relationships

The Dilemma

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James hung up the phone and let out a sigh. It seemed like his sister, Joanne was having one of her anxiety attacks again. This time it was something involving her teenage son, Adam, who was about to celebrate his 13th birthday in a couple of days.  Joanne, had always been overly protective of people she cared about. Even when they were children, she was fiercely protective of Karen, their youngest sibling, and would never ever let her out of her sight. Most of the time, he’d indulged her because of her past medical history. She’d been diagnosed with hypertension and anxiety at a very young age, and as a result she often took a lot of things more seriously than she should probably have.

Deep down, James knew where Joanne’s current problem stemmed from. This birthday would be Adam’s last one at home, before he moved away to join the rest of his friends at Senior school in Manxville. He knew that both Joanne and her husband Phil’s decision to send Adam away for senior school, was a difficult one. But it was the only practical solution that they could think of. Over the past few months, Joanne had kept asking James “Why must they grow up so quickly? I’m not ready to let go of him yet.” Today, she’d asked the rhetorical question again. "I wonder, if he feels the same away about moving away from home. Ah, who am I kidding? I bet he’s looking forward to it!” she’d mused.

James sighed. He and his wife, Kathy, had already gone through this phase, having sent two of their teenage kids away at 14. Yes, it had been difficult, but they knew it was for the best. Their reasons had risen from the same ones that were plaguing Joanne and Phil currently. Mount Seglaw, where their family lived, only had one senior school. And their students were well known for getting into trouble with the law. From drugs to guns to sexual assault to thieving and even murder. So Father Paul had suggested the church-run school in Manxville, about 50 miles away, for anyone from their congregation who wished for their kids to have a better foundation in life. And the recent news of the stabbing of a teacher from Mt. Seglaw High, by one of the 14-year old students, had only added to Jo and Phil’s decision to send Adam to Manxville. After all, the teacher had been stabbed for merely asking the kid why he hadn’t submitted his assignment.

Though he’d dismissed his sister's concerns as another one of her attacks, James found his thoughts wandering to the series of phone calls he’d been receiving from Joanne for the past few weeks. Up until the age 12, Adam had been a good, well-mannered, bubbly and church-going kid. But soon, his friend circle expanded, and the changes in his behaviour were apparent. He was constantly angry, yelling, screaming, throwing tantrums and became increasingly foul-mouthed. He had also started hanging out with some of his new found friends, who were much older and went to Mt. Seglaw High.

Finally in an attempt to get him to stay at home rather than wander the streets with his friends, they had succumbed to pressure from the parents of his other friends, and had gotten him a new gaming console with a copy of the latest action game that Adam had wanted, as an early birthday present. Though Phil and Joanne knew that getting him a video game console was not the best solution, they were happy that Adam was at least spending more time at home, rather than hanging out with those no-good kids. Of course, once he moved to his new school in a few months, he wouldn’t have access to the console. Which meant everybody was a winner. And Adam’s behaviour had started to change too. He yelled and shouted much less and was also more manageable. He had also started attending church every Sunday, a fact that both Jo and Phil were extremely happy about.

But Joanne had started to notice that there were other changes in Adam’s behaviour. Though he had become a lot more subdued, he was very distracted and she often caught him staring at the TV screen lost in thought. He always seemed to be scribbling away, whilst constantly murmuring to himself. To make matters worse, a couple of days ago she had found an A4 size sheet with the hand- drawing of a building which suspiciously looked like the Heritage centre in the centre of Mt. Seglaw. One of the oldest buildings in the region and rumoured to be the holding place for a variety of precious stones and jewels, the Heritage centre was the only building in Mt. Seglaw, that had round-the -clock protection by the Police department. Recently, there had also been a news doing the rounds that a team of suspicious characters were offering good money to kids who could provide information about the Heritage centre. So when Jo came across this drawing of what she believed was a plan of the Heritage centre, she panicked. There were a series of arrows, crosses and circles and other strange markings which seemed to lead to a room which was marked with a giant X. And the handwriting on the piece of paper was Adam’s.

In a bid to get him to speak, and hopefully spill the beans about the drawing, Joanne had tried asking Adam if there was something bothering him. But the answer had always been a negative head shake. She wondered if he was secretly taking drugs, like she knew some of the other kids of his age were, and if that was clouding his judgement. She hoped not. No matter, how much she persisted, Adam would not tell her what was going on. And that’s when she decided to speak to her brother James.

The first thought that popped into James’s head when Joanne told him about her suspicion was that she was fabricating the story to try and keep Adam with her in Mt. Seglaw. But after hearing the story and her concerns repeated constantly, James had his own concerns. One part of him just wanted to dismiss it entirely. But another part of him, wanted to believe his sister. After all, he had seen some of Adam’s “new friends”, and he knew they weren’t the best influence on him. He decided that he would speak to Adam in a couple of days when he came over to play with his cousins. In order to dismiss his concerns, he needed to speak with Adam and try and get to the bottom of this.

A few days later,

James peeked into the living room. Adam was sitting on the couch, staring at the TV screen as if in a trance. The Xbox controller was on his lap, and he seemed to be talking to himself as Jo had mentioned. His sister Jo, who was standing behind him in the kitchen, gently nudged him. Taking a deep breath, he walked purposefully towards Adam, who barely glanced up and  continued to murmur incomprehensibly.

James observed him carefully. Beads of sweat were starting to form on Adam's forehead, and he was shaking both his legs vigorously. Laying a hand on his shoulder, James raised his voice and said“Adam, we need to talk.” Adam ignored him and muttered something under his breath. James raised his voice slightly and said “Adam!” Almost instantly Adam snapped out his trancelike state. He looked at James and said “Ah, Uncle James! I didn’t see you. How are you?” James looked at him again. His eyes, which previously looked glassy, were now back to the shade of blue they had always been. “How are you, Adam? Is there something bothering you? Your mother has been sick with worry. She says you haven’t been eating well. Or sleeping. And that you keep talking to yourself. Is everything okay?”, asked James, enunciating every word slowly. Adam looked at his uncle, who was staring at him as if expecting an answer. “Well, yes…..everything is fine. I’ve just been ….well…..having some issues” said Adam, turning his face away from James.

James pulled out the folded sheet of paper that Jo had found in Adam’s jeans pocket. “Is it anything to do with this?” he asked. Adam glanced at it and nodded his head. James felt like he’d been punched in the stomach. He knew Jo was spying on them from the kitchen, and he was sure she had heard Adam’s confirmation too. But he knew he had to be strong. Especially since Phil was away on business. He laid the sheet of paper on Adam’s lap and asked Do you want to tell me why you have a drawing of what looks like the Heritage Centre in your pocket? Where did you get this from?” he asked.

Adam looked at his uncle questioningly. “What is uncle talking about?” he wondered. James looked at Adam’s confused face and said Adam, your mother and I know about this plan. The police have been on the lookout for people who have been passing information to those outsiders who have been trying to break-in to the Heritage Center”. Adam’s eyes widened.

And then suddenly he burst out laughing. “That drawing is from the game that I’ve been playing. I’ve just been trying to figure out how to unlock the room to get the magic potion." divider

 

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was “Pause whatever you’re doing, and ask the person nearest you what they’re thinking about (call someone if you have to). Write a post based on it. " I have decided to write a fictitious story about a mother's concern for her teenage son. And of course, I've twisted it a bit. To stick to the prompt, I have said the story largely from James's point of view ]

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The Social Network

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London 

Phil’s right index finger scrolled up and down, indefinitely on the scroll button of his “Porsche” shaped mouse. Every few  seconds he stopped, seemingly taking a quick glance at what was written on the screen. Every other second, he continued to click the left mouse button to confirm his actions on the screen. He glanced at his watch. His report was due in a few hours. Though the stakeholder meeting wasn’t till Tuesday noon, with the looming long weekend for the Queen’s Golden jubilee celebrations, he had to make sure it was submitted by the end of day today. “Who allocates such mind-numbing number crunching jobs on Friday afternoon?” he thought as he continue to scroll through the almost infinite list of updates on his Facebook page. A like here, a like there, a smiley here and a frown-y emoticon there, he continued to do what he was well-known for, amongst his online friends for. Philip was a compulsive liker. All of his 1325 Facebook friends could rest peacefully assured that no matter, what they put up, be it a rant or a sarcastic comment, or even a outright accusation, they were guaranteed at least one like. Oh, and a favourite and re-tweet if they were on Twitter. Though he didn’t give his “compulsive disorder” any thoughts, he found it strange that some of the people on his “friends” list were concerned if there was a delay in his “liking” their update on Facebook. Deep down, Philip knew he wasn’t doing the right thing, and that he needed to actually read and understand the update before he decided whether to hit the like button or not. But that just seemed like a lot of hard work, for someone who had over 1000 friends on Facebook.  And so far, in the three years he’d taken this stand of “liking” everything that his “friends” put on FB and Twitter in a bid to be more popular, he was yet to make any grave errors in judgement. After all, he strongly believed that the people on his contact list had enough sense to put up only likeable stuff on social media networks. And his stand had paid its dividends too. He was more popular in the London social media circle, and people were constantly sending him friend invites and inviting him to groups and “social events”, which he rarely attended for the fear of being exposed as a compulsive liker. He glanced at the lower bottom corner of his laptop to check the time. His lunch hour had finished 15 minutes ago. As he was about to log out of Facebook, he noticed that one of his virtual friend’s had been tagged in a photo with his stunning blonde woman holidaying in the Bahamas. As he always did, he like the thumbs up button, adding another like to the photograph.

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Rishab Singh clicked on the refresh button on the browser to load the updates. He glanced at the time. He still had 30 minutes to go before his late-shift finished. As much as he hated working these strange shifts at the call centre, he secretly enjoyed the fact that he could get off with some of his perversions without people being privy to them. As the senior technical support associate for a prominent IT firm, Rishab often accessed their client’s laptop and PC, remotely to troubleshoot and had access to their sensitive information. As a techie, he found it incredibly silly that people still enabled auto-logins to their emails and social media pages. Of course, he wasn’t complaining. It made his job of tapping into their personal details a lot easier. He loved to secretly stalk people on social media. Whilst he didn’t sell any of the information for money or harass them publicly, he got a certain adrenaline rush from secretly being part of their life. His recent client was a middle aged man from London, who seemed to be some sort of a compulsive liker on Facebook. This characteristic of his, made him all the more interesting to Rishab. One of Rishab’s favourite activities was going through the activity log of his victims. It gave him all the information about what they had liked, commented and viewed. He looked at the last activity that his present victim had engaged in on Facebook. It showed that he had liked a photo. He clicked on the image, and waited for it to load. He took a sip of the cola that he still had left from his dinner. His eyes opened wide as the image of a sexy blonde in a two piece black bikini filled the screen. “She looks fit. And hot!” he thought as he looked at the title of the album which said “Holidaying in the Bahamas”. Feeling a bit aroused, he quickly flipped to the next photo in the album. And then his eyes opened wider. This time, it wasn’t the woman who had caught his attention. It was the image of a man, he knew quite well. It was their organisation's VP from the Amsterdam office. “Such a lucky sod!” he thought, as he hit the logout button on Facebook. “Philip Thomas, are you sure you want to logout?” queried the browser. He hit yes, leaned back in his chair and adjusted his jeans. He was going to need to relieve himself soon.

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Amsterdam 

Julia Gaspar looked up from her desk and tucked away a strand of her unruly brunette hair behind her ear. She’d been distracted by a knocking sound from her phone. She glanced at her desk, where the phone rested in its cradle. The screen had lit up showing that there were some pending Facebook notifications. She sighed heavily. She was starting to rue the day that she’d let Tony convince her to create a Facebook account and download the app onto her phone too. Though she’d had the account for almost three years now, she’d never been an active user of Facebook or any other social media platforms. She preferred the more old fashioned way of communicating with friends, such as telephone calls and text messages. However her husband, Tony, was the complete opposite when it came to having a virtual presence. He had an account with every known social media platform and was literally online round the clock. So much so, that even switching his phone to vibrate mode at nights was not an option. It had to be put on silent, if they needed to get a good night’s sleep. Even so, she’d caught him secretly updating his status and replying to comments at wee hours in the morning, from under the comfort of the blanket. His addiction really bothered Julia, but despite her numerous complaints and requests, Tony had not paid any heed, and still continued to maintain a very active online presence.  One of the things that she hated about Tony’s Facebook-ing activities was that he shared almost every single information online. From what they had for dinner to where they were going to holiday, Tony considered very few things off limits to be shared with his “virtual buddies”, most of whom he had never even met. And lately, he had started tagging her too. Though she didn’t regularly check the notifications, she suddenly felt a strange urge to do so today. It was Friday noon after all and she could do with some distraction. Tony had been away on busienss for almost two weeks, and he was due to come back tomorrow morning. She was excited. Not just because she hadn’t seen him for a while. She also had a very special news to share, one she hoped would make him jump up and down with joy.

Julia clicked on the Facebook Icon on iPhone. The familiar globe sign showed that there were 63 unread notifications.  “It better not be another darn Farmville or Criminal Case invite!” she thought to herself, as her screen started filling up with the notifications. A quick glance through the list of notifications showed her that most of them were rubbish invites to these virtual games that seemed to have taken the online world by storm. As she was about to exit the app, she noticed a Red “1” next to the icon that seemed to have the silhouette of people. From her little experience of using Facebook, she knew that to be the friend request notification. Wondering who it could be, she clicked on the icon. It said “Sarah Cole has sent you a friend request!”. It said that the request wad 173 days old. Sarah was Tony’s secretary and Julia had met her on a couple of occasions at Tony’s office parties. Julia had summed up that Sarah was someone for whom the title of “Social Butterfly” worked aptly. She was pretty, and extremely friendly, and always the heart of every party. And from what Tony had mentioned, she was an extremely capable secretary too.

Overcome by curiosity, Julia clicked on the accept button on the request. This led her to Sarah’s timeline which was filled with photos of her recent holiday, which by the looks of it, she was still on. As she quickly skimmed through the photos of a scantily dressed Sarah, she suddenly felt embarrassed. And a bit weird. She felt like she was spying on someone she hardly knew. After all, Sarah’s personal life was none of Julia’s concern. Yes, she had accepted her friend request, but it wasn’t in Julia’s nature to go through someone else’s life. She knew what Tony’s response would be to her question. “If they’re happy enough to share it with the world, then it’s not spying!”. Almost absentmindedly, Julia continued to go through the photographs. “She looks stunning in that bikini”she thought as she glanced at a photo of Sarah sunbathing on the beach. As the next image from the album filled her 5” phone screen, her jaw dropped. Holding Sarah in his arms and frolicking with her on the beach in Bahamas, was the photo of her husband, Tony Gaspar.

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[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "“Do you feel like you “get” social media, or do you just use it because that’s where all your friends and family are?” As usual, I have "twisted" it]

The Writer

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“There you are!” exclaimed Amit as he threw open the door to the terrace. “Everyone’s been looking for you. The event starts in 40 minutes. Come down, will you?” he added with a smirk on his face. Tina took a long drag of the cigarette and felt the menthol vapour fill her throat and windpipe. It was a welcome contrast to the chilly London air. She looked back at Amit and smiled. As he came closer, she blew the smoke onto his face. Amit instantaneously retched and took a couple of steps back. “I’ve told you not to do that. It’s bad enough that you want to kill yourself smoking. I’m not going to die from passive smoke. I love my lungs, thank you very much!” he said in mock anger. Tina shrugged her shoulders and turned back to the view she had been enjoying until Amit had suddenly made his appearance. She really liked Amit, but it was moments like these, she felt he was really uptight. “Leave me alone for a bit longer, Amit. I’ll be down shortly. I am calming myself down” she said, as she gestured to Amit to leave. As Amit muttered something under his breath and left, Tina leaned against the wall. She was going to have to somehow get through today. And from the looks of it, it was just the beginning. Having been an introvert all her life, she'd often politely declined being part of any kind of public gathering. But this time around, she hadn’t been able to excuse herself. After all, the event was being thrown in her honour. A glimmering light drew her attention to one of London’s iconic buildings - the Gherkin. Within minutes, lights of different colours and intensities had lit up the city of London. Standing atop the tallest building, not just in London, but also in Western Europe, Tina felt a strange surge of satisfaction.

The City of London at night : Google Image search

“It’s funny how things sometimes work out!” Tina thought to herself, as she wrapped her sweater tighter around her.  She’d never even dreamt of being a writer. Though she’d found solace in books, it had just been a much-needed escape from all the routine problems of her world. As she grew up, so did her choice in books. The Enid Blytons were replaced by other literary classics, which were then soon replaced by books on modern literature. Considering her love for the written word, she had often contemplated doing a degree in arts and creative writing or even journalism. The only thorn in her side had been her father. Though he’d been in the UK for years, the urban lifestyle hadn’t quite rubbed off on him. He was still very traditional and was adamant that he was going to get both his daughters married off as soon as they finished their basic education. Her sister, Nina, had been a really good painter and had been even offered a scholarship from the esteemed Slade School of Fine Art at UCL. But her father had been obstinate and in no time, she had been married off. Unfortunately for her sister, she’d fallen pregnant soon after and was now a homemaker looking after their two kids. Tina had known all along that she was going to have do something drastic, if she was to avoid her sister’s fate. So during her final year of high school, she decided to grab hold of a work internship with a London financial firm. Her father had vehemently disagreed stating that he’d almost finalised her marriage with a “nice Indian boy who had his own corner store”. “As if I’m a piece of property!” Tina had thought whilst she quietly packed her bags in the night to leave for London.

That had been five years ago. She’d only met her father once since, which was for the second birthday of her sister’s first child. The internship had gone smoothly and they had even offered her a full time position, which she’d quickly grabbed. Her penchant for numbers and ability to think outside the box had ensured that she was promoted regularly. She’d even managed to complete her business degree whilst continuing to work full time for the firm. And that’s when she’d met Amit. A few years older to her, he’d been pursuing his MBA in the same university that she had been enrolled at. Amit worked part time at a publishing company and she was often privy to a lot of gossip about stories that they had either rejected or ones that had been delayed indefinitely. It had initially been exciting to listen to the stories, considering her affinity for reading and books. Soon that excitement had turned into a reality check; a realisation that she should try her hand at writing. She was fortunate that Amit too pushed her to follow her heart. As with most newbie writers, she too had tried her hand at blogging. Amit had managed to persuade his publishing company’s editor to give some of her short stories a read, and fortunately for her, he’d been impressed. Shortly after, she’d started contributing articles for Metro & The Evening Standard. Buoyed by her almost-overnight success, she’d decided to write a romantic novella, which unfortunately had not found many takers. Dejected, she’d vowed never to write anything ever again. And she hadn’t, for almost a period of six months. But everything changed, late one winter’s night, when they’d encountered 7 year-old Monisha decked up as a bride in the alleyways of Brick Lane, in East London.

“Tina. It’s time!” Amit’s sombre voice snapped her out of her trance like state. Flicking the cigarette butt away, she slowly walked towards the exit to the terrace, where he waited. She smiled and gave him a tight hug. He smiled back and gave her a reassuring squeeze on her shoulder. Together they descended to the mezzanine floor of the Shard, where the event was scheduled to take place. Tina squinted against the bright spotlights that adorned the ceilings of the building. She saw Mark, her literary agent, pointing towards his watch and gesturing towards the seat that had been reserved for her. She slowly walked towards the front of the room, vaguely aware of the camera flashes that were snapping her every move. As she took her seat, she glanced absentmindedly towards the far end of the room. For a moment, she thought she recognised an elderly gentleman in a worn out beige blazer. Almost instantly, a photographer’s flash temporarily blinded her, and she was forced to look away. When she looked up again, he was gone. As she glanced down at the table she was seated at, Mark promptly slid across a copy of her best-selling book. “Great, another copy to sign” she mused as she slowly ran her fingers over the gold-embossed title of her book - “MONISHA”. Grabbing a pen from the table, she slowly turned the cover to write the so-called personalised words that she’d written at least a hundred times since the book released. Realising that she didn’t know who she was signing it for, she threw a questioning glance at Mark, who seemed to be busy on the phone. A small note slid out of the book and fell onto her lap. She picked it up and glanced at the hastily scrawled writing on it.

Click to view a larger copy

Teary-eyed, Tina looked up at Amit, who was smiling at her, a short distance away. She smiled back and silently mouthed "Thank you!" 

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Proud : When was the last time someone told you they were proud of you?"]

Let's Bond

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Is it me, or did that title just sound a bit....off? (grins sheepishly) Image from freedigitalphotos.net/arztsamui

But then again, it's been a while since I've written a parenting post, also known in my circles as "A Daddy Journals" post. So I've decided to write about something that's rather close to my heart. About bonding with your off-springs. I know what you're thinking. Why? They're are our kids after all; the bonding part is quite natural. Unfortunately it isn't always the case.

And I'm talking about the post-toddler, pre-teenage years here. The period that most parents tend to overlook. Simply because they can. The kids are not so young that you need to watch everything they do. Neither are they that old that you need to worry about them straying or going down the wrong path. But why ignore? Let's bond, I say.

Click here to view my seven easy steps to rekindle that connection with your little one(s).

Oh, and before you leave. The link opens in a new page, so do come back and leave your comments here. I'd love to hear what you think. Off you go now.....

This post is part of my monthly contribution to Parentous, the fastest growing parenting community

Bedroom Brawls - A guest post for Sakshi Nanda

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Seldom do you come across people who you can connect with on so many levels. You almost feel like you’ve known this person your entire life. Sakshi Nanda is one such person for me. That we’ve only been acquainted virtually has not been a thorn in our friendship. Instead by closely observing (she calls it stalking) her Facebook mannerisms, I’ve managed to gauge her personality, some what accurately. She’s fairly transparent that way. Not to mention cheerful. Sakshi is mother to an adorable almost-three year old, who unsurprisingly is one of the pivotal characters of her many parenting-related posts. She also writes about relationships, friendship and social affairs amongst others, from time to time. The first thing that you’d notice about her writing is that it flows almost effortlessly. Her magical words strike a chord with the readers and they’re often hooked from the title onwards. And of course, humor. She has the exceptional ability to take completely banal and everyday items such as the humble baniyan and women’s lingerie, and turn them into a laugh riot. Check out her posts “Lingerie Inside Out” & “Shreeman Baniyan”. Be warned though. You’ll be clutching your stomach from the pain of laughing out loud.

Sakshi blogs at “Between Write and Wrong” and is the first person who has ever successfully convinced me that eating baby food is therapeutic. So as you can see, I admire both her work and her as a person immensely, and you can imagine the excitement that I experienced when she asked me for a guest post. I know my tongue-in-cheek humor isn’t really everyone’s cup of tea. However I sincerely hope I’ve managed to deliver. So without further ado, here’s the link to the my guest post on Sakshi’s wonderful blog :

Bedroom Brawls

Oh, while you’re there, do take a peek at her posts and I guarantee that you’ll keep visiting for more. And do be a gem and drop a comment on this post, either here or on Sakshi's blog

Interpreting women

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Rekha is no longer a fellow blogger. She’s now a dear friend who blogs. And amazingly at that. Her writing is pure, unique and inspirational. Whilst some of us try and “redefine” topics, Rekha is someone who writes directly from her heart. The phrase I like to use to describe her writing is “Direct Dil-Se”. One look at her blog Dew Drops and you’ll be captivated. She can depict emotions through her words, in a way that only a few elite people can. So when out-of-the-blue, she requested that I write a guest post for her beautiful blog, needless to say, I was ecstatic. And a wee-bit nervous. She even added that her husband had found one of my previous posts “quite interesting”, which usually in man-terms means “How dare you let our secrets out?”. So it was only fair that I turn the tables, and give some insight into the intricate world of what women expect.

puss-in-boots-shrek-4971261I am completely conscious that this post may stand to dis-engage some of my more ardent women-readers (yes, believe it. I have reasonable readership); however I remain confident that they’ll see the humor behind this light-hearted post. (Puss-in-boot eyes) So without further ado, here’s the link to the post:

Click here to read

(Oh, and don’t forget your sense of humor. It might just save my skin)

What guys want

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Let’s face it - women and men are different. And not just physically. We’re inherently wired differently; we communicate differently; we understand the same words and phrases, but interpret them differently; we express emotions, but differently; and yes, we execute things, very very differently. Yes, we’re so different, that sometimes it’s a wonder how men and women manage to be in a relationship with each other, without everything falling apart. But then again, in scientific terms, I suppose positives and negatives attract each other. From time immemorial, women have always complained that we men do not really understand them. We pretend to, but we really don’t. And honestly, I think it’s true. When in a relationship, men tend to try and make things work, sometimes pretending and sometimes hoping that we know what you want. Which brings me to the age old question that still stumps every living man who has been in a relationship, with a woman - What do women want?

But today’s post is not about what women want. There’s no way that a man could ever write a comprehensive list, article or book on what women really want. Today’s post is a bit of a refresher course for my female readers, who are in or have been or want to continue being in a relationship with a man. If you haven’t realised it already, men are quite complex creatures too, just like you lot. But since we are so crap at expressing ourselves, here’s a bit of run-down on some of the things, we men would love  for you to know about us, but will rarely say.

One again, before I go ahead - I’m in no way an expert, nor do I intend to give Dr.Gray (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) a run for his money. I’m merely sharing a few guy-isms, that work for most men. As in any case, there are always going to be exceptions. So, without further ado - here goes:

Nothing, usually means just that

Man ThinkingYes, we men know that nine out of ten times, when you ladies answer one of our questions with the magical word “Nothing”, we’re in trouble. Simply because there is always something. But for us, nothing usually just means nothing. Have you ever caught your man looking like he was stoned, but he actually wasn’t? In reality, it would have looked like he was gazing out into the horizon and lost in deep thought. And you being you, would want to help him out and share the burden of whatever was bothering him. So you ask him “What’s wrong? What were you thinking about? Anything I can do to help?” And he answers “Nothing”.  Though you may find it difficult to comprehend, that’s what it is. We men are completely capable of switching off and sitting there gazing out into infinity without a single thought in our heads. Well, most of us anyway.

We hate to ask for directions /instructions

directionsDM1501_228x177We men pride ourselves on a few things. Being able to drive and get all of us from Point A to Point B (even if we don’t know the route) is high on the dude radar. So we try and use technology and maps to get there. Whilst women may be more than happy to use all available resources to reach the destination, we will rigidly stick to our original “system” - even if we’re lost. Similarly we hate to ask for instructions. We have the underlying confidence that we can figure it out. There’s another reason - we’re fixers by nature. Blame it on the hormones I’d say; we’re hardwired to try and fix stuff - be it broken relationships or a broken toaster. And we love to do it without vocally asking for help. Even if we have to rely on the internet and google the crap out of it, we will do so,  to avoid asking for directions or instructions. For us, asking someone else, is almost akin to admitting defeat and seeking counsel. Yes, I know - we’re egotistic too. And yes, this behaviour of ours, probably drives you mad, but what can I say - it’s in the genes.

Opinion on dresses

577px-Be-Honest-when-She-Asks-if-an-Outfit-Makes-Her-Look-Fat-Step-1When you ask us if you look good, always expect the answer to be yes. If we are in a relationship with you, then consider it a given that you look good to us. Yes, we’re shallow when it comes to looks. If you’re asking us to choose between outfits, please give us only a couple of choices. Any more, and we start losing the will to live. While we’re on the topic, if we offer to help you while you’re getting ready, then it means you’re late. And during these times, please refrain from asking us to pick up an outfit for you. We will invariably pick the wrong attire and it will make us even more late.

We LOVE sports

watch-sports-at-homeIt’s just one of those things that’s again wired into us. Though the kind of sports we like might vary from person to person, for us men, watching a game is almost devotional in aspect. Yes, we know we can just get the scores off the internet, or get updates on our phone. But it would almost be sacrilegious if we did not watch the game live and in our own fashion of putting our feet up on the table, drinking a beer or coke and munching on a bowl of bad-ass crisps. And you know what, if you love us, take a chance and enjoy the game with us - we will love you even more for that. There’s no better way to bond, than your wife/partner and you, enjoying a sports game with genuine interest. Same thing goes for video games.

We are oblivious to detail

forgetful-man-main_mensfitness.comThe next time you ask us “Do you remember what I wore for our first date?” or “Do you remember when you bought those earrings for me?”, don’t be surprised if you hear a “Mmmm….” followed by a made up answer. Unfortunately for us, we seem incapable of remembering any kind of detail. Research shows that women are better at remembering because they place a higher priority on “remembering” than men do. So the next time, if there’s something that you really want us to remember, make sure we write it down or program it somewhere, like on a calendar or note. If not, I’m afraid, its quite likely we won’t remember it.

Couch date

couple-on-couch-back-heads-380pix1_fancylittlethingsYes, again, we’re a strange bunch. For us sitting with you in front of the tv, on the couch, with a nice glass of wine and some food is date night too. Sometimes we just need to be with you, without the added pressure of dressing up and going some place nice. So the next time, this happens, please don’t think "He'd rather stare at the TV than be with with me.” Think of it as "There's no place he'd rather be, than with me!"

Yes - we have emotions. No - we don’t express them

bth_man-crying-photobucketWe men have a tough time expressing our emotions. We find it incredibly difficult to process these “feelings". Blame it on the stereotyping - with things like boys don’t cry, and real men need to be strong, confident and stoic. Yes, we might be all those things, but the moment we show a bit of emotion, we’re labelled a wuss. So invariably we start to equate emotions with weakness, and we’re trained to bottle them up. Sometimes the best way to help us is to let us deal with our crap ourselves. If we need to open up, we would rather open up to you, than one of our guy friends. But don’t let our inability to express emotions be a deterrent to you to open up to us, when you’re down. On the other hand, we secretly like it when you cry and are an emotional wreck. It gives us a chance to lend you that shoulder to cry on and makes us feel, strangely enough, manly. Oh, and we do get really emotional about sports.

We are egoistic

man_iesmyogaLadies - If you’re in a relationship with a man who says he has no ego, then he’s lying. Our ego is like a balloon - it can either be very slowly inflated and delicately deflated or burst with the small prick of a needle. Inflict a wound on our ego, and it can be quite fatal for the relationship. But that’s not to say that we don’t take feedback positively. We do. But just make sure that you boost our self-esteem first, and then gently let us down.

Sickness turns us into babies

when-men-get-sick_dumpadayAccept it. When we succumb to man-flu, we are as needy as a newborn baby. We will demand your undivided attention and expect cuddles and comfort food every now and then. Also be prepared to bite your tongue as we occasionally mention how our mom used to take care of us when we were ill, and how she used to make a special bowl of our favourite soup and garnish it with some amazing stuff.

Gifts - Help us, please!

getty imagesWhen it comes to giving gifts, please realise and understand that we are about as clueless as a five year old boy dealing with complex Math sums. Most of us, experience a certain panic, closer towards those special dates such as birthdays, anniversaries, valentines day and others. The pressure of nailing the best gift is enough to drive us to tears. Trust us, we do put in a lot of thought into what we need to get you. But sometimes (actually more often than I’d care to point out), we make mistakes and buy you something that you really do not need.

I remember the time I bought my wife one of the latest tablets for our anniversary. Though not a technophobe by a mile, I still remember the look of despair on her face, when she unwrapped the gift. My reason for buying it- she was always on my iPad; so I thought it’ll help her ( and me ) if she had one of her own; after all I knew she liked it. Her take on it was  - i love using “our iPad”. Since we already have one in the house, you should have maybe spent the money on getting me something else like a new handbag, or that platinum earring I showed you 2 months ago when we passed the jewellers.

So ladies, unless you are ready to drop a hint or just come out and tell us what you’d like, there is a really high chance that you might end up with something that you really did not want in the first place.

Your man is the funniest guy you know. Period

100301_my_one_joke_cartoon_465_thenewyourkerI really can’t stress that enough. Nothing gives a man more pleasure (well, some things do, but let’s keep in a bit more family oriented shall we?) than his woman laughing at one of his jokes and sometimes even exclaiming how funny he is. Yes, I know - we’re quite peculiar. But never ever laugh harder at another man’s joke….well, unless we’re at a comedy club. It makes us feel really insecure. And trust me, you do not want an insecure partner.

Multi-tasking is beyond us - well most of us anyway

simone-150x150Most of us can do one thing properly - the activity that we’re involved in at any given time. Some of us can possibly do one additional activity too, but they too are a rare species. We give that one thing we’re involved in, our complete and un-divided attention. So when you ask us to fold those freshly laundered clothes whilst watching the game on TV, you can be rest assured that the folding job is going to be shabby at best. Yes, we know - you super women can cook, help kids with their home work, lay the table and read a book simultaneously, while we find it difficult to answer a simple question with the TV on. Strangely enough though, we can simultaneously press all the buttons on our video game console at once. Go Figure.

We love you to bits, but yes, we will steal the odd glance at the hot girl

man-staring-at-other-womenYes, it’s true. And if you haven’t caught your man stealing the odd glance at a pretty girl, then either you’re not looking properly or your man is a genius (in which case, ask him to email me - I really need to master that art). And it’s not because we want to cheat. Its just that we men are visually stimulated. Most of the times, we will pretend to not have noticed that girl, just to make sure you don’t feel insecure. See - we care. And please, us sneaking a glance, does not mean we are not interested in you. We very much are - it’s just a testosterone thing. Think of it as the same way you gawk at Hugh Jackman when he takes his shirt off and we’re ok with it.

We like shopping; Notice - like, not love

81725059Yes, we like shopping. Well, maybe not shopping, but walking around in a shopping mall with you, is something we can live with. But we will never “love” shopping the way women do. Again, I generalise. I personally know  women who hate shopping. Coming back to us, we will tag along with you and offer our opinion on whatever you ask us to offer an opinion on. But more than a couple of hours, and we will  lose it.  Oh while we’re on it, please don’t ever ask us to hold your handbag in a public place, unless we have to. It’s …well, let’s just say makes us feel a bit un-manly.

Praise us in the kitchen

article-1036921-001F0FC700000258-654_468x566If we attempt to prepare a meal, no matter how feeble the attempt, be it washing the spaghetti or precisely cutting those onions, please do give us the same degree of praise as you would shower on your toddler when he/she takes their first steps.

We need “Cave” time

man-cave-original_platosacademicBefore we get into this, I’d like to ask a couple of  questions to all the wonderful women reading this post. Don’t women ever need “me-time”? I mean, where you are left alone, without a care in the world, and not wondering about work or life, or anything else? How do you de-stress? Well, us men, we de-stress by being alone. We could read, watch a game or a movie, play some video games - i.e. doing something completely un-related to whatever caused us the stress in the first place. Doesn’t mean we’re loners; when we retreat into our cave or den, its sort of like we’re going on a mini-vacation. Let us be and we’ll be back with you in no time. Push us and it’ll end up in an argument.

Befriending strange men - takes time

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 4.11.55 pmWe take our time to be friendly with a complete stranger, especially so, if it’s a man. So when you invite over you new best friend and her husband/partner to visit us, do spare us both a thought, if we (i.e. the guys) don’t hit it off. We will (hopefully) eventually. But it takes time. We spend a lot of time sussing each other out, and as you can guess, we don’t usually make a lot small talk. With you maybe, but not with another guy. In case you’re still wondering, here’s a classic example. Remember the awkward Mike and Ross “hang-out date” from FRIENDS (Season9)? That’s true!

Refresh your memories with this clip: Clip

Starting an important conversation

women-talk-too-much_amarudontvLadies, remember this - try not to start an important conversation when we’re watching TV (especially sports), eating, reading or when we’ve just come home from work. We might pretend to listen, but in reality our minds are on things like Will my team win?, I’m really hungry!, this book is pretty damn good, How do i complete that project". As I mentioned earlier, we give our undivided attention to one thing at time. During moments like these, we do not ignore you because we know you’ll be hurt. If we respond in someway, you’ll figure out that we weren’t listening. So we just nod and let you talk. We might even be able to say the last word you spoke, but that doesn’t mean we were listening. Oh, and yes - Never speak to us when we’re on the other side of the toilet/bathroom. We hate being spoken to or making conversation whilst on the loo. It’s just not the right thing to do. Wow, that rhymes.

670px-Buy-Flowers-for-Women-Step-4Bullet1And finally,

With all of these (and more) quirkiness, sometimes we wonder why any woman would want to be with us, much less someone as amazing as you.

So, thank you !


Images courtesy : Google Image Search | DailyMail | The New Yorker | iesmyoga.com | platosacademic.com | Pinterest.com | amarudont.tv |

Note:

I've decided to add this note as an after thought. When I initially wrote the post, I was slightly worried about a backlash from the men. However I'm glad that hasn't quite materialised. But I've discovered something else. If you read all the comments below, you'll find something there - every woman who's in a relationship with a man, has actually stood up proudly and said, whilst I agree on most points, my man is so different because of points a,b,c (that's just random numbering by the way). And that makes me realise something. Women must love men, more than men love women.

Singletons - Meet your "invisible" partner

Before I get into this, I need to let you in on a little secret. Well, not exactly a secret, more like, there’s something you need to know about me. No, I’m not crazy…well, not yet anyway.  I’m an ardent fan of utilising technology in every day life, with a view to simplifying certain processes and speeding certain things up. But every now and then, I stumble across certain new apps, which to be honest, stump me. This is one such one.

Let me start with a bit of a preface. We all know that there are a lot of socio-cultural differences between the so-called Western world and their Asian counterparts. However there is one question that transcends boundaries, countries , religion, caste, creed and everything else. And that is, “Are you seeing anyone? / Are you still single?” Though previously unheard in Asia, particularly in India, these days it’s no longer considered taboo to have had a girlfriend / boyfriend (s) prior to getting married. And if you’re of marriageable age, then ideally you are expected to be in a serious relationship, if not married already.

Before we get into a heated debate, I am in no way saying that a marriage is the be all or end all of a relationship. Marriage is sometimes just a strengthening of the bond, sometimes its just some paperwork, other times it’s due to social compulsion. I still maintain my stand on the topic - Marriage, it’s not for every one. If you feel the need or want for it, then do it. If not, live together. Anyway, I digress.
Come to think of it, let’s maybe think of this as a story. We have a hero, say, Matt. Matt’s been single for a while. And he likes to mingle. Which is absolutely perfect. But at every  social gathering he goes to, all the “nosy Toms” want to know just one thing - “Why are you still single?”. Now, though it’s absolutely none of their business, Matt decides to take the polite approach and cooks up a story about his girlfriend, who he has been seeing for a while; about how it was unfortunate that she had to go overseas on a business trip; about how he misses her and he wishes she was there. But the problem is that the the nosy nosersons are quite “socially” active these days - which means unlike older times, they are more likely to spy on Matt’s social life through the already well-established “spy-networks” of Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and the likes.
Would you like an "invisible" partner?
Would you like an "invisible" partner? - Image courtesy www.invisiblegirlfriend.com

Which means that Matt now needs to cover his tracks. So in true James Bond style, Matt decides to use technology to help him. Unfortunately Matt is neither an engineer nor is that tech-savvy. Step in the “Invisible Girlfriend” app. Touted to be man’s next best invention since sliced bread (by the makers of course), the app can provide a range of relationship "tokens" to help keep the conversation going, and help Matt escape those judgemental looks from friends and family. So yes, coming back to the relationship prompts - the app provides a range of options from SMSes and  “emergency interaction” to what is now considered the “true sign of a relationship” - a Facebook relationship status change :) All Matt needs to decide is what subscription he needs to go for.

There’s the :

a. Just Talking - SMSes, automated calls and some gifts for $9.99 per month

b. Getting Serious  - Just talking plus Facebook relationship changes and real voicemails and girls all for a paltry $29.99 per month

c. Almost Engaged - This offers all the advantages of Getting Serious plus “custom girlfriend characterisation” and live phone calls, all for just $49.99. Matt can even pick a "girlfriend" from the company’s “extensive library”

Now, is that WOW or what? (holding up a sarcasm board)

So that’s that then; for the millions of Matts out there in the world who want to enjoy their single life whilst “maintaining a potentially infallible story-line”,  well, they have the invisible girlfriend app, if they can afford it. Alternatively, they could just do what the rest of us normal people do and get in a real relationship or better yet, just ask them to mind their own business.

Frankly, I’m not quite sure what the makers of the app were thinking when they came up with this ridiculous notion. Maybe it was the result of one drunken night and lots of "creative" single men.

Here’s the link to the website, if you are keen to explore the options. Bear in mind that they’ve not gone live yet - wonder why :)

The Full Circle - Our Platinum Day of Love

"Image courtesy of Boykung / FreeDigitalPhotos.net". As they wheeled her away into the room, I stopped at the entrance. Though my thoughts were starting to wander, and my legs were refusing to move, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the mid-wife help transfer my wife onto the bed, and prop her up with pillows. “This is it!” I thought as I willed my feet to respond, and take that fifteen- step walk towards my wife. I slowly walked up to her bed, and sank into the single cushioned chair beside it.

Heavily exhausted from lack of sleep the previous night, and loaded on epidural shots, my wife kept drifting in and out of consciousness. The doctor had mentioned that they would try to “push” in a couple of hours and it might be best if she rested until then. "Labour was going to be hard as it is, without the added fatigue from no rest” she’d added. I sat wondering what I had gotten myself into. I kept asking myself if I really wanted to go through with this. As I watched the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest, I found myself thinking about us and what we’d been thorough in the years gone by.

Neither of us were believers in love at first sight. I mean, to see someone and know that they’re right for you. Surely things like that don’t happen in real life. Well maybe for a handful of people, but definitely not for most of us. And ours was far from even “like" at first sight. I first met my then “would-be-life-partner” while pursuing my engineering degree. If my memory still functions well, the year was 2001. She was the stereo-typical studious first-bencher, whose talents ranged from academia and sports to music and quizzes. Me - I was the cornball back-bencher, who wasn’t necessarily a bad student, but whose talents were more suited for extra-curricular activities like music, some amount of sports and general slouching. We couldn’t be more poles apart, if we tried.

Though we studied in the same college and even the same class, it wasn’t until a college trip in 2003 that we started talking. At the beginning, our chats were usually about trivial things and college gossips, as you’d expect. At some point though, we both felt that we were “inversely right" for each other. She was organised, practical, meticulous and focussed. And that hasn’t changed to date. I was (and am still) easy-going, sloppy, unplanned and definitely carefree. As it normally happens with premature relationships, I, as the guy, was really vocal about taking the next steps, while she remained in the quiet whenever this topic was broached upon. However her smile and twinkling eyes left me in no doubt that we both wanted the same thing.

Most of 2003 passed by in a haze, with me trying to convince her that we should go around (note : It wasn’t a proposal as such), and she singing the “let’s just remain friends” tune. As the next year unfolded, I decided to do the honourable thing and give her some breathing space. After all, it had to be a mutual decision, if we were to go ahead with this for life. The year 2004 was an eye-opener for us. It was the penultimate year of our engineering degree and we both knew that the end was near. She had a lot of high expectations riding on her - to graduate top of the class, gain placement with a good company and choose a path which would hopefully propel her into a successful career. Me - I had two objectives; complete my engineering degree with decent grades and elicit a favourable answer from her. After all, time was running out.

April 7th 2004: 

Weather wise, it was probably one of the least romantic days. The Indian summer was already underway, and the unrelenting 46 degree Chennai sun beat down on the barren land of our college grounds. Fortunately for us, we were sat in the cooler surroundings of our college library. As an avid reader (and not to mention one of the few air-conditioned rooms in our college), the library was my favourite haunt. As I sat immersed in a novel wrapped within a Digital Signal Processing (DSP) text book (hey, don’t judge me!), I felt something flutter onto my desk. I looked up from novel/DSP text, to see her flowing dupatta trail her graceful walk. I glanced down onto the desk, and saw a note, which was folded with absolute precision. Holding my breath, I carefully opened the note. Inside was a single word. THE single world which was capable of making me jump up on the desk and sing one of those cliched Bollywood numbers. Resisting the urge to do anything cheesy (as if !!), I smiled and watched her walk out of the library.

Now if this was Bollywood movie, I would probably end it here saying that “that was and is our Platinum day of love”. But for those of us living in the real world, whilst this was a close contender, I’m going to chug along to the remaining part of the story. There’s a simple reason for it. Though that was the day my “future wife” agreed to make our relationship official, we were both still very young at heart, young in love and to an extend I might even say immature. I’m not downplaying the importance of this momentous occasion in our lives, but hopefully when you finish reading you’ll understand why I did, what I did.

In the interest of saving you some time and escapism from the cheesiness, let’s fast forward a few years to the time of my present writing, circa 2012.

Happily married with the occasional tiffs and expecting our first child, the year began as a hope-laden one. We’d been together for almost eight years, and were ready to start a family. As with any couple in love, we’d had our share of disagreements, arguments and “Talk-to-the-hand” moments. But deep down in our hearts, we both knew that we’d be there for each other. She’d already proved that to me more than once - be it leaving everyone she knew behind and moving to the UK with me (even prior to marriage) or leaving her dream job in Pune to be closer to me in Bangalore. As for me, I was yet to deliver on my promise. Of course I took care of her needs and was there for her as any normal husband/partner should. But I was yet to show a selfless act of support. As I’ve once posted before, I am not the bravest of souls. And so when my wife asked me to be with her during the labour and subsequently the birth of our first born, I was surprised when I agreed. Probably on a sub-conscious level, I knew this was my chance to make good on my promises to her. Which brings me to the present.

“Excuse me, sir?” The mid-wife’s calm yet shrill voice snapped me out of my day dream. “Are you alright? You were mumbling something incoherently and smiling.” she goes on. “Oh, I’m sorry. I just …well…dozed off” I say and snap myself back into reality. “Yes, you’re actually here” my inner voice tells me. “You’ve got to  go through with it. You can’t chicken out now!”. Great, I’ve now got an inner voice admonishing me.

“We’re about to start the process. Kindly bear in mind that it will be physically stressful for your wife, and you will have to support her as we go along” continues the mid-wife, complete unaware of my inner turmoil. “Oh, and before I forget, if you want to leave the room, you have to do it now. Once the process starts, you cannot exit till we get the baby out or unless we have to take your wife to the operating theatre for anything that may go wrong” she continues. My heart starts to beat wildly. “Are you for real?” I want to ask her. “Who says “something going wrong” and “operation theatre” in the same breath?”. As she thrusts a form into my hand, asking me to sign my acknowledgement, I realised that it was crunch time. All the “sweet-nothings of following her to the end of the world no matter what” that I had whispered to my wife over the past years, had come back to haunt me. Unable to make a decision, I look at the mid-wife and say “ Can you give me a couple of minutes please?”. She shrugs her shoulders, as if to say “whatever you crazy man”, and walks out of the door, closing it behind her.

As I watched the love of my life slowly stir in her drug-induced sleep, I suddenly feel nauseating waves of embarrassment and love wash over me. Embarrassment for having second-thoughts about being by her side for what was probably going to be the most physically and emotionally stressful day of her adult life. Love for her commitment of going through with this. Here was a person, who at the pinnacle of her career, took the conscious decision to give up all her potential promotions and social engagements that she loved, to fulfil our “collective” dream of starting a family. Here was someone, ready to tackle the intense physical and emotional trauma associated with giving birth, all out of her love for me.  And just like that, in the blink of an eye, I grew up.

I wiped away a tear from my eye, and signed the acknowledgement/acceptance form. I loved her and I was going to be there for her. The mid-wife came in, glanced at my hastily scrawled signature on the form, and went over to my wife. She slowly woke her up and commenced the preparation for the delivery. I looked at my wife. Now fully awake, it looked like her epidural drugs were starting to wear off. To me, she looked to be in a world of spasm-ic pain. As I walked over to the bed, she glanced up and gave me a half-hearted teary-eyed smile. I gently squeezed her hand to reassure that I would be there with her, and that she was not alone. Once the final preparations were done, the doctor arrived. She smiled and said “Let’s do this!” 

Through eerie chants of “Deep breaths…and…push”, I focus attention on my wife. She is in excruciating pain and looks like she could possibly explode any moment. Digging her nails deep into my flesh with every contraction, she cries out loud. As we briefly make eye contact, her glassy eyes silently plead to me to get her out of her misery. I fight back my tears of helplessness, and whisper to her “We can do this….together…you and me!” She smiles weakly and releases her hold on my arm ever so slightly. Three long hours and a gallon of bodily fluids later, I hold up our pale, pink bundle of joy up to her and whisper “We did it!”. As our little one cuddles against my wife, I put my arm around her and look at my watch. The date read 7th April 2012.

Eight long, sometimes amazing, sometimes crazy years, since she had dropped that little folded note, changing my life for ever.

As we cradled the little one in our hands, a realisation dawned on me. We had made the right decision all those years ago. We were perfect for each other. And eight years on, we still loved each other more and more with every passing day. What we’d been through together a few hours ago, had brought us closer than ever before. And for me, I looked at her with new-found affection. That was our Platinum day of Love.

Just like Platinum, our love had stood the test of time, and would continue forever, indestructible and always pure and true to its form. Next year, as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our togetherness, our life will have come the full circle, and nothing but the best would do to celebrate this momentous and precious occasion of the realization of our unfading and untarnished love.

Of course, your blessings are invaluable gifts too :) 

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”  ― Lao Tzu

_________________________________________________________

This post was written for the "Platinum Day of Love" contest, which is brought by Preciousplatinum.in in association with IndiBlogger.in 

Also a bit of a disclaimer: I know my handful of regular readers probably did not expect such a "cheesy, at times romedy-ish" post from yours truly. But thank you, for taking the time and effort (yes, I know how long it is!) to read a "true story" with some "literary freedom" thrown in for good measure.

Wishes and Hopes

Image courtesy www.freerangestock.com

Ever so often, we’ve all wished for things, irrespective of whether you are a believer in the power from above or not.  Sometimes it is for material objects such a new car, a new gadget, new clothing, new jewellery …. pretty much anything. Sometimes it is for intangible and non-material items such as a happy and stress-free life (apparently they exist!), your kids and parents being hail and healthy and so on. The remarkable thing about wishes is that as we progress through each stage of our lives, these wishes change quite dramatically. Now  while that rule may not hold good for every person, I’d bet my bottom dollar that most of us would probably fall into that category.

And it is no different when we start out on our journey into parenthood. From the very beginning, we continue to hope and wish. We hope that the little one who is no bigger than the nail on your little pinky finger blooms his/her way into a beautiful and healthy human baby. When they eventually get here, after the pre-requisite 9 months, we believe that nothing on this planet could make us wish for anything else, materialistic or otherwise. Haha - you wish!

Fast-forward to a few months later. Dogged by sleepless nights, three-hourly feeds and shrieking cries at unearthly hours, you find yourself wishing and hoping again. For the little one to grow up a little bit. For him or her to sleep through the night. For him or her to consume more milk in one sitting, so that they don’t get up in between. For them to start getting into a pattern, which is a little less stressful on us.

Once again, let’s forward this “Parenthood” movie ahead a few more months. Your little one now sleeps through the night. You’ve been fortunate enough to catch a fair amount of shut-eye through the night, though your partner (mostly the father of the afore mentioned child) is often snoring away to glory. You’ve probably  even started introducing solid foods to the apple-of-your-eye. What more could we wish for, isn’t it? Let’s move on.

Your infant is now completely en-route to being called a toddler. He/She has started strutting some really fancy looking walking styles and is starting to develop their own quaint and unique personalities. They’ve started developing some dangerous looking teeth, which they aren’t afraid to use under any circumstance - sometimes for their defence, other times just to demonstrate their power to hold us ransom to their unspoken demands. They’re now choosy about their food, and very often repetition of any food item becomes a sin. Often kids also develop the miraculous ability to turn perfectly good and healthy baby food into a projectile weapon of sorts, which sometimes even makes us parents resort to hiding behind a cushion or towel. And somewhere along this phase, you cannot help but wish. For the times when milk alone provided all the nourishment that they needed. For the time to come, when your toddler can possibly feed themselves, without too much of interference from us (the parents). For the time when the kids start to speak properly rather than the mumbles that make no sense at all, so that they can tell us what they want. Since the most brilliant of scientists are yet to discover the power of time-travel, we rest our hopes on the future when the kids will start feed themselves and we can make sense of their mumblings. Surely that’s the perfect life isn’t it ? 

You’re probably not entirely wrong in making that assumption at this stage. Once your little ones start tending to their own cycles of feeding, pooping and telling us their likes and dislikes, needs and wants, apart from the occasional wishing that things were a lot simpler when they were just babies, the phase from the late childhood to early teenage / pre-teenage years go through without a lot of wishing and hoping from the parents.

Cometh the teenage years, and the urgency and frequency of your wishes increase manifold. Suddenly you’d wish that your once little non-stop babbling angel would continue talking a lot more to you. You can’t help but wish that they’d involve you more in their lives and their little decisions. You hope that you’ve done enough as a parent to stop them from making those questionable choices. You hope they graduate with flying colours and wish that they succeed in every examination that the school of life throws at them - academically and otherwise. You spend every waking minute, hoping that they waltz through any troubles that they might find themselves in. This period is when your wishes free flow like water, and you find it hard to keep track of each and every one of them.

Your off-spring’s journey into adulthood has commenced, and with that your wishes take an additional form - concern. You hope that he/she finds their heart’s calling, and are able to make incredible strides in their career. When they embark on a successful career, you find yourself hoping that they will find a suitable partner who’ll be their pillar of support going forward, and hope it is someone you can pass on your batons of “love” and “care”. You find yourself wishing for them to complete the full circle and present you with darling grand-kids on whom you can continue to shower your love.

As the years go by, and you move on to your second child-hood, your list of wishes start to dwindle, but never cease. Even though your little one’s are no longer “little”, you continue wishing for their good health and success in life. Though you refrain from giving them advice on how to bring up their kids, you once again hope that you have been able to impart good parenting knowledge to your successor(s). In spite of finding some of their parenting choices “too Gen-Z” for your liking, you hope that your grand children will go on respecting their elders and making those right choices.

The transition to old age is not without its share of illnesses and complications. As your body struggles to adjust to practically everything, and even day-to-day activities become a struggle, you can’t help but keep on hoping. But the hope at this stage has now turned into a silent plea, a prayer if you will. It becomes a desire to leave your earthly being without much pain. It becomes a longing that you are able to quietly drift away into paradise without giving too much trouble to your loved ones.

You wish for the inevitable end to be smooth and swift. And as you cross over into the light, you wish one last time. You wish and hope that your loved ones do not shed too many tears over you. You hope that they continue to go on with their lives as usual. And you hope…..that you’ve done enough for them to remember you by.

“Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”  ― Stephen King

 

 I’d like to put a disclaimer to reiterate, that not all kids are alike, and the “wishing “ and “hoping” will vary depending on the kid and the style of parenting. Also, since my little one is still a toddler, the remaining parts of this post are purely based on observations of other kids, their parents and some my own personal experiences.

Three Golden "Post-Baby" Relationship Rules

Congratulations - the little one that you've been waiting expectantly for all these months, is finally here. Now, the mandatory 24 hours later, you get to bring him / her home. If you're one of the lucky ones who happen to have the luxury of an extra room (and money to spend of course)  to be converted into a baby room, you would have taken all the pains  to ensure that you left no stone unturned to ensure the room is cutely furnished and perfectly stocked with a year's supply of nappies, baby wipes, baby creams and stuffed toys. It is your first baby after all :) In an ideal world, you'd be very relaxed at this point, having completed the prerequisite 40 odd weeks as well as the really intense labour session.You know what, that was the easy part. Things are only going to get tougher from here on, but in a good way.

Often you hear inexperienced people say "Newborns, oh aren't they a piece of cake! All they do is Eat, Poop and Sleep". Frankly, the statement isn't without some truth. They do "eat, poop and sleep". What people often fail to mention are the effects that these three actions have on new parents. Since a quick google on the "effects of newborns on new parents" can spill out more accurate results, I'm going to leverage this space to talk about three golden rules, which if adhered to, can hopefully help you retain some sanity and strengthen those bonds, during this testing phase. And yes, there are purely from a dad's point of view.

a. Sleep:

Yes, you've all heard it. Every single person who has been through this "kid-venture" would have invariably offered both your wife and yourself this wholesome yet free advice of "Sleep while the baby sleeps"; At the time, like me, you'd have dismissed it as if it wasn't applicable to you. Strike 1. It is very much applicable to you; actually it is most applicable to you as the dad than for the mom, since she probably has the chance to nap when the baby does. To all the Mothers - No, I'm not saying that you would actually manage to catch some shut-eye when the baby naps, but at least you have the opportunity whilst on maternity leave. However for most of us working dads, paternity leave lasts a week to two at most. Which means past that stay-at-home period, the last thing you'd want is a "noisy, crying" baby disturbing the few hours of precious sleep that you can afford during night time. Now I could probably write a whole post on "post-baby sleeping habits" (actually I think I might); however for now, rule number 1: Sleep - Take it wherever and whenever you get it. You are going to need it!

b. Share the baby duties:

This is probably the most taken-for-granted part of the parenthood cycle. Most modern day fathers will definitely claim to have played a part in fulfilling the aforementioned duties. Dig deeper with the wife/partner, and you'll discover that "playing a part" involved merely "cuddling with the newborn". Whilst it is definitely a recommended activity, it shouldn't stop there. I might sound preachy, but if you are a small family, without a lot of constant presence from family, then the father-of-the baby definitely needs to step up and play a more vital part. There are a number of different advantages to this one, with the obvious one being that you get a bit more closer to your offspring. Sharing the duties also ensures that there's not a lot of guilt-tripping going around, which means, you know those days when your favourite team's playing and you want nothing more than sip some chilled beer and watch the game - your better half will actually let you off without any nagging. Though, it is very likely that you'll owe her a "ladies day out" with her friends as well, while you take care of the little one.

c. Listen, understand, and sometimes just shut-up 

I suppose its only fair to say that these three titular points are applicable in most relationships, even in ones without the babies. Nevertheless, they tend to be more profound immediately after you've had a little one. I mean, look at the big picture here  - Your better half has just pushed out a three-odd kg human being out not so long ago. She is tired, cranky, sleep-depraved, constantly having to pump or breast feed, change nappies, and so-on. To top it off, she still has the baby fat and is now constantly losing strands of hair, which prompts the occasional shrieks from her. So expect a rant every now and then, and cut her some slack. I guarantee you, the madness will end. The sooner we can turn into angels of peace, the easier you can get through this phase.

So there you go - three simple rules, which if (and I stress IF) followed can usually make the immediate post baby period a cake walk, in terms of your relationship with your partner.

I just wish someone had told me earlier - I had a very practical crash course, sort of on-the-go training so to speak.