Everything will be alright. Really? Hain? Sachi?

I like positive people. I like negative people. I dislike very negative people. I loathe over-positive people. Time and again I come across people and communities who disregard the very existence of sadness, pain, turmoil with "everything will be alright". Does it? A person who loses his limb would never get his limb back. A person who lost his precious youth to debt won't get it back. A samosa that fell on floor is dead. 

Everybody in this world is brash wearing a diamond studded crown stepping out of a Lamborghini on to the red carpet. No? But that's what they want others to see. Look at your resume or look at mine. It says how I am Adwords certified, Facebook blueprint certified and college topper(vroom vroom) not even once does it say that I failed at maths in college. Resumes are such because hiring managers are terrible. Your girlfriend says "she's FINE" because you are terrible. 

Listening is an art. I have had a few hundreds chats as a "trained listener" at 7cupsoftea. They have coaching manuals for you to become a better listener. Trust me, I say this by experience some of the listeners are terrible at listening and writing manuals alike. I once went as a member in search of a listener to hear me out. I found it funny and equally annoying. The chat was something like this,

Me: Hey!
Listener: Hello. How can I help you today?
Me: Well, I feel a bit stressed due multiple things piling up at once
Listener: Oh you feel stressed due to multiple things?
Me: Yes
<20 seconds="" wait="">
Listener: What are those things?
Me: Some work related and some on the personal front.
Listener: Oh you have multiple work related and personal things to take care of?
Me: Yes
<10 seconds="" wait="">
Me: Why are you repeating things that I say?

I dealt it myself that day. Then I realized that how difficult it is to find someone to just speak to. So I decided to become a listener myself. I went through rigorous training. One point in the manual said,"Rephrase and repeat what the member says. This makes them share more details about their experience". That listener was brilliant at that. I should have read the manual early. 

I came across a post on 9gag. I kept a screenshot because I felt it was important for people to understand how rare good listening is. This is what an escort had to say about one service.

If you think women are never lonely then firstly, you are man secondly, you are missing the point. Listening is hard and rare quality. I have not come across any manual which effectively helps you listen better. Manuals help you make cosmetic changes, have an open body language, nod all the time etc. They all make your exterior appear to be listening. But unless you are genuinely inquisitive and desperate to help one out, you can't listen effectively. Yes, desperate to listen to someone.

The foundation stone of listening is validation. We all want to be different but are afraid to stand out. Are you an engineer? See! We do not like to be termed inappropriate or an outlaw to be feeling something. 

A friend of mine went out with a friend. They drank. She drank little too much. Before she realized she was in his bed. He tried convincing her to let her "guard" down. She refused. Next morning she rang me up, a 3 second ring. I missed the call. I called her back. She tried to talk normally. She said she called by mistake. I stayed mum. "You can tell me what happened". She broke into tears. She showed a lot of courage and told me everything. "I feel so terrible". "I don't know why I drink when I can't handle". "I feel like a slut". "I don't want to live anymore".

Had I said "everything will be alright", she would have hung up. Had I validated her being a slut, she would have shot me in the head before hanging up. I leave it up to you do decide rights and wrongs. What you validate or not is your call. To listen better, you only validate their feeling is not abnormal. You tell them things like "anyone would feel terrible"(which is truth), "I understand what you are going through"(which may be false).  

It is not necessary to sweep every blotted and torn page under the carpet of "everything will be alright". It helps to accept the broken pieces as they are.

clouds over the mountains at dawn in kasol himachal
Dawn at Kasol, Himachal Pradesh

Every night
I read great men say
every night has its day

I've seen
every night dark,
getting darker every hour

even days
when clouds and storms
devour the last speck of light
in you
never have I seen
night turn bright

"You be the storm
I'd be the lightning"

Understandably one can not appreciate failures, losses, accidents but acknowledging them does less harm than pretending they never happened. A chess board has as many bright squares as dark, so do life, school, college and relationships.

If you don't embrace the storm, how would you be the lightning!

Don't tell me, you have not been to The Third Level? | No Small Talk

If you had your school in Delhi, you must have read this story. I have used, "I am at the Third Level", "You seem to be at the Third Level" so many times myself, casually, very casually.

I did today one more time. And she asked me what is it about because she had not read it, being with a different board of education. So I shared the story with her. She read it and exclaimed "I was shocked at the last line". Now I didn't even remember the last line. I had read it 7 years ago, no amnesia to be blamed, may be Alzheimer's.

I had to read the story again.7 years ago, it took me and a class of 48, four lectures to read it through. It took me 15 minutes today. Now this story is hitting me so hard, putting me into trance and oscillating me back and forth. Boards and education institutions trusted us to be so mentally aware, evolved and receptive. I feel obliged to have received such an education.

15 minutes of throwback enriched me today and also put me into a deeper thought. What do we talk about today, with our colleagues, our friends, our parents, our lovers and strangers? "Hello, how are you?" "Nothing much" "Had food?", "I just want to smoke up", "getting bored" , "Or bataao". One word. Small talk.

I ask you for a hundred dollar bill with an assurance that I won't give it back. You might give me one, since I have been nice to you. I come the next day for another bill. You give one again. I come again and again and again. You would shoo me away, want all your bills back. You would be enraged. Time is money.

When we indulge in small talk, I am highlighting it in bold I am taking your oh so precious 10 minutes talk time and throwing it down the drain in front of you, along with mine. I am not giving anything to you. You are so furious when shopkeeper gives you candies instead of your change. Here I am throwing your limited, non-replenish-able resource, without giving you even a candy, why are you not enraged?

Be enraged. Shut me up and shut anyone who does small talk with you. You deserve true value for your time. If you don't get it, take them to a consumer court instead of a coffee shop. Small talk is useless. It is so easily replaceable with something of much higher worth. You do not need to be a scientist for it. Talk about movies that moved you, the failures you have seen, how you think, how people think, what inspires you, what doesn't let you sleep, what do you want to do before you die. Talk about the books you loved. I don't read books, I talk about poems I wrote. That's how poetry open mic happened. But a 3 hour work out a week can only tickle that fat. To stay fit we need to absorb this in routine.

I am leaving you with a snapshot from the 12th standard book which inspired this write up. I am not giving a hyperlink to the story. You can google it or message me for one. If you take the easier route of messaging me then you are obligated to read it through and talk to me about how it changed you. Dare you "or bataao" me!

The third level CBSE NCERT Class 12th Book

I can't believe a stranger did this for me

The Kasol-Kheerganga expedition began with "hey these are the people you are going to be with for the next three days, enjoy". Imagine you pick an introvert out of sleep and make him stand in front of billion strangers (read 60, still apocalyptic okay). How do you talk to random people? The maximum "talking to strangers" prowess I show is replying a comment on my blog or instagram. But I like to stretch out of my comfort zone. Climbing a mountain, staging a stand-up comedy act is within but talking to a stranger is not in my comfort zone.

Out of my solemn comfort zone, instead of mountains, rivers, sculptures, I talked to people. I could not understand them like they spoke Mandarin and I know only Hebrew. Then I saw what they did, and I started pulling my hair. People say and do things they do not need to. How beautiful that is! Doing things you do not need to. Doing things because you wish to. When was the last time you did that? 

Going to the mountains

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