Though I continue to firmly believe in my well-researched theory that deep inside, those in a relationship are equally dukhi if not more, here’s what I have to say to the ones who’ve recently had a break-up and finding life worthless a la flute Chaddha.

1 It’s a curse, not to be not in a relationship, but to be in one with an unwilling partner:

Whatever the reasons, the moment one partner says he/she wants out, the soul of the relationship flies out of the window. Please note that I’m not referring to the idiots who end every day — and every fight — by announcing that they are breaking up and are back to exchanging lovey-dovey emoticons over SMS the next morning. I’m talking about situations where one person has emotionally withdrawn but is dragging along only because we in India are experts in not being true to our own feelings and facing the consequences of it.

Watch out for signals

Sentences like ‘you deserve someone better than me’ or ‘I’m not ready for the real thing just yet’ or ‘I love you but right now I need to focus only on my future’ or ‘I need some space to get my thoughts together’ are all ‘BS lines’ or polite ways to say the same thing – ‘I don’t want this relationship anymore’ (BS stands for Bullshit but I’m not supposed to say it in print. You have no decency or what?) Anyway, what I’m saying is, no matter what BS line is being thrown at you, do realise that there’s absolutely no point in forcing someone to be with you if they don’t want it. You just need to remember that it’s not about you, it’s not a rejection of who you are. It’s about them, and only them, being so fickle minded that they can’t deal with the demands of a relationship they wilfully got into. Don’t let it even touch your self esteem, and you’ll do just fine. The golden rule — ‘If someone is stupid enough to walk away from you, be smart enough to let them.’

2 Deal with it, with your head held high:

I know it’s easier said than done. Life after a break-up seems worse than hell for a while. For.A.While. Do you get that? Nothing’s permanent, my friend. If even the mushy love slowly dies down in a relationship that otherwise may last 102 years, how can the pain of a break-up last endlessly? If you are not hell bent on making a Devdaas out of yourself (even he went on to Madhuri Dixit by the way, I mean Chandramukhi), nothing can stop you from feeling fine and happy after a while.

The period may differ, but with time, we all forget. That’s how we are wired from inside. In my view, what really helps in getting over a break-up is staying away from your ex, at least for some time, unless he/she is someone you have to see everyday in college or at work. Even then, it’s possible to stay away, emotionally. All that spiel about ‘being best friends’ and ‘staying in touch forever’ after a break-up is nothing but BS. Someone wise has said that saying we can still be friends after the relationship has ended is like your dog dying but your mom saying ‘hey, you can still keep it’.

3 Finally, don’t close all doors of your life after a break-up:

A relationship not working out means only one thing — another will. Each time you break up with someone, you are inching one step closer to the person who is actually right for you. I know, I know, I sound like Yash Chopra when I say such things, but let’s just be practical.

So many loving, sincere and hard working couples in our country have worked extra hard to take our population to the level where it stands. You can’t waste their effort by thinking that one moron, who just broke your heart, was the only one made for you. No, no, no. There are others. Many others. Give them a chance. Give life a chance. Another one.

[stextbox id=”download”]By the way, what do you think about gifting A Calmer You Book” by Sonal Kalra to your partner this valentine so as to know some ready tips on how to deal with relationships and even break-ups. Buy it online at maximum discounts from here.[/stextbox]