Sweet. The term for equanimity is often used as a barometer. As in, ‘Oh, she’s so nice, so sweet!’ The dictionary also treats it as a synonym for likable. With a friendly, sociable and yes, sweet nature. Let me make it clear that none of these words were ever used to describe me, not even by my mother.
The desire to change this perception was brought to a head by a close friend of mine. ‘When people get to know you, then they realize that you are from the heart!’ He said in a serious tone.
‘Otherwise, what do they think, that I am all mind? I really don’t mind it!’
‘Why are you always doing stupid things, why can’t you be sweet to everyone?’
He then reminded me of a conversation we had last week over dinner. The gentleman who had come with us for the meal ate quickly and then added, ‘I cannot eat or drink anything, not even water, until after my blood test tomorrow.’
‘Is this a routine blood test?’ I asked
‘Yes, for my insurance. My secretary talked to my family doctor!’
‘So your doctor went to the same university as Munna Bhai MBBS because it’s ridiculous. Of course, you can drink water before a routine blood test!’
After a few phone calls, I was proved right.
‘Look, you should have just listened to me,’ I smiled, ‘it’s a blood test, not a husband you have to observe Karva Chauth fast for!’
But instead of being grateful to our common acquaintance, he complained with this grammatically incorrect statement, ‘She thinks too highly of herself!’
It wouldn’t bother me if I hadn’t gotten into arguments with loved ones lately.
Some changes were needed so I decided to turn to Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, the most popular book in this category, and gain some wisdom.
1. Don’t expose your soul, only your teeth. Dale ji says that smile is the first step to make people like you. In a team meeting, I decided to apply this principle as a colleague was presenting his ideas. Within moments he asked, ‘Isn’t it all right?
‘No,’ I said, widening my smile.
‘Then why are you smiling in such a strange way!’
The meeting declined as she kept looking at me suspiciously.
I examined my smile while taking a selfie and realized I needed to learn to fake it better. This one, it looked like I was either trying to scare animals, or at best, was opening my mouth wide to brush my teeth.
2. Pay your interest installment regularly. My daily call with my sister usually starts with a small squabble. I beg her to stop using the speakerphone because not only does it produce a weird sound, but by now, her father-in-law is also aware of all my intimate secrets. She claims that she does not like to hold the phone near her ear and is too lazy to use her earbuds. Learning from Brother Dale, I’ve found that not only should you have a conversation with the other person about topics that interest them, but if you want them to change, make them feel like it was always their idea. .
Instead of scolding her about speaker phones, I started talking about her current obsession with Cannes red carpet looks. Then as she started mumbling, I said, ‘There’s a strange echo, I can’t hear anything, I’ll call you later.’
He quickly replied, ‘No, this is speaker phone, wait let me use my airpods.’
mission accomplished. On the other hand, I had to spend the next 15 minutes discussing a gown that, if Cinderella had worn it, would have turned upside down and ghosted her fairy godmother status.
3. What is your good name? Another afternoon, as I waited for my daughter to finish class, I saw an acquaintance. Recalling my ongoing experiment, I gave him a wide smile. It clearly worked because he walked over and threw himself in front of me. Dale G says that a person’s name is the ‘sweetest’ sound to their ears. Couldn’t remember whether his name was Adarsh or Aadesh and since I couldn’t ask him exactly, I decided to call him ‘Aadu’.
He got even hotter and kept regaling me with anecdotes. When my husband came to pick us up, I had to introduce myself, so I muttered, ‘Adu, why don’t you tell Aku what you were saying about the OTT platform,’ so that he would think I was a regular I shorten names from randomly.
On the way, when my husband started narrating a script, I practiced listening and smiling instead of turning on the radio. In joy or perhaps shock, he missed turning into our lane, and we went on a long drive instead.
Over the past two weeks, the results of my likability experiment have been contradictory. I managed to offend a young actor by praising a young actor in front of a veteran actor. I found myself getting stuck in long, monotonous conversations over and over again where I began to believe that headphones, not just ventilators, could be considered life-saving equipment.
While taking out the dal from the serving bowl I realized that the universally preferred was a bit
To sprinkle coriander over boiled moong. A bit decorative. A little bit of flavor. An innocuous ingredient that evokes neither love nor hate.
Although I do not like coriander sprigs. I am an acquired taste, not caviar at all, but let’s say, dried Bombil.
The circle of my loved ones may be too small to fit even my ring finger, but they are the ones who deserve this enhanced version of me. The ones who need me to smile more often and lend an unobtrusive ear whenever it’s needed.
I also have to admit at the end that no one would ever call me sweet. But then I guess, sweet can be considered a stellar adjective only when you are a bowl of kheer.