Shopping for the baby arrival

Shopping for the baby arrival

More than a year ago, I wrote a post on what our shopping list for the upcoming baby looked like, and it didn’t look good. I kept reading and researching about baby stuff that new parents might need and the list just kept expanding. Somewhere in the process, quite confused with over-research, I asked my wife’s mid-wife for tips and she had a very simple answer:

“All that the baby needs is you.”

A year, later I have realized how true that really was. As the baby came into the world, we started to figure things out as and when we needed them. In any case, it never harmed anyone to be prepared but it is also important to know that there is a lot of marketing that pushes new parents towards buying stuff that they really would never need. For instance, do you really need one of those expensive baby monitors? Does a bottle sterilizer make any sense or should one use a pan instead? Before deciding to buy something, always ask yourself ‘why’ and ‘when’ you would be using it and then buy it only if you see a very clear need for it. But how to do you know for sure that you will need it as opposed to you being convinced by marketing? Just wait till the time the real need actually arises and then buy, like I did before buying our Baby Carrier.

So, from my experience as a recent new parent, here is a list of almost everything you will need for your baby in the first few months, along with the ‘why’ and ‘when’:

  1. Feeding Bottles
    For a new-born, remember that the priority should be to only breastfeed as far as possible. But you should still be prepared with at least a couple of bottles, in case you face difficulty with breastfeeding and need to give some formula or if you need to store breast milk for later use as well.
  2. Cot
    It depends on you personally if you plan to have your baby sleep separately in a cot or in the same bed as the parents. For us, even though our baby sleeps with us on most nights, it is good to have a secure place where we could leave her for some time and not worry about her rolling over and falling off the bed. Having her own cot also means that the baby can sleep undisturbed and one does not have to worry about being too careful getting on or off the bed.
  3. Changing table (with changing pad)
    Again, it is not a necessity and you can easily manage on the bed as well. But we did find it to be excellent use because it meant we did not have to bend in order to change our baby’s diaper, which was very good news for our backs and we were also able to store a lot of our baby stuff under our changing table, so it was easy to reach diapers, creams and other baby stuff while changing diapers. By the way, for our baby, we stopped changing her diapers on the changing table when she was around 9 months old because she became too big for it and kept wanting to get up and roll over so it now became impossible to use it any more, but we still use the space to store her stuff.
  4. Onesies
    This is a no-brainer. You will definitely need lots of these since they are easy to put on and don’t have to be taken off for diaper changes. I would recommend at least 6-8 along with a few pyjamas, caps, gloves and socks. In the early months, diaper leakages and vomiting undigested milk are more frequent and it is handy to have a few changes always at hand, considering that you might not be able to wash the baby clothes every day. Babies can also feel colder than we do and it is necessary to keep them warm and that is why you will need some gloves and caps. But remember not to pack the baby too warm that they start feeling hot.
  5. Diaper bag
    As well as keeping things handy and organized at home, diaper bags are a must if you want to take your baby out. And, of course you will. Buy one diaper bag and stick with it for s long as possible. Make sure the bag you buy has enough space to manage all the stuff you need and has a few compartments to organize stuff as well. Read about the contents of our diaper bag here.
  6. Moisturizing and Diaper Rash creams
    Baby skin can get dry and rough if the weather is cold or if not taken care of. If you think it is needed, remember to apply moisturizing creams (the ones for babies, not adults) on their body as well as face. Which cream you use depends on where you live and what is available, but for us our mid-wife recommended Decubal. Diaper changing creams are a must because they help cure diaper rashes, which are inevitable if the baby wears diapers for long. We used Bepanthen and Inotyol.
  7. Nasal spray
    We had bought salt water sprays, such as Näsfrida, which are specially developed for use with babies. These have been helpful on two occasions, when the baby developed congestion in her nose due to cold and when her mucus hardened in her nose and could not be dislodged easily. I would say carrying a Nasal Spray is a must. Check your local pharmacy or baby stores to know what is available.
  8. Mobiles
    We bought a mobile hanging from IKEA that we hung via a mobile arm that was attached to our baby’s cot. It turned out to be a very interesting distraction for our baby. Our mobile had bees hanging from it which always caught our baby’s attention. Whenever our baby cried, we only had to turn the mobile a little and she would get engrossed in the bees flying around. It was a great thing to have.
  9. Baby carrier
    A baby carrier is an expensive product, but it also has a good use case. We bought an Ergobaby 360, but we did not buy it in advance (read about our experience here). It was when my wife was having a hard time carrying our 2 month old baby all day long even at home and her back was hurting her, we decided that it was better for us to have a baby carrier. Now, we just strap our baby to our chest and can do other stuff at home, such as cleaning up, cooking, or even take her out for a stroll and she observes the world pass her by. We have made excellent use of our baby carrier, but I can advise waiting untill you really feel the need for it.
  10. Formula
    To breastfeed or to use formula milk is the big debate. But even if you intend to only breastfeed, remember that at certain times, formula milk comes in very handy. We have had very stressful initial few days and weeks where we weren’t sure if our baby was getting sufficient milk or if she was still hungry. We used to give her top feed with formula just to be sure she was not hungry. Also, when the mom is not feeling well, it is good to have some spare formula milk. We use Baby Semp here in Sweden, so check what is available where you live.
  11. Diapers
    It is next to impossible to avoid using diapers. Either one can dedicate their lives to washing and changing nappies as well as underlying bed sheets, etc. every time the baby pees or poops, or one can take the easy route of using diapers. We have been using diapers since day one, and even on days when we decided to use a nappy instead, we had a tough time keeping up. I would advise that you keep at least 15-20 diapers (which means a pack each) of size 0 and size 1 handy before the birth just to be sure which size will suit your baby in the beginning, and then stock up for at least a week’s worth of supply at a time. Small babies can use up as much as 6-8 diapers a day. You can also read here about which diapers we have utilized.
  12. Stroller
    If you re going to take your bay out of home in the first few years (of course you will), you will most definitely need a stroller. We got a Bugaboo Buffalo for our baby but not everyone needs such an expensive stroller. Think a little bit about how often you are going to use the stroller and in what conditions. Do you think the stroller you need should be able to accommodate a lot of stuff, such as when you are out shopping? Or is it more important for you that the stroller is light and folds compactly and fits in your car? Do you want to be able to fit a car seat to the stroller at times? In that case, do you get adapters to fix your car seat to that stroller? Do you need bigger wheels such as if it snows where you live or if the terrain might be a little rough, or will smaller wheels suit you since you are only going to use it when you are in easy terrains, such as in a mall? Think about these things and then decide.
  13. Car Seat
    Do you have a car? If yes, then you obviously need a car seat for your baby. If you don’t have a car, you probably don’t. But think about how you are going to bring your baby home from the hospital, and how you are going to take her to the doctor for the follow-ups and in emergency cases? Do you easily get taxis which come with infant car seats? Are you going to be travelling with your baby in a manner that might require a car seat? We bought a car seat despite not having a car, and over the last one year I have realized that we used it only in the initial few days and only when we had to take our baby somewhere in a taxi and going by public transport at odd hours with the stroller was not an option. But after she was 4 months old, we have never had to use the car seat, but the reason is that we have excellent and stroller friendly public transport in Stockholm and one can get to anywhere in the city with the stroller. But is your situation different?
  14. Bottle Sterilizer
    We almost fell into the trap of buying an electric bottle sterilizer which would have cost us a good amount of money. And though there are some good sterilizers available, I was lucky to have spoken to a friend who told me that they just wash the bottles and then sterilize them in a pan of boiling water in their kitchen. And my friend’s wife is a nurse, so that gave me the confidence that we did not need anything special. Now that I reflect on this decision, I realize that if I had bought the sterilizer, that would have meant one more thing that needed to be taken care of, such as cleaning if it became dirty, maintenance in case it malfunctioned, whereas a pan needs to maintenance at all.
  15. Baby Gym
    We bought a fancy one from Fischer Price which had a mirror, music and lights as soe of the features and we started to put our baby in it from when she was 6 weeks old. She took some time to get used to it, but we did notice that she tried to observe the hangings quite a lot and the music also occupied her attention. After a few weeks, our baby had started to enjoy and interact with the gym a lot and we could leave her in it for 15-20 minutes at a time and be free to do other stuff. So, I would say you will most certainly need a baby gym, but which one completely depends on you. The point is to give the baby things to observe and touch so she learns.
I hope this list is good enough and covers all basics and essentials. Have I missed discussing anything important? Could anything be added to this list? Please comment below to let me know or if you want more explanation about something. If you like my post, do press the like button and let me know and Follow my blog to receive notifications of new posts.
Nitara Turns One Today

Nitara Turns One Today

Exactly a year has passed since our dear daughter Nitara came into our lives. Don’t know how fast the year has gone by. From seeing her blink her eyes trying to adjust to the new world, to her speed crawling and walking around the home and climbing up the two stories of stairs to get to the terrace many times a day, our baby girl has come a long way. She has grown up so fast and so much, the last one year seems like it all happened in a dream. And yet, it has all been real.

We have seen times of amazement and times of nerve wrecking stress, but what we haven’t missed even a single day with our daughter is the immense amount of love and happiness that she has brought to our lives.

Here’s to Nitara kicking off a new year in her life and to many many more phases of development and growing up.

Happy Birthday Nitara!

This Moment Last Year

This Moment Last Year

At exactly this moment last year we were on our way to the hospital for the delivery.  In the taxi were seated Nupur with her mom and my mom at the back seat and me at the front. Nupur was scared, the moms focussed towards making her feel easy, and I was telling myself that I need to think straight during whatever came next. In some more time, we were going to move into Nupur’s delivery room at Södersjukhuset, Stockholm.

The countdown had begun to what was going to be an excruciatingly long day filled with nervousness, fear and happiness, and the back of the mind realization that lives were going to change forever. And a new life was about to be born. Someone truly wonderful was about to arrive.

And She Walks

Just as I boarded the bus to the airport in order to catch the flight to India to be with my daughter for her first birthday, I checked my phone to find a video from my wife from earlier in the day. It was a video of my little girl chasing her granddad and walking twenty tiny steps without support. A big milestone has been achieved.

Before they left me behind in Stockholm and went to India a month ago, my wife estimated that our daughter was about to walk soon, but I told her that she would start walking when I joined them in a month’s time. We were also watching keenly to see if she would start walking by her first birthday (13th January) or not. I have to say I’ve been dreading missing her first steps and they happened just before I was about to travel. But to find out that she has started walking today, it doesn’t feel like I am missing anything since I will see her tomorrow anyway. My mom just told me that even I had starting walking right on my first birthday. So, it feels more like a return gift from her to me in advance for her birthday in 3 days. What more could I ask her for before I start my trip?

Time to buy some Nike soon?

Tips for Flying with your Baby

Tips for Flying with your Baby

Are you planning air travel with your newborn for the first time and are worried that it might be a very difficult experience? Don’t worry. Travelling with babies doesn’t have to be as stressful as you think.

In the current times, travelling has become quite a tedious and stressful affair what with increased security checks and long wait times at most airports, and travelling with a baby can be one of the most unnerving things parents have to do, especially their first time with a newborn.

Our daughter has not yet turned one but I am happy to say that we have already flown long distance six times with her. All our trips have been long distance (Sweden to/from India), both with and without awkward transit connections. We have learnt a lot from our experience and here are some tips that will help make your flight with your baby much easier (in no particular order of importance):

  1. Keep your luggage (both check-in and hand luggage) light.
    By keeping your luggage light, you will be able to focus on the most important part of your belongings – your baby. Having a lot of luggage will only stress you out about managing it. Would you want to be arguing with the airline about crossing the weight limit? Aim to travel without any hand-luggage, or as little of it as possible, and carry only the baby’s diaper bag, as it would also free you up to take care of your baby during your journey.
  2. Choose an airline that is known to be child-friendly.
    The first flight we took with our baby was Qatar airways and their flight crew were so helpful and so nice to our baby that it took away half our stress the moment we boarded. They came and interacted with our baby a few times during our flight, asked us if we needed anything, happily helped us when we asked for hot water for the baby, and repeatedly told us how lovely our baby was. It makes you feel happy as a passenger when you see the crew appreciate your situation and be helpful. But there are certainly a few airlines that don’t care about the passengers’ comfort. I would strictly advise against flying with them.
  3. Don’t choose connecting flights with very short transit times.
    Choose a transit that allows you to catch the connecting flight without having to rush from the moment your first flight lands. Your baby is a little human being with lots of needs. It might be suffering from a soiled diaper or be extremely hungry at the time of transit and it would be awful to ignore the baby’s needs just because the transit time does not allow one to. On our last such trip, we had a connecting time of just under 4 hours. Though this sounds a bit high, we actually did our transit quite conveniently, ensured our baby was comfortable in her new diaper and was not hungry, and then sat at a really nice restaurant at Doha airport and had nice food and coffee and basically felt really good about the trip.
  4. Book a bassinet seat and get it confirmed early for the baby.
    Especially if it is a long haul flight, but even if it is only a few hours. Having a bassinet allows the parents to free themselves to relax when the baby is asleep and it also makes the baby feel cozy and in a bed. Remember to book early because there are only a handful of bassinets available on a flight and you need to secure your’s fast. Call the airline and request a bassinet seat for your baby as soon as you have booked your flight. On our first trip, our baby fell asleep right after takeoff and slept through the first leg of the journey. We put her into her bassinet and had an extremely comfortable flight.
  5. Arrive at the airport with plenty of time at hand. Don’t rush!
    The worst thing you can do in your entire journey is to rush it. You may not realize it but time-stressed parents make the babies stressed as well. So, reach the airport early and get done with check-in and security-checks early so that you avoid the longer queues as it gets closer to the flight timing. Keep sufficient time at the airport to take care of the baby and of yourself as well. You cannot know how many times the baby will need a diaper change or a feed on a given day.
  6. Carry sufficient number of diapers in hand baggage and then some extras for unforeseen delays.
    I read somewhere that one should follow the rule of one diaper for each hour of the total travelling time, including travel to/from airport, waiting at airport, connection times and any possible delays. We followed this rule on our first trip, and though we never needed to change diapers every hour, we did have some emergencies at times so we thought this was a good enough rule.
  7. A feeding cover/blanket for the mom might be a good idea to protect from preying eyes.
    Many moms feel insecure feeding their baby in public places and it would be a great idea to carry a feeding cover or a baby blanket that can be used for privacy when breastfeeding the baby. We carried a feeding poncho on our first trip, but on subsequent trips, we realized that a baby blanket does the job equally well.
  8. Create measured portions of milk-formula and other baby food for quick use in an emergency.
    Imagine that your baby has started howling out of hunger and you are in a situation where breast feeding her, or measuring formula powder from its box is highly inconvenient. For such emergencies, I would highly advise carrying at least a couple of  portions of measured formula powder which you can quickly mix with hot water to make milk for the baby. We bought some small containers from Tommee Tippee which hold measured formula powder and can be held inside a bottle to save space as well. In emergencies, we just dumped the formula into water and the baby’s milk was ready.
  9. Keep a thermos for hot water for making baby milk/food.
    Despite security check rules, we have always carried a small thermos with hot water and not once have we been asked to throw the water away. One time, my wife had to drink a bit of it to prove that it was nothing dangerous, but that was it. It is better to risk throwing away water at security check if asked to do so, than not carry any at all and be at the mercy of ‘friendly’ restaurants at the airport to provide you with hot water for your baby’s milk/food when you need it.
  10. Prepare the Diaper Bag one day in advance.
    Remember, your baby is the most important member of your travelling party and her convenience is of utmost importance. Prepare the diaper bag one or two days in advance and do not risk forgetting important stuff in the stress of the last day.
  11. Have an easy day before your flight.
    Don’t leave any packing for the last few hours before you leave for the airport. Don’t keep any last minute tasks that might burden you. In short, plan your time so that you don’t get tired before your journey even starts. Eat well, but do not overeat or stay hungry. Be comfortable at home, relax and set that easy tone for your trip. Treat your baby with love so that it is also ready for the journey.
  12. Familiarize yourself with children facilities at the airports of departure, arrival and transit.
    Read the websites of the airports and see what facilities they have for kids. Most airports provide a stroller for babies and it can be a life saver. Find out other facilities, like play areas for kids, changing stations, etc. in advance and use them. Keep track of what is available where so that you are not stressed and confused at the airport. Also, keep an eye out for strollers when you land at an airport. One time, we missed that the strollers were kept at the arrival gate as soon as we crossed the aerobridge. We kept walking and found no strollers after that and had to wait in line for the immigration check for over an hour with the baby in our arms and nowhere to put her down. It was extremely tiring and we learnt the lesson the hard way.
  13. Dressing up the baby.
    Don’t bother dressing up your baby as if she was going for a party. Focus on making her comfortable. Babies are most comfortable when they are in their sleep clothes. We always make our baby wear her one-piece sleep-suit and carry a blanket and socks to keep her warm since flights can get a bit too cold for comfort as time progresses.
  14. Change of clothes for the baby.
    Needless to say, but easy to forget. Even on short flights, have a couple of change can be handy in cases of diaper leaks or other ’emergencies’.
  15. One Change of clothes for self
    Interestingly, the easiest thing to forget. We have had multiple instances of having our own clothes spoilt by our little one who had had a little too much milk.
  16. Toys for calming a baby in distress
    It could be her favorite toys, or a rattle or a nursery rhyme on your phone. Whatever helps distract your baby when it is crying.
  17. Be extra nice to people you come in contact with.
    The reason here is that most passengers who do not have kids might find it difficult to empathize with your situation and some might feel easily irritated if your baby is crying a lot. Of course, you don’t need to apologize for your crying baby, but when you start a trip and say polite hellos to the people around you and be slightly nicer to them, you have a higher chance of gaining empathy from those around you instead of angry looks if your baby causes a lot of trouble.
  18. Your passports and travel documents are necessary.
  19. Travel business class, even in economy.
    This is a bit difficult to understand, but please bear with me. This is more of a psychological thing. What comes to your mind when you think business class? I think comfort, privileges and ease. So, on the days of our travel, I make sure I treat my wife to good food while waiting at the airport. I make use of whatever airport facilities can help me with an easier trip. A nice coffee for the Mrs.? Your partner’s favourite dumplings? How about taking time out to play with the baby as if today is no different? Anything that makes the trip easy and enjoyable. Take things easy. Tell yourself that you are not cattle in a mass of travelers and remember to relax. Even in the rare case that your airline does not give priority boarding to travelers with children, don’t pick up your stuff and queue up way before time only to wait for eternity for the boarding to start. Relax! And get in the queue when it is almost finished.

And remember, flying with your baby does not have to be a stressful experience. Treat it the same way as you would going out for a nice dinner, which means make it an experience you would want to remember. Look forward to enjoying the flying part as much as the destination.

Do you think I have missed anything? Do comment below and let me know what you think can make travelling with babies easier.

My Daughter Speaks My Name

My Daughter Speaks My Name

Today, something truly amazing happened. My 11 m.o. daughter, Nitara, had been mumbling a lot since many weeks, in a language that only she understood. The only two words she could speak clearly were ‘Papa’ and ‘Baby’. But today, she said a new word.

Only last night was I feeling sad that my little girl had left me all alone and went with her mom to my parents’ in India. I missed her so much and thought she would forget me over then next one month before I joined her.

But little did I know a surprise was in store for me. My mom called me at around 2am India time and asked me:

‘How often has Nitara spoken your name?’

‘Never.’ I answered, hoping that my mom wasn’t pulling a joke on me.

Mom turned to Nitara and and called out my name, ‘Shitij.’

My daughter said something but I couldn’t understand what.

Mom called again,’Shitij?’

And it was as if a hundred years passed before I heard..

‘T I T I T !!’

I couldn’t believe my ears and I couldn’t contain my happiness. So I laughed out loud. 


‘T I T I D!’


‘T I .. TI..D!’

It just went on and on. I was so happy. My sweet little baby girl called out my name. We immediately switched to a video call and repeated it a few more times. And what made it even more special was that it was my mom, Nitara’s grandmother, who called and gave me the news that my little girl had started to speak my name.

Now I miss my sweet baby girl even more. But I am still happy.

Baby, Mommy Leave For A Long Holiday

Baby, Mommy Leave For A Long Holiday

The past few weeks have been particularly tough for us. I’ve been busy like hell at work and have had no time even to respond to texts from friends and family while in office. When I am home though, I spend all my time taking care of our daughter while my wife finally gets to take a break and focus on the home. Nitara is almost eleven months old now but all of a sudden, she has become very difficult to put to sleep at nights. As a result of all this, we have been super stressed since a while. I have not been sleeping well and could really use a break.

But on Sunday evening, it was finally time for my wife and our daughter to travel to India for over a month without me. Over the past couple of days, I was growing sad at the thought of being away from my babygirl for the next month. On our way to the airport I started to feel gloomier and it was tough for me to stop kissing her round cheeks and put her down on her stroller before she could leave for security check.

On my way back home, I tried to distract myself by listening to music on my phone and constantly reminded myself I was free to relax after such a long time. I decided to have a nice pizza and a beer that night and watch something interesting on TV. By the time I got home, my mood was quite upbeat at last and there was a spring in my step as I reached home and opened the door. Just a few steps in and all my sadness came rushing back as I found, still lying open in the middle of our now silent apartment, my daughter’s play book and the page I had last seen her looking at only a few hours back when I had picked her up and made her wear her pink jacket.

I sat down next to the open book and touched it and felt as if my sweetheart would suddenly come crawling behind me and make some noise. I felt sad again and realized that I would rather spend years of sleeplessness, being driven crazy by her antics and incessant irritating crying than to wish for a single day of alone time without her sweet presence next to me. I knew I missed my baby so much. But I was happy she was soon going to be with her grandparents who would give her just as much love as I do.

Our Little Agent of Chaos

Our Little Agent of Chaos

At around 8 months, our daughter underwent a new kind of development, and it happened when we least expected it to. Over the past few days, she had started to crawl around the home, touching everything, pulling on wires, trying to grab our Apple TV but then dropping it to the floor. While we half enjoyed this development, we thought that we would soon need to arrange “stuff” around our home so that it is out of her reach and she does not accidentally drop anything. But we didn’t anticipate that dropping stuff was only the first step in her real motives.

Back home from work one evening as I entered our apartment, I was stunned to find our living room in a mess with all the stuff stored under Nitara’s changing table scattered all over the place. Her toys box was lying on one side while the toys were spread all over the room.

“What the hell happened here?” I wondered aloud.

It turns out that just a short while back, my wife had left Nitara on her playmat just like every other day, and gone into the kitchen just for a couple of minutes, and upon returning, she found the whole room to be a mess with our little (little?) Nitara standing holding one leg of the changing table for support while all of its contents were lying strewn around. She did not feel she had the energy to clean up right away, so she left the room as it was.

Before I began cleaning up the stuff, I took a while to take in the scene.

“How did the washcloth pack get there? How could she even lift it? Maybe it just fell out of her tiny hands onto the floor and bounced that far away.”

“Why was her brush under the couch and how did her pack of plasters get halfway across the living room?”

Of course, I wasn’t angry. I was delighted that my baby girl had progressed further on her journey of discovering the world she had come into eight months back. She was doing what her curiosity what driving her to do.

I looked at my girl and tried to imagine what she must feel like. She still had no concept of language. She doesn’t say anything and probably doesn’t even know what she is feeling. She just looks innocently back at me and passes her cutest smiles. I smile back at her and picked her up in my arms and give her the kisses on her cheeks that I always do. It occurs to me that making a mess of things was something kids would do all their lives, while I, as a dad, have to take care of the situations every time. It was an important lesson and a reminder that I am a parent – a Dad.

On Fathers and Daughters

On Fathers and Daughters

One night, I was sitting on my bed, my 3 month old baby girl playing in my lap throwing her hands and legs around in an increasingly more fluid and less robotic fashion. The room was dark but there was enough light for us to see each other’s faces. I could see that she was looking right at me while I kept bringing my face down and placing the tip of my nose on hers, like I love doing all the time. She brought her hands to my face and started exploring my cheeks, pulling my hair, rubbing my beard and grabbing my nose, like she had recently learnt to do. Somewhere during this little episode, the realization hit me with an intensity like never before that I was now a father of a girl who I loved so much that it was impossible to describe. Just to look at her playing calmly in my lap gave me a sense of happiness. It felt like I was in a deep state of meditation, in a cave far away from the rest of humanity, and it opened my mind to thoughts I never had before. I was discovering how much I loved my daughter. Right here in that moment, perhaps she was learning to love me too. I was her window to the world, but did she know that right now? I realized that there is something special about a father-daughter relationship that only fathers and daughters can understand.

It is incredibly difficult to know the heart of a father, I realized. Mostly because society talks more about mother’s love, fatherhood gets a distant second mention. Mind you, I don’t think any less about mothers. After all, they go through nine months of pregnancy, then a painful and potentially life threatening delivery, and then years of the child being stuck to them for physical as well as emotional nourishment. It is a huge task and my respect for mothers has only increased with our own experience. But what about a father? What can explain the way he falls in love with a baby who is still in the mother’s womb, months away from birth? He, who accompanies the mother-to-be to the midwife clinics every time and remembers to ask the important questions which she herself would be too nervous to remember. He, who stands by her for dozens of hours while she is in labour, encouraging her to go on. He, who sees the baby’s head and her body come out into the world. And he who then stays awake for the rest of his life so that he can protect them both from the very same world. And finally he, who decades later stays calm and takes charge, while the mother loses herself crying and howling, when that daughter leaves them for her new life with a new partner.

My chain of thoughts is suddenly broken as my 3 month old darling daughter scratches hard with her nails right next to my left eye. In the dark, I know she can see my face and the tears that had just fallen from my eyes. Is it just her innocence or is she telling me not to worry right now? After all, she has barely learnt to move her limbs and there is still a long way to go. I lift her up, hold her tight to my chest and kiss her on her cheeks, and then on her forehead while she continues the exploration of my face and neck with her tiny hands. We sit there like that for a long time as I learn what it is like being a dad to a girl. I used to think that fathers are furthest in the chain of emotions, but holding my little girl in my arms, I question how that could ever be true. I know now how my dad feels about my younger sisters, even though he never shows it, and how much they really must love him back. I know how much my wife loves his father and how much my mom her own. That I am now myself part of this sacred relationship makes me feel special, enlightened.

So, I look down back at my darling daughter and tell her what every father tells his daughter, ‘Nitara! My dear Noni! Papa loves you.’

Chasing The Phone

Chasing The Phone

A few times a day, we do a video call with our family back in India so that they can see Nitara and what she is up to. During one such video call recently, while she was sitting and playing on her play-mat, I got an idea. Nitara had recently started to crawl a bit better so in order to show my mom that, I placed the phone in a standing position on the floor, but a few feet away from her. The phone, with my mom on its screen, immediately caught Nitara’s attention. She quickly leaned towards the phone, got onto her tummy and started crawling. As soon as she was in touching distance of the phone, her one hand made an arc in the air, landed on it and lifted it up. She sat up, brought the phone close to her face and started inspecting the screen with my mom on it. Naturally, the inspection proceeded with one corner of the phone now in her mouth, so I snatched it from her, moved to another end of the living room and place the phone down on the floor again with its screen facing Nitara. She was on the move quickly again and headed for the phone, but the distance being a bit far, she stopped in the middle, rested for a few moments and then resumed crawling towards the phone. As soon as she reached it, a familiar look of curiosity came on her face and just as she was about the grab the phone again, I snatched it out of her reach and went and placed back it in the previous corner of the room. This whole cat and mouse went on for some more time after which it was clear that Nitara had exhausted all her patience and energy for the day and gave up and started crying. We had to end the show right there. As it was also dinner time by then, a bottle of milk was produced before her which contributed greatly to calming her down and eventually preparing her for sleep.

Needless to say, Nitara chasing my phone has become a regular feature of our video calls back home.