Tag Archives: Family

Alia 

I saw her in the frozen food section. It had only been 3 months since I moved back to the city and about 12 years since I saw her last. 
She looked just the same. Elegant, purposeful hand movements, her hair, bouncing gracefully as she walked. 


“Alia”, I instinctively said aloud. Her back to me, I could see her freeze and her shoulders droop for a moment. She turned to confirm that she hadn’t heard a ghost and looked straight at me. Her face showed no emotion. She composed herself, picked up her basket of groceries and walked past me. 


I stood there, knowing that walking away would be the wiser thing to do. Instead, I turned and caught up with her. “I don’t even deserve a hello?” 

“What do you want?” 

I don’t want anything, I blurt out, insulted and mildly agitated. I just saw you and thought I’d say hello. 

“Cool”, she said and walked away again. Unable to keep myself from engaging in this typical passive hostility of hers, I walked alongside her and said “You owe me a little courtesy, at the very least…” 

She stopped finally, turned to me and said “I don’t owe you anything.” 

“It’s funny how you’re behaving like it was all my fault”, I said. 

“What’s the point of all this? It was 12 years ago. You’ve moved on, I’ve moved on. Why are you even saying all this? Why are you even here?”, she yelled, softly, through gritted teeth. She was always conscious about not making a scene. Her tone would suggest a yell, but her volume carefully masked it. 

“Of course. You moved on pretty rapidly though”, I said, “didn’t take you long at all to wrap things up nicely. Convenient little turn of events in just over a month”, the vitriolic sarcasm in my words peeling away at her composure. 

Her voice rising, she fumed “I trusted you. I loved you. To death. I gave my heart to you. Day after day, you punished me for loving you. YOU made it hard. YOU. YOU ASSHOLE. How dare you question me about what I did after you?” 

“You’re right. There’s no point talking to you. Go home to that fucking loser”, I said angrily, subconsciously hoping for a full blown fight. I was trembling. This crazy cocktail of grief, heartache and anger taking over. 

She hit me hard on my arm with that bony hand of hers. It stung just as bad as it did a decade ago. She was shaking now. “Not a fucking word against him. Not a fucking word”, she warned me. “That fucking loser, loves me. He looks after me. And he doesn’t make me cry. He doesn’t make me cry.” 

“Yeah. But he’s a fucking pansy. Masquerading as your fucking best friend. Does he even know you don’t love him?”, I was delirious and couldn’t stop, “Can he even get it up?”  

She dug her nails into my forearm with all her strength, I winced. I could tell she wanted to say something but no sound was coming out of her mouth. After she’d twisted her nails in me, she said, “You know what? I’m glad I ran into you today. You’ve made me realize that leaving you wasn’t a mistake. You’re a vile, toxic man. You may claim to love me but this isn’t how you treat someone you love. I’m so glad I cut you out of my life like the cancer that you are.” 

Her eyes welled up. And so had mine. There’s nothing I could say to her that could hurt her more in return. And although she was right in saying what she did, I knew she was filled instantly with remorse. I turned and walked away. “What? You’re walking away? Fucking coward. You were always a fucking coward when someone told you the truth about yourself. Come back and fight now, you fucking coward.” She just stood there while I walked away, there’s no way I wanted her to see me crying. 

I was still shaking as I sat in the backseat of my car. I had a lump in my throat and large tears hung precariously on my eyelids. My driver could sense that something was up, he kept looking in the rear view mirror. It gets easier to hold in your tears as you get older. Why didn’t I just walk away? Why couldn’t I have been more polite, less angry? Why did I have to launch into her husband? He really did look after her and her needs. I just hated his guts because he won and I lost. Twelve years ago. But life had given me so much in the last few years, why did I lose sight of that? 

Years of therapy undone in a few minutes. Sitting on that backseat, I tried to put the animal back in the cage, muffle it’s stupid mouth and focus on the present. I’m not a bad person, I told myself. I have people who love me and cherish my presence in their lives. Why does this volatile connection to her always burn everything in its path? I close my eyes and try to drown out the voices. 

“You didn’t get anything?”, she asked as I walk into the house. “There was a huge line and I was really tired.” Sensing something was wrong, she comes to hug me, “What happened baba?”, she puts her arms around me and I put mine around her slender waist. I force a tired smile and ask if the kids have slept. She nods and says “You know what? You need ice cream”. 

As she fills two bowls in the kitchen and kicks the refrigerator door shut behind her, she says, “Alia got a star in school today”. I go pale. “What for?”, I ask. “For being the most well behaved girl on her school trip.” I smile. 

“She’s such a lovely girl na, our little Alia?” 

“Yes”, I say, “she’s the best.”   

Hiding in the cold.

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This is my old house. I was born here and lived in this house till I was nine and went off to boarding school. Thereafter, I’ve only been a visitor, for a few days, weeks and recently, for a few hours everyday.

It is a house that grew with us, little parts being added or renovated as we grew, as our needs increased. The cracks of this haphazard growth adorn its many walls and she wears them proudly, like an irreverent old lady who has seen her fair share of life’s uncertainty.

I eat my lunch in this house everyday, an hour between the hustle and bustle of the hospital. On most days, I barely even notice the house but today, as I climbed up the unusually steep staircase, I was ambushed by a smell so reminiscent of my childhood that it made me stop, a nostalgic, anxious punch to my stomach sent me hurtling back a couple of decades.

In boarding school, we had two vacation periods every year. Three months in the summer and a month in December. The summers were arid and dry and went by rather rapidly. We were back in school just as the monsoon was finding its feet back home. It was the winter holidays that I remember more fondly though. They were too short to plan a trip out of town, so most of that month would be spent at home. Being tucked into bed by Mom at night, drinking tea with my father at breakfast (and dipping the hospital jeera puri in it, which was the standard patient breakfast till not long ago), laying around in the living room with a book, sitting in my Mom’s home office, reading comic books as she worked, sitting next to my grandmother as she watched television or embroidered covers for our throw pillows, they were simple times. Simple but incredibly special. Despite the euphoria of being home, I always had this anxiety lurking just beneath the surface, knowing my time at home was limited. This smell of home would soon be replaced. Dorm mates, mess food, homework and exams were always round the corner.

I live in a town where winter usually means a low of about 12 degrees Celsius early in the morning, at the peak of winter. So it’s never really cold-cold. But this house, with its closed doors and grandmotherly mustiness, traps in the cold, sneaking up on you when you least expect it. And in this vault like chilliness, I learnt to find my comfort. I would drown myself in my book, feet tucked under pillows, hiding from the inevitability of having to pry myself free from what most kids take for granted.

In school and so many times after school, I’ve been ambushed by this haunting concoction of sensations. Even when I’m not at home, sometimes even when I’m nowhere near geographically. The temperature and the smell of old upholstery, of fine dust glinting in the stray sunbeams which filter in, the smell of old wooden doors, the smell of a time which birthed this permanent vulnerability.

As I bounced up the stairs today, I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. A reminder of a precious time. A reminder that no matter how old we grow, our weaknesses remain the same. A reminder that being enveloped by the cold, can be comforting too.

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Happy birthday.

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I met her when she was 17. She was a free spirit. Lived one day at a time, never planned for tomorrow, loved unconditionally. For a regimented fool like me, she was a breath of fresh air, as though someone unlocked the dark dungeons of my heart, cleared the cobwebs and let sunlight stream in.

Fifteen years, marriage, two kids and innumerable ups and downs later, we still remain that intensely volatile couple, with emotions always at the surface. We love passionately and fight bitterly. So much has changed and yet, nothing has.

I can’t believe you’re 32, the mother of our two lovely children. I still see you as that girl in cotton world tees, faded denim, sneakers and that ridiculously heavy backpack filled with books and food, running to catch your bus back home. And as you made it on the bus, you’d fight your way to a window (injuring a few fellow passengers with that bag of yours), with a big grin on your face and wave to me.

Happy birthday Riddhi. You’ll always be 17 to me.

Introducing the board members of my future company.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to build and run my own company. Not just any company. A really large company with multiple business interests, shareholders, board meetings, strategic acquisitions, large campuses with multiple cafeterias, helipads, the works. While that remains a slightly distant dream, I think I’ve already identified the core members of my team. Together, they form the board of this behemoth. I’d like you to meet them.

Aanya :
CFO

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Being the eldest, she should ideally be the Chairman. However, Aanya decided very early in her life that she doesn’t want to be part of a company that is stupid enough to employ her siblings. She started off on her own and made her fortune in online fashion retail. The board soon realized that the financial aspects of the company cannot be left to the remaining jokers. So it pleaded her to come and set things in order. Inheriting an astute business mind from her father and being excellent in math, she sorted the messy accounts of the company and streamlined the finances in a matter of weeks since she took charge.

She can be spotted working in her office late at nights and has often been photographed rolling her eyes during board meetings when her siblings come up with harebrained ideas. She threatens to quit every week.

Ahaan :
Chairman of the board

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There was absolutely no contest when it came to choosing the chairman of the board. The board was looking for a man who swam above the turbulent waters of day to day company running. Someone who could think beyond the obvious. Someone who really didn’t bother with the small stuff. Ahaan can be spotted in most board meetings, staring out of the window with a rather blank expression on his face, chewing candy. In his first week as Chairman, he bought himself a private jet. He conducts most of his meetings on that jet, parked in the hangar and occasionally spends a night or two in it.

He is relentless, stubborn and has a very definitive vision for the company. He fears no one in the company. Except the COO.

Myrah :
COO

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Most people in the company don’t see Myrah. They hear the clackity-clack of her stilettos and run for cover. She is sharp, ruthless and terribly efficient. It takes some amount of authority to control a workforce the size of a small country. And she exudes authority. It also helps that she is the only one the Chairman is scared of.

Rumor has it that she took the company private jet on a joyride on the very first day that it arrived and got nail polish stains on the Chairman’s seat. All of it for the sole purpose of annoying Ahaan. She is most often spotted in her office, or so they say. No one really has the courage to peep in.

Agastya :
Visionary and Head of Future Strategies and Acquisitions

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Gus, everyone calls him Gus, was handpicked by the Chairman to be his CEO. He wanted someone a little chilled, unlike his two bullying sisters. The trouble was that the CEO was expected to conduct a ton of press conferences and interviews. At each of these press conferences, as soon as Gus would make an appearance, lady journalists would start to squeal, like groupies. The squeals would be so loud that no questions could ever be asked. A few of them have been known to faint on occasion. Gus would try and speak softly into the microphone, “Calm down ladies” and flash a dimpled grin. It only made matters worse.

So now he heads the future strategies division. His creative mind has ensured that the company only invests in businesses built on great design ideas. He can often be spotted eating with the staff at one of the common canteens, surrounded by a bunch of girls.

So here it is. My company isn’t up and running yet but my team is set. And it’s a formidable team, with each member bringing their own strengths to the table. In a few decades, they are going to be on the covers of Fortune and Forbes.

Insider tip : Invest early, this company is going to be huge.

Morning rituals.

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Everyone has a morning ritual. Some cultivate it carefully but for most, it’s a subconscious act. An act that begins your day with clarity, focuses your thoughts, channels your energy. It may be as simple as brewing your own coffee or packing lunch for your child, it may even be more elaborate like yoga or something as mundane as ironing your shirt or polishing your shoes. For some, mornings are spent in prayer, a time for reflection and devotion.

I have this terrible habit of over-sharing. So in that spirit, I’m going to let you all in to what my mornings are usually like.

I usually sleep with my little two year old daughter next to me. Both of us like our own space by the time we’ve fallen sleep but whenever I wake up, I find her clinging onto my forearm like a koala bear. I wake up and stare at her for a while, her eyes tightly shut, knowing morning is near. I brush away her hair, the softest ringlets of black with chestnut brown accents that one can ever lay eyes on. She squirms a little bit as I kiss her cheeks and forehead. I let her sleep in a little bit longer but then kiss her more frequently so that she wakes up with a smile. Once she’s up, the little dynamo can’t wait to get out of bed and run about. Out first stop is meeting Mommy and her little 6 month old brother, both of whom have been up for nearly an hour by now. Both the kids look at each other and smile, the little one squealing in delight after a tummy full of milk. This is when I make my great escape to the bathroom, while Mommy gets the elder one ready for playschool.

I spend an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom, much to the annoyance of my wife. But I’ve stopped caring about that and she’s kind of given up on my bathroom habits by now. I sit there, on my ceramic throne, reading. I’ve almost entirely given up reading the newspaper now. All the media that I consume is electronic. I rapidly read all the day’s news and then catch up on social media : Instagram, Twitter and if there’s time, Facebook. Most of the links shared by people and the ones that I’m interested in reading, get saved to Pocket. Finally, when it’s been a while and my feet are tingly and numb, I get off and head for the shower.

Most people at home tell me that I shower like a girl. Just because I shower at leisure doesn’t mean I’m frolicking in bubbles and rubbing myself with a loofah. The shower is where I focus. I go through the day’s schedule in my head, get ready for the surgeries lined up, go over some arguments I’ve had with the wife, think of witty retorts and sometimes even get carried away with melancholy. The last bit of the shower, I let the the water pound my face, think about my family, my kids and say thank you, to the universe for being so unnecessarily kind to me.

I get dressed, usually a crisp white shirt, occasionally blue (I love blue) and a pair of pants in varying shades, ranging from light gray to charcoal. I choose a tie, usually one in a sedate and saturated tone and occasionally playful like lime green or with polka dots. Set my hair with minimal product, it needs product because my hair is terribly ill behaved. And then, I head down for breakfast.

Breakfast is usually something simple. From poha to idlis, depending on the day and some fresh fruit. When I’m on a health kick, it’s usually oats or a simple egg white omelette. I usually like to make my coffee myself. Even if it is something as mechanical as a nespresso machine, popping in that little pod and watching the coffee pour out is a joy. When I’m not pressed for time, I use crushed beans (a blonde roast which isn’t weak) and a French press. I love the way the entire kitchen and the dining area fills with the smell of coffee. It transports you instantly to a happy place, wherever that may be for you. For me, it transports me mentally to Europe. I adjust my white cuffs and settle in to drink my coffee at leisure. The first sip electrifies my spine, it’s as though my nerves, congealed with lethargy after the night’s rest have suddenly come alive and are pulsating. It’s like drinking sunshine. I hate having to rush through my morning coffee and by the time I actually finish it, it’s usually cold. Since I try and limit myself to just one cup a day, I like to savor it. I’m not a great coffee connoisseur, I don’t know my beans or the roasts too well but I do get the romance behind it. And for me that’s important.

For some, it isn’t coffee, it’s tea. For most Indians actually, morning chai is a religion. That perfect blend of spice and sweet with just the right amount of milk. And it’s not even about the recipe, it’s about who brews it. Brew it for a little longer and it’s off, ruining the experience. For most Indian middle-aged couples, that morning cup of tea together is the most romantic time of day, despite no word being spoken, faces buried in newspapers.

Once breakfast is done, I shine my shoes and leave for work. If I’m in a rush, I use the good old ‘rush brush’ which is a bit like cheating but if I have time, I’ll go the whole hog with the wax and shine. If you’re a boarding school product like me, you’ll pride yourself on how well you can polish your shoes and will always believe that no one else can do it better.

So that’s my usual morning routine. And I cherish it. Someday, if I ever meet some of you, I’d be glad to make you a cup of coffee and sit across you for breakfast, without speaking much.

Do you have a morning ritual too? I’d love to hear about it. Till then, I hope your morning cup is filled with sunshine, just like mine.

(The picture above, is my cup of coffee this morning, a delightfully wholesome blonde roast, through the French press.
The French quote under it translates to “A mouthful of happiness”).

Meet the Züca Pro. The answer to all your packing dilemmas.

If there is one character trait that can be attributed to me without any debate whatsoever, it’s the fact that I buy awesome stuff which no one would even dream of buying. It’s usually something with a quirk, some brilliant design concept or something that appeals to my OCD-anal way of life.

I first came across the Züca Pro travel system In a YouTube video. The one I’ve shared above. I urge you all to view that before reading any further. I was mesmerized. Till I saw the video, packing for me was a chore, neatly arranging carefully folded shirts in a mundane boxy stroller. Bleh.

I was always a reasonably decent packer, a skill I honed during my boarding school days. And now, here came Züca, to take my packing skill to the next level. THE NEXT LEVEL.

Ok, I’ve got to admit, part of the reason I was sold to this Züca concept was the voice in that video. That voice. I swear if a girl stood in front of me with that voice and said “for your lotions and potions”, I’d embrace her in a suffocating bear-hug in a second.

Anyway, getting to the point, I have a weekend in Goa coming up, 3 nights, plus a couple of days in Mumbai. So that’s 5 nights in total. I thought why not test whether the Züca can actually deliver.

So this is what I could organize into a bag half the size of a regular stroller. Plus, the clothes are so well rolled and tightly packed that they won’t shuffle around in the bag, unlike a regular stroller.

Four collared shirts. Four polo collared t-shirts. Two round neck t-shirts. Two shorts. Two pairs of jeans. Two nightsuits. One pair of track pants. 6 pairs of underwear. 4 pairs of socks. One set of flip flops. One universal adaptor. A blackberry charger. An iPhone charger.
(I tend to over-pack but did I mention that it’s half the size of a regular stroller?)

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What’s hot about the Züca travel system :

1. It comes with 5 color coded, differently sized pouches. The green and orange are for underwear and socks. The blue is for shirts, tees, pajamas etc. You get two large red pouches for your trousers, jackets, shirts etc.

2. If you follow the packing instructions, things fit in like magic. Rolling the jeans, shirts and jackets keeps them crease free. Quite contrary to what I had imagined.

3. The structure is great. Not wobbly. Plus, it’s made of aircraft grade aluminium with a recessed handle/slot near the wheels, which makes it easier to put in the overhead bin of your aircraft. Also, the width is perfect for rolling it down the aisle of an aircraft. No more bumping around like a pinball machine. The top of the bag can support a very heavy man, in case you find yourself without a seat at the airport.

4. There are numerous zips and sleeves around the Züca for your magazines and other small items. It even boasts a wet pouch and a separate plastic pouch for your TSA approved toiletries. Plus, it has a cover in case you want to check it in, no scratches or scuffs on your bag.

5. The telescopic handle is really long. No more slouching and the bag-roll is very comfortable. Plus, the recessed polyurethane wheels are nice and silent offering a cushy ride.

Whats not hot about the Züca :

1. You just can’t dump stuff in. It has to be arranged neatly. So if you’re a bum, it’s not for you. (although, it isn’t cumbersome to pack and it is usually possible to pack quickly using Züca).

2. It’s a pain when you’ve finished packing everything and loaded up the Züca and then you realize that you’ve forgotten something. It’s torture to bring out all the pouches again.

3. You’d look ridiculous sitting on this bag.

4. The cover has no zips or sleeves. So if you wanted to slip in your iPad or magazine, you have to use the Züca without the cover.

5. People stare.

6. If the security guys ask you to open the bag, you’re gonna miss your flight. You’ll be too busy showing off the bag to all the awestruck security guards to notice that the flight has long gone.

7. It’s not an all-wheel-drive. Are those four-wheeled bags called all-wheel-drives anyway? Those are awesome too.

8. You’ll want to slap anyone that says “Can you just throw this in your bag?”

So, that’s it. That’s the Züca pro. It retails for around 300 USD. I think it’s worth it, do you?

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Have kid. Will travel.

If ever there’s one thing I’ve dreaded, it’s traveling with a kid. Mine or anybody else’s. I took a trip last year to Toronto and found myself sitting next to a lady and her 6 month old son. It didn’t go well. The kid cried for 8 hours straight, the mother was helpless, trying everything, from feeding to bouncing to distracting with toys. Nothing seemed to work. It took all my self control to not perform a vasectomy on my myself using those silly plastic airplane knives. That bad.

Fast forward to January 2012 and it was time to take a trip ourselves. We planned a trip to Dubai for my wife’s 30th birthday and we were taking our 7 month old daughter with us. Cold feet. Now, to be certain, our daughter is not a cranky kid by any means but she’s moody like me – She can snap if things don’t go her way (no paternity test required here). So, it was our turn now. Would we be the hapless parents trying to pacify our child or would we be the savvy, self assured, comfortable parents who know what to do? Time will tell of course. But to help anyone out there who’s probably trying to find tips on how to fly with a little kid, here are a few :

1. Priority :

Remember, the holiday should be centered around the kid. Choose a place the kid will enjoy. And if the kid is way too young (as in our case), choose a place that would be most convenient and also where the kid can observe and learn. We chose Dubai because of the relatively short flying time (approx 3 hours), making it a good trial run for trips in the future. Also, food and language aren’t a problem in Dubai so if you need something quickly, you aren’t lost in the woods.

2. Hotel and airline tickets :

Once you’re certain of the destination, it’s time to book the hotel and airline tickets.

For the airline, I would really suggest you step up, use all your miles (or savings) to fly business class. It’s really no fun camping out with an infant. Kiss your backpacking through Europe days goodbye. The reason I’m recommending business or first is that you’ll begin to appreciate more space once you have someone little with you. Also, the check-in lines are shorter, the immigration lines are shorter and you have more baggage allowance. If your kid cries and you can barely shift in your seat, it becomes really hard to nurse the child. So, if you need to, start saving up now.

Also, once the kid is asleep, maybe you can get a little massage in your seat or even enjoy a glass of wine. You’ll appreciate this more on the return leg of your journey.

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Don’t listen to anyone that says “Stay here, it’s in the heart of the city”. That’s all fine but try and stay in a hotel that’s self-sufficient. Like a resort. A place where you don’t need to leave the premises if you don’t want to. There should be plenty of stuff to do in house, so if you need to rush up to your room and put your kid to sleep or feed the kid or just take a breather yourself, it’s possible. Plus, I’ve noticed that the staff at resorts is way more accommodating than a city hotel. They’d be happy to microwave sipping cups, pull up a high chair or even babysit your kid for a little while till you finish your meal. We found a very kind sous chef who made wonderful khichdi (savory Indian cereal with rice and pulses) for my daughter.

The added advantage of staying in a resort is the presence of other families with kids. That increases the tolerance level of all concerned. Also, seeing other kids is a learning experience in itself, making new friends, seeing how to behave and importantly, how not to.

3. Packing :

Pack light. If ever there was a time to be frugal in what you take with you, this is it. (My wife ignores this rule. I’m saving up for my hernia surgery).

Packing for yourself :

Pack comfortable wear. You aren’t really going to be able to set the town on fire with an infant. In all probability, you’re going to have to finish dinner early and be up in your room by 10pm. So, it doesn’t make sense packing many pairs of party wear. What you do need is comfortable clothes to wear at the airport, and some back up casual clothes if your kid throws up / spits up on you during the trip. If you’re going to a resort, pack shorts, capri pants and plenty of t-shirts. No high heels; flip-flops and loafers will do just fine, without killing your heels or lower back in the bargain. Ever tried carrying an infant for a few hours through a mall wearing high heels? Not recommended.

For the baby :

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All the regular clothes plus some nice clothes when you take your kid out for dinner. Socks. Booties. Diapers. And don’t forget a small sweater or jacket in case it gets cold on the flight or during evenings in the resort. Baby swimwear or swimming diapers (swimmers) if your baby is too small.

Also, don’t forget other essentials like her diaper cream, baby food, plastic spoons, thermos for hot water, wipes (no place for cotton balls and top-tail bowls on a holiday). Also, disposable microwaveable sterilizing bags are a good thing to pack in case you want to sterilize their sippy cups or bottles (Medela). Don’t forget baby sunscreen (we used Coppertone water babies 50 SPF).

For her bath, we carried this green sponge makeshift tub. So that she doesn’t slip and slide around in the large tub. It’s pretty convenient and packs easily. Also, we carried a small travel set of her toiletries all well labelled by my wife. Don’t forget her little rubber ducky if she has one. My daughter was surprised the ducky showed up.

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Toys :

Some old faithfuls are a must. Seeing a toy they’re familiar with and one they like, goes a long way in making the baby feel comfortable in alien surroundings. Also, pack some new toys to surprise and distract the baby when she tires of the regular stuff.
Also, the airline will provide a few toys for the kiddo anyway so there will be no shortage of novelty.

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People underestimate the iPad. The iPad can be your lifesaver. Load it up with a few Baby Einstein videos or cartoons and you’ve got a kid who’ll stay quiet for a period upto half an hour or more. Also, if you’ve got an older kid, fruit ninja and angry birds will ensure you get some rest on the flight. If you’ve got more than one kid, invest in an earphone splitter – no fights over sharing the iPad.

4. At the airport :

Be calm. If you’re flying business class or above, checking-in, security, boarding is usually a breeze. If you’re flying coach, duties must be split. One parent is in charge of the kid, showing her/him around (making ooooh sounds helps… eg : Ooooh, look Myrah, a trolley. Ooooh, look, a poster). The other parent has to be ridiculously efficient, filling forms, loading bags, pushing carts, taking care of passports
etc. It’s handy to jot down passport numbers and expiration dates on a separate piece of paper or in the Notes app of your iPhone. Much more convenient than clumsily shuffling passports while standing in a queue.

5. Settling into the aircraft :

If you’re with a kid, you’ll probably board first. That’s always a good thing for several reasons. The most important being, you’re not hassled to settle down quickly. You have time to pick out the toys, iPad, sippy cup, blankie etc from your bag before putting it up in the overhead compartment. Also, the stewardess can come and help you figure out the stupid extension belt for the baby. It’s not rocket science but it’s clunky and badly designed. All in all, pretty useless technology.

6. Take off and Landing :

Most parents fear this. And rightly so, as the change in cabin pressure can cause earache which can be pretty annoying and scary for the little one. The best way to avoid it is to ensure that the baby is feeding during these two events. If your baby is breast fed, hold out feeding her while the plane is taxiing because she may finish just before take off and that defeats the purpose.

We had many people advising us to use some sort of medication during the flight. It’s an antihistaminic + decongestant. It must help but we didn’t try it. We were able to time the feeds well and our baby took it excellently on the way there. On the way back, our daughter was a little cranky and cried for a few minutes before take off. This might have something to do with the fact that it was a late night flight and I had given her a few licks of my Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream in the lounge (The crash following a sugar rush is not fun. Avoid the ice cream). We, however, had purchased the medicine and carried it with us just to be on the safe side, never ended up using it.

7. Sleep :

By sleep, I mean baby’s sleep. Forget about your sleep. Maybe I’m exaggerating, you may be able to nod off for a few minutes at a time.

If you’ve booked a separate seat for your infant, make sure you carry your car seat with you so you can plonk the kid in and don’t have to carry him/her for the entire duration. We didn’t, because we have a very stubborn girl who hates the car seat. She wants to be up and about, part of the action.

What helps though is carrying a feeding pillow / boppy. If that’s too bulky, buy an inflatable feeding pillow like us. It’s not as comfy but cuts down the bulk.

If however, you’re traveling coach or have the option of a bassinet, it solves a lot of your sleeping problems.

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8. Feeding on the plane :

If your baby is bottle fed, it’s not so much of a problem. Breast feeding can be tricky though. However, you get these amazing ‘feeding covers’ which are like small smocks, you put it over your head and the baby can be hidden underneath, no wardrobe malfunctions. Slurpy noises however are not muffled and the only remedy for that is swallowing your embarrassment. It also helps if you wear a front-opening shirt or easy access to the food source (boobs).

9. Eating airline food :

Why would you want to?

But, if you must, you need to have a loving husband. If the baby is asleep on your lap, there’s no way you can access your food tray. Make sure your tray also goes on your husband’s table and he feeds you lovingly by hand. It’s a little clumsy but it’s also romantic (romance shall end here for the rest of the holiday). You’ll find yourself giggling stupidly when the baby shuffles a bit when you bite into something crunchy.

10. Stroller :

If you have a slightly older child, carry a lightweight umbrella stroller (MacLaren). It’s easy to fold and easier to stow away. If you’re traveling with an infant, like us, carry the entire car-seat stroller shebang (ours is Graco). You can use the car seat If you’ve bought an extra seat for your kid.

You can take the stroller all the way up to the aircraft where they’ll check it in. Make sure that you have tags on both the car seat and the stroller and that both tags are stamped by security, or they’ll send you back. Also, it’s wise to ask them where you can pick up your stroller after you land. Some airlines will give it you just outside the aircraft but most of the times, it’ll come along with your checked in bags. (We had to collect it from another carousel, so it’s better you make sure).

Even if your kid hates the stroller, it’s wise to carry one. It acts as a wonderful carrier for the diaper bag, purse, murse or any shopping bags.

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11. Rocking the boat :

Before we left for our holiday, my wife and I decided that we weren’t going to rock the boat. No introducing new foods, changing schedules etc for the kiddo. However, since we came here, we’ve thrown caution to the wind and now my little daughter has tasted orange juice, tea, mango pudding, baked ginger cake, yoghurt and some cheeses. The one-eye-clenched-recoil that she does when she takes her first sip of orange juice is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, followed immediately later by a forward leap for some more.

So I urge you to go forth and rock that little boat. Your baby will learn something new and in a place which will make it a wonderful memory. My parents did it with us and I’m doing it for my daughter.

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12. The swan song :

Plan one event that you’ll never forget. Something to make the entire trip unforgettable. Something that your baby will remember (in our case, see photos of) for years to come.

We swam with dolphins. It was exhilarating. And our daughter loved it.

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I’m no expert but this is a new Father’s perspective. I’m sure my wife would have plenty to add and so would you, dear reader. I will be more than happy to receive more suggestions in the comments section.

Do you travel with your kids a lot? Where have you been that’s been the most fun? And what advise do you have for a novice like me?

Myrah and the 30 year old apple.

For most of the people reading this blog, you probably already know that I have a 3 month old daughter. For those of you who didn’t know, well, take this as an announcement.

The last three months have been a blast. Excluding the first two weeks, which was paranoia at it’s very best. Once we got settled in, all three of us, the ride’s been fortunately smooth. Basically, it’s about accepting the fact that “She is a baby, she IS GOING to cry.”

It’s something new everyday. She’ll babble in her sleep, squeal in delight, flip over, give you the biggest smiles, just win your heart over day after day. There is no greater feeling than seeing your daughter recognizing you and give you her best, biggest toothless grin. In my daughter’s case, when she smiles wide, her eyes crinkle up, as though there’s only room for only one of them to be open at one time.

Coming to the point, the other day, I walked into my Mum’s room (Grandma was babysitting), and I see my daughter playing with this plastic Apple. It’s not a great, sophisticated toy. It’s made by fisher-price and it rocks on it’s base when you knock it around. There’s probably a small bell inside which tinkles on being moved. So all in all, it’s just an apple with a bell. No biggie.

The only thing is, it’s MY Apple. My parents bought it for me when I was a newborn. And then, as with everything in my house, it’s been safely hoarded preserved for almost 30 years. It was so surprising to see my daughter play with it. Knocking it around, staring at it wide-eyed, chuckling, having a conversation with a bright red plastic apple. It was heart-warming. It’s true when they say that the best toys are the simplest ones. It’ll be so cute if she grows up to be one of those kids that throws away the toy and plays with the box.

I give my Mum such a hard time about her wanting to preserve old, useless things. I sure am glad she kept the apple though.

Moral of the story, Grandma knows best.

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Conversations with my sister…

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3rd dec ’08

An excerpt from a conversation I had with my little sister at lunch today :-

Me : What does ‘am’ and ‘pm’ stand for?
Manu : am=after mignight and pm=post morning.

Me : What about BC/AD?
Manu : BC=Before Christ and AD= After death (by now, i’m frustrated)

Me : Who is the new home minister?
Manu : Atal behari vajpayee?…. no no no …. that deshmukh guy…

Me : Who is the head of Al-Qaeda?
Manu : Obama… no no no … Osaka…. no no no … something like that….

Me : Who is RR Patil?
Manu : is he some constable who died?

Me : Who created facebook?
Manu : Bill Gates?

Me : What should Manmohan Singh tell the Pak PM/President?
Manu : He should tell them ” ‘s not fair”… and ignore their calls then…

Me : What is the capital of Pakistan?
Manu : this one i know…. Karachi … no… Lahore….

Me : Which country did the Bali bomb blasts occur in?
Manu : …. not sure…. China?

Me : Chinchpokhli is the capital of which country?
Manu : Bhutan? My GK has improved na…

05 dec ’08

another excerpt from a tiring lunch with my sister today:-

Me : Do you know who the new CM of Maharashtra is?
Manu : yeah… some Chauhan guy….
Harsh : Dude, it’s not Chauhan… it’s Chavan… like in chavanprash…
Me : but, what’s his first name?
Manu : ~giggling~…. Dabur??

Me : Raj Thakeray is the head of which party?
Manu : Shiv Sena
Me : and Uddhav?
Manu : BJP?… i dont know yaar… but not congress…
Me : how’re they related to bal thakeray?
Manu : they are his sons…
Me : you’re so dumb… how can you not know this…..
Manu : grandsons????

Me : Who is condeleeza rice?
Manu : …. you’re just making up names now… please dont put this on facebook!
Me : Pranab Mukherjee?
Manu : with an annoying laugh… rani mukherjee’s dad?…

by this time, i’ve lost my appetite, so i get up and leave. let’s see what future meals behold…

06 dec ’08

… and now both siblings are hell bent on dragging the good family name through dirt…

Me : Manu, obviously politics is not your forte…
Manu : you realized now?
Me : fair enough… what is amitabh bachchan’s daughter’s name?
Manu : i’m not good with names. can i tell you his daughter-in-law’s name?
Me : ok, what are dharmendra’s sons’ names?
Manu : i told you, i’m not good with names…
Harsh : dude, who cares about dharmendra…

Me : where is khalistan?
Manu : dude, i dont know much geography…
Harsh : in the middle east! (with an arrogant and overconfident tone)

Me : Who discovered fire? (this question was just to mess around with them)
Manu : GOD
Harsh : hahahahaha
Manu : i think the guys in the stone age… they rubbed those stones together and got fire.
Harsh : i think it was the mesopotamian civilization (in all sincerity)

Me : Why is the arabian sea called so?
Manu : because of the arabs?
Harsh : because it starts in saudi arabia

Me : baghdad is the capital of which country? (this question was answered with buzzer round quickness)
Harsh : Iraq
Manu : Dubai!!

Me : the taj group is owned by ?
Harsh and Manu : Ratan Tata
Me: and the oberoi?
Manu : Birla?
Harsh : some oberoi guy…

Me : who is Robert De Niro?
Manu : Robert the who?
Harsh : it’s a character like how james bond is a character…

Me : well done. can someone please pass me the poison.