Diary of a “Stay-at-home” dad : Freaky Fridays – weekly blog

6 months ago, I decided to take a bold and impulsive decision of quitting my job without another job in hand. Initially, I thought I would apply to other jobs but as my wife’s delivery date drew closer and closer, I decided to take a “break” from corporate. I had resigned from my current job and applied to a few jobs but secretly, I hoped that I would not get through any of them so that I did not have to join soon. My wife was supportive of this decision. Her only concern was finances and having saved enough for 6 months, I took the decision to be a temporary “stay-at-home” dad.

Now-a-days, sabbaticals and breaks have become common. Different people take it at different points in time. My friends, who were not in recent touch with me, thought I had taken a “sabbatical”. For those who are not aware, a sabbatical ensures you have not lost your job and can rejoin the same organization after the specified duration, in any available role. Most organizations have a sabbatical policy for people who have completed a minimum tenure. When I told a few of them that this was not the case, quite a few of them told me that I was taking a big risk by quitting without a back-up job and a back-up plan. What would I give as a reason for the break for potential employers? What if the gap becomes a problem in me finding another job?

Nonetheless, I moved on as what mattered to me the most was what I was thinking. I was venturing into “unknown” territory. There was no reference point for me – no one in my close circle had taken a paternity break. Maternity breaks have been the norm since ages. In my head, I was clear that I wanted to give all possible support to my wife and help her through a transition. I was not so much worried about the future.

I resigned in January and my wife’s due date was 6th of March originally. But the doctor had told us to be prepared from Feb 20th onwards. Having worked for 9 years, the month of February was a pleasant surprise for me. I felt I was like one of those “retired” Public Sector employees who seem very contented with life and who walk the race of life at their own pace, unlike the younger generation which just keeps running without any idea. The running race starts from school, where we are told class 10 is a big hurdle, then IIT/medicine, then post-graduation, job, marriage and keeps going on and on. The comparisons about how others are doing keep happening and make us run harder and faster. All this stopped for me in February and life was different.

I would get up early, hit the gym for almost two hours, do some house chores , read the newspaper and wrote chapters of my book. For the first time, I had no serious goal to target. I just wanted to enjoy the time till it lasted. The baby had not yet arrived. I would go for walks daily with my wife and just try to not discuss the fact that we would soon be parents. To distract her , I would discuss the chapters of my book , the people in my gym etc. I also did a few online certifications. I started using Instagram more often. Life was good even without a purpose. I started blogging regularly. This was month 1.

On the 27th of February, our little bundle of joy arrived. It finally hit me that I had become a parent. My wife had started preparing herself to be a mom since the time she discovered she was pregnant. For me, the realization dawned only when I held the little one in my arms for the first time. Post that, life started zipping. Quite a few of my friends told me that life would no longer be the same and I would not get time to sleep, would have to let go of a lot of hobbies etc etc. I was a bit apprehensive at hearing all this. But what happened with me was completely different. As I was not working, I had enough time to do a lot of things. I would burp the baby, do a few household chores, watch sitcoms and in my free time, would start writing chapters of my book. The first two months were very hectic, especially for my wife, as the baby would feed every two hours and she would get very tired. But gradually, things improved and she was able to get better sleep.

As far as I was concerned, the break made me try a lot of creative things. I made my first DIY wall clock from  a used iPad cover, wrote the manuscript of my first book, tried working on a couple of whacky ideas ( a Youtube finance video series and an education start-up). The last two ideas didn’t go through as I had to depend on other partners and it didn’t work out. But I became fitter, stronger and much more creative as a person.

As a dad, my primary KRA was to put the baby to sleep every night and play with her during the day. It was fun and I was in a utopian world. I had all the time in the world – to take care of my body, my mind and family. I secretly hoped that I could extend the break for another year or two. Why would I want to let go of the new found freedom of not running a race against time?

But six months later, practicality kicked in. My savings had almost been utilized and there was a burden of an EMI. I had no option but to start working again. The break was not pre-planned and it had to end sooner than later. I joined in an organization two weeks ago and things have changed again.

“Time”, which was in abundance with me  during the break, is now a luxury. I barely get to see my little one. By the time I am back home, she’s asleep. I hardly hit the gym now. I rarely am in a frame of mind to write creatively as most days I come back exhausted. I have not read the newspaper. Weekends fly away with my wife and baby as that’s the only time I get to spend with them. Slowly, I am getting back into the race of life. The future on the work front looks scary –travel, resolving issues, late nights, burn outs , appraisals, lay-offs, promotions. It looks as if the juice is going to be sucked out. I have not had the time to plan out my book launch. My biggest fear is I will stop doing the things I love – writing, reading, gymming, cleaning and playing with the kid. I hope it doesn’t come true. Secretly, I pray to God that all my worst fears do not come true and I continue to create time to do the things I love doing.

Time and tide waits for none. I hope the tide turns in favour of me sooner than later. Hopefully, the next break will not take another 9 years and hopefully, I will find the time to keep writing. One of the songs playing in my head right now is…

“ Suhaana safar aur yeh mausam haseen… humey darr na hum kho na jaaye kahin”

-Jai Hind

Loose Motions : Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

The last week has been really hot and spicy for me. Four out of 6 days, I have had my most favorite and most recurring health phenomenon – loose motions. My doctor wife makes a technical correction – it’s not loose motions but in medical parlance, it is indigestion. Indigestion is when your poop is semi-solid/liquid but not a colorless form. Colorless poop is loose motions. Ok Maate !! So, no more use of the word “loose motions” in my life.

Loose motions has its own pros and cons. The biggest benefit is because you keep going to the loo every 15 minutes, you are suddenly showered with a lot of love and affection. People who otherwise has forgotten you ask you sympathetically “Kaisa hai beta? Hope everything is fine”. You suddenly feel cared for. Otherwise, if you are in a house with a newly born kid, the dad or the husband is reduced to a piece of rag cloth. Will be used when needed to wipe shit but otherwise will be put in its rightful place – the corner of the room.

When I didn’t have loose motions, I would go and buy butter milk in the nearby shop, but once down with loose motions, I am given home-made butter milk. What a princely feeling !! Family members gave “electral (ORS)” . I guess Microsoft word also is gripped with election fever. I typed electral here and it immediately converted it to Electoral. Microsoft bhi ban gaya chowkidar!!

I am a temporary house-husband having taken a break to be with my wife. Some of my roles and responsibilities include cleaning the house, washing the dishes, drying clothes etc. You are absolved of all these responsibilities when you have loose motions. Whattey amazing feeling I tell you.

The biggest advantage though, which I cherish every time I get loose motions, is the weight loss. My weight was 76 kgs in October and I had joined the gym to reduce my weight by a few kgs. 6 months of gym made me lose a glorious 0.7 kgs but 4 days of loose motions and I lost a miraculous 7 kgs. There’s no better mantra for weight loss than loose motions.

If you have an Indian toilet at home, then loose motions is a literal pain in the ass. That’s the biggest disadvantage. B2- 403, Shanthi Park Apartments is one of those heritage structures which has one Indian and one western toilet. God knows why this kolaveri. I am not allowed to use the western toilet temporarily as my wife feels I will dirty it and she will have to clean it daily. So, like Warner and Smith, I am banned from entering the Western loo for a year. So, without a sprinkler, I had to use the Indian toilet for 4 days. Luckily, my in-laws stay opposite so I had the luxury of using their Western loo and escape the misery.

The other disadvantage is you can’t get to go out. The only place you will be visiting devotedly is the loo. In the hot summer, being indoors is a boon but I would still prefer going outdoors instead of being hand-cuffed to the sprinkler.

The 4th day, I decided to take charge and head to the gym despite having loose motions. My wife  warned against this risk. I did the exercises for about 20 minutes and Newton’s laws of loose motions came into force. Every action has a super-fast reaction. For every 10 minutes of exercise, 20 minutes of loo in slow motion. The gym instructor thought I had gone home for an emergency. When I came back after 20 minutes, he asked “Sir everything ok at home?” I smiled and said “LMAO!”. He said “ Sir, isn’t LMAO laughing my ass off ?” I said “ Naa rey baaba.. LMAO matlab Loose Motions Aareela Oh”. That was it. As soon as I said those words, people around me started becoming Gyaani Baba. I had been warned not to go to the gym during the 11 am slot as it was an “Aunties only” slot.

Aunty no. 1 came to me and said “You have done abs crunches na… Don’t do it.. It causes loose motions . Just do your stretches and go. “ Aunty no .2  added –“ Just have lime juice. Things will be ok” Aunty -3” Have coconut water. That’s best for Loose Motions “. The gym instructor pitched in “Sir, do you know –“ Chaniga pappu “ in Telugu ?”. He googled and showed me “chana dal”. “Have this and it will be sorted”. Before I could react, from the extreme right wing corner, a- la Messi style Aunty no.4 ran and said “ Yeh sab chodo. Just have methi leaves dried”

The killer blow came from Aunty no.5 “They all are confusing you. Just go and have chow-chow bath”. I was cursing myself. Neither have I seen those aunties before and I am definitely not attending the 11 am slot again. What mistake did I do? Did I ask  for their advice? Indians have an annoying habit of giving unsolicited advice. Neither do they get paid for this advice, nor do you want it. Kyun..kyun..kyun. I immediately thanked everyone for their tips ( nahi toh Aunties have big egos… kahaan kali nazar laga diya aur ek aur hafta baith gaye sprinkler key saath)? I came home and narrated this incident to my mother-in-law and wife.

My mother-in-law ( Aunty no. 6) continued “ Best is to have butter milk paa “. I wanted to tell her “ Did I ask you Mahishmati? ” But before I could react, my doctor wife saved the day. She said “ Butter milk sey bhi best is curd as butter milk is not solid and curd is solid therefore it kills the Lacticus Bassiluss and Octopus in the stomach”.I was relieved that my dad was not around else I would have got advice no. 8 “Humare zamaane mey hum neem juice piya karte they”

Basis my wife’s advice, I had curds and took Sporolac and my 4 day ordeal finally stopped. I was just relaxing on the bed hoping that I would never remember this episode. I was browsing the TV and ironically, the following song played

“Tu safar mera, hai tu hi meri manzil

Tere bina guzaara, ae dil hai mushkil

……

Mujhe aazmaati hai teri kami

Meri har kami ko hai tu laajmi

—–

Tu ne diya hai jo.. woh dard hi sahi

Utna mera nahi.. jitna hua tera…

……..

Loose hai mera, banoo mey tere kaabil

Tere bina guzaara, ae dil hai mushkil”

Jai Hind

Baap Baap Hota Hai : Freaky Fridays weekly blog

Yesterday (27th Feb, 2019) was a Red Letter Day in my historic life. Our little bundle of joy , Miss Aaria Iyer , made a grand entry at 1:16 pm into this world. It was truly historic as it came a day after the Balakot air strikes. My friend Yosha asked me if we are keeping the child’s nickname as BALAKOT. While I loved his creativity, we already had a nickname – PEANUT. My creative wife had decided this name as soon as we figured out she got pregnant. Aaria was the size of a peanut in her first scan. Both me and wife are extremely impatient Indians in general and we like to keep things simple. We did not have the patience to think of another nickname and confuse the world. Our 4 year old niece Aiko had already started calling her Peanu. We were scared of her as she would ask a zillion questions and not stop till we gave a logically satisfying explanation as to why we changed Peanu’s name to Balakot. Both of us were too busy in the labor room since the past few days and if she asked any thing about Balakot, we were scared to say #Idon’tknow .Therefore ,we decided to continue with Peanu. This is a very strategically important decision for our family as it has serious implications on the geo-political climate in our family,relatives ,friends and other neighboring nation states. It would impact macro-economic parameters like inflation (of balloons as all future birthday parties may have a customized “peanut” written on it which increases cost) , cost of stationery purchased (a few pictures of a peanut would need to be pasted in diaries, books etc. when the kid asks what is peanut) , but we decided that it would stay this way come what may!!!

To provide some rock solid support, we had our amazing sister in law “Beat Yesterday Preethy” playing the “Dula” role throughout. A Dula is a mentor, counselor, physiotherapist, masseur, coach all rolled into one who will stand with the pregnant mom and ensure she has physical, mental and emotional support . The Western countries have a professional Dula. Due to tight finances, we decided that Beat Yesterday Preethy would be our makeshift Dula (like how Sehwag was made to open the batting in Tests despite never having played cricket before as an opener).

Like Sehwag, Beat Yesterday Preethy killed it in her new role as a Dula. I strongly feel she should stop doing what she does currently and make this her profession. She works as Director of a startup. We made her work from home.. Or rather work from cradle (cradle = Apollo Cradle). I had the privilege of listening to her superb con calls which she keeps having with her team. Yesterday, in a con call where in she had to give a monthly update to her bosses, she started off with an amazing one-liner.. “Starting with the update on our monthly newsletter..which has not been happening since last few months…

” I couldn’t stop laughing . Why give an update on something which doesn’t happen. These corporate updates I tell you…

Beat Yesterday Preethy has got her name because the sticker on her phone says “Beat Yesterday “. It’s an apt name for her as the look on her face always reads “Beat everybody.. Beat yesterday, beat today, beat Hari, beat Ashwin (husband), beat team, beat bosses “. But..Jo bhi Ho.. The delivery wouldn’t have been as smooth if not for my sister-in-law.

After looking at my sister-in-law’s dedicaton, I decided that I will do whatever it takes to be the best dad ever. One of my biggest weaknesses is I sleep like a log. When I sleep, I literally go deep into the deepest layers of the troposphere, stratosphere and ionosphere. And it’s difficult to wake me up easily. I promised my wife I will not allow this once Peanu is born.

So the first night, Peanu decided to sleep, I confidently told my wife – ” Baby, kuch bhi help chahiye toh bas ek baar mera naam Lena.. I will immediately wake up and help up” Saying this, I slept at 10 pm. In my first dream as a dad, I dreamt of me waking up at the first call, helping out and earning qaabil-e-taareef from my wife.

Suddenly , I woke up. I thought I had a bad dream as I could hear my wife shouting ” Hari !!! Hari !!!” When I woke up, I saw my wife staring at me furiously. There was a pillow lying next to me. The nurse was beside her. I was about to explain my dream to my wife but she cut me off “Hari, all this empty talk of waking up on calling your name won’t do any good if you don’t walk the talk. I called your name 10 times as I wanted the feeding pillow. I have thrown my pillow on your face but that also has had no effect. The nurse got scared that I was shrieking hysterically and she came and offered me the feeding pillow. Shame on you!!!”

I looked at the clock. It was 1.30 am. Sheepishly, a song started playing in my mind

” Dula ka role baap ke bas ki baat nahi,

Baap ka role side actor hi Sahi,

Bacche ki real lifeline maa hi hai,

Kyunki….

baap baap hota hai… baap baap hota hai ”

Jai Hind