Bad haircuts and dance performances


I was always into dance performances when I was in my teens. I would participate in local dancing competitions, school functions, Independence day parades and so on and so forth. There were two issues which presented themselves during these dance performances, which make me slightly discount the endorphin, adrenaline and serotonin high I got from those performances.

Firstly, the dances were of the nature which required a girl to have hair which could be tied into a bun. In those days, I used to get an embarrassing haircut called the ‘Mushroom cut’. Till date, I don’t know what possessed me to get those haircuts. I looked good in them, but it was not me. I would get those haircuts and then spend the next few months defending the haircut. There is an unsaid rule in my life that only I can make myself feel bad about my hair. No one else can.

Now most of these dances were of a traditional nature where we had to wear saris and artificial jewelry along with ‘alta’ which is a Bengali red dye applied on hands and feet(imagine Madhuri and Aishwariya’s look in Dole Re song). We wore big bindis and five kilos of makeup. I didn’t have an issue with makeup, but it clashed with my mushroom cut look. It presented me in a bad light, as if I was deeply confused about my identity in this world. Was I the spunky chick who sported a funky hairstyle, but had decided it is not sanskari for me to do so? Or was I the traditional young lady on a rebellious streak, who would just rebel in small ways and not do anything too drastic to upset the other traditional people? Still trying to figure out what that look meant.

I had to use false hair/artificial bun to make things easier for the audience. I now know from experience that it plopping a bun on top of your head, while the rest of your hair falls naturally into a mushroom cut look, makes you look slightly retarded. It looks like an ice-cream cone, with the scoop being too large for the rest of the cone, maybe because the scoop wanted to make a loud statement just like Rakhi Sawant. This ice cream cone look didn’t have any particular impact when it came to my dance performance.

Once I had used false hair for a performance. In the middle of the semi classical and eloquent dance steps, my false hair decided that it had had it. It just slipped effortlessly on the floor. I picked up the false hair, in a series of dance steps to make it look choreographed. and then slipped off the stage as if that too was planned. I then frantically clipped on the false hair, mumbling a few curse words(which were of an innocuous nature at that time and mostly included donkeys). I then slipped back onto the dance floor quite shamelessly, as if the last seconds of my life had never happened.

Secondly, I detested the fact that they made me Mahishasur(the obese devil with a big handlebar mustache whom Goddess Durga killed, which is why we got ten days school holiday every year). Yes, so in a way, I was responsible for those holidays. You can thank me and send me gifts if you want. But, I could never understand why I was picked as Mahishasur. Was I a natural for the part? I did have fairly bushy eyebrows till I started getting them threaded. The confusing part was that I was Mahishasur but I had the Dole Re look, with the ice cream cone bun and everything. For people, the question ‘Who am I?’ comes after a lot of spiritual and deep meaningful years of pondering. For me, I think the seeds of doubt started sprouting after these performances.

We were once performing on a huge ground on the occasion of Independence day. The sequence was such that I had to dance normally, then fall under the Goddess’s foot on a particular cue for her to kill me(it always felt like walking and then fainting under her feet for a few seconds). After she killed me, I had to get up and start dancing again(maybe this was the afterlife dance). I had rehearsed this fainting and afterlife dance sequence enough number of times, so much so that I stopped feeling humiliated about why they chose me for the part. But…..I don’t know what came over me that day. I decided to fall at the Goddess’s feet a few seconds earlier. Maybe this is what the inevitability of death means. You know it, so why fight it? She got confused and mentioned that I was before time. This was the only time in my life when being before time led to the air being distraught with panic and utter directionlessness . After a few awkward moments later of sheer inactivity between me and the Goddess, I was killed by her.

If you find me sobbing uncontrollably at a hair salon if my hair gets cut too short, you know why.

Image Credits:




Thunder, Lightning and the Speed of Thighs


Image Credits:

Do you ever have a crazy mental dialogue when you go shopping alone? Or always, for that matter?

Date: 28th March 2015

Venue: Shopping Mall

Before visiting the mall, I checked out a website which tells you what colours you should wear depending on the kind of energy you project. I realised that I had been wearing dark colours all my life whereas I should have been wearing bright colours. I agreed with the same for lack of a valid counterargument and went shopping.

Brain: In order for you to accomplish this, look at all the colours that you would have never worn normally, before your life changing ‘which colour should I wear’ discovery.

Me: Ok.

I stayed off the dark colours and went to look for the more chatak(loud) colours. 

I picked out a few clothes, with slightly shaky hands. Changing the core colours you wear almost changes your identity in some way.

Brain: You will look like a fruit salad wearing these colours.

Me: Snicker.

I picked out a few of those fruit salad clothes, determined to feel good looking like a fruit salad. After all, if it lifts my energy and makes me happier(like a yellow coloured minion), who cares? I also picked out a few pairs of jeans and went in.

Now, before I go into the juicy details of the trial room, I want to give let you in on a conversation which I had with a senior on Yahoo chat almost a decade back.

X(For lack of a better codeword): Do you know that guys in the hostel call you thunder thighs?

Me: Umm.

What the hell is one supposed to do with information like this? And why do people feel like passing on such information? It is like going to a dog and saying ‘You know that you bark, right?’ . Uh! Ok.


Image Credits:

As I thought about the thunder thighs label, which always brings up an image of Sridevi in a wet sari dancing with Anil Kapoor, who is her brother-in-law now (Bollywood, you scare me), I pulled out a pair of jeans and started trying it on.

Me: Ugh!

Brain(in an animated paan chewing driver’s tone as the jeans reached my thighs): Ab tak to Manali tak ka raasta tha, easy tha. Aage se Rohtang pass hai.

Me: Ssh!

I gave up on the jeans, as it probably gave up on me. I walked out of the store with my self respect intact. What goes on in the trial room, stays in the trial room.

I went home and did the weighing scale dance. The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Remove all coins from your pockets.

Step 2: Get on the weighing scale.

Step 3: Blink a couple of times in horror. Hope that the blinks scare the damn weighing scale to lower the weight.

Step 4: Give the weighing scale a second chance, by checking its zero error. Who knows – the scale might be pointing to 5 kg instead of the default 0 kg?

Step 5: Bring out curse words with as much venom as possible. Make the weighing scale feel bad by screaming ‘Once a traitor, always a traitor.’

Step 6: Take charge of the situation and create a zero error in the opposite direction.

Step 7: Congratulations! You are now 5 kgs lighter. You can be the poster boy or girl in one of those pretentious weight loss commercials, in which only the ‘After’ photo gets photoshopped.

I want to hear about your crazy shopping and weight reduction experiments. Don’t be lazy. Comment below. Typing makes one’s fingers thinner, so I hear. 😉

Proudly yours,

Thunder Thighs

P.S – I have sworn myself off the virus called ‘perfection’ in a ceremony that involved two frogs, one unicorn and five strands of hair of men who have now turned bald but were wise enough to preserve those strands of hair for my ceremony. Talk about foresight. This deadly virus leads you to squint and read through your text at least two dozen times. I am trying to return to normalcy and hence I read through the text only a couple of times, after it is done. Pardon me, if there is a typo, although you can let me know about it…in private, of course. Together we can fight this virus and save time.

Like what you read? You can sign up for a dose of chuckles sent to your inbox once every few days here.


Interviews, Zippers and Mistaken Identities


Interviews. I think of zippers whenever I think of interviews. Strange neuro-association, isn’t it? I can hear you mumbling neuro….what? Neuro- association is the way in which the brain links up two things together which it considers logical. In my (over)analysis of my neuro associations, I have gasped multiple times at the ludicrous neuro-associations in my brain and then tapped on my face to remove those ‘logical’ neuro associations(read about EFT tapping before you judge me). Sigh, I secretly dream of a world where we all are as weird as I am. That doesn’t seem likely unless I create billions of weird-face-tapping clones of me.

Back to zippers….and interviews. Interviews bring up images of folders with a resume in them, complete with a passport size photo in my mind(apart from zippers, of course). It feels insensitive to call it a resume, it should be called the ‘Shining Glory of My Life Spent on This Planet’ or something like that. Aah. Anyway, I had carried my ‘Shining Glory…blah…blah…’ to the interview room few years back, after having fixed my hair and lip gloss a few dozen times, aiming to give a perfect impression of my sincere-shining self. People walked in, asked me questions, nodded a lot and then informed me that few other people wanted to interview me. I smiled unnaturally, as is natural to do so in the interview. Perhaps, people finish their quota of smiles(and lip-gloss) in the interview room and then frown for the next few years they work in that place.

I first stared at the walls of the interview room, which I feel obliged to do in such situations, where nothing else seems to fill that time between the going out and coming in of people. I then stared at my skirt. It looked nice…black…formal…and dull. Good. But then, I noticed that my skirt zip(on the side of the skirt) was undone and spoilt. So now, one could see the holy white tucked in shirt, through the black skirt. Eeks!

I didn’t know how any of this was my fault, but I was convinced it was. In some way it was…as it always was. My hand immediately covered up the gap…the gap which would put gaps between cliffs which people dream of jumping to shame. I felt handicapped at that moment, with only one hand of mine operational, since one hand had to do its job of saving my izzat(respect). The other hand  would have to be used to shake hands and wave animatedly in the air in order to declare my passion for the job. The second set of people came in and asked their stuff. I replied, one hand stuck to the side of the skirt. I sensed that they sensed that there was something wrong with my arm. But, I was determined to not let ‘the gap’ spoil my interview. Finally my interview ended and I walked out with a sense of confidence that I could single handedly(sense the pun?) sail through an interview.

My neuro-association is prompting me to write about yet another embarrassing situation where I was asked to wait in a coffee shop for an interview. I had checked the Facebook profile of my interviewer the previous night, as part of my research. Amazing how one can do anything under the pretext of research. So, I was looking for this lady of a particular nationality to come and interview me. A lady breezily came up to me and said ‘Hieee. I’ll be back in a moment.’ I smiled politely and rummaged through my brain for the Facebook photo I had seen of the interviewer the previous day.  Mismatch! She was not the one.

Perhaps, she had decided that she wanted her face to match another nationality’s and had then gone through a series of painful plastic surgeries to make that happen. I settled(sank) into my chair and waited for the lady-who-had-changed-her-nationality. To my horror, I saw a person with a face that matched the Facebook photo I had seen earlier walk towards me. She sat next to me and started asking relevant questions. I started spurting out my replies in an organised and rehearsed manner. The breezy-lady-who-I-thought-had-changed-her-nationality popped up again and stared at me and the interviewer-whose-photo-matched-the-Facebook-profile.  I just pointed at the interviewer’s head and nodded as part of some secret code that the breezy lady seemed to get. She nodded apologetically and walked off. The interviewer stared at me and I blabbered something like ‘She must have assumed I am someone else’ and continued jabbering my answers… if nothing happened.

Over to you. What weird(funny) interview experiences have you had? What pops into your mind whenever you think of interviews?

P.S – I have sworn myself off the virus called ‘perfection’ in a ceremony that involved two frogs, one unicorn and five strands of hair of men who have now turned bald but were wise enough to preserve those strands of hair for my ceremony. Talk about foresight. This deadly virus leads you to squint and read through your text at least two dozen times. I am trying to return to normalcy and hence I read through the text only a couple of times, after it is done. Pardon me, puhleeeez, if there is a typo, although you can let me know about it…in private, of course. Together we can fight this virus and save time.

Image Credits – Unknown(but brilliant).

Like what you read? You can sign up for a dose of chuckles sent to your inbox once every few days here.



Interview with Dr Madan Kataria- Founder of Laughter Yoga

Dr Madan Kataria_Profile

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Dr Madan Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga. Laughter Yoga had a humble beginning with just 5 participants, but it has now flourished in 100 countries around the globe.

1. How did you get the idea of starting Laughter Yoga? Were there any stressful situations in your life which propelled you towards Laughter Yoga?

Dr Kataria: My pushing point was the stressful life that I was leading in Mumbai. I was practising as a medical doctor as well as editing and publishing a health magazine. I was passionate about what I was doing for the magazine- educating people about health, healing, yoga, wellness,etc. It gave me a holistic approach on health and healing as opposed to my practice as a physician using allopathy, which had no preventative component that I could teach.

I started studying homepathy, ayurveda, acupuncture, acupressure, yoga as well as meditation and spirituality. I thought I would give people knowledge in terms of holistic approaches in order to avoid the use of too many medicines. The work for the magazine was very interesting because I learnt something every time I published an article.

It was then that I thought of writing an article- ‘Laughter is the best medicine’. It then struck me that I needed laughter the most. I realised that although people knew the benefits of laughter, nobody really practised laughter consciously.

I excitedly did a research on the benefits of laughter, which has been proven by science over the last 4 decades. But, there was no effective delivery system to dispense the benefits of laughter. At that time, the delivery system was mostly humour, comedy, etc which might not have such a profound effect on the immune system because one experiences the benefits of laughter only if one laughs for a sustained period of time, as proved by one of the studies.

I thought of starting a laughter club at the park. I floated this idea around to people and they started laughing at me. But eventually, we started a laughter club, wherein we told jokes. People started joining our club and our attendance grew. In a few days we ran out of good jokes. People started saying vulgar jokes which were not that well appreciated by everyone. I requested the club members not to close the club. I asked them to give me one day for me to find out an effective way to laugh without having to indulge in such jokes. I wanted to look for a breakthrough solution which would enable people to laugh easily.

I always believe that if there is a problem, there is a solution to it. I started frantically searching through magazines and books on how to laugh without jokes. I found a book which talked about fake humour which said that the body cannot distinguish between fake and real laughter. I read a research piece which stated that holding a pen between the jaws such that it represents a smile sends a feedback to the brain similar to what the feedback would be if a person is smiling. The brain on receiving the feedback, triggers the release of happy chemicals, like endorphins.

Laughter Yoga is not a mind-body medicine. It is a body-mind medicine.

If faking a smile can release happy chemicals, faking a laughter can do a lot more. That gave me the idea that I could make laughter as an exercise. We came out with exercises which would prompt us to laugh- like milkshake laughter, namaste laughter, etc. Within a month, we could come out with 20-30 laughter exercises.

But, we used to get tired laughing continuously for half an hour every day. We then started doing some breathing exercises in between. It then dawned on me that we could name it ‘Laughter Yoga’, because laughter in itself is a form of breathing. Breathing and laughing together helps to exhale stale air from the lungs and helps to oxygenate each cell of the body. Slowly our focus became only laughter and not the cause of laughter. This gave us the freedom to laugh in a sustained manner for a longer period of time which really brought out the benefits.

2. What benefits did you experience on a personal and spiritual level due to Laughter Yoga?

Dr Kataria:  It has been almost 20 years since I started practising Laughter Yoga. My day starts with laughter. I wake up at 4 am and start laughing all by myself in another room for 30-40 minutes. I then go on to laugh on Skype and other places.

My immune system has become very strong and I have stopped falling sick. Earlier I used to fall sick 4-5 times a year, but laughter has changed that.

My capacity to laugh has gone up. Earlier, my brain used to be judgmental about what is funny and what is not. But now that has changed, due to the laughter exercises. My sense of humour has gone up. My perception of what is funny and what is not has changed a lot. Even small things crack me up now.

My mind has become very positive. There is a lot of negativity around us, which can easily influence us. My inner resilience has gone up and my reactivity has gone down. I have achieved calm and peacefulness within myself and with others. I have become spiritual through laughter.

I have become very generous. I love helping people. As a young man, I used to focus more on my achievements, but now I feel I have everything. I am getting lots of love and affection from people. I am not in the race for money. I have become more conscious about how I can be more service oriented. I have become aware of the environment. If I see a chocolate wrapper on the road, I just pick it up and throw it in the dustbin, thinking that even a small action can drive a change. Now if I see a cockroach in the house, I don’t kill it. I sweep it out of the house. I am a vegetarian for more than 25 years now, purely because of my love for life.

Spirituality for me means being able to raise your spirits by yourself and others’ spirits by any method. You don’t have to do anything religious to be spiritual.

Laughter Yoga has given me the tool to keep my spirits high right from the morning all throughout the day. Through laughter I am contributing to the entire world, even with all the doom and gloom in the world. I continue to be a crusader for world peace. My understanding about world peace is that ‘what is inside is outside’. So, world peace has to achieved through one person at a time. I am multiplying these laughter clubs all over the world. In this way I am contributing to the world peace in a big way, because Laughter Yoga clubs are now in 100 countries around the world.

3. What are some of the common beliefs amongst people which prevents them from laughing?

Dr Kataria: Firstly, people are not aware of the benefits of laughter. People still think that laughter is only for relaxation and entertainment. They don’t know the impact laughter has on one’s health-physical, spiritual, mental and emotional. That is changing now, thanks to media and articles.

Secondly, people think that this laughter is not real laughter. They look for spontaneous laughter. My challenge is to make people aware that this laughter is much better because there is no guarantee of laughter if you rely on only spontaneous methods, through comedy or jokes.

4. Are there any stressful situations in your life when you don’t feel like laughing? How do you get into a mood to laugh?

Dr Kataria: Yes. I do have stressful situations in my life.

Firstly, lot of people want me to react. By choosing not to react, you make things easier. If you don’t react, and just be with the situation by responding appropriately if required, it helps you and other people as well. They can also vent out their stuff. I still react 5-10% of the times, but I have overcome 90-95% of it.

Secondly, there is no control on what happens to us. We have 110% control over what we do when something happens. Rather than getting involved in the problem, laughter has helped me to swing into action, to understand how I can make the situation better. Reaction complicates things. Nowadays I laugh when I miss my flight. It makes me feel better instantly and I don’t feel stressed out. I laugh at practically every situation which is not in my control.

Thirdly, laughter gives you acceptance. Sometimes people criticise me and my laughter and make nasty remarks. I can’t do anything about it. I feel that you can only accept those situations and they way you can accept those situations is by laughing about them.

I get problems every day, despite me being a laughter guru. But the way I deal with problems is amazing. That is the way yogis will handle the situation.

5. How important is childlike playfulness in day to day life and Laughter Yoga?

Dr Kataria: Children can laugh so much because they play. The problems with grown ups is we don’t play because we are conditioned that way. But there is an innate desire within all of us to be like children sometimes.

Laughter Yoga provides a safe environment for people to revisit their childhood. We do a lot of child play activities like clapping hands together and saying- “Very good. Very good. Yay!” Playfulness is an important for nurturing creativity. Laughter Yoga club is like kindergarten for grown ups.

<End of Interview>

To find out more about Laughter Yoga, head to

Watch Dr Madan Kataria on Satyamev Jayate, a popular show hosted by Aamir Khan in India.

 Like what you read? You can sign up for a dose of chuckles sent to your inbox once every few days here.

Why you should take laughter seriously?

Christmas is around the corner  and this merry season is associated with Santa Claus and his cheerful ho ho’s . It is a jolly season full of laughter and joy. Perhaps this is the best way to live life, considering how stressful things can get. I recently came across the concept of “Laughter Yoga ” and I was truly impressed with it. Laughter Yoga works on the concept of fake laughter having the same effects as real laughter. As per Dr Madan Kataria(the founder of Laughter Yoga), our brains cannot distinguish between real laughter and fake laughter. Hence it can be practiced mindfully, without the aid of humor. You can read more about Laughter Yoga here.

Laughter has emotional, physical and spiritual benefits. It may seem silly, but trust me, once you try it, you’ll be laughing your way to a healthier and happier you. Below are some of the benefits which laughter provides us with.

Emotional Benefits

1. Cheerfulness: If you start your day with laughter, you are blessed with a great mood all day. The stresses of the day don’t seem to creep in that easily and small worries tend to seem almost miniscule. Instead of starting your day with a heavy heart and dreading the worst, start with ha has to see a mammoth difference.

2. Better bonding with people: If you have a smiling face, people will be drawn to you and will want to spend more time with you. You will end up making more friends because of your cheerful attitude. As the saying beautifully sums it up “Laugh and the world laughs with you, smile and some smile with you, weep and you weep alone”. Nobody wants to spend time around complainers. Spread cheer everywhere and you’ll see more of it crawl into your life.

Physical Benefits

1. Release of endorphins: Laughter releases endorphins,the “feel good” hormones. These help with the feeling of well being and can even reduce pain in the body.

2. Reduces the release cortisol: Levels of cortisol, better known as the “stress hormone”  is reduced after a hearty laughter session.

For more on the physical benefits of laughter, click here 

Spiritual Benefits

1. Reduces ego: Ego is the biggest blocking factor when it comes to spiritual growth.  It makes us believe that it is us against the world and we have to keep fighting with others to make a mark in our lives. Laughter is a great way to dissolve this ego and move towards unconditional love. We all are manifestations of life and we are not separate. Laughter dissolves the boundaries between us and others. Laugh in the company of others and you’ll truly find yourself as an expression of others.Also, the easiest way to reduce ego is to develop the knack of laughing at yourself. If you’re able to laugh at the tiny mistakes you make, it becomes easier to let things go and to relax into life. And life is much easier when you stop taking it so seriously.

2.  Brings back focus to the present moment: When you are laughing and having a good time, you don’t feel the need to think about the past and the present. The focus is on the present moment; the moment when you are having fun. This powerful exercise of laughter teaches you to live life in the present which in turn helps you to be in control of your life . Read more about living life in the present moment here.