Thursday, December 25, 2008

Siddharth's first New Year.

It is an exciting time in my life. This is the first year that my wife and I can say that we have our own little family because of the addition of our boy. Before we were only a couple.

Siddharth will be graduating from crawling to walking and running in no time. We will have to grow eyes at the back of our head. The boy is getting to be more of a livewire by the day. Making sure he stays in one piece and not be a hazard to himself is a full-time job. We will need another pair of eyes to keep an eye on him now that my mother in-law is unable to spend much time with us.

We'll manage no matter what. My wife has superhuman endurance when it comes to her boy. Lack of sleep and tiredness will not get in her way of enjoying her time with him. I am trying my best to put in quality time at home and live up to my responsibilities at work as well. Expenses are mounting and bills need to be paid.

I have kept up the personal diary that I started at the beginning of the year. Every significant thing that happened has been recorded and there were a lot of them this year. It would be impossible for me to remember them all if I hadn't written them down.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Not letting history repeat itself

Many men draw on their experiences with their fathers when they become fathers of their own. They start to mimic and echo what their fathers did with them when they were small. Some even start sounding exactly like their fathers.

I don't think I am anything like my father. My old man was and is the detached type who would only talk to me if he needed to. When you grow up with someone like that you will definitely feel distant from them.

I personally need to keep the people I love close to me because otherwise I would be lost. That is why I don't stray far from my wife and son. I need something to live for other than myself. Otherwise it will be an empty and meaningless existence for me.

Nowadays, it takes more than just providing to be a father. You can't say you raise your child if you don't even spend any significant amount of time with him? Paying the bills and school fees is one thing but being there to guide and make sure your child isn't unhappy or lost is important. There are a lot of variables involved.

My brother in-law asked me recently if I can remember my life before I became a father and whether I miss the freedom I had. The answer to that is that I have more of a life now than ever. I never did much with the freedom I had before. In fact, I was downright miserable. At least these days I have something to be happy about and live for. That makes a huge difference.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stranger Anxiety!

My boy Siddharth is getting more attached to his mother and I as the days go by. At times I can't even leave the room without him making a fuss. He has even started to cry when I leave for work. His mom has to distract him and take him elsewhere when I leave or he will scream bloody murder. It's called separation anxiety from what I have read.

When I come home from work I make it up to him by carrying him to the playground near our house. The boy enjoys our walks. That is the only time he really keeps quiet. He is overwhelmed by all the visual stimulus around him and is particularly fascinated by the other kids playing. Even dogs barking and cars going by make him stare with amusement. Try carrying a 10kg kid for a 45 minute walk around the park everyday. You can cancel your gym membership.

Another fascinating thing is that he has also started having stranger anxiety. Until recently anyone could carry him without him crying but now even his grandma can make him cry and protest if he hasn't seen her for a while. It is interesting because I have read that it is another major milestone for babies. They are more discerning as to who they take to at around 8 months. Siddharth will be 8 months next week, so he is right on schedule.

Today I took him to my auntie's place and he wasn't interested in anyone carrying him apart from me and his mother. It funny to see how dissapointed my relatives were at him tearing up and not taking to them. I tell them it is normal for babies his age to be that way but they probably just think he's being difficult. They really should know better. My cousin has a baby of his own. She is 4 months old and will be going through the same thing when she reaches 8 months. They will find out for themselves.

Some people think babies are play-things that they can manipulate however they want. What they don't realize is that YOU are their play-thing. If they don't want to play with you, they will make it known loud and clear. And if they want you to humour them by playing, they will also make it known, perhaps even louder and clearer. You are at their disposal, not the other way around. The things you learn being a parent are astounding!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lately..

Lately I have been trying to write as much as possible and finish the book that I have been working on for more than a year. My new experience as a father comes in handy when developing a few of the characters in my story. I realize no matter how big my ideas are, simplicity is the best way to go. Writing to me is as a form of self-therapy but eventually I do want people to read and enjoy what I am writing. Whether or not it sees the light of day, what matters most is that I am enjoying the process.

As I have mentioned in one of my earlier posts, my working title is "The Middle Road to Nowhere". I have had the story for years but writing it takes time because I am trying to build characters and a plot that has to hold the interest of the reader. Having a story is one thing but writing it in a way that would be entertaining for someone to read is why it takes so long for me. Besides, I don't have that much time to devote to writing these days. Work and family responsibilities come first. I only get to write when my boy goes to sleep at night. A couple of hours a night of writing is all I get. The good thing is that unlike recording music, I don't have to leave home and go to the studio to do it. I really should set up a home studio soon but that will have to wait for now.

My priority now is being here for my boy, especially when I am home from work. Being a father is the biggest responsibility I have ever had. It is also the best thing that has happened to me. I can't leave everything to my wife. That wouldn't be fair to her or me or our boy. He is only going to be reaching his milestones once. I want to be there to share it with him. I am still keeping a diary of what goes on with him everday. Recording what happens now will be invaluable to him in the future. He will learn more about himself and me. I can give it to him as a present when he grows up. My way of seeing it is that my son is me 30 or more years ago. He is my chance of correcting things that didn't go right the first time around. It will be fun going through life with him and making sure he enjoys every moment of it. That would make my life more enjoyable too.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Words worth of songs

I must have been nuts to think that I could put my songs down in the few days that I had last week. On the upside however, I did come out of the studio with one song that is pretty much done. As usual for me, it is a very personal song that really puts it out there how I feel at the moment. It's a snapshot of where I am now in my life.

The song is called "Siddharth" and is inspired by Wordsworth's "My Heart Leaps When I Behold" and my cheeky little boy. I remember the poem well because I did study literature for a couple of years in school and it is one of the shortest poems I had to memorize. I got inspired by it because of one specific line in it, "The child is the father of the man". If you haven't read it here it is:


My Heart Leaps When I Behold
(William Wordsworth)

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.


The simple message of this poem is that children are superior to men because of their purity and sense of wonder that brings them closer to nature. A child can be made happy over the simplest things. For this reason, we should bind ourselves to the child we were so we can be closer to our true nature: "And I could wish my days to be / Bound each to each by natural piety." For me every man is a child first, long before he ever becomes a father. If he can retain the child in him perhaps he may become a better father.

The actual lyrics of my new song are not quite as poetic as Wordsworth's poem. I appreciate poetry but am not very good at writing it. Though I was inspired by the poem I only borrowed one line from it. I did however, incorporate the poem's staccato feel to the music.

The first time my wife heard it she was taken aback because she was expecting a soft sentimental song about our son Siddharth and what came out was an uncompromising bluesy alternative acoustic rocker type song that had attitude and a guitar solo. However, after listening to it twice in the car she was nodding her head and digging it too. You need to pay attention to the lyrics for it to mean something. I hope my son gets it when he is old enough to understand the words. I purposely made sure it was meaningful and not cheesy. The last thing I want is for him to squirm out of embarrassment after listening to it when he's older. Then again a father writing a song for his son can be quite squirm inducing no matter what. So who knows..

Monday, September 22, 2008

Recording

I will be recording a few songs next week. It's about time. Music is my life and I will not forsake it no matter what else I've got going on. It has kept me sane when I have thought of giving up and inspired me to do things I wouldn't have bothered about otherwise.

I have about a dozen songs and ideas. Some are instrumentals while others follow the standard pop-rock song format. It is just mainly me this time. I am stripping it down. The acoustic guitar will have to carry the songs by itself. No more band for me. I have changed the tuning of my guitar to incorporate playing rhythm and lead at the same time. It is liberating. I am no guitar great like Robert Johnson but I think I can play my own brand or music well enough.

I will put the songs up for streaming once I'm done. Will have to set up a new myspace page because some asshole hacked into my Tragicomedy myspace account last year and I haven't been able to log in since. That's ok. I like the idea of starting over. This time I am going to change the password as often as I can.

I have a song called "Theatre of Life" that is one of the catchiest things I have written. There are a couple more that are catchy in a quirky way because I am going a little off-kilter on these. Have to keep things interesting for myself too instead of just doing the obvious.

Hope it goes well. I only have a short time to record. Family life and work are still the priority at the moment.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Maintenance

I have had to lose a few kilos in the last few weeks because in addition to having trouble buttoning my pants, I was also feeling a little out of sorts and lethargic. When I checked the scale last month I was shocked to to find out I was about 90kgs. That is almost 200lbs. If I was a boxer I could fight in the heavyweight division.

I don't know why I was shocked because my clothes were all getting tighter by the day. The last straw was when I tried to wear my old wedding suit to a friend's reception and the pants wouldn't fit. My wife and mother-in-law took the opportunity to call me fat and I can't blame them.

Last year I weighed myself regularly to make sure I didn't go over 85kg. That is a decent manageable weight that doesn't require major sacrifice on my part. However a person of my height,5"10, should really be only 78kgs or less. I was around that weight when i got married four years ago. Every year since then my weight has been creeping up.

This year I completely neglected the weighing scale until recently. Maybe it's the baby factor. I see a lot of my friends also balloon up when they have a baby. I guess I am no different. It makes sense for the wife to put on weight. But what excuse do fathers have for packing on the pounds. I guess contentment and happiness could be used as an excuse for letting yourself go but that seems like a cop-out.

Anyway, I have lost about 4kgs in the last few weeks. I am now 86kgs. All I did was cut out the rice and eat less during the day. Since dinner is home cooked there is no way I could avoid that. But rice was kept to a minimum.

I don't have time to exercise so all I do is some push-ups and sit-ups every now and then. It helps. My pants fit slightly better now. My energy level is coming back. It would be good to start swimming and playing football again but I would rather spend my free time playing with my little boy than out kicking a ball or at the gym.

Maintenance is the key. If I let myself go I could easily be over 200lbs and have to buy new pants every so often. Once you start buying bigger pants there is no end to how much bigger you will grow. I am just glad I can still fit into my old pants. My goal is to try to be able to wear the same size pants when I'm 50. My wife might call me vain but I am sure she would prefer me being lean and healthy looking rather than a fat old uncle.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tabula Rasa

I first read about John Locke, the 17th Century English philosopher more than a decade ago while taking some philosophy classes as a student at Buffalo State College. Back in the late 17th and early 18th Century Locke had an enormous influence on the development of epistemology, political philosophy and social contract theory. I've forgotten most of his stuff already but his theory of mind still stays with me.

According to Locke, the mind is a "blank slate" or "tabula rasa". People are born without innate ideas. He suggested that “the little and almost insensible impressions on our tender infancies have very important and lasting consequences." He argued that the “associations of ideas” that one makes when young are more important than those made later because they are the foundation of the self. They are what first mark the tabula rasa.

Locke warns against, for example, letting “a foolish maid” convince a child that “goblins and sprites” are associated with the night because the child will forever associate night with frightful things. "Associationism," as this theory would come to be called, exerted a very powerful influence over eighteenth-century thought, particularly educational theory. Educational writers even till today warn parents not to allow their children to develop negative associations because it will cause unnecessary obstacles later in life.

As a parent I can only hope I don't give my child any negative associations while he is in his formative years. There is nothing like giving your son a fearless approach to life so that he feels that there is nothing he can't do if he really wants to. That would be one less obstacle he has to deal with.

My parents were great but if I can avoid their tendency, like a lot of parents from the last generation, to only point out what is wrong rather than to inspire in a positive way, then I will be happy. There are enough obstacles in life without having a child deal with negative associations that will linger on long after you have forgotten about it.

I believe genes play a part. Some people have horrible tempers and others are calm no matter what they are faced with. I attribute some of that to genes. My temper can be horrible at times but I have siblings who are calmer than I am even though we grew up in the same household and with the same parents. I may have inherited my mum's temper while my brother probably got my father's easygoing nature. However I do agree with Locke that the negative or positive associations we have from our childhood play a large part in how we turn out as adults. Most of the obstacles we have in life are in our head. If we can get around that, then half the battle is already won.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Looking forward.

Seeing how cute our boy is in his numerous cheerful moments throughout the day, my wife told me she is looking forward to having another one in the near future. I was taken aback because just a few nights ago she was struggling with severe breast engorgement, looking frustrated and almost on the verge of tears while I was trying to placate our boy during one of his crying spells brought on by reflux.

Putting aside all the trials and tribulations of taking care of a baby, I like the idea of having another child. We both love kids. Our boy brings us great joy. I would love to have a little girl. My wife wouldn't mind another boy. Our son could use a sibling to play with and bully.

We will probably spend less on the next baby to begin with because we can re-use the stuff we have bought for our boy. However, in the long run it will be a killer. I make enough for us to live comfortably but the cost of raising and educating a child is escalating by the day. I'm not going to think too much about it. If people really thought about the costs of raising children today they probably wouldn't have any. The population of the world would certainly get smaller.

Anyway, right now our priority is to get our boy Siddharth to hit the necessary milestones and outgrow his reflux. Some sort of heat rash has also started to show up on his face. It is probably prickly heat, due to how humid the weather is these past couple of weeks. He rubs his face incessantly at times due to the itch. This morning he woke up with a big scratch on his forehead. We have to keep his fingernails short before he does more damage to himself.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Swimming.

After watching Michael Phelps at the Olympics I seriously think that individual sports are so much more rewarding than team sports. Although you do rely on your team for events like the relay, most of it is due to individual effort.

When I was about 10 years old I swam in a state competition for my school. All of the kids on our swimming team were from the local club RKC. Our school didn't really have a swimming team but when they found out we could swim well for our age, they put us into the competition. Our mothers got a good trainer to train us almost everyday leading up to the competition.

Although I was a decent swimmer in every event, my favourite events, breaststroke and freestyle, were always given to someone stronger than me. I was left with the choice of backstroke, butterfly and individual medley. No one wanted to do these because they were difficult, so I was given the job. My trainer said that my "form" in these events was not bad and I could work on my speed. They needed someone to fill the spot in these events, so I had no choice. At least I got to compete in individual events rather than just the relay.

I won two bronze and one silver medal. The silver medal is something I am particularly proud of. It was for the 100m individual medley, the hardest one. I had to do the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle and compete against some state swimmers in the other teams. No one expected me to win a medal let alone get silver. It was close. I was leading going into the last lap but the freestyle state champion from the other team overtook me at the finish. By the end of it I almost collapsed from exhaustion because I pushed myself a little too hard. I was just a skinny little kid back then.

After the competition our trainer migrated to Australia and that was the end of my competitive swimming days. I got into football and never went back to swimming seriously ever again.

Looking back I am amazed that I did all that swimming at the age of 10. It has been more than 20 years since then. If I could pick a sport I want my boy to get into, it would certainly be swimming. Whether he'll be the next Michael Phelps is another matter.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

18 weeks

My son Siddharth is 18 weeks now and is a very cheerful and good natured boy when not having problems with reflux and being over tired. The best part of the day for him is when he wakes up in the morning. He smiles from ear to ear and chuckles non-stop the moment he sees our face. All he wants is for us to pick him up and take him around the house. If he gets a good night sleep he will usually have a good day. However, if he is still tired or dealing with reflux, then be prepared to put away any thoughts of having a peaceful day. Everyday is new adventure with our boy.

My wife is in love with her little one and easily forgets the hardships she goes through in terms of lack of sleep, breast engorgement and the like. All he has to do is flash his million dollar smile and all is forgottten. That is the power of a charming little baby who likes to smile when he is in a good mood. His bad moods are easily forgiven because we know it is short lived.

I took my guitar out again a few days ago and played a few tunes for him and instinctively he moved to the rhythm like it was second nature to him. Only after about thirty seconds in did he stop and try to figure out where the sound was coming from by looking at my hands strumming and fretting the guitar. After a while he started reaching for the guitar strings himself. When he couldn't reach it with his hands, he tried it with his legs. However, like all babies, his attention didn't last long. He was looking elsewhere for something to pick up and put in his mouth in no time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back to square one.

Just when I thought things had taken a turn for the better and my boy had overcome his colicky behaviour, it comes back in full force. He is making noise from the time he wakes up until he sleeps, arching his back, kicking and basically not being able to sit still. Day time naps are nonexistent so that makes it worse.

A couple of months ago when he was at the peak of his gassiness, we had to carry him around all day to calm him. It got better after a while but now we are back to square one. The difference is that now, at almost 8kgs, he is 3kgs heavier than he was back then. My poor wife and her mother are having backaches to deal with. I can only help out for an hour or two in the evening when I am home from work, before he goes to sleep and also on weekends.

We have taken him to the doctor numerous times. At almost 4 months now he should be past his colicky stage. The reason for his discomfort at the moment, according to the doctor, is his acid reflux. We have been giving him medication to help control his reflux but so far it doesn't seem to work. He is crying more than ever.

From what I have read, babies will grow out of their reflux eventually. When they are able to sit up comfortably, their stomach will be able to settle a little better and the reflux will go away. That sounds great but for us that is still months away. Having to deal with a fussy baby for one day is hard enough, another few months will wear us out. I am just glad my wife and her mother are able to deal with it. At least they can take turns carrying him. If it was my wife alone attending to the baby, she would collapse in a few days. I would have no choice but to quit work and go back to help her.

My wife is envious of people with easy babies who sleep easily and only stir to be fed or changed. Most babies we come across seem to be like that. From what I'm told only five percent of babies have reflux and are as difficult as ours.

From my own experience most people can't relate to what we're going through. All I can say is that every child is different. If I hear anyone make light of our situation and compare their peaceful little baby to ours, I am going make sure they get more than just a piece of my mind. Likely a piece of my foot.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Happiness

These days nothing makes me happier in life than seeing my boy smile. He smiles easily and at everyone when he is in a good mood. That makes whatever crappy day I'm having significantly better. I am prone to melancholy and depressive moods sometimes but these days I snap out of it the instant I come home and see him. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I owe him a good and happy childhood just for that.

Like every parent I want to give my boy nothing but the best. I am trying to save as much as I can so that his education in the future will not be compromised. The important thing is that I am here for him when he needs me and will support him in whatever he wants to do in life. That will be worth more than packing him off to an expensive boarding school and hoping he comes out a genius.

My father spent a fortune on my siblings and I growing up. There are four of us and we were all sent to international schools to study and then on to universities abroad. A good education doesn't come cheap as we all know. If you have four kids like my father you're talking about millions. I wonder how he managed it.

Now that I am a father myself, I'm trying to figure out how I will be able to afford to give my son what my father gave me. I certainly wouldn't be able to send him to an international school although it would be nice if he gets an education that gives him a global view of the world that a local school here won't provide.

My wife says it doesn't matter if we can't afford it. An alternative would be to send him to a good Chinese school. I am all for that since he is half Chinese and the level of discipline and achievement in Chinese schools tend to be better than the national Malay medium ones. It would also be an asset for him to be able to read and speak in Mandarin.

All this is rather premature. He is now only 15 weeks old. Our job at the moment is to make sure he hits all the developmental milestones and is a happy boy. Growing up happy is important. How you condition a child during his childhood will affect him for the rest of his life. I wouldn't want him to be a cynical and downbeat person like me. It is like having an albatross around your neck.

At the end of the day education starts at home. Some parents may send their kids to the best schools but if their father never took the time to read them a book or inspire them to learn by making it fun, then it is all for nought. The kid will just sleepwalk through school and have a piece of paper with exam grades to show for it when he graduates. The joy of learning will have passed him by. I'll have to make sure that doesn't happen. Ironically, that won't cost me a thing at all. Just a bit of time and effort.

I have heard people say children owe their parents for bringing them into this world and taking care of them. Now that I have become a parent I totally disagree with that. On the contrary, I owe my son. He doesn't owe me a thing because I wanted to have him. He didn't have a choice in the matter. So it is my job to teach him how to read and write well, play the guitar, swim, kick a ball and whatever else I can offer him. Providing a roof over his head, food on the table and a decent education shouldn't even be mentioned. That is a given.

Friday, July 18, 2008

New Songs!!!

Lately I have been getting emails from people who are still interested in getting a copy of my last album "Songs That Won't Sell". That album was released 3 years ago but due to a new video and single "Time Well Spent" being played on HITZ.TV, there has been renewed interest and people wanting to get a copy of the cd. The bad news is that it is no longer available in the stores. However I can send a copy to anyone who is interested if they send me an email with their details.

I have also written a bunch of new songs that I hope to record in the near future. Being busy with family life and having work responsibilities doesn't make it easy for me to spend time on my music. However, as long as I am alive and still writing songs, I will try my best to put it out. It doesn't matter if a few hundred or a few thousand get to hear it. If my boy can listen to it one day and realize that his father is not such a square, then it would be worthwhile.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Socrates and his wife.

"By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher," said Socrates about 2400 years ago. Socrates, it seems became a philospher out of necessity after being kicked out by his wife for being useless and not contributing to the household. Interestingly he never mentioned the role of a good husband in any of his philosophical discourses.

So am I happy or a philosopher?

I have to admit I am happy most of the time these days so there is little need for me to ponder too deeply about anything. But then again I am not the one having to attend to a crying baby all day. It is quite often that I come home from a not so fulfilling day at work to find that my wife had an even tougher day. The look of exasperation on her face is my cue to shut up and try to help out. Sometimes I forget and have to pay dearly for it.

I am lucky. My wife has made sacrifices to stay home with our baby. She is willing to take a couple of years off from work to be with him. We're lucky we can afford it. Paying a stranger to look after our child, especially this early in his life doesn't seem like a good idea. Eventually we will have to but not now. Only when he is able to speak and report back to us on daily events will we be comfortable leaving him at a nursery or daycare. Right now we don't even have a maid to help out. My frugal wife says we can't afford one. She'd rather keep the money and do the housework herself while she is at home.

My boy is 10 weeks old now and is still a little colicky, hence the extra work it takes for my wife to placate him. It will pass by 12 to 16 weeks from what I have read. It has something to do with his nervous system finally getting adjusted to his surroundings and his stomach getting mature enough to handle the wind in his gut. So I guess we have a few more weeks of crying to look forward too.

Now going back to Socrates- if he had gotten a job and helped his wife out at home, he wouldn't have been kicked out of the house and be forced to roam the city, making everyone question authority. The world would have lost out on his most important contribution, which is his dialectic method of inquiry, known as the Socratic Method. Read up on it and you will realise that the scientific method of today as well as political philosophy, ethics or moral philosophy all stem from his dialectical questioning. Eventually, all he got for his troubles was finally being found guilty of corrupting the minds of the youth and sentenced to death by drinking a mixture containing poison hemlock. What a way to go!

I say it's better to make the wife happy so that you in turn can be happy too. No need for the poison hemlock. It doesn't take much. All you need to make her happy sometimes is to lend an ear and let her unload her grievances or maybe help her carry the baby around for a while and change a few diapers...because if the wife is unhappy there is no way in hell you will be happy. The sooner you learn this the better your life will be.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Praying.

Religion doesn't figure strongly in my life. I stopped praying on a daily basis when I was about 12 because I realized that no amount of praying was going to stop my father from smoking his lungs out at the time. Back in the mid-80's when I was old enough to think for myself, public service announcement ads about lung cancer and the adverse effects of smoking were everywhere. Those were the days when Dunhill, Peter Stuyvesant and other lifestyle brands were still advertising on tv and sponsoring sporting events like the World Cup football and Badminton matches.

Anyway, I was always a sensitive child growing up and seeing pictures of deteriorating and cancerous lungs on billboards and posters everywhere scared the shit out of me. It always triggered the picture of my father puffing away on his cigarrete and looking deep in thought. My father had been smoking since his teens so it wasn't hard to realize that after all those years of puffing away, his lungs were probably well on their way to looking like those deteriorated lungs on the billboards I had been seeing around town.

Since praying didn't help I tried pleading with my father to stop. That was a difficult task because he usually just brushed me aside and told me not to bother him. His argument was that smoking was all he had to calm him down from his work related stress. Those days no one went outside to smoke. They just smoked right there in front of their wives, kids and toddlers. Second hand smoke didn't seem to bother anyone back then.

I was never close to my father and was sent to boarding school in my early teens so I stopped giving a shit about something I had no control over. It must have been annoying to him having a little kid preaching anyway.

My father did quit smoking about 15 years after I stopping pleading with him. By then I was in my late twenties and he was already in his fifties. Better late than never. He did it of his own accord. My mom couldn't persuade him to quit either all those years ago. The only thing that eventually stopped him was the incessant coughing that was keeping him up nights. Luckily it was nothing worse than that. In hindsight if smoking was his worse vice then I should feel lucky. It could have been a lot worse. No raging alcoholics in my family fortunately.

Nowadays I am not bothered by strangers or friends smoking around me. It's their choice. Personally I am used to second-hand smoke and am immune to it. However, when I see a person blatantly smoking in front of my little child and subjecting him to second hand smoke, that is when I draw the line. That is when I am willing to kick that person's ass down the street. However, I need to set a good example for my boy so I am forced to take a deep breath - full of smoke mind you - and walk away while quietly wishing that person gets cancer and drops dead for their lack of consideration. These days more often than not it is a woman doing the smoking, ironic as it may seem. Or maybe not.

My son is 9 weeks old now and it's fun trying to understand all the grunts and noises he makes. They all mean something. You have to try to comprehend what he is trying to tell you early on. Only then will he be happy. Good news is that he is smiling more these day and even laughs when you try to amuse him. That is the result of us paying attention to him to see what he wants. I'd like to think I can tell when he's bored, hungry, uncomfortable or simply needs a nappy change just by the sound he makes. Of course I could be wrong most of the time. My boy and I are still getting to know each other so it will take some time for us to get on the same wavelength. I need to learn his language before he can learn mine.

I have started to pray again but I have yet to learn how to "pray" properly. I never ask for anything because that is not how it works. Being thankful for what I have and saying a few words is all I do. I am just grateful that I have yet to screw things up too badly. God knows it is very easy to screw things up if you don't watch it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Siddharth.

My baby boy Siddharth Dejun Chandra arrived safely on April 8 at 13:03. Mother and child are now comfortably back home. Right now he looks more like his mother but it is too soon to tell how he will turn out because he is changing so rapidly. His presence is felt at all times due to his constant demands for suckling. The boy thinks his mother's boobs are an extension of his body.

I won't go on about how having a baby has changed me and how it is the greatest thing in the world because every parent has felt the same. I am still the same person. Only difference is I get less sleep and have little time to think about anything other than my boy.

Fathers are not biologically equipped to really do much apart from diaper change and perhaps carrying the baby around to pacify him every now and then. I say that because when the boy starts to wail uncontrollably and with no end in sight the only thing you can do is pass him to his mother. At that point the only thing that can stop the whole neighbourhood from waking up is to let him suckle on his mom's boobs.

Mothers really have their work cut out for them. It is really tough trying to placate a baby when all he wants is to use you as a pacifier. Feeding is one thing but my boy is using his mother as a human pacifier almost 24 hours a day. We tried using the dummy pacifier on him and he rejected it outright. You should have seen the look of disgust on his face. The boy ain't stupid. He knows what you're up to.

Sometimes I wonder why I always gave my mother such a hard time. If she had to go through anything like what my wife is going through she should have been anointed a saint a long time ago. I hope my son will grow up to appreciate his mother. It's about time I start appreciating my mother too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Anticipation.

My father told me a while back that there is nothing like anticipating the birth of your child. I am both anxious and excited about it. As the due date draws closer I keep thinking about all that my wife will be going through during delivery. She seems cool and unworried about it though. Since the talk about the epidural during parentcraft class last month she seems to be looking forward to the delivery. I should remind her that even with an epidural taking away the pain down there, pushing out a 7-8lb baby is still going to be like running a marathon. You need to be strong and have the stamina. It could take 12 hours. Whatever it is, the baby will be coming out one way or another.

Having a baby has brought my wife and I a lot closer together. It's amazing how having something other than ourselves to worry about is all you need to make things better. When that something is what both of you created, the bond becomes stronger.

I know I will love my child passionately but we all know that it takes more than love to raise a child. I want to change diapers and bathe him and make sure everything is taken care of. Of course I can't breastfeed him but I am grateful that my wife can and is willing to.

These days I see a lot of good fathers and mothers around. Many friends of mine have beaten me to parenthood. Looking at them with their kids makes me have more respect for them. These are people who are almost unrecognizable from how they were before having kids. It is inspiring to see them be so loving and responsible. Of course I still see the odd mother whacking her kid in supermarket but that is rare these days.

I don't think I will ever lay a hand on my child. I've been there and felt that end of the stick growing up. It wasn't fun. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. All I want is for my child to grow up happy.

These next few weeks are going to be nerve-wracking for me. I want to be ready when the time comes. The doctor says the baby is already 6.5lbs with another four weeks to go. If he gets too big my wife might need to be induced early. Apparently babies grow an extra 1-1.5lbs in the last few weeks. So that would make my baby about 8lbs if he goes full term. That is a healthy weight for a baby but the mother needs to be able to handle it.

My wife is a small woman so the weight on her pelvic bone might be unbearable by then. As it is even now she is having sleepless nights due to back pain, numbness in her legs and strain on her pelvis.

I have butterflies in my stomach thinking about all this. The bags are already packed and ready to make the trip to the hospital.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Road.

After reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy I have realized that the images that words provoke are far more important than the words themselves. Lack of puctuation or conventional structure are also unimportant because we can paint our own picture in our mind without small technical things getting in the way. Who cares about commas and the lack of quotation marks anyway? It is how vivid the images light up in our mind that is important.

The story about a man going on the road with his son in a post-apocalyptic and deadly uncertain world resonates more with me now than ever because I am going to have my own son soon and I have realized that even the hardest and most cynical of men will love their children passionately and do anything to protect them from harsh realities of life. Teaching your son how to survive in the big bad world and yet preserve his innocence is not easy. You shouldn't let cynicism creep in too early.

Another great book I read recently is Kinski Uncut. It is the autobiography of the actor Klaus Kinski. I have only seen a few of his movies like Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Nosferatu but after reading the book I have become a fan of the crazy guy. The book has long been banned and is out of print because apparently it is a little too explicit for some and gives details about a few people who tried to stop it's publication. I heard about the book a long time ago and finally tracked it down on Ebay. It's the best purchase I have made recently.

Kinski was hated by many and was referred to as a "mad genius". He was an extremely hard worker and strove for perfection, but was frequently at odds with collaborators and directors like the great Werner Herzog. Off-screen, Kinski often appeared as a wild-eyed, sex-crazed maniac. The book describes his exploits in detail in the present tense as if everything is unfolding in the moment.

The last part of the book describes how devoted he is to his son. He is already middle-aged by then and sees his son as his last hope for salvation when he has given up on making stupid movies for stupid people. All he wants to do is spend every waking hour with his boy. His periods of separation from the boy and his mother drive him nuts and he is obssessive about being with them. While reading it you are aware that he comes across as an unbalanced psycho but nevertheless he is a psycho who has a lot of love to give and all he wants is some of that love back. His character flaws and struggle within himself makes him strangely sympathetic.

Another book that I have just started is Viktor Frankl's 1946 book Man's Search for Meaning which chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding a reason to live. I read a little about his theory of logotherapy when I was studying philosophy in College. This book looks like it's another keeper.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Resolutions

My new year resolutions are usually broken by the second week of the year. However this year I've started a personal diary and am determined to keep it up for as long as I can. I have more to write about these days so I have no excuse.

I am addressing the diary to my baby boy even though he is still three months away from being born. It would be fun twenty years down the line to read what I had to say about impending fatherhood and how I coped with his arrival as well as all the other stuff.

Another resolution I made is to play lead guitar a little better. I am a pretty decent rhythm player but I've only been using the pentatonic scale since I picked up the guitar twenty years ago. There is a lot you can do with the pentatonic but it is time I progressed to the lydian and mixolydian scales. Learning how to sweep pick and use two handed tapping techniques would also be cool. Incorporating these things into my playing would make my songwriting more interesting.

I also need to to make it to the gym at least a few times a week. My sedentary lifestyle is catching up with me and my waistline is expanding by the day. The last thing I need is to buy new pants no matter how uncomfortable I am with how tight the ones I am wearing are these days. It would be better to just lose a few inches off the waist and feel better.

Someone once told me that if you do something for more than 40 days in a row, it will become second nature to you and you won't even have to think about the effort you put into it. It would be just like waking up and brushing your teeth.

I'm going to try it and see if it works. Will get back to you later on that..