Baby of the year!

By Hindustan Times

Mumbai, Nov. 20 -- Ever since her parents tied the knot in April 2007, she's been one of the most anticipated babies in the world. She finally arrived on November 16, at around 9.50 am, after proving wrong all astrological predictions and journalistic speculations.

Over the last four years, every time her mommy Aishwarya put on or lost a few kilos, there was immediately a 'pregnant pause'. This year, in June, when grandpa, Amitabh Bachchan finally confirmed the rumour, Ash's 'baby bump' came under close scrutiny as specialists and star-gazers debated on whether it was going to be one B or two.

Abhishek's assertion that his wife wasn't carrying twins fell on deaf ears. It was more romantic to believe that she'd complete the 'humdo-hamare-do' family picture in one shot. Getting the date right was tricky business but once it was public knowledge that the baby would arrive in November, popular opinion swung to the first day of the month. 1.1.11 came and went, and only Aishwarya celebrated a quiet birthday.

Next up: 11. 11. 11. This day that came once in a century was considered auspicious by 'pandits' (priests) and worthy of a C-section by a city tabloid. The normally affable Abhishek dismissed the story as a great piece of fictional writing, entertaining and wonderfully ironic given that two years ago the same paper had written that Aishwarya would never be able to conceive.

"It's preposterous to suggest that any husband or parent would induce the birth of a child on a particular day because it is considered auspicious," he argued heatedly, adding that no 'pandits' had been consulted. "I don't believe in numerology or astrology. If you do, I respect that. But I don't and you should respect that." Was anyone listening? No, because on November 11, around 11 minutes past 11 pm, my Blackberry was buzzing with news that Aishwarya had delivered a baby boy.

When I called manager, I was told she was home in her own bed. Around 11.30 pm, her father-in-law tweeted that the rumour was "incorrect and false". He went on to say that he was watching Saawariya and eulogised over Ranbir Kapoor rather than the ninth Bachchan.

Two days later, he wrote that the family was gathering in Jalsa for the 'arrival'. No one believed the baby would come on Sunday, an unlucky 13th. Bets were being laid for a Children's Day child. Aishwarya did land up at the Seven Hills Hospital on November 14 but she didn't deliver on that day or the next. It was only around 9 am that she was reportedly wheeled in for a 'normal' delivery without painkillers and epidural. And it wasn't two Bs or even a boy as had been agreed. It's a girl!!!!! Abhishek tweeted at around 9.55 am. Just five days old with her mother's fair skin and light eyes, Beti B, as her Pa has dubbed her on twitter, has silenced the know-alls. She's proved that in a country where a boy takes the family line forward, a daughter is as much-wanted by Bollywood's first family. She's shown through her 38year-old Miss World mother that a woman is never too old or too posh to push. So will the media now let the Bachchans be. Unlikely! The speculations continue uninterrupted.

A couple of hours after her birth someone insisted she'd been named Viveka because the conjunction of alphabets is lucky. A couple of days a morphed photograph of a heavily-made-up Aishwarya on a hospital bed cradling a newborn in her arms started making the rounds. On my part, I'd rather wonder if her already mesmerised grandpa will be able to introduce her to the Billy Bunter classics he read as a child. Laugh with her over fat man Hardy and thin man Laurel's antics. Share a kulfi with her and may be a gola, candyfloss and bhutta too. And one monsoon show her how to do the Paa rain dance!

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