You learn

Years ago, while living in Canada, I was at my Pakistani friend’s house when the postman delivered the mail. She is a very traditional Pakistani woman and I didn’t agree to a lot  of her parenting ideologies. She wouldn’t let her kids attend the school dance, prom etc and was paranoid about every second her kids spent outside her home. But what happened that day was something I will never forget.

So, she collected the mail from the mail box. Rushed inside, quickly opened the letter and then yelled “yesss”

I thought she won the lottery and can you believe how shocked I was when I learned that what she was holding was an Infringement notice (skipping the red light) from RCMP with a photo of her son’s car skipping the red light.

I thought my friend had gone in to shock, how else can you explain such a weird reaction.

After seeing my puzzled face, she explained

“You have no idea, how many days I have been waiting for something like this. My son had recently got his license and I was worried about him speeding. There is nothing more terrifying than receiving a ticket from the police. It teaches you that you are not a kid anymore, but an adult and there are rules to follow and consequences to face for not following the rules. After today, my son will be even more cautious while driving”

I thought about and felt she was right and saved the lesson in my head.

My son got his first speeding ticket. 20 KM over the limit!. He not only had to pay 259$ fine, he will have to drive like a granny till next April, cause if he gets one more demerit point, he will lose his license.

You have no idea how long I have been waiting to receive this particular letter. When my son came home, I gave him the letter and left it at that.I didn’t yell at him. I didn’t scold him.  which is even more harder for kids to deal with, for they are used to being admonished for doing something wrong. But now he is almost an adult, he doesn’t need admonishing. He needs to man up and face life.. He was miserable, but I do know that this was a really valuable lesson.

 

Enjoy the ride

I know the blog updates are becoming rather infrequent.

Here is the thing. I have reached a point in my life where I decided to please the only person who matters. And in this case that is me.

James Taylor sang the secret of life is to enjoy the passage of time (Secret 0 Life) and that is what I have been doing,

I stopped stressing on things that doesn’t matter.

One of the major thing was my children’s education. Although I am no way a pushy mother when it comes to my children’s education, I have always been worried about them getting somewhere in life. I wanted to give them the best opportunities. When Yaya declined UCLA, UCSD etc admission offers, I was disappointed. But I had always given her the right to choose and she is happy where she is. I now teach students who wrote the Gamsat exam with me. I would have been one of them if I wasn’t deaf.  I find it really odd that I teach them now. Life is really funny at times eh?. One of my student is a famous researcher whose papers I have read. After completing her PhD and Post doc, she decided to do medicine and wrote  Gamsat. The thing is, after PhD, you are not entitled to receive student loan, so she is self supporting herself by working 20 hours each week and living in a share home. I have another brilliant student who has done PhD in Chemical engineering and then felt that is not what he wanted to do and is now doing Medicine (Again self supporting by doing construction labour). I have a student who is the only child of a single mother with questionable past ( her words, not mine) and doesn’t know who her father is and determined to change her destiny. Interacting with students from various backgrounds, I have learned that if you want to get somewhere, then you can. All you need to do is to work for it.

Hardest part for me as a mother was to stand aside and watch.. When Yaya was in grade 12, during her study hols before the finals, she read novels. She even worked when she had two days off between her exams. It is the same with my son. He is currently binge reading Jeffrey Archer novels. His finals will start end of this month. I only ever studied just before the exams. So not studying when you are on study holidays used to bother me a great deal. But not anymore.

So all in all, I have changed. I decided to enjoy the passage of time doing things I want to do. In this instance, I stopped fretting.

Dreams

The best part of working at the Uni is that you get to meet a lot of wonderful people. Toni is one such person.

He is the first generation Argentinian born to Korean parents. He was born in Argentina, didn’t speak a word of Spanish(his parents themselves didn’t speak Spanish, they moved from Korea to Argentina in the early 90’s and had Toni a year after arriving in Argentina) and went to school, struggled and persevered.

He became an Orthopaedic surgeon. A very successful one too. Pride of every immigrant parent, role model for the whole Korean community.

Last week, he registered for a carpentry trade certificate at a local Tafe college in Brisbane. He had always wanted to be a carpenter and dreamt of selling his own signature works.

He sold everything he owned and moved to Brisbane. From owning a posh car to a beat up cycle, condo to share house.. all because of a dream.

There are two  factors at play here.

His parents having to explain to the rest of their community that their successful son has gone mad and he having to live with the choices he make.

I know so many people who are stuck doing the jobs they hate, yet they do nothing to change their situation. They are afraid of taking that leap even if they know that it is the right thing to do. You have one life to live.. live you must. Even if it means giving up so much, just to gain what you really really want.

 

 

 

Costly lesson

It all started with a letter addressed to my son.

I never open a letter addressed to my children. I strongly believe that children have a right to privacy. I hated the fact that my mother and my oldest sister opened all the letters addressed to me. It was like I have no rights whatsoever.  In fact, when I cleaned my mother’s room while I was in the 3rd year of medicine (I was legally an adult for all intent and purpose), I found a bunch of letters addressed to me under her mattress. Most of the letters were from friends and my mother hiding the letters from me costed me a good friendship. One of the letters was actually a request for help. A friend’s younger sister wanted to do journalism in Bangalore and he wanted to know if I would help her when she arrived in Bangalore as it was the first time she was ever leaving Bangalore. I should also mention, this is the friend who saved my ass countless times by sending all those telegrams to my medical college .. (you know the ones where he killed my paternal and maternal grandfathers over and over, so I could get leave of absence). Because I never saw the letters and never replied, he never ever talked to me, even after I wrote to him and explained what had happened.

Besides the issue to privacy, there is also the thing called respect. I am raising little adults and they deserve respect. So, I left the letter on my son’s desk, which kind of looks like a mine field. He was busy with exams and I was busy with work. I forgot to tell him about the letter and he didn’t tidy up his table.

Last week, he finally saw the letter. It was a letter of demand from the toll company!

He had used the toll road unknowingly and didn’t own a toll tag. Now there is fine which is increasing exponentially as each day goes by.

I tried to call the toll company and they wanted to talk to the owner of the car (my son) and he was heading to work at that exact moment. He said ” I will deal with it when I have time”

Well, if you have ever received a letter of demand, then you know that time is of the essence here. The toll company doesn’t wait for you to make time, they just charge you an insane amount of money every day you delay the payment, which I explained to my son.

“It is my money” my son said.

I was really really annoyed with him. Of course it is his money. He earned every bit of it by working and earning 11 $/hour. But why would he want to waste money like this? If you act on time, then you could avoid a catastrophe.

I have heard from my colleagues about students coming to Uni with no financial management skills. (I know personally a student who is so badly in debt that she needs to work all summer to pay off her debts incurred this year )

I felt, my son needs to learn to take responsibilities. He will have to make that call to the toll operator and sort it out. And I just have to accept the fact that even though an early intervention would have saved a lot of money, sometimes children need costly lessons.

And so I wait.

There are only two options.

He calls the toll operator in the next few days and sort out the mess.

He doesn’t call the toll operator the next few days, he will receive another letter of demand and the amount of money owed would be higher.. and then another.. and then another.. and if he didn’t pay up, he will get a debtor’s note.. and a negative credit history.

Drugs

This is going to be a contentious post. Read at your own peril.

 

Last weekend, one of my children (we will call the person child in this post) told me that there is a party the child wants to attend and there will be weed and alcohol. I was asked if I was ok with the child smoking weed?

This was in contrast to a friend who came to me  a year ago to ask for advice as she found weed in her son’s room. She freaked out, screamed and yelled at the child, punished him, then went to the priest and made her son confess to the priest. The atmosphere at home was unbearable  and her son was no longer talking to her. But she was not interested in fixing that, all she wanted to know from me (because I am medically qualified) was how to find out if her son was still smoking weed?

There was much I wanted to tell her, but I knew she was not going to listen to me. So I told her what she wanted to hear. You can do a saliva test(drug alert kit), which will show positive in the first 24 hours.

So, weed.. also known as Marijuana.. it has been around since time immemorial. Plenty are people who smoked weed.

The first question that needs to be asked is why kids want to smoke weed?

Children often want to take drugs for the curiosity factor. How does it feel to be high?

Sometimes, it is out of boredom,

Sometimes it is out of parental neglect and wanting to teach the parents a lesson. (hurt the people who hurt you, even it at the expense of self harm)

Sometimes it is because they have reached the end of their tethers and need something that will help them face another day.

The second question is the safety

Medically, there are two hypothesis.

1.Weed is known to  cause psychotic symptoms in a healthy child who wouldn’t otherwise have it if the child didn’t smoke weed.

2. Weed may precipitate psychosis in children who are predisposed to acquiring psychosis related disorders.

So, much as weed is considered a safe drug(as compared to the rest of the hallucinogens), it still comes with a lot of risk.

Legally

Weed is illegal in most countries.  THC metabolism is a bit tricky as it is  hydrophobic and tend to stay around in your cells for a while, it can stay on your saliva for 24 hours and your blood for a week. So no driving for minimum 24 hours after smoking weed. Besides, one should never drink/take drugs and drive. That is a big No.

Quality

There are good weed, bad weed, really bad weed. You should read about how to judge the quality of your weed.

Future

What is your plan? Once you have learned how it feels to be high, are you planning to smoke regularly? Can you afford it? Will it affect your job prospects(most companies now do random drug tests)

How did I deal with it?

First of all, my child didn’t have to tell me or ask my permission. I wouldn’t have known if the said child smoked weed if they didn’t tell me. So, it is a good thing that the child and I share a relationship where we can talk about things like this very open.

I discussed with the child all of what I wrote above.

And said yes.

Jimmy

Sometimes, there are stories that truly makes you happy. This is one such story.

Jimmy is a former Singapore defense force staff. Just after the war and before Malaysia gained independence Jimmy as a 20 plus year old young man was posted to Sabah. Near the base, there were a row of houses and Jimmy often noticed a young girl standing by the gate and watching him. But he was older, she was still a school girl. Before he went back to Singapore, Jimmy managed to find out her fullname.

Jimmy eventually found the love of his life, got married, became a father of three, quit Singapore defense force and migrated to Australia in the 70’s.

Few years ago, Jimmy got divorced.

Now that the kids have flown out of the nest, Jimmy often travels around S.E Asia to go for diving.

He was in KK and the couple who was running the airBNB accommodation he was staying at told him that they were heading to play Balut and asked him if he was interested. He was heading back to Australia early next morning and he did consider telling them No.

Balut is not a very popular game, but some of the Kadazans are very fond of the game and they often host a game or two at various locations in Kota Kinabalu. Jimmy had never even heard of Balut and decided he might as well go and see what it is all about.

When he went, he was introduced to the other players and one of the ladies in the group caught his attention. She had introduced herself to Jimmy using her first name and Jimmy asked is your surname xyz?. Turns out she is the same girl who used to watch him.

She had a difficult marriage and got divorced 20 years ago, promising never ever fall in love again. Jimmy cancelled his flight back home and now they are together.

When I saw them, all I could see is the happiness in their eyes. It is a truly remarkable love story.. all because of a game called Balut.

 

So!

She did Pre-degree with me. I remember her very well because I was in awe of her.  She is the only daughter of a Kottayam Achayan and until then I had only ever heard about real Kottayam Achayans and their lifestyle.

She was the  epitome of beauty and style. In those days, she had earrings that matched each of her outfits.(while the rest of us had a pair or so earrings) She had black metal earrings even before they became available in the local market. She talked about shopping in Bangalore, holidays to Singapore, parties at home etc etc. I still remember her story about one of the parties her mom organized.  Her mom hired a chef to cater for the event and the highlight of the dinner was an art creation made of vazha pindi and cutlets.The chef rolled the cutlets around paddle pop sticks prior to frying them and stuck the stick on the pindi. At my house, cutlet itself was once in a blue moon thing and I wondered where the chef sourced the paddle pop sticks. (I thought he might have eaten all the ice cream and saved the sticks..and that became the second wonderment.. you know, for someone to be able to afford buying so much ice cream…)

After pre- degree she went to Kolkatta to study fashion design and I never saw her again. Couple of years ago, she found me on FB and made me promise her, if I ever visit the country she is currently staying, then I must visit her and I did.

First thing I noticed when I saw her walking in to the cafe to meet me was the jet black hair. I have always found it amusing to watch middle/old age women coloring their hair in jet black hair. The idea is to look younger, but the reality is that it makes you look a decade older.  She wore a flared long skirt and a full sleeve top that probably was in fashion 15 years ago.. As she sat in front of me, I noticed the layers of foundation on her face and it wasn’t very hard not to notice the black eye underneath all that makeup.

To be honest, what I was expecting was the same woman who was voted the college beauty in first and second year pre-degree. Well dressed, manicured nails, etc etc. The person I knew and the person sitting in front of me were two different people and then there was the black eye. How do I deal with the black eye? Ignore it? It is not like we have been really good friends. The only reason I told her when I was I was visiting  her country was to see her progression in life. I was curious… It was meant to be a short visit.. Hello, coffee, compare our vital statistics ( you know, the husband, average 2.3 kids, house, luxury car  etc) and a good bye.

And we ended up talking. Her parents are dead. She was married off to an Achayam who was born and raised outside India. Achayan loves to drink and then he bashes her. Achayan also has a steady girl friend.(Another Achayathi!) and visits the red light streets. But she is putting up with all this because her religion expects her to.

I told her, if your religion tells you to live with a philandering husband who bashes you, then you need a new religion.

When it was time for us to leave, she looked at her watch and said “Oh my God, I am going to be in so much trouble for being late” and rushed out to get a taxi.

I assume, she got bashed for coming home late.

I didn’t ask. She didn’t say.

63

It all started with a top that I wore before I had Yaya. I was going out and thought I would wear it, only to find that it was a bit tight. It was the same with couple of the skirts.. and I knew there was no point trying to escape from the inevitable…And I found myself walking to the washroom and checking my weight on the weighing scale.

I weighed 55 kg last year and I now weigh 63.

I have no words to describe the devastation I felt.

Part of the weight is due to the medications I take. Part of it due to lack of exercise. Before going to Manila, I walked 10 km everyday and it was impossible to walk in Manila and I kind of gave up. Once back home, I was bogged down with work  and didn’t have time to go for a walk and often ate out. It wasn’t a good combination. Weight gain is a bane of middle aged women and I had allowed it to happen.

Few months ago, I needed to jump on to a boat from the ground (low tide) and I couldn’t lift myself up. Few days ago, I saw a youtube video of an elderly lady on monkey bar.

I felt it is time I got my acts together.

The first thing I needed to accept was that this was a long process. There was no quick remedy. I allowed this to happen and I just have to work and get the weight off. So, I now walk everyday for 60 minutes. My aim is 6000 steps/ 5 + km and 60 minutes. If I walked really fast and managed 6000 steps in less than 60 minutes, I continue, till I reach 60 minutes. The same with the distance.

After a successful month of walking, I checked my weight. I gained an extra kilogram.

The only way to lose weight is to create a caloric deficiency. ie, you reduce the calories you consume and increase the expenditure of the calories by exercising. I did the exercise part right, but not the food intake part. I love good food!

I met with a friend who is a dietitian and she found a few things wrong with my diet.

  1. I don’t drink a lot of water. I don’t like the taste of plain water, so every time I am thirsty, I have tea.
  2.  I eat a lot of chocolates and cheese
  3. I eat out a lot

She suggested fruit infused water. Every morning I make a pitcher of fruit infused water. (lemon slices/orange slices/strawberries/mint etc)

I only have tea twice (and then cheat and have a coffee when I really need a hot drink..and convince myself that I am not really cheating as the coffee is still berry infused..coffee berries!!)

I cut down on the chocolates. I like cheese too much

If I have not lost much weight in the next couple of months, I will have to take off cheese from the menu.

My aim is to get back to 55 kg by December. If I didn’t lose my weight by then, I will just have to start going to the gym.

As for the upper body/arm strength, currently I use my son’s chin up bar and so far, I have managed to get my feet off the ground.

I know hindsight is a bitch, but I wish I hadn’t been this lazy.

 

 

Off the beaten path

As I can’t really write a lot of things I want to, today we go off the beaten path.

I have always carved my own path. Occasionally some of my medical college classmates would write a comment here and there on my fb account and all of the comments are of the same category. “We really can’t picture you as a mom, that too the mother of three kids or let alone imagine how far you have come”

Sometimes, I do wonder how did I manage to live a life like this.  Perhaps the only thing I can say is that I am the owner of an indomitable spirit. However much I get beaten, I still rise.

A year ago, while I was undergoing some medical treatment,  I asked myself, if I had all the money in the world, what is the one thing I would buy?

7 years ago, when I arrived here, I was shopping around for a car and walked in to a car dealership. And the sales person gave me one look and ignored me. He gave me a form to fill and disappeared. Few months later, as the market was slowing down(due to K.Rudd changing some policy) i received a lovely email from the same showroom asking me very politely if I had any questions about their cars..and I didn’t  have any questions, I had plenty of answers and I told them to F.off and explained to them how I was treated when I went to the showroom. They apologized and it made no difference to me.

So, If I had all the money in the world, I wanted to walk in to the same car dealership and order their most expensive car and pay cash. Totally out of this world ambition and clearly I was out of my mind. But then again  I carve my own path..

And so with that dream in my mind and the fact that I will be 50 in 3.5 years and I want to drive that car on my 50th, I decided to do something about it.

I read about all the shares again and about 6 months ago, I bought a lot of shares in a mining company . NTL( New Talisman Gold). I bought the shares for 0.006 and within a month the share prices tanked to 0.004. But I had faith in my research and I had a strong feeling that it will get better. And it did. It is now 0.016. And I am planning to leave it alone for a little while longer and if the shares have a good run.. I will own a beautiful car that cost twice more than my house. If it tanked, I will find a guy who owns the car(joking la)

 

 

Here I am

First of all thank you all for mails and comments asking me if I am alright.

I am not. I have had the worst few weeks of my life. And I am not able to write what I am going through here.

I started this blog in 2005 as I needed a place to write the good, bad and  ugly things that happened/s in my life. I  have MS and I wanted a place to keep my memories safe, so my kids will have access to them when my brain will no longer function. Most people have family they can lean on to in times of trouble. I don’t have that, so I relied on strangers around the world. Many of you have offered me a shoulder to lean on in times of trouble. We shared the laughter and shed the tears together.

It was comforting to know I was not alone.

My oldest sister used to read my diaries when I was a teenager and it then her snooping progressed to coming to my hostel and going through my stuff..and once she even came to the house where I stayed in Bangalore while I was away and got the key from the landlord and went through my stuff.

And now my sisters started to stalk me in this blog to an extent that even when they are on holidays in Timbuktu or Slovenia  or wherever, they still visit my blog

I have made it clear many times why I walked away from my family. Apart from the fact that we shared a womb and a horrible childhood, I have nothing to do with my sisters. I do not have the contact details of my sisters and have made no attempt in the past 8 years to have any contact with any of them. I have not seen my youngest sister for well over a decade. I have never met my nephews or know their names. I will never see any of my sisters in this life time. I know one should never say never. But this is one thing I am pretty sure of. The one thing I wanted was to protect my children from my family. I felt the best gift I could give my children was to keep them as far away as possible from my family.  Yet, when my sisters are reading this blog, I am not protecting my kids from them.

They have effectively limited my ability to write whatever that I wanted to write. Perhaps that is their aim.

I wish they would leave me alone.