Tuesday, May 30th

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The Da Da Chronicles

Lamaze. No, Not a Place in France

After about a year of what the Brits would call a 'jolly good time', my wife broke the news to me. What she said I don't clearly recall. All I remember is hearing words like 'stick..pee..blue..positive'. When I still hadn't grasped it she asked me to change my tax withholding to account for two dependents. All I could say when I first heard that was 'Holy Crap!'. That feeling eventually changed of course. But for the next few weeks I was walking in a daze like someone who had just woken up from a coma after being hit by a bus. I distinctly remember walking over to my colleague's cube at work and telling her 'mar gaya re'. Even to this day, she takes great glee in reminding me of what I said. A word of advice to the men who may be reading this. My reaction when my wife broke the news is not the best of ways to go. What you do instead is grit your teeth, try your best to smile, steady your trembling hands, give your spouse a great big hug and say 'Oh Wow! This is wonderful'. You can do what I actually did later in solitude.
 
Now, for the next few days, I would put on my happy-face when I was around my wife. But deep down I was terrified. This was uncharted territory for me. I seriously did not think I had the mental maturity or fortitude to be a father. Tarzan probably had better parenting with the apes when compared to child rearing skills that I possessed. All this uncertainty wasn't helping. I even signed up for an expedition to search for a missing tribe deep down in the Amazon jungle. But when they heard that I was a father-to-be, they rejected me. They said that fatherhood was much harder and would toughen me up for the next expedition. Everyone in the expedition had been through it and had scars to show. All this expedition fantasy was in my head of course. Back on Earth, I told myself, 'dude, you are pushing thirty. If you don't think you can be father now, you might as well give up for ever. Step up be a Man!'. And so, with a fierce determination, for the next few months, I looked forward to sitting in a waiting room surrounded by women every few weeks, practicing diaper changes on a baby doll, interminalbe shopping trips for baby clothes and baby this and baby that, staring in disbelief at my wife's growing belly, hormonal changes that led to bodily functions that I don't wish to be reminded of and of course listening to congratulations from  my male friends who had expressions of  'ha-ha-ha!' on their faces.
      
And then, there was this whole rigmarole called Lamaze classes. For weeks on end I trudged along with my dear wife to know the basics of how babies work. I was dismayed to learn that hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches were not involved. Instead, I was asked to be 'supportive'. There were other men in the class accompanying their spouses and I could see that they were just as enthusiastic about being there as I was. Together we learned things that we had no business knowing about. About what happens to the mothers body when she is expecting a child. The men would leave the class with glazed eyes. There were many a near-collisions while driving back home when my wife would try to further explain something that she thought I probably didn't get. This was her way of getting some cheap thrills at my expense. The breathing exercises that my wife was supposed to use during the birthing process came in handy for me when such topics were discussed. Even to this day, I tend to use them in high stress situations. You should see my manager at work scratch his pate in puzzlement when I go 'hoo-hoo-hoo....hee-hee-hee' when he asks me about my project status.
     
At the end of eight enlightened months, we were in the home stretch. A few more weeks and we would be clueless parents. As is wont in Indian tradition, the mother of the mother-to-be was flying to Memphis to help us get off to a decent start with the baby. My collection of spirits at home suddenly doubled. Things were going to get interesting. But we were completely unprepared for what happened next....

*Oh, To be a Dad...*ouch!*:*

the da da chroniclesThe Da-Da chronicles is my attempt to narrate tales from the excitingly unpredictable 'condition' that we know as fatherhood, based on my now foggy memory. While the topic itself should seize the interest of many, the fact that I will pepper my reflections with an Indian touch should clinch the deal for those pondering whether or not to continue reading. For, a little 'Desi' flavor can produce something really meaningful and profound or we could have a three ring circus. I will do my best to maintain a fine balance. What follows should be a series of eyebrow-raising anecdotes that might make some men aver 'I am not going within 100 feet of any child'. But secretly, I am hoping that these mostly amusing tales will encourage you to spawn some offspring of your own! But let me tell you something that I tell all my friends very earnestly. "Listen, if you have any problems with your kids, need any advice or helpful hints, need support or encouragement.....DON'T COME TO ME!!". Just because I have two little ones who have rather non-violently(dirty diapers flung randomly at you don't count) commandeered my home does not make me the Dr. Phil of parenting. Not that I think Dr. Phil can help you either!

Now the reason I have titled my series as the Da-Da chronicles is because 'Da-Da' is one word when uttered in a child's voice that gets my complete attention no matter what I may have been doing. I could be performing an excruciatingly difficult task like brain surgery, trying to understand my wife is saying or simply taking a nap. One utterance of 'Da-Da' and I am completely alert in my 'watchout!' pose (one hand covering my groin, the other protecting my stooped head) sneaking glances through my half-closed eyes. This patented move was honed over several years of painful collisions, smacks with various toys, hot liquids being poured and "Hey look, I know Karate"' kind of incidents. (If I find enough people interested, I can teach a class on this life-saving technique). But the more honest, from-the-heart reason is because 'Da-Da' is one of the sweetest sounds in the world to me. My son (who will sometimes be referred to here as 'why-God-why? ') began calling me Da-Da much before he could say any other word (my wife vainly tries to claim that this isn't true). And the way he says it can lift me up from any distressing state of mind that I myself in. But my daughter, who will at times be referred to as the 'pocket-Tornado', is a different story. Even though she is the younger of the two, at all of 17 months old, she says it with a ferocity that makes me feel like I have done something seriously wrong. She says the two 'Da's' distinctly with an ever so small pause in between and stressing each one of them really hard. It often sounds like two grenades being dropped close to me. No wonder then, that it always grabs my attention.

But this story began almost six years ago. Back then, I was this newly wedded young man, who had not yet been smacked with any pans/bats/diapers, looking forward to some blissful years with his beloved bride. We had just returned from India after surviving the pandemonium that we know as an Indian marriage. It was our time to relax, whisper sweet nothings and spend 'quality' time together. Little was I aware of the machinations that were going on in her head. It seems that by Indian customs, once you get married, you should waste no time in producing an offspring. The elders will not rest until you have a screaming, squirming, 'clean-my-dirty-diaper' baby in your hand. Until then, you will be incessantly bombarded with "when are you going to have a baby?" also known as "when can I see you in extreme discomfort?" kind of questions. If that does not work, they will try extreme, reserved for utmost emergencies kind of measures. Taking a shot at your manliness that is. They dish out helpful suggestions like 'drink warm milk with a pinch of haldi before going to bed', 'eat 3 to 4 almonds a day' or 'don't stand too close to the microwave'. Trust me, the last thing you want to picture in your head while getting romantic with your spouse is your grandmother nodding her head and flashing a thumbs-up sign. But alas, no amount of granny grins could stop the inevitable. But what did happen?? Well, the upside-down smile on the editor's face at the length of this post suggests that I continue this narrative in my next post...where I will talk about how life as I knew it, ceased to exist!

The Da Da Chronicles

Da-Da Chronicles Bryan D'Souza is trying to get back to his first love of writing. This he says with great trepidation since his actual first love, his wife is a woman of fierce determination who spares no pans in showing him that she means business. No surprise then that together they are responsible for two rambunctious kids whose tales these pages will periodically highlight. Having lived in Memphis for over eight years, Bryan, a Sr. Ops Research Advisor at FedEx likes to shares his anecdotes to those willing to listen. He considers his style of writing to be influenced by authors like Dave Barry and Bill Bryson, although, most recently he has been relegated to reading books with pretty pictures featuring talking animals, ballerinas and the infamous Captain Underpants. Besides reading and writing, his interests include...come on, with a kid in each hand and a frowning wife at his back, you think he would have time for anything else? But most recently he did serve as the editor of the India Association of Memphis. He can be yelled-at at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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