Okay, here’s the thing. Chaddha ji is made of the scrap that got left over in assembly line of God’s human being manufacturing plant. I’m telling you. Dekho brain toh ekdum hi missing hai, logic aur common sense ka bhi koi hisaab nahi.
Yesterday, I got a pamphlet wrapped inside my newspaper. In Chaddha ji’s notorious, awful handwriting, the pamphlet said ‘The fight hour’ by Chaddha, tonight at 9pm.’ The back of the pamphlet invited neighbours to come for an ‘argument session’ on where everyone in the colony should park their cars. I’m tempted to let you think that Chaddha ji has completely lost it, but in the interest of honesty, I have to tell you that he’s the General Secretary of the RWA, which sadly explains his sudden interest in parking spaces.
"But what’s with the ‘fight hour gimmick, I asked when I spotted him in the balcony, weirdly scratching his head and tummy simultaneously. "It is a poof. There is a news show like this. Bansuri said it’ll make the RWA meeting interesting,’ he replied. "A spoof, not a poof. And yes, I know the news show. But it’s meant for debating national issues. Why are you asking people to fight?’ I asked. "Debate, fight, argue ... same thing, Everyone shouts. Mazaa aata hai," he shrugged. I realised two things that day. First, no matter whether they know the reason, relevance or repercussion... Indians ko ladaai dekhne mein mazaa hi aata hai. And second, we have genuinely forgotten the difference between debate and argument. It’s not about one news show, everyone, everywhere takes the least time in turning a discussion into a shouting match. Just yesterday, my seemingly harmless query about who, out of BJP or AAP, is leading in the Delhi election race, almost got two of my colleagues to blows. I eventually had to end their argument by joking ... I mean saying, that I’m going to vote for the Congress, just because the AAP and BJP supporters fight so much. Have you, too, observed that we are getting dragged into arguments far too easily than before? Here’s what we need to keep in mind, for calmness’ sake.
1.Aim to avoid arguments, not win them: I know life would be a tad bit boring if everyone got along with everyone else, but c’mon, the other extreme is not doing any good either. Most of us are constantly in a stressed state out of compulsion — the boyfriend/girlfriend/partner pisses us off, the bosses shout at us, the kids drive us nuts. There’s crazy competition in school, in college, at work ... just about everywhere. There’s little we are able to do about it, it’s a kind of compulsory stress. Then do we really need the ‘voluntary’ stress of having fierce arguments on who’s gonna win the elections? The most you can do about it is vote for your favourite party or candidate. Please do that. But don’t make it a mission of your life to aggressively make sure that everyone else around you does the same. Unless you happen to be the candidate. Leave the shouting and screaming to political leaders and news anchors. They are doing it for a good reason. Aap mast raho yaar. No one, but you, is going to suffer if you catch argument-induced hypertension. And do remember that no matter how valid or well-fought an argument, it’ll always leave at least one person stressed. If there’s no argument, that’s two calm people. My math is bad but I know that two is greater than one. Always.
2.Why get personal?: No matter how much I personally hate confrontations, I can’t dispute their importance in our evolution. It’s important to have meaningful debates on issues of common interest. It’s however never necessary, under any circumstances, to drag them to ugly levels. The only people who get personal during arguments are those who have nothing substantial to say. One day Chaddha ji parked his car where Mr Narayanan usually parks his SUV, and when cornered said, ‘Ab hum Dilli waale Punjabi hokar in Madraasiyon se darenge?’ That day for once, the entire colony was one in telling him that he’ll be thrown out if he ever tries this line again. He got the message, despite being Chaddha ji. By the way, he was right in parking his car there as no one has the right to reserve parking on public land, but that seemed like a small point when it came down to sending the message to him that he can’t get away with getting personal. Sticking to the merits, and only to the merits of a debate may not be the key to winning it. But stooping down to pass personal insults to the opponents is the sure key of losing it. Three magic keywords... Don’t get personal.
3.Keep your humour intact: Some research of some university of some country has surely established that retaining your sense of humour in the wake of stressful arguments is the only way of not letting it affect your health in the long run. It’s no rocket science, dude, to know that cracking the right joke can diffuse tension like nothing else does. If your angry mind can’t produce even a poor joke in the middle of an argument that’s not going anywhere, then just rely on the good ol’ smile. Zyada se zyada kya hoga, some people will think you are crazy for smiling in the middle of a fierce debate, but most people will mistake it as a sign of your confidence in your argument. In any case, laughter will keep you from feeling unduly stressed. It’s one weapon that disarms the most ferocious opponents. Hamaare yahan gaaliyon se deal karna aata hai, jokes se nahi. Works like magic.
(Sonal Kalra has signed up for some TV news debates. She’s taking shouting lessons but bursts into a silly laughter every five minutes. Please help her. Mail at email@example.com or facebook.com/sonalkalra. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra.)