|Bhaichung takes a walk with Ugen (left) and Keisha in front of their Vedic Village home
Falling down and getting hurt is a part of childhood… They (kids) keep falling and thats how they keep learning, smiles Bhaichung Bhutia, not rushing to help son Ugen Kalzang as he trips during the t2 shoot. Bhaichung and wife Madhuri believe in striking a balance — of being loving, caring and protective parents while also letting their kids be kids.
The star footballer and proud father of twins chatted with t2 on fatherhood and football, in between taking a dip in his Vedic Village terrace pool with son Ugen and daughter Keisha Dolkar, while Max the Pug watched with a wag.
Thank you for finally agreeing to do this for t2. Who was more reluctant, you or Madhuri, about the twins being photographed and why?
We are not too happy about exposing the kids (to the limelight). It is not fair on them. They need to grow up like normal kids.
How would you describe fatherhood?
There are very difficult moments. [Really?! laughs Madhuri]. More than me, it is difficult for my wife (Bhaichung promptly adds). I have hardly been with them. They are one year and three months old and I think I have been with them for a total of four months at the most. But whenever I am here also, it is not easy to look after them.... But they are just wonderful kids! They are fun to be with.
What does spending quality time with the kids mean to you?
My son loves to swim in the evening. Yes, already! Both my kids actually enjoy being in the water. Whenever we try to take them out of the bathtub after a bath, they really cry.... Weve got a big lawn at the back. We go and play football there. We also go out for walks. They havent really started playing a sport. (Smiles.) [Dont be too ambitious! says Madhuri.]
Looking back, what was your first reaction when you got to know that you were going to be a daddy?
Oh! That was one of the best moments. But when these two were born were the best, best, best, best moments (cuddles Ugen and Keisha). It cannot be replaced by anything else. And we are expecting another one in three months time! (Laughs out loud.) We are very happy… looking forward to the third one. Though it was unplanned, we are very happy.
What was your first reaction when you saw Ugen and Keisha?
I was there inside with the doctor (at the Bhagirathi Neotia Woman & Child Care Centre). I was a bit nervous at the beginning. And the first time the doctors put them in my hands, I was a little shaky as well… nervous. But very, very happy!
Who named them and how were the names chosen?
My wife chose them. We thought of calling our son Ugen because my name was also Ugen. I think Ugen is also the name of Karmapa or god. No, Maddy? [Calls out to Madhuri; I am hearing new Buddhism from you! smiles Madhuri]. Kalzang means fortunate. What is Keisha, Maddy (smiles)? [It means favourite, says Madhuri.] And Dolkar is again the name of a goddess.
Has fatherhood changed you in any way as a person?
Yes, it has. [I wish! says Madhuri.] Wherever I travel, I just want to come back. I tend to miss them a lot more now ever since they have grown up a little and walk around and play with me.
What new things have you had to learn after being a dad?
I do quite a lot when I am here. I bathe them when Madhuri is busy. It is difficult with two kids for Madhuri to handle alone. If she is busy cooking or washing, I change their nappies too. I have cleaned their potty too! It is not so difficult.
How would you describe Ugen?
He is friendly and outgoing. He is very naughty and difficult to control. We really feel scared when we come to the terrace as he is one of those kids who will just jump into the pool without feeling scared. He breaks everything in the house. He is so restless.
She is more reserved, more calm. She stays more with Madhuri.
Do you want your kids to take up football?
I hope they grow up to be good people. I would love it if they took up football. It is not that they have to play, but if they do, Ill be very happy.
Moving on to your other child, the United Sikkim Football Club. How is that shaping up?
It has been a very tiring one month. Now, I dont just play, but also look after the administration. It is completely on me to sign the coaches and players. Weve got a beautiful office in Sikkim. Weve also applied for land from the government of Sikkim. I have to do all the running around. Going and convincing to sign for the club. The travelling I have done is quite a lot, but I have enjoyed it. I knew it would be difficult because when you are in Division II, getting players is very difficult. But a lot of my friends have agreed. A lot of big names have signed up with us. Renedy Singh, my best friend, has been with me right from Day One. I am very satisfied and very happy. We are one of the best clubs in terms of infrastructure with the 30 acres from the government that is under process. We are not looking at just the team, but also trying to build a strong infrastructure. We want to build our own training grounds and also have a medical set-up.
What is your dream for your club?
I think in five years time, I want to see it as one of the most organised clubs … in terms of youth development and infrastructure. And maybe qualify for the I- League in the next two to three years and win it in the next six-seven years. It is difficult, but not impossible.
Football: Fun. You need a lot of passion and energy to play it.
Indian football: On the rise.
Lionel Messi: The best at the moment. He is on a par with Diego Maradona.
Diego Maradona: My idol; he was the best player.
All-time favourite footballer: (Diego) Maradona.
Present favourites: (Andrés) Iniesta, Xavi, (Lionel) Messi… quite a few.
Best goal: When I scored for the Indian national team in the Asian Cup. The second goal was scored by me, in Delhi, we won 4-1 in the finals.
Best match: Winning the AFC Challenge Cup in Delhi (India vs Tajikistan).
Biggest achievement as a footballer: I think qualifying for the Asian Cup. It is the biggest tournament for us after the World Cup.
Best friend:Renedy Singh. He is fun, unpredictable and a nice chap. Hes got no tension … bindaas. He lives for the day. When we were playing together, he was the most loved guy in the team.
Best compliment received as a footballer: Gods gift to Indian football was a very nice comment by I.M. Vijayan, which I dont think I deserve. He was a better player.
Casual dress code: Tee and jeans.
Formal dress code: Suit.
Indulgence food: Momo.
Favourite restaurant in Calcutta: Blue Poppy in Sikkim House. They give you the best momos.
Living in Vedic Village is: It was really my wifes choice as she wants to stay away from the city life. Of course, it is difficult to travel, but it is nice and calm. There are hardly any cars here.
Favourite actor: Al Pacino. And my favourite Al Pacino film is Scarface.
Favourite actress: Chitrangda Singh. I havent seen any of her films, but she is attractive!
Last film watched:Phas Gaya Re Obama. Brilliant movie.