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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: Did you crack the CAT?

Worried about people judging you on the basis of your CAT score? You must know that for every glum person who flunked some hi-fi exam, there are three ‘successful and yet depressed’ people waiting for their turn on the shrink’s couch.

columns Updated: Jan 13, 2018 18:11 IST
Sonal Kalra
Sonal Kalra
Hindustan Times
A lot of you have written to me about how disappointed you are with your scores in the MBA entrance exam.
A lot of you have written to me about how disappointed you are with your scores in the MBA entrance exam.

The mood is officially off. I had thought of funny topics to write about this week and suddenly this stupid CAT jumped out of the bag and spoiled the party for so many young people. A lot of you have written to me about how disappointed you — and those who claim to love you but actually love just how well you do in a test — are with your scores in the MBA entrance exam.

Well, sorry to note that you are sad but there is nothing I’ve to say to you. Simply nothing. I’ve got tired of writing, several times in this column itself, about how I have little faith in the concept of examinations — of any kind — as a measure of how well your life will turn out to be. Because, believe me, for every disappointed person who perhaps flunked some hi-fi exam, there are three ‘successful and yet depressed’ people waiting for their turn on the shrink’s couch. So if you still insist on making exam results or admissions as your index for happiness and self-worth in life, what does one do about the misery?

Anyway, as I said, today’s column is not for students who gave the exam and did or didn’t score well. It’s not even for their parents who are either distributing sweets or avoiding relatives, depending on the results. Today’s column is for an entity called log or ‘people’, as they are the root cause of many a heartburn. “Sab ‘log’ result poochh rahe hain , and I feel like crying,” writes Trisha in a long account of how she’s avoiding family functions because everyone would ask her how she did in the exam. These log comprise you and me — relatives, neighbours, colleagues — people who have no direct bearing on someone’s exam results but knowingly or unknowingly make their lives hell by showing interest in it.

Sir, koi kaam nahi hai aapke paas? How can you not realise that your stupid, and mostly fake, interest in someone’s life may rob them of their moments of happiness in the best age of their lives.

Here, I want you to look into my eyes and take the following pledges with me. If you follow these, someone else’s child will thank you silently today, and someday, your own will love you for it.

Pledge 1: I’ll never ask anyone how they did in exams

If someone wants to share the good/bad news of their exam result with you, they’ll do it anyway. Please don’t be under the impression that by remembering to ask what percentage someone’s son or daughter scored, you are showing that you care about them. Bull.S***. You couldn’t care less about their percentile or whatever it’s called, but so often there’s no other topic of conversation, so the moment you meet the offspring of a relative you may not even have met in years, you shoot off typical questions like: Kaunsi class mein padte ho? Oh you have board exams this year…hmmm…that’s serious (as if it’s a disease), exams over? result aa gaya? kaisa raha? In all probability, you will forget what they answered before you finish off your next gulab-jamun, but unknowingly, you may have touched somebody’s raw nerve and made a young boy or girl experience anxious moments while answering your questions. Admit it. You don’t give a damn if they scored 62 percent or 82 percent or 102 percent (that day might also come at the rate things are going). You just asked for the heck of it. Koi aur topic nahi hai? Talk about their interests, something nice that they are wearing, something as silly as the weather…any damn thing. It need not always be related to their studies. Believe me, helping someone be relaxed and at-ease in a conversation is the biggest virtue. Adopt it.

Pledge 2: I will not be an uninvited career-counsellor

Since advising is our national hobby, I can’t tell you not to indulge in it sometimes, but please keep a healthy check on it, if possible. For some strange reason, a lot of people derive pleasure in believing that they are most qualified to tell someone what to do with their life. But, at least, wait till someone asks you. In most households, there are differences of opinion between parents and teenagers about what course or career choice to pursue. Aise mein, some guests try and take sides with either of them just to score points.

Adding fuel to someone’s fire will not fetch you anything, my friend. If there is a genuine insight you can contribute in helping someone reach a decision, please do. But don’t make vague statements like ‘Engineering kar lo. Wahi best hai,’ when the poor guy may be at war with his folks as he wants to be a musician.

Remember, every word we casually utter adds to an unsaid pressure on the mind of someone who is going through a phase of confusion and turmoil. Don’t make it worse for them.

Pledge 3: I will know when to shut-up

I’ve been told that this column has a huge readership. In so many followers, I’m sure there is someone who knows someone higher up in our central board of education. I want to give a suggestion. That at the elementary level, every Indian is made to compulsorily undertake a course on ‘when to shut-up’. Seriously. We’ll become a developed nation…or at least a happier nation, if we get this one thing firmly in our heads.

Koi sunta hi nahi, everyone’s busy giving an opinion. All.The.Time. In the context of today’s topic, if we are at least observant enough to notice the moment when our interest in someone’s exam results turns them uncomfortable, and stop pursuing that line of discussion, we would attain nirvana. I’m sick of people who get so absorbed in listening to their own voice that they become insensitive to their audiences’ feelings. The next time you ignore the evident body language of a young child who is not comfortable giving you the subject wise break-up of his/her marks in front of the entire clan, I will personally pay the underworld and take out your supari.

Be sensitive, yaar. Did you enjoy discussing your report card with near strangers when you were a student? I’m sure not. (Are you saying ‘yes’ because you topped every exam?….Oh no!).

Don’t ever do anything that made you nervous and uncomfortable while growing up, to another person’s child. Never to yours, too!

Sonal Kalra takes the pledge of never writing about exam results again. Whether your CAT ever jumps out of the bag or not, is not her business. Mail her at sonal.kalra@ or Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra

First Published: Jan 13, 2018 18:11 IST

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