thoughts

"How does it feel ?"

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When I became a father, a few male friends asked me a question. A question, if I had to confess, I just hadn’t thought about. It might also be worth pointing out that these friends were largely unmarried twenty-something men who were in semi-serious relationships. Anyway, the million dollar question was: “How does IT feel?”.  

The first time I was asked this seemingly good natured query, I was rather perplexed. For I didn't quite know what he was referring to. My idle mind honestly thought that either he was referring to the timely procreative act that had successfully borne fruit (kids - if you're reading, you're too young for that now!) or  about having survived the nearly out-of-body experience of actually helping a doctor and a set of maternity nurses hand-deliver my little one.

 

Yes, I'm very aware that my 'experience' isn't even a drop in the ocean to what my wife could have possibly endured, but more on that in another post. Anyway, since I was usually in no mood to discuss either of those two points, in the interest of giving myself an exit window from the clutches of the above-mentioned question, I would usually just smile and shrug my shoulders, as if 'IT' felt like the most natural thing in the world.

 

Eventually, after a lot of contemplation (read as: man-ing up and asking my wife), I figured out that what they were actually referring to was in fact, 'How does it feel to be a father?' And truth be told, I did not know. For I'd never really given it any thought. I mean, how does one define these things? These feelings to be precise. It's not as if you've just been given a bar of chocolate and had to decide whether you want to eat it slowly or devour the whole thing at once. It is a wee bit more complicated than that.

 

How does one describe the feeling of realisation that you have just been elevated from the role of a normal, happy-go-lucky chap to someone who is now responsible (at least partly) for this new life form that you now hold in your arms? And that the little person you're looking at, with those tiny little fingers, toes, snouty nose and crinkled up forehead, is perhaps going to decide your schedules and social calendar for the foreseeable future. Also that while there may be times when their smile could make you feel like you're on the proverbial cloud nine, there may also be times when their shrill cries could keep you up all night wondering how you ended up in such a pickle in the first place. 

 

No. I did not know how to describe that feeling. And I still don't, even after 33 months of wholesome and hands-on parenting. But here's the thing. To me, fatherhood has been a discovery of sorts.It's a journey of constant learning, adapting and yes, sometimes just thriving.

 

There are times when you can be both amazed by and angry at the same little person. At the same time, that too. Other times, you discover that you have this storehouse of patience that is the only thing stopping you from wanting to bang your head against the wall. There are also moments of self-discovery when you surprise yourself with how good you are at telling stories, sometimes even making them up as you go along. And then of those pangs of jealousy that you feel when you kid temporarily chooses someone else to bother. 

 

And that there will be times when you just want to go to the supermarket under the pretext of doing some shopping, just to get some 'you-time'. Or how your inherent radar just goes off when you spot other parents with kids in the same age group. Of course, there are also moments of joy, when you discover that your ability to make the weirdest noises is a source of entertainment for the little one. Or the strange looks that people give you when you are busy having strange and intimate conversations with inanimate objects. Sometimes, the discovery is something more simpler. Like replacing your otherwise overpriced cup of latte from Starbucks to plain, strong coffee in a mug that says 'Daddy, you're the best!'.

 

And sometimes it is the fact that you can actually hear your own voice, after they sleep.  Or how you're constantly trying to evolve from being the guy hanging out with your best mates to the guy that your kid wants to hang out with. Or that even the simple act of getting out of the house with a child requires more planning that your annual vacation. Often, it could be  a more serious realisation. Like how this little thing called 'money' is suddenly a criteria for everything. Or how sleep, something that you managed without for days at a stretch, is now a luxury that you'd gladly give an arm or a leg for. Or how your relationship with your better-half changes. When sweet nothings become all the more important and every chance that you get for the simplest conversations are more precious that all the talk you've ever done before. 

I could go on and on, but I won't. The thing is - 'Everything in parenthood is a discovery'. For no parenting book or journal can truly explain what you're getting yourself into. Only that you'll always come out stronger.

 

And as for this said 'feeling'. that takes on new dimensions ever so often. Sometimes every day. And at times every other hour. I suppose, it is pretty accurate to say that depending on the time of the day, you may receive a different answer for that question. Right now for example, as I sit nursing my wounded pinky toe, that 'feeling' is :

 

I can't wait for him to grow out of the 'I shall leave my Lego blocks lying around so Dad can step on them' phase. Trust me, they hurt!


Wish, Hope, Believe

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I don't care what she says, I really wanted my wife, Janaki to write this post. And it took a lot of convincing to get her to write out her "rants and thoughts" as she calls them. But I finally managed to get her to grace my blog. If I did take part in the #100 days of happiness thing, this would undoubtedly be up there on the top. So, without further ado, here goes - Ladies and Gentlemen, my wife Janaki, with her first ever guest post. Do give her a round of applause and leave your comments in the box below.divider Wish, hope , believe - To me, these three words are independent, yet interlinked. To me, they signify the triumph of the human spirit and of a never-say-anything-is-impossible attitude. For if you don’t wish, you can’t hope. And if can’t hope, then you sure as heck, aren’t going to believe that it can be done.

So when Sid asked me if I wanted to do a guest post on the prompt "What are the six impossible things you believe in?”, I was a bit stumped. Whilst I know for a fact that he asked me to write a post, because he was busy working on a “finale” to his short story, I did find the topic quite intriguing. But I didn’t want to write about Fairies and Santa Claus and Unicorn and Magic and the rest. (For the record, I do believe in them ) I decided that I was going to “twist” (Sid’s own words here) the prompt around and write about two things that I wished for, two things that I hoped for and two things that I believed in. And well, this is it.

I wish:

….that somewhere in an alternate universe, I could be a career oriented woman, a home maker and a mom, whilst being able to give my 100% to each of my different persona

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Before I go ahead, I’m going to take a minute to thank Sid. Yes, you heard right. I’m thanking him for all the compliments about me (and every other mother) being a “Superwoman” in one of his recent posts. Yes, I manage being a working woman as well as a mother to rather naughty toddler. Yes, it’s also true that I probably have it a little bit easier because Sid helps me out too, in whatever way he can (though there are days when I wonder if I have two kids). The truth is I manage somehow. But there have been days, where I’ve had to leave an unwell Rishi at home, because I couldn’t afford to miss an important client meeting. There have also been days, when after putting him to sleep, I’ve worked away through the whole night to meet a deadline. Yes, I manage. But I want to do so much more. I want to be able to be there for my son, whilst not compromising on my work either. If only I could come home from work with 100% charge, like a smartphone taken off charge, and pay my undivided attention to my little son. But then again, there is dinner to think about. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for one of those “Time-Turners” that Hermoine had, in the Prisoner of Azkaban. Things would be so much simpler for a working mother.

….that the people in our society would actually be sincere in their thoughts and actions

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It could very well be, that I’m the only pupil from this school of thought, but I’ve always wondered why we need to do things, just to make people happy. No, I’m not talking about phoning an aunt that you haven’t spoken to in ages to wish her for her birthday, just because your mom played one of the many “you-owe-me” cards. Or being a nice to others and generally polite. I’m talking about words like “love”, “thank you”, “sorry”, "please" and plenty more adjectives being thrown around without people actually meaning it sincerely. I mean, if you do care, then make an effort to say so.  People who know me well, will tell you that I don’t do that. I do things only when I strongly believe in them. For eg. I believe in apologising when I'm in the wrong. But I'm not the kind who keeps saying "sorry" over and over again, without actually meaning it. For if I was truly sorry, I wouldn't repeat it. But these days, people think they can get away with everything if they say a "sorry" or "just kidding".The problem with that is that it often makes me come across as a snob. But then again, do I actually care about what others think of me? I’m sure you know the answer to that one by now.

I hope:

………...that it will be possible, once again, for a woman/girl to travel alone at night without being reduced to a nervous wreck

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I hope, because I know it is possible. When I was in London, I’ve travelled alone a number of times. And sometimes during rather un-earthly hours, say post 1am.  The transport network operates perfectly and you can go where you want, when you want. Why, I’ve even taken a cab flagged off the main road, without wondering if I was going to be safe. But now that I’m back in India, I don’t even try doing anything like that. I’ve been reduced to having to take my trusty little can of pepper spray. And I hate that. As much as Sid tries to make sure I have my space, I hate that I’m not able to step outside a 5 km radius, without being inundated with calls from family concerned about my safety. Which eventually makes me treat every man, woman and sometimes a child, with suspicion. While the media, the NGO’s and the politicians have all been playing the blame game, no one has actually benefitted. Yes, I’m an “Aaj Ki Naari” (Modern-day woman) so to speak, but I’ve been reduced to a situation where I have to think twice before I venture out alone at night (or even during daylight sometimes) without a male companion. And I hate it.

……. that old age homes don't become the norm of the society

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Having had the chance to stay abroad for a number of years, I’ve had the opportunity to observe a lot of people. Especially a lot of familial relationships. Both the parents and the kids are relatively independent. The kids are often biding their time, till they can “move out” of home. And the reality is that in a lot of families, as soon as kids hit their teens, they do just that. Yes, they probably return for their Christmas or Easter breaks, but apart from that, they are busy for the parents. Yes, I understand the need to be an independent person. I'm one too. But I can’t even start to imagine leaving my parents in an old age home, not just abroad, but even in India too. Of course, I am not painting every one with the same brush. But the amount of “retirement homes” popping up (which by the way, is just a fancy term for an old-age home) frankly scares me. Yes, it took me time to understand what my parents have sacrificed to take care of the three of us. Often, I hear my parents and in-laws talk about arrangements that they would like to make, if the inevitable happens to one of them. And, I end up getting offended. Because the mere thought that someone could be reluctant to take care of their own parents is, well, let’s say almost blasphemy.  But then again, I guess when their “friends” are being offered similar solutions by their off-springs, they can’t help but think that we may behave the same way too.

And finally, I believe:

….. that it is possible to share joyous moments socially without it being promoted via social media

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Even though I’m an engineer, I have my share of issues with technology. The more Sid and I discuss this topic, the more we agree to disagree. Of course he’s a social media addict. And frankly, I’ll be surprised if he even decides to publish this point. Here’s the thing. According to me, technology is something that is supposed to aid communication, and not become a substitute to communication. There is a very thin line between the two. I sincerely can’t remember the last time someone said, “I’ve got some happy news that I need to share. Let me call them!”. Now, we just tweet about it, or Facebook it. Recently I received a marriage invitation from a close friend. It wasn’t a phone call as I would have expected. It wasn’t even a personal email. And this is someone I’ve known for over a quarter of a century. Someone who even calls my mother, Amma. I got a rather impersonal Facebook group invite. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to react. Of course I complained. And in turn, I was told “Oh, you’re too old fashioned”. Today you receive most information such as child birth, marriage, promotion, and sometimes even death, through social media. But then honestly, hasn’t it been a while since technology started replacing communication. Forget communication, think about this. How many times have you stopped in between having a really good time with a friend, or your family and said “Here, let’s take a picture. I need to put it on Facebook.” I do my bit of sharing on Facebook too. After all, it is probably one of the best ways to share. But the lack of "social etiquette" and "opening out your entire world, from what you had for breakfast to what you're going to do next?", sometimes is a bit too much. Just my opinion. This also goes for all the people who keep at their keypads (oh sorry, touch screens) whilst at social gatherings, birthdays or dinners.  Sadly, my husband is one of them too.

…. that  at some point in my life, I will go travelling the world. 

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Risk - now, that’s a term that I'm not too familiar with. I am planner, a pretty meticulous one at that. I carefully plan and have always taken well informed decisions. I’ve often been told that I tackle most of my situations like the character of Ross, in FRIENDS - with a pros and cons list. The fact that Sid is the one deciding to explore his career options at this stage, is a testament to that. I don’t think I’d have ever done that. I’d still be making a list :) But the other thing is that I love my job and sincerely cannot see myself doing anything else, at least not for a while. So, as a planner, I’m not the kind to drop everything in one go and take the next flight out to a destination that I don’t know. I really wish I could. Why, I might even get till the airport. But before I hand over that card (or cash) at the counter, I will stop re-think. But I live in the belief that at some point in my life, I will be able to do that. Last weekend, I happened to watch the movie “Queen”. The protagonist and I couldn’t have been more apart in some of our thoughts. But the one thing, I did say to Sid after watching the movie was “Someday, I want to travel the world. And I definitely don’t want to be sitting with one leg into the grave, when I do that ! I want to live life on my own terms, some day.”

I guess Sid’s “writing” has influenced me a bit more than I gave him credit for. I have no other explanation as to how I weaved my way through completely random topics from “Time-turners” to “retirement home” to “social media”. And with that, I shall take your leave. Thank you for taking the time to read some of my thoughts (and rants) on some really random topics, which remain close to my heart.

- Janaki

Oh, and if you do spot some typos or grammatical inconsistencies, blame Sid. He was in charge of editing :P

[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 "“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – the White Queen, Alice in Wonderland. What are the six impossible things you believe in? (If you can only manage one or two, that’s also okay.)”]

The Delivery – Thoughts From A Tiny Tot

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As parents, we all probably have different versions of the roller-coaster we went through, when our little ones enter this “big bad world”. This got me thinking – how would the little one have felt? Unfortunately we will never know. However couple your wonderful imagination along with your experience in the delivery room, and I’m sure you’ll be able to paint an accurate enough picture. Here’s my attempt at penning down the scenario from my Little Ri’s point of view.

40 weeks is a really long time to plan your biggest launch on to the world stage. I had it all charted out. I would jump on to the stage, strumming the custom-built Jimi Hendrix electric guitar, spot lights on me, spectacular fireworks going off in the air, amazing inspiring crowd chanting my name, and groupies on the side. I even had, what would go on to be known as my trademark phrase picked: “R U ready to have your world rocked?” But little did the naive me know, that plans seldom work out to the letter.

This snippet is a part of the original post on the parenting blog "Parentous". Read the rest of "Tiny Tot's incredible journey" here : The Delivery @ Parentous

 

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