Aur Kya? Jaan le rakhi hai. Mom told me early on that some people are gifted. They can talk well. I’ve now come across a breed of gifted ones who can really talk… well… nonstop. Today happens to be the day that I was born on, just a few years ago. I’m desperately trying to meet the deadline of filing this column so that I can dutifully enjoy as so many birthday wishes are asking me to. But would some people let that happen? No way.
A God’s-gift-to-humanity from the neighbourhood just dropped in as he had decided to say hi. The monologue lasted 74 minutes, there was no mention of ‘hi’ in it and it has now made me miss my deadline, with the offender giving a damn about it. Sia, a regular reader of this column and a student of class 12, once wrote to me about this classmate of hers, who would first finish studying for the next day’s exam and then call up other classmates to chat with them, thus wasting their precious time. You know what, let’s take a pledge that henceforth we won’t let them. Yes, you heard me right. Time is precious. Don’t let anyone waste yours. Here’s what to do.
Yes, I’m telling you to lie, only if it’s unavoidable. If anyone ever calls or drops in unannounced when you’re busy with something important and asks if you have a moment, either have the courage to tell the truth and say you are tied up, or say you were about to leave for somewhere. Your body language makes all the difference. If someone who you are damn sure will take away your next precious next hour, drops in, just stand and talk to them. If you are standing yourself, the other person is unlikely to park their tashreef ka tokra at your place forever. Try it.
2 Learn to switch off the phone and close the door: These two acts can save your life, and many, many valuable hours that comprise it. We somehow live under the wrong impression that whenever a phone rings, it has to be picked up. Let me ask you - who pays the bill of your phone, you or the caller? If it’s you, it’s damn well your prerogative to decide when you can talk and when you can’t. If there’s something critical that you are doing — whether it is finishing the syllabus for the exam or sending that important mail you’ve been keeping pending for long, always put the phone on silent mode and close the door. At least, some people would get the message that you don’t wish to be disturbed. You can always call people back later, rather you should, but having finished your work well in time will make you feel really good about yourself.
3 Cut to the chase: Tell people that you don’t like the fact that they don’t respect your time. We in India do not believe in saying things upfront, because we are always bothered that being straightforward may hurt or offend the other person. It’s a culture thing, but nowhere is it written in stone that you have to take s**t from everyone. Try telling the time-waster politely that you have something important to do, and that you can’t entertain them right now.
If they feel bad, it’s their problem. In all likelihood they won’t. People appreciate honesty; we are just too scared to use it. The golden rule, for avoiding time-wasters and even generally in life, is - Don’t say YES - to everyone, all the time. As long as you are convinced in your head that you have not done an unethical or unfair thing by declining something or someone, you are all good. It’s much better to say what you’re feeling and getting over with it, than silently cursing someone and wasting a lot of your time and energy in the process.
Finally, I have just one thing to add. Everyone reading this column would like to think of themselves as the victim and someone else as the offender. But deep inside, you would know if you in fact, are a time-waster for someone else. Realise it if you are, and try to change. No one likes to hang out with people who have no respect for time. You surely don’t want to be someone who others are working hard to avoid. Basic courtesies like messaging someone before you go to them and checking if they are free, or sometimes noticing the instrument on the wall that we all call a clock doesn’t hurt. Someone somewhere will only thank you for it. If you still don’t agree, come to Siberia. I’m anyway taking Chaddha ji there.
Sonal Kalra has already missed 29 birthday-wish calls in a hurry to file this column. Would Chaddha ji ever makeup for the blessings she lost? Mail your calmness tricks at
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