Yesterday on my way back home from work, I was in a very bad mood. I had just had an argument with a close friend about something as silly as whose turn it was to call. Busy walking towards my home fretting over the friends-who-don’t-understand phenomenon, I looked up when I heard a loud singing voice, and suddenly my mood transformed. There he was, frying chicken to the tune of man ko ati bhaave saiyaan, with Chottu joining in the chorus while washing dishes. Oh, I missed Pappu Singh and how.
Ever since his mobile dhabha became a casualty of the Commonwealth Games preparations, it’s been tough trying to figure out calmness tricks all by myself. Welcome back... but how come? I asked him, not being able to hide my curiosity on how he managed to get his workplace back. “Oh ji, thank you madam. It’s a relief to be back,” he replied and added, “I was removed by mistake. They said sorry and I decided to forgive them.” Huh? MCD said sorry to you? I asked. “Haan ji, something like that,” he replied with a sheepish grin. “I just argued with them on how they plan to introduce the foreigners who’ll come for the Games, to authentic Indian street food if they’ll remove dhabhas like mine,” he said. “Hmm, and they bought your argument,” I asked incredulously, shaking my head. “Actually I had a world-famous lawyer arguing my case,” he said, with a mischievous twinkle in the eye. “Who?” I said. “Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi,’ he replied, waving a Rs 500 note, and burst into laughter.
Oh God, you bribed people, I said, making a face and suddenly he turned serious. “What to do madam ji, I have to look after my family too. These Games would come and go, how will I feed my wife and kids if my livelihood is snatched from me,” he said and got back to humming the song rather loudly. I am amazed at the spirit of someone like Pappu Singh.
That moment I realised that I can write a hundred columns about the stress given by things like a tiff with a friend, bad traffic jams, a cluttered home, not being able to lose weight etc… but how inconsequential does all that seem in front of the biggest stress of all — that of survival itself. I also realised that no matter how clichéd or odd it may sound, the most effective and instant calmness trick is to look at someone who is worse off than you.
I know doing this does not change the cause of your tension in any way, but try it and you’ll see that the moment you shift your focus to someone who’s in a bigger soup than you are, you feel like thanking God for the blessings — and that eases out the stress faster than any anti-anxiety pill. Remember the age old trick of making a line short without erasing it? Just draw a longer line next to it. Try it to get calmness in real life situations. Works like magic.
Sonal Kalra wants to look at people worse off than her in order to thank God for His blessings, but everytime she closes her eyes, she sees the Ambanis. It’s very stressful. Mail your calmness tricks to her at firstname.lastname@example.org