Thursday, December 31, 2015


Being a parent is one of the best if not the best feeling in this world and I am sure a lot of you would be nodding your heads right now. For others who are basking in their bachelorhood days or the honeymoon phase, enjoy it to the fullest before you get ready for another adventure. Before you start speculating, let me clear the air. This piece is not going to be a comparison of these phases of life. It is not a debate as to whether one should marry or not, have kids early or travel the world before you decide to. Anyways, I hope you won’t be making such important life decisions after reading my blog.

This is a reflection of some of my magical experiences of being a brand new father. Very recently, the first love of my life gave birth to my second love. I had not really put much thought into what it takes to be a father. I knew I could never be fully ready, but I thought I would do just fine. (Well the verdict is not out on that yet, by the way). But the feeling had not really sunk in. I was ecstatic of course, but I didn’t know what to expect. But when it happened, something inside me changed. When the nurse placed Maya in my arms for the first time and I looked at her as she was trying to open her eyes to look at the world, I knew I was ready.

I had never held a baby before. Well, maybe once or twice but not for more than a few minutes. But holding her came naturally. Putting her to sleep was challenging but a lot of fun. Losing sleep in the middle of the night was not annoying. And despite having little sleep, my wife and I always looked forward to being woken up by her early in the morning. That is because the moment she opens her eyes and looks at us, she will give us such a big smile that will brighten the entire day for us. 

And oh… how can I forget? Diapers! That’s the good stuff. We can get into beat the clock challenges on changing diapers now. And our little one is mighty naughty. Here is something that will happen very frequently. I will see the yellow line turn blue on her diaper. Aha…. She has peed. So I will decide to change her diaper. She will wait for me to open and remove the diaper and then will spray me just in time before I put on a new one, thus wetting everything in the process. What a smart ass! Literally! And then she will give me her happy beaming smile. Mission accomplished for her, I guess.

We all had so many lovely little incidents with our cute prankster and there is never a dull moment with her. Here is another incident from one fun evening where I was alone with her. Normally we spend some quality time and have a lot of fun together. This was one of those days when she decided to play Miss Crank Pot. Here is the outline of my plan for the evening. My wife had just fed her before going out. That would mean it would normally take at least an hour (normally two) for her to get hungry again. I thought I would play with her for a while and then put her to sleep. And if she got hungry, I thought I would feed her a bottle. I know a lot of people grinning. You are right. When have our plans ever worked? Especially when we have such a strong veto authority around!

As soon as I put her on the bed, she started shifting uncomfortably. A gentle moan soon turned into a moderate wail. I turned on the swinging toy hanging above. A lion, sheep, duck and bear followed each other happily in a merry-go-round. Miss Maya was not impressed. The wail persisted and slowly started turning into a full blown cry. Not to worry. I got this. Or so I thought. It was time for Plan B. I decided to try and put her to sleep. I took her in my arms and put her over my shoulder. The scream stopped. I started pacing around the room. After 10 minutes I decide to check if she has fallen asleep. Nope. She was quietly staring at me. What else have you got? I decide to throw a lullaby into the mix. Now you must consider the fact that I am person who hesitates to even sing in the bathroom to put the situation in perspective.

She seems to give me a chance for a while as she patiently listens to a song. She doesn’t cry but she is more awake now. I refrain from testing her patience any further. Twenty minutes gone. My shoulder starts to hurt a little. I decide to put her down and see if she wants to play. The minute I put her on the bed, she starts yelling and screaming with full intensity. Okay, I still got this. May be she is hungry. But she just drank her milk half an hour ago. Not the time to be rational. So I try to feed her. She kicks and shrieks but still manages to drink half the bottle. She doesn’t want to drink any more. But she is still crying. I again put her on my shoulder and the yelling stops again. I like the sentiment that she loves her daddy very much. But try explaining that to my shoulder.

I decide to walk around again with her in my arms. I swing her, rock her and try all my tricks to see if she will sleep again. Another 15 minutes go by. Her eyelids start batting and she seems to be ready to fall asleep when my phone vibrates. Damn! She is wide awake again. The clock is set back to zero. I decide to give it one more go and start pacing again. Another 20 minutes go by and my shoulder is hurting real bad. And madam is still looking around and trying to memorize the layout of her house. Now I start talking to her. I tell her how much I love her, call her all the sweet names and explain to her that I have tried all the options and that she should consider her father’s plight and go to sleep. I hear many of you go: “Yeah right: As if she is going to understand a single word!” I agree but the craziest things happen. The big lady she is, Maya listened very patiently and exactly when I finished, she said: “huuuu”. That is a yes in her language I assume. That is because she went to sleep in the next 5 minutes.

I cuddled and caressed her a little more and when she seemed to be in deep sleep, I put her on the bed. Then something changed and I wanted more of her. So I took her out of the bed, sat down and put her in my arms so that I can watch her sleep. As I looked at her sleeping blissfully in my arms, I noticed the corners of her lips held together oh so slightly. And as time passed by, the invisible glue slowly gave in and the lips started to part slowly as if she is smiling at you gently. I was so tempted to plant a kiss on her blood rose cheek but I dreaded waking her up. I mulled on it for a while and in the end, greed took over and I kissed her with trepidation. She stirred as I trembled in anxiety. And then she gave me an even bigger smile with her eyes closed. My heart skipped a beat. She then turned around as if she wanted me to kiss her on the other cheek. What a sweet little bonus! And then she slept like a doll for the next two hours.

I will stop for now before I go rambling on into eternity. I am sure I will have a tale to tell every day. All these memories will be transfixed in my heart drive, ready to be flashed back into my mind and played back through the lens of my eyes. I am pretty sure I will be pressing the rewind button a lot. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015


As you all know, the whole of Tamil Nadu was devastated by severe floods accentuated by the El Nino phenomenon which caused unprecedented damage to life. But the thousands of millimeters of rainfall brought out kilometers of humanity as citizens came out in hordes to help in any and every possible way. But politicians by and far maintained their notorious reputation, making use of this situation for publicity and political agendas. One such example was the sticker controversy where some ruling party cadres were forcing NGOs and other relief workers to paste stickers of the Chief Minister, Amma Jayalalitha on relief materials. This is just one instance and it does not mean that other parties are devoid of such non-sense. I am sure this act would be bested by an even more ridiculous one.

Meanwhile, after this went viral in social media and other platforms, there was a lot of public outrage against this sticker controversy. That meant that party men could no longer do this sycophantic gesture easily or openly. But they had already printed out lots of stickers in advance and there was a lot of worry in the camp as to how they could use up all of them. One man who had heard about Cheeky Chuck (he obviously did not do his research) immediately suggested hiring him as a consultant to provide them with a solution to this sticky(er) issue.

Cheeky Chuck was on to it in a flash. He promised the Sticker team Chief that he would produce results in 48 hours. He quickly got stock of some stickers and headed out into the streets.

A man was coming out of a hotel with a packet of hot dosa, idli, sambar and some fresh chutney. He had searched far and wide to find a hotel that was open and was relieved that finally his prayer had been answered. He was in a hurry to take the food back to his family when he was interrupted by our Cheeky Chuck.

Chuck: What do you have there, my friend?

Man: Oh… I have some hot food. Finally found a hotel that is open.

Chuck: Excellent. Let us see what size you have. Here you go. Go on. Put this sticker on your food packet. And enjoy your meal with your amma and our amma!

Man: You idiot. This is not a flood relief food packet. I paid money for this, you dumbass!

Chuck: We also paid money to print this sticker. So you better put it on or else face the consequences.

No points for guessing what happened next. Cheeky Chuck tried his charm on a few more passers-by without much luck. By noon, he came back with his jaw slightly rearranged. 

Chuck’s mind voice: Damn it, I haven’t been able to dispose a single sticker yet today. Come on Chuck… you are better than this. Ahaa…. I have got a brilliant idea.

He took out his cell phone and made a call to Mr. Suresh Narayanan, the newly appointed Managing Director of Nestle India.

Chuck: Good morning Sir. This is Cheeky Chuck speaking.

Mr.Narayanan: I am sorry I don’t know you.

Chuck: Not an issue. I know you very well. And I have an excellent business proposal for you. You should start a Free Maggi Sticker campaign. We have a lot of Amma stickers left from our Flood Relief effort. You see… we are very generous folks. So we are willing to give it to you for a nominal price.  This initiative will make your publicity ratings soar. You can also donate some Maggi for Chennai flood relief as well to show your humanitarian side and earn more brownie points.

Mr.Narayanan: Mr.Chuck. As great as your idea is, it has just been days since I took this job. I don’t want to enter record books as the fastest fired Managing Director. And we have already had enough publicity due to our “Lead in India” Maggi campaign.

Chuck was disappointed as he heard the phone click.

Chuck’s mind voice: So close. Never mind. Over to Plan B!

He quickly picked up his phone and called up the Sticker team chief.

Chief: Mr.Chuck. I didn’t expect to hear back from you so soon. Are you done already?

Chuck: All in good time Sir. All in good time! I just had a light bulb moment. I am thinking of approaching our national leaders in this regard. I just wanted to let you know that I have plans of contacting Mr.Modi and Mr.Rahul Gandhi.

Chief: Good thought my friend. We have already taken care of Mr.Modi. When he visited our Chief Minister, we loaded his helicopter with lots of Amma stickers. I am sure he will be able to leverage those for making designer kurtas for his foreign trips.

Chuck: Bravo Sir. Okay, let me touch base with Mr.Rahul Gandhi then.

Rahul Gandhi’s phone rang as he was in the middle of some deep reflection.

Chuck: Mr.Rahul, sorry to disturb you at this ungodly hour.

Rahul looked at his watch. It was 1 in the afternoon. “It is okay. I was just finishing up a thought. By the way, who are you?”

Chuck: I am Cheeky Chuck. Big fan! I am calling you with a killer proposal to motivate your party men and to rekindle the spirits of youngsters in your party.

Rahul: Go on. I am all ears. Although I have come up with a killer speech to do exactly that!

Chuck: Trust me Sir, this is way better. We have a lot of stickers left from the Amma flood relief exercise. We are willing to offer those to you. You can do some Photoshop to replace Amma with your Maa, Soniaji and then you can make custom shirts and hand flags for all your party members. That will be a terrific gesture to pump up your folks.

Rahul: Sounds great indeed Mr.Chuck. Sign me up for 1 lakh stickers.

Chuck: Err… do you still have so many people in your party? Oops… none of my business. You will receive the stickers in a week. Thank you for your business.

Chuck’s mind voice: 1 lakh sold. 1 more lakh to go! Now it is time for the master stroke.

Chuck dialed a number and had a serious conversation for ten minutes. After he hung up, he sprinted back home with a huge smile on his face.

In the evening, as he is sipping tea lying on the couch, Chuck gets a call from the Sticker team head who is bubbling with anger.

Chuck: Mr.Chief. You don’t seem to be in a very happy mood. And that too after I made quick work of all those 2 lakh stickers! And what can I tell you about that masterstroke. Pure genius!

Chief: Is it? Do enlighten me!

Chuck: Oh… I just called the Flood Control Commission Chairman. I noticed that he had sent a letter to the Government asking if you guys had planned any precautionary measures in case such floods were to hit again in the future. But you guys had ignored that and never sent a response. You should not be so irresponsible. So I corrected that for you. I called him and told that we have extensive plans if floods were to come again. I told him we have 1 lakh Amma stickers ready and waiting for such an event. He did sound pretty impressed.

Chief: Oh, he sure was. He just called me and gave me an earful. He said he will be sending over his team to confiscate all the stickers.

Chuck: Even better. I didn’t expect him to take delivery so soon. How much is he paying? And how much is my commission?

Chief: Well, he slapped a fine of Rs.10 lakhs on us for our negligence and arrogance. As for your payment, if you just answer your door-bell, my men are waiting outside to pay in full and some more. Oh btw… don’t worry about the hospital charges. We will foot the bill as a token of our appreciation for your efforts.

P.S: A kind request to all you guys. I am pretty sure I have incurred the wrath of all our political biggies who will by now be out for my blood. I can hear a few of you mumbling "As if they don't have anything better to do". But trust me: they really don't. ;) So please save me (and Cheeky Chuck) from their wrath. :P

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