Tag Archives: Relationships

Girls have fun, boys have none

This is the 24079th column being written on this subject. And I’m still determined to flog the dead horse because no matter how much our society evolves, somehow the punch never goes out of a guy vs gal debate. No? The seed of this week’s column is a Facebook message from a reader, Aseem, who recalled an example of how differently we react to the two genders. It says that a boy once put up a Facebook status that said, “Going to commit suicide”. He got 0 likes (thank God!), and 1 comment from a friend that said, “Bike kiske paas rahegi?” On the contrary, when a girl posted: ‘Got a new dress, loving it’, 100 people liked it and she got another 100 comments, that too mostly from guys.

‘Does it reflect the desperation of Gen-X?’ asks Aseem.

Well, desperation ka toh pata nahi, but, exaggerated as anecdotes may be, I confess it does reflect a little bit of reality.

Girls have fun, boys have none

Why, why, why do girls have it so easy in life… is a question every guy asks, though I suspect they anyway have their own theory for an answer. And although it would seem that girls would take offence to this hypothesis, I was pretty surprised to see that six out of eight female colleagues who I discussed this topic with, tend to agree that girls indeed have an advantage.

Of course, I must make it clear that I’m not talking about serious issues related to gender discrimination. Because sadly, in parts of our country, being able to be born as a girl itself involves a struggle, right from the foetal stage.

I’m instead referring to day-to-day situations in an equal-opportunity urban setting. In the space and times that we live in, most parents spend as much time, attention and money in raising a girl as they do, on a guy.

There’s equal competition at school, for college admissions, for jobs, for promotions and so on. And then comes an evening when there’s a mad rush for tickets to a new blockbuster in the theatre.

While the guy, waiting in a long queue, curses everyone in sight, the girl breezes past, straight to the counter. Of course, it’s another thing that had there been a single queue, some lechers would have got busier in ogling than bothering about the tickets. But not every guy is like that and it’s not his fault that some are.

Anyhow, you get the point, don’t you?

Guys feel that girls are cake-walking through life.

To understand it better, I asked some of my male cousins and friends to elaborate on what frustrates them the most. 19-year-old Reliance (not his real name, he just suffers from too much gas!) said girls don’t have to struggle at all, in life.

“They just have to sit there, look pretty and wait for some guy to wander along and spend all his hard earned money on them,” he said. I slapped him. Horribly sexist, wasn’t that?

Then came 22-year old Tush (Yeah, I know. Sorry that I have people with such names in my life. That explains all the weirdness!), who gave these three gems.

1 Less expectations: ‘Although girls claim to be equal to guys in all respects, there are certain things that they are just not expected to even attempt,’ says Tush.

He recalled an incident when he had to go to a friend’s birthday party and was waiting for his sister, who had taken the car, to get back. She called to say that the car had a flat tyre, and that she’s standing on the roadside not sure what to do.

‘Change the damn tyre,’ I wanted to say but I knew she wouldn’t bother, because she’s never expected to,” he says.

Eventually, he had to go, change the tyre, fetch the car… and his sister, thus missing the party.

‘And still when we entered home, mom fussed all over my sister because she had such a hard time,’ he cries.

2 They know when to play the feminine card: ‘The same girls who are forever ready to pick up the morcha for equal rights don’t blink an eyelid before entering the pink coach (reserved for women) on the Metro, with a look that says they own the bloody train,’ says Reliance.

I didn’t slap him for this one. It’s true that girls enjoy the benefits of reservation.

Sometimes it seems justified, sometimes it doesn’t.

When it comes to arguing with parents over going out with friends, they are equal to guys.

When it suits them to cry ‘cramps’ and wriggle out of a tricky presentation in college, they are not. Point toh hai.

3 And of course, as Tush points out, girls have the most potent, invincible, unconquerable, trump card of all — tears. It works — in all situations, at all times. For whatever complexes of their own, guys can’t use this weapon. In fact, the poor guys are not allowed to get senti at all. Girls have all the right to hold each others’ hands and chirpily skip around. If a girl hugs her girlfriend and says I love you, we go all awww. A guy tries it, and we all secretly look for opportunities to call his dad and say he’s gay. And this, when he may anyway under be tremendous stress to flaunt a girlfriend. Tsk tsk.

Poor XY chromosomes. By now I’m sure some enraged girls would’ve already begun making hate groups on Facebook, targetting me. But wait yaar, the heat will be on the guys next week, if I get responses from girls countering today’s piece.

Bring it on, Venus. Sonal Kalra suddenly feels she’s thinking like a guy. Oh sisters of the world, drag her back to the reality of your life!

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A calmer you: Help! My girlfriend is upset

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh God, yeh shaadi ka chakkar!

‘Never advise anyone to go to war… or get married’ — Germaine Greer’. Sorry if this disappoints you right at the outset, but it’s not gonna work if you are planning to show this column to your spouse saying ‘Ab toh newspaper mein bhi aa gaya…shaadi is nothing short of barbaadi’. Because I’ve better things to say today than state the obvious. And the things that I want to say are not meant for those who already took the plunge and are reeling under the always-known-but-still-ignored-isliye-ab-bhugto side effects. They are meant for those who are standing at that stage in their lives when matrimony seems like an imminent and clear danger in the near future. Ghar mein shaadi ki baatein ho rahi hain — mom is busy checking out saris, dad the fixed deposits and close rishtedaars mulling over how to wriggle out of gifting a gold chain to the bride, considering the back-breaking inflation. And in the middle of all the preparations, the would-be bride or groom are suddenly spending more time in the loo.


No, you dirty people, it’s only because now is the moment in their life to stand in front of the bathroom mirror and ask themselves the much dreaded question — Have I made it large? Oops, I mean Am I ready for marriage yet? If maturity levels are an indication, a lot of them probably aren’t… but then in all likelihood they’ll never be, so they better go ahead and marry anyway. The problem is actually graver for friends and well wishers of these confused souls. They have to listen to the ramblings of a perplexed mind, wondering if they are doing the right thing by giving up a carefree life in favour of settling down. I know of some such people around me — a younger cousin, a friend’s sister, a colleague — terribly confused and anxious about what the future has in store. Here are my two bits of advice to them, as well as to anyone whose loved one is experiencing cold feet — not caused by the change of weather.

1. Stop seeking advice: Ironical as it may sound, I’m advising you to not seek too much advice from just about anyone on something as important, and personal, as getting married. It’s basic human nature, actually, to blurt out thoughts about something that’s causing constant confusion in your mind. But do realise that those around you would not have anything better to offer than give vague or obvious suggestions like give it a serious thought, whatever that means. If you feel like it, talk to some happy couples for inspiration.

But when it comes to making a decision, the only person who can help you is you. For once, sit and figure out answers to key questions about whether you are at the right level of age, education, financial state, emotional maturity etc to get hitched. And once you’ve decided — either way, stick to your decision. Don’t keep going back and forth on your thoughts. Also, do not let the world enforce their pre-conceived notions on you. Listen patiently when the whole world tells you things like you must get married by a certain age or else you’ll have trouble conceiving, adjusting with the in-laws, getting good rishtas etc, but do what your heart tells you to do. There may be some practical wisdom in all these diktats but there’s more practical wisdom in not marrying if your heart, mind or body is not ready yet. Remember that the repercussions of marrying late can be handled, but the repercussions of marrying wrong can ruin your life.

2. Know your stress: Be clear when it comes to the distinction between the stress of planning a wedding and the anxiety of being married. Normally people tend to confuse the two. Last year, a friend of mine who was to get married called me in the middle of the night — all anxious and repeating I’m not sure a million times. After I gave her some heavy duty gyan on compatibility, adjustment etc, she told me she was worried about not getting her lehnga stitched in time for the function. If there had been a competition of occasions in my life when I’ve felt like an absolute idiot, this one would have ranked at least a second runners up.

The problem with Indian weddings is rather complex — shaadi do logon ki, tayaari sau logon ki. The whole khaandaan gets into a hyper-stress mode — right from choosing the caterers to the clothes to the venue to the gifts to the parlour. And a lot of this stress gets passed on to the bride and groom, who end up confusing this with the overall stress of the big upcoming change in their life. When in doubt, ask yourself if its the preparations, lack of funds etc that’s bothering you, or the thought of spending your entire life with a certain person. The answer will matter. Immensely.

3. Don’t hesitate to call it off: This will sound rebellious to some but I completely stand by this one. At any point before you are married, if your heart says you are not sure — call it off. I mean it. I’ve seen lives getting totally ruined when people didn’t gather courage to call off an alliance they were unsure about — only for the fear of what the society will say if the engagement is broken. The same society, however, will be the first ones to gossip or laugh when they’ll hear shouting matches between couples or families that turn out to be incompatible. I’m not asking you to be fickle minded and turn runaway brides a la movies, but then a few days of stress after a broken rishtaa in front of the world is way better than living a life full of stress with a broken rishtaa within the four walls of your house. Isn’t it?

The last word is for the friends of those who are to get married soon. Don’t make your friend’s impending wedding the only topic of conversation. If every time you talk, you’ll keep asking your friend about the wedding preparations or the future, you’ll freak them out. Remind your friend that suffering from pre-wedding jitters is most normal and happens to everyone. And also that getting married is a beautiful development in life. It is not life.

Sonal Kalra asks people to not seek advice and goes on to give truck loads of advice herself. She wonders if anyone’s still cares for all her lectures.

To all the drama queens and kings

Please, for God’s sake now, don’t start sending me mails saying I’m cynical or anti love etc. I’m as romantic as they come, but also try to be as practical. Mind you – both can co-exist. There’s a good reason why I keep telling you to not obsess about four letter words, especially this one – love. Because it is overrated, overused and you just don’t get over it.

If I get 700 mails in a week from you, at least 500 are about a broken heart. And no, not of the medical kinds. Had that been the case, I could have tied up with a hospital and made some money by referring you to them. You write about the emotional heartbreak. Can’t blame you, I too, was like this as a teenager, but uff, I’m seeing more and more drama queens these days. People just like to overdramatise everything – I will die without her, I don’t want to live anymore because he hasn’t replied to my text for six hours now. Arrey chhodo.


Ab yehi reason reh gaya marne ke liye? Please take the trouble of asking a senior… someone who managed to get his/her love and have lived with that person for 10-15 years. They’ll tell you how they clamour to get some peaceful moments, without the ‘love of their life’ lurking around, looking for a new reason to fight. Of course love exists in their case too, but the expression and intensity assume some semblance of maturity and sanity. Khair that’s not the point of discussion here.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips for Broken Hearts[/stextbox]

The topic today is that it is perfectly possible to be young, in love, go through heartbreak – and still not behave like a walking hormonal mess. Look here, into my eyes, and answer one question honestly and very seriously. “Kya aapke toothpaste mein namak hai?” Sorry, bad joke… and I even cracked it once earlier. Maarna mat, don’t answer any question. Just try to pay attention to these, if you’ve ever suffered from heartbreak, be it due to rejection of love or a nasty breakup.

1 No obsessive thoughts, please: Thinking about a person

24×7 is not healthy. Period. Be it a celebrity, the hottest one in the neighbourhood or a highly desirable colleague or classmate. An obsession with anyone never leads to a happy outcome. If you ever start to feel that you would die if a certain person wasn’t with you, slap yourself on the left cheek from my side and then think about this – Even when you did not know that person, you had a life. It involved your parents, your friends, and also a routine of going out, watching movies, reading books etc.

To suddenly consider all of this inferior to thoughts about another person is so unfair. Because even if that person doesn’t exist in your life anymore, all of these still do. If a relationship has not worked out, it only means one thing. That someday, another will. Thoughts of cutting yourself from the whole world, killing yourself for someone etc are frankly, very uncool. While you are in love, live it as the most beautiful and healthy feeling, and give it your best. When you are out of love, look at all the other beautiful and healthy things in your life. Leave the obsession – and its expression to Hindi films.

2 Don’t seek too much advice:

As a race, we love and specialise in advising others. When it comes to matters of heart, then toh we go overboard telling people what to do. May I please request you something… give your heartbreak the dignity of healing without making it the subject of someone else’s water cooler gossip. Don’t ask for advice from the whole world. Also don’t move around with Devdaas written all over you so that people start advising you even when you’ve not asked.

Frankly, no one else lives your life for you. And its very easy for your friends to tell you how to get over grief and for people like me to write columns on what you should do. But it’s another thing for you to live through the experience of pain. Go through it quietly, and give it time. Do just what your mind tells you too. I would have said heart but woh toh toot gaya nah! Oops, bad joke again.

3 Everything ends:

This will sound very weird (as though the rest of the writeup doesn’t), but the universal truth is that every relationship in this world ends. I’d once read somewhere that whether it comes through an untimely breakup, or a detachment of the mind, or ultimately death… but the end of any relationship is inevitable. And people still have to go on with their lives. Why not then, go on with it happily, till it lasts. Treat heartbreaks as temporary setbacks and signals that things didn’t work out only because something better is in store for you, or the other person. In both cases, the pain is worth it.

4 You are not alone:

If it helps, do know that scientists who have nothing better to do have come up with studies that reveal that over 70% of people in this world experience heartbreak at some point or the other, in life. Over 40% are toota-dil veterans who undergo it more than once in life. That’s massive company you have. And still look at how the world’s population is bursting at its seams. The lesson: People may die of heart failure but no one dies of
heartbreak. It just heals. No more drama. Just get over it and get yourself a life.

Sonal Kalra is seriously begging for some happy feedback mails and not the ones crying of break-ups and rejection. Don’t break her heart please.

5 sure ways to lose friends

Stop rolling your eyes, okay. Kisi din upar hi reh jayengi. There’s no mistake in the headline. There are hundreds of columns that’ll tell you how to win them, but I’m indeed giving tips on losing friends. Because some of us need those, too. The ones who hear parents or a spouse crib all the time about how they don’t think beyond friends who exist by the dozens in their lives. Of course, those who, in this Facebook age, are looking for tips on how to make friends could also benefit if they draw the reverse insight. Ab thoda dimaag khud bhi laga lo.


So, here’s what you do to see friends drop out of your life:

1 Get hitched: Yeah, you heard me right. Marriage is a certified friendship killer that works in all countries, all cultures, with equal effectiveness. You’re the life of your friends’ circle one day. All your free time goes chatting with them, your weekends have no end when it comes to partying or just chilling out. And then suddenly you get engaged or get into a relationship. Chilling turns to chills. Your other half, who seems to be trained by the CIA, starts to track your movements and interrogate you on every minute spent with the friends. Special devices like the nose are deployed to check the levels of alcohol consumption after every innocent beer- outing. The friends, of course, notice the change, realise that the legal rights to your time have been sold elsewhere and start to withdraw. To counter the grief, you start making statements like ‘my wife/husband is my best friend’, which, of course, remain as useless as Rakhi Sawant’s library card in school. In a nutshell, one masterstroke of getting engaged or married is enough to shoo friends — classmates or glassmates — away forever.

2 Become a whiner: Wanna lose friends? Start complaining about everything – the food at the restaurant, the pollution in your city, the state of corruption, the ugly carpet at the airport (I do!), and your miserable, good-for-nothing life, in general. Normal people can’t stand cry-babies who are always cribbing about something. Unless your friends are abnormal, which is also quite possible, considering they hang around with someone like you who’s actually spending time reading a column on how to lose them. Anyway, so here’s an idiotic rhyme – ‘whine while you dine, whine even when you’re fine, and very soon your friends will be mine’, because they’ll start making excuses to not be around you. And, by the way, if they try to argue with you and start to put their viewpoint, stop them right away and tell them you are not open to even thinking that you could be wrong. Because you are always right, and you know it. Arrogance is like cement on the wall that this attitude erects between friends. Ekdum in the style of Amitabh Bachchan from Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham…say, ‘Maine keh diya, toh keh diya’. That’s it. He/she would not want to look at your pig-headed self again. Mission accomplished.

3 Bring in the Father: Of the nation, I mean. In other words, bring currency or money into your friendship and see it fizzle out faster than an open cola bottle loses the bubbles. This is my firm belief in life, and I know a lot of you would disagree. But somehow I feel bringing money into friendship – whether by borrowing/lending or getting into a financial partnership, slowly kills it. We start by declaring that friendship is way more important than money, when most of the time, it’s money or the lack of it, that dictates our thoughts and behaviour. Sad isn’t it? But true. If you wish to spoil a good friendship for whatever reason, involve money matters into it. The deed will be done.

4 Gossip: Not with them, but about them. Now gossiping with friends, I know, is a great recreational activity. But a sure way to lose friends is to talk about them behind their back. Rest assured they’ll quickly move out of your life. Some of them would do so after beating you into a pulp but then any sacrifice is good for fulfilling your mission. And guess what, this ouster would, in all likelihood, be permanent because no one wants to get back with a ‘friend’ who breaks their trust and mocks them in their absence. They only want to get back at them. Pakka kaam ho jayega.

5 Hit on their partner: The most effective and permanent cure, if friendship seems like an ailment to you, is to flirt with the friend’s girlfriend. I would have said wife but then who wants to woo someone else’s wife. Apni toh sambhaali jaati nahi. Anyway, jokes apart, hitting on the partner (and this includes boyfriends and husbands too) of a friend is the ultimate way to kill and bury friendship. Forever. The seed of suspicion and jealousy is the toughest to weed out of a human mind… and this could effectively get you rid of unwanted friends. And your conscience. Idiot. Sonal Kalra has personally tried and tested all these tips. She is left with no friends in life.
Mujhse dosti karoge?

So how many fake friends do you have?

‘I would take 100 real enemies over one fake friend anyday. At least the enemies let you know where they stand, and don’t pretend to care’ – Anonymous Firstly, all those who sent me mails after last week’s column addressing me as Maa Sonal, please stand up and do 10 push-ups.

Hadd hai. Mazaak udaate ho? After such a well-meaning but highly unspiritual advice of turning selfish, this is the tag I get at such a …umm… young age? Don’t you dare laugh now. Chalo, answer this week’s question.

Calmness Tips – Identify Fake Friends &  Forever Friends

Are you one of those who feel that the ‘friends’ in your life are actually around only till – and because – it suits them? A 21-year old college student wrote me a very emotional letter recently where she shared the pain of having her ‘best friend’ cheat on her by having a fling with her boyfriend. A 37-year-old colleague vented at being back-stabbed by a ‘friend’ at work who spilled the secrets he’d shared in confidence, in front of the boss just to score brownie points. And a 46-year-old bureaucrat friend told me about how his so-called ‘close friends’ withered away ever since he got transferred from a position of power to a not-so-enviable department.

And please note, these are friends in flesh and blood, I’m not even touching upon the rather sensitive topic of 5,000 virtual ‘friends’ that platforms like Fakebook, I mean Facebook, allow you, where half of the people on the list are those you may even have trouble recalling.

Why do we sometimes get a feeling that the people close to us are actually putting up an act when they don’t really care? Similarly, someone else might just be thinking of us as fake friends in their lives. Allow me to share my analysis of how this one word ‘friend’ may just be the most ill-defined and abused word in the history of err…words.

I think the problem of mis-definition starts from childhood itself. You meet a relative’s cute, little child. You have no real conversation points when it comes to chatting with a 5-year-old. So you ask ‘beta, which school/class do you study in?’ The child mumbles a rata-rataya answer, knowing that otherwise in 3 nano seconds, mom or dad would say ‘c’mon answer auntie’s question’. Your next question then is ‘And what’s the name of your best friend?’ Considering it’s highly improbable that a 5-year-old has had the opportunity to judge or analyse friends over qualities such as sincerity, the child invariably names the classmate who sits next to her or the one with whom he plays the most. In that child’s mind then, the term ‘best friend’ gets firmly associated with someone you spend the maximum time with. And that’s where the distinction between ‘acquaintance’ or ‘classmate’ or ‘colleague’ —and ‘friend’ starts to get blurred. By the team we become adults, the distinction is totally gone…and we start defining most people of our age that we hang out with, as friends. And when any of these people behaves badly, we start lamenting the lack of trust in friendship, without realising that most of them were not friends to begin with. Anyway, kaafi deep gyan ho gaya yeh toh. I just re-read it and didn’t understand much. Hope-fully you are more intelligent. Coming back to ‘fake friends’, here’s how you can identify them.

[stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips – Identify Fake Friends &  Forever Friends[/stextbox]

* They and their talk, is more about themselves than about you. Yeah yeah, I know that friends are bound to share their problems with you, but is that opportunity also given to you or is it always a one-way road?

* They mostly come up with some excuse when you really need them. Think of your friend, close your eyes and ask yourself a question: ‘If you were in an emergency, could you depend on that person to leave everything and be by your side?’ The answer would give you the answer.

* They say things that they don’t mean. I know someone who always ends a telephonic discussion by vaguely saying ‘let’s meet someday. Kabhi is side aana ho toh chakkar lagana (whatever that means!). I also dutifully reply, ‘sure’. I know she doesn’t mean it. Nor do I.

* They make fun of you, behind your back. In fact, if they gossip about most people when they are with you, you should wonder if they are capable of doing the same to you in your absence.

* The frequency of their calls increases or decreases proportionately when you are having it good in life, or otherwise. Who knows this better than filmstars, politicians or people in powerful positions. Everyone’s a friend when you are on the top, everyone’s suddenly busy when you start sliding down.

Now that we know how to tell a FF (fake friend) from an FF (friend forever) (I should get an award for being this cheesy. Yuck.), here are calmness tips:

1 Revisit and revise the definition of a friend. Do not try to merge the entire world into this one category, maintain its sanctity.
2 Do not burden your friends with undue expectations. Galti thoda kar li unhone tumhaara friend ban ke. Don’t always be in a devdaas mode and use them as bouncing boards. Have a balanced equation..expect only that from your friends what you are ready and willing to do for them.
3 Slowly withdraw from fake friends: Remove the clutter from your life, so that there’s room for meaningful, positive relationships. Don’t suddenly snap all ties, but slowly withdraw from those people you are certain are not your true well-wishers
4 Try and be the kind of friend you would like to have. Show your care to people that you care for, and do not take them for granted. Also, stick by them through their bad times more than their happy moments.
5 And finally, befriend yourself. I’ve realised that the biggest high in life comes from being good to your own self. The world is quick to respect those who have a high degree of self esteem. You’ll never have to chase friends if you are a friend to yourself and live in your own happy little universe.

Kuchh zyada hi ho gaya. Sorry.
Sonal Kalra started this column by punishing those who called her Maa Sonal. After all this preaching, it’s time she did those push-ups.

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]

Hai, yeh mummy ke rishtedaar

Please mujhe maarna mat. (Please don’t hit me). I don’t usually give such stupid headlines or write on topics that sound silly to begin with (actually, I do. Sorry). But this one is born out of sheer helplessness. You see, last week’s sermon on loving yourself, much to my good luck, went down really well with the readers. So many of you wrote back with a pledge to love only yourself, that I got seriously worried for the population growth of our Country.

But, you know, each time a certain week’s write-up is really liked, it leads to quite a stress for me in trying to think of a ‘nice’ topic for the next. I couldn’t think of anything sensible this week (don’t you dare say ‘what’s new’).

Hai, yeh mummy ke rishtedaar-a-calmer-you-column-8-jan-2012-ht-city-sonal

I try my best, and there is a limit to being mean. Anyway, so I thought of ditching writing this week, and instead placed an apology message on this page. But, then I read this mail from a girl who was super-stressed about something so interesting that I’m having to write this minutes before we go to press.
“I have six maternal uncles and three aunts. Sometimes they all visit our place, together, when there is some occasion. My mom fusses over them so much that I can’t tell you. Even if I want to study in my room, I’m expected to sit and chat with them and their families, and run errands. Can you please help? And please, please don’t write my name or mom would kill me,” read the mail.

Okay fine, if you insist, I wont write your name, Preeti, though I don’t see any reason why your mother should kill you if your nana-nani loved and reproduced so much. I’m thinking of ways to help. Arranging for abducting your fleet of mamas and mausis comes to my mind first but that could lead to legal hassles for both of us. Hence, restricting myself to giving tips.

But before I go on, let me state a clear disclaimer. Nothing that I write in this column pertains to my mom’s relatives. Nothing. If you are reading this, Ma, be known that in the interest of truth, and my ultimate safety, I am prepared to randomly repeat this disclaimer after every few sentences in the write-up.

Coming back to the point, we all have rishtedaar (relatives) of all kinds, shapes and sizes, in our lives. But there are none to beat mom’s relatives. Ask your dad and his long sigh will tell you if I’m right.
Mothers, actually, are the nicest of God’s creations and they bring all the sweetness and tolerance into this world. So what if this sweetness is slightly more when it comes to her side of the family? (Statutory disclaimer: Not applicable to my mom, at all). She leaves her home to settle into a new house and nurture it. It’s obvious that her heart would go out to those she grew up with. Woh aur baat hai (it is another matter) that this ‘going out of the heart’ sometimes translates in going out the way when it comes to socialising with them.

A friend of mine often cribs, ‘My mom is otherwise quite penny-wise but when it comes to buying gifts for her side of relatives on occasions, suddenly all restrictions vanish.’ (Statutory disclaimer: My mother does not, ever). Another one says, ‘Mom talks to her sister almost every day. My mausi knows which exams I’ve flunked and how many hours I spend on Internet everyday. She is always ready with advice, sometimes sarcastic comments, about my life, my career, what subjects I should choose and when I should get married.’

Arrey, yaar… it’s no big deal. All relatives in India are born advisers, whether from mom’s side or dad’s side. Someday you’ll also do this to someone. Till then, here’s what I have to advise.

 [stextbox id=”info”]1 Thank God that you at least have relatives[/stextbox]

Many don’t. We are still in a generation when you at least know what a chacha, mausi, bua or mama means. At the rate young couples are opting for a single child or no kids, the next generation won’t even know what the words mean. As irritated as you may sometimes get when the uncles and aunts drop in, do remember that the cool, firang friends you may have made on the Internet envy Indian families for the warmth and the way siblings, cousins and relatives connect. It’s simply a case of counting your blessings. Sometimes we forget to.

 [stextbox id=”info”]2 Understand your mom’s psyche[/stextbox]

A sociologist friend had once told me that there are deep-rooted reasons behind why a married woman, in the Indian set-up or, in fact, universally, is instinctively protective and soft towards her own relatives. Traditionally, from the time a marriage alliance is fixed, the girl’s side subconsciously behaves subservient to the guy’s family — always trying to ensure that ladke waale should not get upset, should be well taken care of, etc etc. The bride, in this case your mother (Disclaimer: not mine, surely), throughout her life afterwards, makes subconscious attempts to make up for it. She wants her parents, her siblings to feel important and loved. And hence, sometimes the fuss, which is so normal … in fact justified. If you see any sense in the above theory, I can safely tell you that it’s mine and I have no sociologist friend. Otherwise, please think that these experts are crazy. They have a theory for any nonsense.

 [stextbox id=”info”]3 Finally, a word for the parents, especially mothers[/stextbox]

(Disclaimer: Not mine. Ma, why are you even reading this? It’s not about you, trust me. I love you). Always remember, ma’am, that no child, teenager or grown up person likes it when reminded in front of relatives that he/she should greet them with respect. If you won’t keep harping ‘namaste karo’ or ‘touch their feet’ or the favourite of the Punjabis — ‘beta, aunty se theek se milo’, perhaps your children would greet your relatives more warmly on their own. I’m sure you didn’t enjoy being told when you were young.
Also, it never helps to point out the flaws of your children in front of your relatives. Even if the poor relative tries to give a well-meaning advice (they mostly do), he/she becomes a villain in your child’s eyes. Discipline your children in private, let the mama-mausis pamper them. They’ll soon start looking forward to the relatives’ visits. You can thank me then, for the advice. I do accept cash, with a heavy heart.

Sonal Kalra is trying to decode the meaning of the phrase theek se milo. She’s going to attempt something on her relatives. She may not be left with any, afterwards.

So your friend is gay? Big deal!

It’s most humbling to receive hundreds of feedback mails for this column each week, and the nicest thing that’s common to most of them is when you say you liked it because you can ‘totally relate to it’. Well, some of you may not relate to what I’m going to write this week. But, that’s not stopping me from still taking up this topic because, who knows, a lot of you may just.


Last week, I got two mails from two very different individuals, but with a thread of irony connecting them. One mail was from a young college student, Kabir, from Delhi. ‘I’m gay. I’ve totally accepted this reality of my life, though my family and friends don’t know yet, though I’m sure they suspect. Now, I want to tell my best friend. But, I don’t know how he’ll react. What if he starts avoiding me once I tell him? I don’t want to lose his friendship.”

The other mail, interestingly in a gap of just two days, was from 18-year-old Akshit in Lucknow. “I have a serious problem. I’ve come to know that my best friend is gay. He’s not yet told me, but I feel he soon will. I’m absolutely cool with it, but I don’t know what’s the right way to react when he tells me. I don’t want to lose his friendship.”

Now look at this! The first thought that came to my mind after reading these was how most of our life’s stresses are because we are caught up in mind-webs of our own. We spend more time imagining and worrying about others’ reactions than dealing with things when and if they actually happen.

Anyway, coming back to the subject. See, much to an acute embarrassment of my intellect, this column has not turned out to be a forum for serious, intelligent talk. In my own way, I try and tell you how to deal with small problems in life, with simple solutions. In this case, however, I don’t think there is a problem to begin with.

 [stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips for People With Unnatural Sexual Orientation [Homosexual, Gay, Lesbian][/stextbox]

Without sounding as if I’m trivialising the issue bogging Kabir, Akshit or several others, I just want to say that I’ve had enough of people categorising something as basic and private as sexual orientation — homo or hetero — as a problem. I would say there’s a ‘problem’ if you or your friend is a pervert, dishonest, cheat, thief, ill-mannered (a crime in my dictionary. Yours?). Different sexual preference? I’m sorry, but no ‘problem’ there, my friend. Still, if it is stressing you out, there have to be calmness tips. Here’s my advice for Akshit and all those to whom a friend, or a family member has confessed to be homosexual.

1 No drama, please:

I don’t know why we think it’s imperative to react to every bit of news. I’m not saying you act indifferent to what someone tells you, but there’s no need for a dramatic reaction to everything in life. If a friend tells you he or she is gay, do NOT say something like ‘Haww. How come?’ or ‘Are you sure?’ or the worst of the lot — ‘It’s okay. I still love you.’ If you use the word ‘still’ as if they’ve told you about some crime they’ve committed, I will beat you up. I mean it. C’mon, man. Somebody is sharing a very, very private part of their life with you. Don’t let the stupidity of your own beliefs come in the way of reacting sensibly. Just tell them you love them, and leave it at that. I still vividly remember an evening 12 years back when one of my close friends told me she’s homosexual. All I felt at that time was, ‘My god, she must trust me a lot to share this with me.’ And my only response to her was, ‘Thanks for telling me.’ It’s one of the few things I’m still proud of. Be sincere. Be honest. Be simple. No tamasha.

2 Don’t let it bother you:

Frankly, I don’t believe in beating the chest and saying, ‘I support the rights of gays and lesbians,’ because that just segregates them from other people, when they are no different. I don’t care if you attend marches or parades holding placards. If you really want to make a difference, do just one thing. Don’t treat them differently. That’s it. Hate a gay friend if he or she is a bad friend. Just like you would have hated a straight friend for the same reason. Love them as much, not more, as you would have loved any other good friend.

I honestly don’t think what anyone does behind closed bedroom doors should make a difference to your friendship with them, unless they are doing something to harm you. The thought of homosexuality creeps you out? Fair enough. Who’s asking you to like it? But how does that give you the right to be unreasonable or mocking towards someone who does? Don’t judge people for feelings they can’t control.

I fail to understand why our society, including our cinema, believes in mostly portraying gays as comic characters. At the same time, I fail to understand why a lot of homosexuals are sensitive about that, because that would only mean taking a joke seriously, when it’s not supposed to be. I have a lot of gay friends, just as I have plenty of straight friends. Some are funny, some are a real pain. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with their orientation. Base your friendship on what sort of a person they are… trustworthy, truthful, sincere. Not what gender turns them on, because that’s none of your business. The day you get that fact firmly in your head, you would be sorted in life. And it’s a good feeling.

3 This one is for Kabir or anyone who’s having a hard time coming out of the closet. Dekho yaar… you do know, more than anyone else that your sexuality is not an acquired fad. It’s the reality of how you feel. And there’s never a point trying to shun reality.

I once read a graffiti on a church wall in Europe. It was not in the context of homosexuality, but it said, “If it is not a choice, it is not a sin.” You get the point, don’t you? If your parents, friends or family see a flicker of shame in your eyes, they would go on a wrong reaction-path. When you’ve not done anything wrong, why torture yourself with thoughts that someone will leave you. If they indeed do, it’s their loss. But, that said, don’t forget that while you may have spent sleepless nights thinking and coming to terms with your alternative sexuality, it is unfair to expect an immediate positive reaction from those who you break the news to, as a surprise.

Your friends may have grown in households where the thought of homosexuality is taboo. We all have. But then, there used to be a time when things like contraception or abortion etc also used to be taboos. Times change. Mindsets change. But not overnight. Give them time, answer their queries, have patience. If they love you, they will come around. Sexuality is just a trivial part of life… don’t make it the cause of all your happiness or sadness in life.

And puhleez, don’t get into an overdrive of trying to understand the psyche of those who just can’t get their heads around homosexuality. The more you try to convince someone, the more it would seem as if your self-respect is dependant on that someone getting convinced. I’m sorry, but it.is.not. It’s OKAY if they don’t understand how you feel. Some things people are just not meant to get. Big deal.

Sonal Kalra thinks that gay parades only reinforce the notion that homosexuals are any different from the others. But, she totally loves the rainbow masks. What to do?