Resolutions

I didn’t make any resolutions this new year, because I felt I don’t need to. There is nothing in my life that I want to change. There is nothing I want more than what I already have. I like who I am and what I have and where I reached.

I saw this quote on FB and it occurred to me that this is pretty much my credo.

The journey to this point of knowing that I am absolutely fabulous(love that show) the way I am was not easy. But I got here and it feels wonderful.

 

 

Little women

Few days ago, when I came back from work, Yaya was vacuuming the living room, my son was in the pergola hanging the laundry and my youngest was in the kitchen cooking dinner. They are 18, soon to be 17 and 15 years old respectively.

I had always dreamt of a house like the little women ( L.M Alcott) More so because I never did any work in my mother’s home. She didn’t want me to help her and even if I tried to help her, she had a million complaints and found fault in every little thing.

If I wanted to complain, I could find a million reason too.. Yaya had forgotten to dust first before vacuuming, my son had not turned to socks right-side out and baby should have checked if the yeast was alive by proofing it before making the bread dough. (I think she used really hot water that killed the yeast while making the dough)

I didn’t complain because I am really grateful for every little help my children give. I am not expecting them to be me or like me. They are individuals with their own personalities and when they make a mistake, they learn from it. Earth won’t stop spinning just because the TV had dust on it or the socks were not as clean as I like them to be..We ate  hard bread rolls for dinner and my youngest now knows the need to proof the yeast.  And because the house work was done by the time I got back home, we had time to go out for a movie and ice cream.

It is a lot better not to complain when your children help you with chores.

 

Investment

Couple of days ago, I woke up hearing mother of all racket coming out from my son’s room.

“What the heck is going on?” I asked

“Nothing, Iam just looking for my money”  He replied. He spent most of his savings on the car and is  now looking for spare change.

Turns out, he has found a subwoofer for his car on gum tree and needs money to buy it. He wants the ground to shake when he drives his car..and the modified exhaust that already lets my neighbours know when he is coming home just don’t cut it.

Then I heard his younger sister asking him how much he needs and then telling him that she will pay for the subwoofer.

Wow, I thought, that is pretty generous.

Later, when she and I were in the kitchen, I told her, “Baby, that was really sweet of you to pay for the subwoofer”

“Not really Mom, I am going to inherit his car when he leaves for Uni, might as well get the car done up perfect”

I had no more words to say.

Achievement

My son bought his first car with his own money.

He will get his P plate in March and because he is going to be in grade 12 this year and won’t have time to shop around once the school reopens, he decided to buy a car now.

When we were  living in Canada and he got his first job as a news paper delivery boy(he was in grade 3), I had explained to him the need to save money to buy  his car when he gets his license and he has been saving money ever since that day.

About the same, my parsimonious landlord bought a Volvo for his daughter when she got her license. I was a bit surprised that he splurged so much money on a car and he explained that, as a new driver, she is bound to wreck the car and since Volvo is built like a tank, at least he can be assured that even if the car is wrecked, it might still save his daughter’s life. That was a valuable lesson for me, especially because I had always thought of buying the cheapest car(as in an old junk) for my children when they get their license. Cheap cars and not necessarily safe cars for young drivers.

In grade 3, my son wanted to buy his own batmobile car. In grade 5, he shed bitter tears when he found that Pagani Zonda stopped making cars..

So, when it was time for him to buy his own car, I  had two conditions. It has to be a BMW, Audi or Volvo and secretly hoped he would go for a Beemer and that it should have Road Worthy Certificate. I didn’t want the headache to go through the hassles of getting the car registered.  He started searching for his car and reading up about them and finally found his perfect car and that too owned by a lady (he believes that women drivers are safer drivers, even though he is related to me!) He finally made an appointment with her and informed her when we left the house that we are on our way. (She lived in Bribie Island, pretty far from where we lives) Almost and hour and a half in toour journey, she called my son to tell him that there is another person who is interested in her car and is willing to pay 100 more than the asking price. I felt this was a cheap stunt and told my son to forget about the car. He was really annoyed with me and since it is his money, he should counter offer. I refused… He was really mad at me..he felt if we had gone to her place in the morning rather than the evening, before the other person made the offer,he would have been able to buy it. I told my son, if it was meant for him, it would be there and clearly this car wasn’t meant for him.. “I don’t believe in your stupid Indian Philosophy mom” He yelled. I knew he was upset, he had looked forward to owning his own car and was disappointed. When we got back home, I made Dosai for him for dinner.  I always keep few packets of dosai batter in the freezer for moments like this. There is nothing that cheers up my son as much as the sight of crispy dosai.

A week later, he saw his perfect car ad on gum tree.. Chrome rims, modified suspension and exhaust.. what else could make an almost 17 year old boy happy? But it was in Frazer Island, really far from here. The ad had so much spelling and grammar mistakes and even the text messages from the seller were dodgy. I was a bit sceptical. My son negotiated with the seller and he said he would meet us halfway, in Gympie.

The seller was one of those typical surfer dudes, blonde, long hair and young (18 years old). He is passionate about cars and spends all his money on modifying them. He bought a V8 and was selling his old car after spending an enormous amount of money to modify it . When I gave him the money, I noticed that he was struggling to count. So, I told him, let me help you. I counted the money, sorted the currency in to 1000$, so he could check it. Clearly, he has learning disability, yet he is still living a great life. I was also surprised that his parents didn’t accompany him.. you know, your son was driving halfway across the state to meet strangers to sell a car..

And now, my son is a proud owner of a souped up BMW.. and he is now a firm believer of, if it is meant to be, it will be yours.. for  the first car he wanted to buy was just an ordinary BWM… and he would have had to spend an enormous amount of money to get it souped up

 

hmm

After having an awesome Christmas dinner with my children, the next morning,I went to the beach with the kids and one minute I was walking on the  pedestrian walk and the next instant I was on the ground. Clearly, I was not looking where I was going. I tried to break my fall using my arm(very smart move) and ended up with a fracture/sprain on my  arm, couple of abrasions on my knees and pure embarrassment of falling down in front of all those hot surfer guys.

I don’t remember when was the last time I fell down and hurt myself like this. My arm hurt like hell and ideally I should have gone to the hospital. But it was too much effort and I didn’t want a cast ( I was sure if it was a fracture it would be a simple fracture and it would heal on its own anyway). So, I spent the past 10 days, crying, consuming copious amount of pain killers and cursing in colourful language every time I had to lift my arm to do something.

Christmas was really fun. Yaya and my youngest baked a great deal of cookies. For dinner, I cooked prawns in lime, chilli coriander sauce, lobster in Mornay sauce, Singapore chilli crab, turkey and gravy and then our usual Christmas staples of devilled eggs, saddleback potatoes, mushroom in wine sauce.

Years ago, just as I was leaving India for good, I had bought a recipe book from one of those book shops on MG road Bangalore. Devilled eggs and saddleback potatoes were from that recipe book and I have cooked both on every Christmas since 1994. It is the only time in the year where I cook devilled eggs(although it is the easiest thing to make). Kids look forward to having devilled eggs and the saddle back potato every Christmas meal.

Just as I was cleaning up after cooking the feast, I remembered that a classmate of mine is alone in Brisbane as he couldn’t afford to go back home for Christmas. So, I called him and asked if he would like to join us and he said Yes. And then I remembered he is a staunch Christian and wouldn’t eat shell fish(lacking fins and scales). So, I took some salmon out of the freezer, defrosted  and marinated it in maple syrup soy sauce marinade (I was given this recipe by a first nation man while I was travelling through the Yukon territory. Equal amount of maple syrup and soy sauce and few slivers of ginger and marinate for 15 minutes(or longer if you have time) and grill it)

For dessert, we had pumpkin pie, Christmas pudding and all the cookies the girls baked.

I have used this Christmas pudding recipe since I came to Australia and it turns out really well. I don’t bother soaking sago overnight, I just cook it in milk.

The biggest surprise was the Christmas gifts kids bought for each other. My youngest usually sucked at buying gifts. Last year, she sent photos of the gifts she was thinking of  buying for her siblings and then asked for their opinion. This year, she bought them all their gifts in advance and they were all really good things.

Yaya bought me a clay pagoda for my garden( I have wanted it for so long), my son got me 4 glass llamas in varying size with one odd colour llama(representing him having to live with three women) and my youngest bought me real emerald earrings. She knows my favourite colour is green and bought it using her own money.

So, all in all a great Christmas.

 

Happy

I was woken up this morning at 5 a.m. by Yaya, who told me ” Mom, I am hungry, can you please make me the crispy noodles (kon lau mein)”

She came home two days ago and is suffering from severe jet lag. What shocked me the most was when I went to pick her up from the airport, the moment she saw me outside the arrival hall, she started to cry. She then hugged me and told me how much she missed me. I had already made her favourite fish cutlet and took it with me to the airport.. which made her cry again. She missed home cooked food as well. She missed the beautiful blue skies, scraggy(her words) gum trees, dried grass (summer sun) in our lawn, the birds, the quietness outside my house.. In other words, she was really homesick.

10 minutes after I arrived back home from the airport with Yaya, her friends started to drop in. I was hoping to spend some time alone with my child.. instead, I cooked biriyani for everyone. (I learned long ago, if you can’t beat them, might as well join them)

My son arrived yesterday evening from Peru. I dropped a handsome bloke at the airport 6 weeks ago and picked up a sunburnt, scrawny bloke wearing gypsy Peruvian pants, 6 bracelets on the left hand and 4 on the right, silver pinky rings and two chains with unknown charms around the neck. I was a bit shocked to see the transformation.. He looked very happy. Both his sisters came with me to the airport to pick him up. He bought handmade chocolates from Santiago for his sisters and they ate it in the car on the drive back home.

Right now as I type this post, both the girls are singing Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas out of tune while rolling the cookie dough. My dog is looking at them bewildered. My son is trying to distract the girls to steal the cookies.

I was once told by a very dear friend that with age comes confidence and happiness. I don’t know if I can attribute my current state of happiness to my age. Clearly I am happy and contended. I am also getting old 🙂

 

One year

one year ago, I was a student attending the intensive summer class. This week, I am presenting the class.

Like time and tides, my life has been changing.

of all the things I thought I would do in my life, teaching was never part of my plan. And yet here I am… Working as a tutor.

busy till the end of this week.

D’s

Dividing, dismantling, dismembering, desolating, detaching, dispossessing, destroying, and dominating.

These are the words that I can use to describe my mother.

I called her a few days ago, mostly because I know she has Parkinson’s and partly because I don’t want to call her during Christmas time and spoil my mood. A phone call in the beginning of December therefor can assuage my guilt.

It would have been a normal conversation as to how are you, bla bla . Yet this turned out to be the call I wished I hadn’t made.

As soon as I called, my mother mentioned that my younger sister is with her. I have not seen or spoken to my youngest sister for more than a decade. I didn’t respond to that comment as I didn’t see the need for. Then she passed the phone to my nephew whom I don’t even know his name or his age and she told him, it is your Kochamma. I was not prepared for this and I wasn’t sure how to deal with, so I kept quiet. I don’t feel like a Kochamma…. Fortunately the said nephew had other things to do and gave the phone back to Amma. Then she actually asked me “Do you want to speak to your sister?” I said “No, I don’t” and disconnected the line.

My entire life my mother has done all she can  to ensure that we sisters fight with each other and I hate her need to act as a knight in shining armour to make us all a family again. She makes us fight and then she becomes the mediator with the white flag with the classic dialogue..” your father’s family members were like Karakka kkuru (never seen one, don’t know how they look.. apparently the seeds face opposite side inside the pod) You and your sisters have only each other, remember that always”

I never want to see my sisters or have anything to do with them ever. I have been on my own for so long. I don’t even remember my sisters on their birthday.. which is very unusual because I remember dates. We are sisters because we shared the same womb and that is it. I hate that my mother doesn’t get a simple fact that I have nothing to do with my sisters. I am done with them.

So, no more calls to my mother.

 

“The” guy

Part of my job while working for WHO was attending the department morning meeting and presenting daily updates.

He attends the meeting too. And every time he had something to discuss, I understood nothing that he said. He used the word “the” after every word.

I wondered how did this guy get a job at WHO?

And one day, I sat next to him during the meeting and I noticed that he was going through his photos.. and one photo caught my attention.

It was a photo of him driving the latest Lamborghini. (I swear)

I was curious. Very curious.

It turns out that he is a really big shot in his home country. He has an MD and a PhD. He had always wanted to work for WHO. So he gave up the work he was doing in his country(very senior level), came as a WHO volunteer and eventually started working as a short term consultant.. He has taken a massive pay cut, but is very happy doing what he always wanted to.

He knows his English sucks big time. But that hasn’t stopped him from getting where he wanted to be.

 

 

Her story

She is the 4th child of her parents. Ordinary Vietnamese fisherman’s family. The world around them were drastically changing and her father made the plans to escape. At schools, the teachers have been tasked by the powers that be to find out if anyone is planning to leave.. so they told the students “let us know if your family is planning to escape, we will do everything we can to help you”. The month before they finally escaped, the local dentist’s son told his teacher about their plan to escape and that night the army came, hung the father to death, beat the mother who was 7 months pregnant till she lost the baby and then threw them out of their own home.

When they initially made the plan to escape her mother was 3 months pregnant and when they finally managed to organize everything, she had already gone in to labor and her father had to make the decision to leave without his wife and newborn baby.

Their ship first sailed to Malaysia and her oldest sister fell sick. Malaysia didn’t allow them to dock the boat and they proceeded to Indonesia and her sister died during the journey. When the boat reached the harbour, they told the Indonesian authorities that they have many dead bodies in their boat and others require medical attention. Indonesian authorities asked them to throw a body off the boat as a proof. Inside the boat, the remaining passengers drew the name card of her oldest sister and her body was thrown overboard. They were allowed to dock and get assistance. Her father swam around the harbour for a week in search of his daughter’s body and grieve still that he could never give her a proper burial.

German government gave them visa to come to Germany. It took them five years before they managed to smuggle their mother and the youngest sister out of Vietnam.

Two illiterate parents then raised 5 children in Germany. She said it was tough, being caught in two worlds. Inside home, they were Vietnamese, they ate Vietnamese food, spoke Vietnamese and visited other Vietnamese. But in school she was a German. She spoke German and did everything her German classmates did.

She eventually met another Vietnamese refugee in Germany, married him. He supported her through Uni. Today she is the MD of one of fortune 500 companies.

I had breakfast at her house. There was 4 different types of cheese, rye bread, croissant, butter and jam. She, her kids and her husband spoke German to each other. So I asked her, how come she didn’t teach her kids Vietnamese? She said, her children are Germans and therefore they should learn German.

I admired her for a lot of reasons.

Her genuine affection and concern, her ability to live the life she wanted to live and for ensuring that her kids won’t go through the duality of culture and associated confusion.

Every time I think my life sucks big time, I meet someone who has more right to complain and still don’t.