A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: Stop repeating the same thing
Here’s a trademark habit of annoying people. Are you one of them?
Chalo yoga karte hain. Maine naya naya seekha hai. You know, while I’ve been learning to practice spiritual yoga and hence hoping for the various asanas to help calmness descend into my unusually chaotic mind, someone in my life is working overtime to ensure that I pay back to Yoga, by inventing a new asana or posture of my own. And I’ve dutifully done that.
This asana involves standing straight, looking into the eyes of the person in front of you, slowly raising your right hand and landing it on his or her left cheek in a swift motion. I call it chaantasana, or for the faaltu firangs among you who claim to not understand basic hindi — the slap asana. Advanced followers of this practice can also learn the second part of this posture that involves physically lifting the target and throwing them out of sight, but you need to build adequate stamina and strength to reach that stage.Trust me, I’ve dreamt about doing this asana everyday with Chadha ji and the calmness it gets me is unmatched.
But the hero of today’s column is not Chadha ji. Today, I have no choice but to tell you about the person who prompted me to think of chaantasana in the first place. For reasons that involve peace of mind, I will not be able to tell you the name, nor will it be possible for me to reveal this person’s gender. So as weird as it sounds, let me address ‘it’ as ‘Idlu’. Idlu is someone I have to meet every now and then, and by all outwardly standards, Idlu can be safely categorised as a good human being. However, all that goodness of the heart takes a back seat when Idlu opens the mouth and starts to speak. Because whatever Idlu says, important or not, relevant or not, Idlu repeats at least five times. EVERYTHING. Here’s a sample conversation.
Idlu: ‘It’s really hot today, isn’t it?’
Me: Hmm, it is.
Idlu: ‘Even the forecast says it’s really hot.’
Me: oh, ok.
Idlu: ‘Vaise whether the weather forecast says or not, when it’s hot, it’s hot. No?’
Me: That’s so true.
Idlu: ‘It is indeed hot. I’ve been feeling it since morning. You?’
Me: Come here. I have to show you a new asana.
Idlu: ‘Wahin se bata do. Don’t even feel like getting up. It’s so bloody hot. Hai ke nahi?’
My life is an eternal quest to avoid Idlu, but mostly I lose this battle. I don’t know about you, but according to me, it is people who have the habit of repeating the same thing over and over again — and not junk food — that has to be the biggest cause of hypertension in the world.
These people are either madly in love with the sound of their own voice, or they take others to be complete idiots who will not get their point in the first attempt. And to make it worse, they mostly end their statements with a question, so you have no choice but to play this chalo-ek-hi-baat-baar-baar-bolte-hain game with them. It’s like every bit of your mind is screaming ‘Shut up. I heard you the first ten times’ and throwing imaginary bricks at them, but you feel helpless.
While chaantasana should ideally set things in order, mostly these people are not bad at heart, and could also be physically stronger than you, so you can’t really slap them as many times as they repeat the stuff they say. So here’s what you need to do if you have a parrot like Idlu in your life. By the way, let’s be clear that I’m not talking about elderly people who, because of age conditions, sometimes tend to repeat things without realising it. If you can’t respect that and be patient with them, it’s you who needs chaantasana. Got it?
1) Play their game...and beat them at it: The next time someone like Idlu unleashes their ‘hai-ke-nahi’ fury at you, reply in the same coin. “Haan hai toh. Aur hoga kaise nahi? When there is something, it has to be there. No? Because if it isn’t there, then it has no existence. And existence depends on whether it’s there or not. Isn’t it? So if it is there, it has to be there. Hai ke nahi?” In other words, confuse kar kar ke maaro. I’m sorry I’m teaching you to take revenge, but I’ve realised that in life, some people do not get the message till it is spoken in their language. Isn’t it?
2) Learn to focus...elsewhere: Real meditation is not always to sit in a yogic posture with your eyes closed, stressing about how not to stress. Real meditation is when you go into a trance like state while an Idlu repeats itself ad nauseum. Plaster a dreamy look on your face, narrow your eyes just log off your mind and think about the lush green meadows, or the hot new chemistry teacher. Come back well in time to hear Idlu’s last sentence so that you can give some kind of a coherent reply.
In any case, the last sentence would be the same as the fifteen spoken before it. Also, it pays to keep a few vague queries handy, so that the other person does not suspect that you’ve been mentally away to Switzerland. So in between, keep saying totally irrelevant things like ‘really? or ‘yeh kaise’ or aahh, I see’. These are life-saving phrases that have absolutely no meaning but can keep a situation from becoming messy. Try them.
3) Tell them: I’m serious about this one, beech mein hasna mat please. Many a times, people who you really love and care for have an annoying habit they are not even aware of. They mean no harm, but may just be driving others mad with their behaviour. If you genuinely care for such a friend or family member, sit them down and in the most gentle way, tell them what’s annoying others around them. Make sure you say it in a way that makes it clear that it’s the habit that’s irritating, and not the person. Someday they’ll thank you for it.
By the way, if after reading this, you’ve realised that there’s a hidden Idlu in you, try and practice chaantasana on yourself. It’s way better done alone, than someone else doing it on you. Trust me.
Sonal Kalra wonders how people can keep repeating themselves. Is there any point in saying the same thing again and again? Koi point hai? There’s no point. Isn’t it Mail your thoughts at sonal.kalra@ hindustantimes.com or facebook.com/sonalkalraofficial. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra