The trip to Sydney was probably the worst I have ever planned. Either I am growing too old or I am getting too lackadaisical.

First of all I got Yaya’s graduation date wrong. I assumed(wrongly of course) it was in December, so I had to cut short my trip.

I forgot to pack toiletries and my hat, sharing a toothbrush was not something I am fond of, and there was no choice as we had planned a full day of activities and didn’t have time to wait for the shops to open.(my mental faculty is clearly on a decline)

So these are the things we did.

We only had the car for a day, (we could have extended it, but at the time we booked it there was a promo and if we were to extend the initial  rental period, we had to pay full price. I am too stingy)

From the airport, we drove straight to blue mountains. We got there around 3.30 pm. There were not many people around, so we did all the walking trails.

newxastle1The weather was very pleasant and we had the trails to ourselves.

We left Blue mountains around 8 and drove to Sydney. Both of us wanted to see the Opera house lighted  with the French flag colours, so we thought we would take a quick stop over at the Opera house. We found a car park near the opera house and the signboard showed first 30 minutes was 10$. We only spend 10 minutes and went to pay  for the parking and to our surprise it was 38$. Apparently they have a flat rate after 8 pm and it is 38$..which was written right at the bottom of the signboard displaying rates which no one would be able to read. Technically at 3.80$/minute, that was the most expensive car park we have ever done.

We had booked accommodation at Coogee beach. It was a beautiful old apartment converted to a boutique hotel. The main door had stained glass and I love watching light reflecting through stained glass.

He still makes the worst Chaya ever (following the same procedure of dumping sugar, milk and teabag in to a cup and adding hot water and then not stirring it). But the fact that he wakes up before me, so I could have hot Chaya makes up for it.

First day we bought opal card and went to Circular quay and took all the ferries. We loved Watsons bay the most, so decided to spend our day there.

beach Watoson's quay

We had lunch and then found a shady spot to sit down and read. I wanted to read Tuesdays with Morrie (will write why tomorrow) again, it wasn’t a big book and the biggest blessing is that he doesn’t bother me much if I want to read, so I finished reading the book pretty quickly. He bought me a cappuccino in between.

Later in the evening, we went back to Circular quay and walked up and down George street, China town, QVB etc. We had dinner at a Malaysian restaurant called Petaling street

Second day, we were planning to wake up very early and do the Coogee Bondi walk. Apparently, I was sleeping  like a baby and he didn’t want to disturb me. I got up at 9AM and had a cold cup of Chaya, which he made at 6 AM, thinking that I would wake up on time like I normally do. I really wanted to do the walk and hate changing plans in the last minute, so we decided to do the walk..on a day the temp hit 38 degrees..Neither of us had a hat. So we had to find a shop to buy hats and paid ridiculously expensive price and then we walked the whole distance from Coogee to Bondi. It was really hot and there was hardly any shade anywhere. But the view from all the look out points were magnificent. By the time we reached Bondi, we were dehydrated, tired and exhausted. I was waiting for him to get angry/crabby. He didn’t. Instead he bought juice for both of us and found a shady spot for us to rest a bit. After that, we decided to take a bus from Bondi to Watsons bay again..We had a late lunch there, then took a ferry back to Circular Quay to take another ferry to Manly. We did the walk around the national park in Manly. He is scared of reptiles, so whenever  we do a bush walk, I had to lead. Every time we saw a water dragon, even though he is scared of them, he would l tease me with great panache  about my crocodile discovery.  I blame my son for this. A week after we arrived in Australia, I was in the garden and I saw this animal that looked like a crocodile, but very small in size and I assumed it was a baby crocodile, so I did what I am really good at. I screamed at the top of my voice and everyone came to see my baby crocodile. In my defence, my only experience with Aussie wild life until that moment was watching the movie Crocodile Dundee  and  I swear water dragons do look exactly like a croc.. My son makes it a point to tell everyone  about my baby crocs discovery.

That was it.. three days trip to Sydney..


Yaya’s  high school graduation was yesterday.

How fast 12 years went by..

I remember her wearing green skirt and yellow blouse in grade 1. Every Monday morning she had spelling test at her school and while I ironed her clothes in the morning, she would come to me and ask if I could quiz her on the spelling. It had always surprised me how she knew to spell words without every having to learn it, like I used to do..loudly spelling out each letter over and over or writing each word a few times till I mastered the spelling.. Yaya only looked at the words once and she knew how to spell them.

I remember her  queuing outside the classroom in grade 2.. wearing Barbie shoes, Barbie t-shirt, Barbie jeans and holding a Barbie bag. She was so tiny.. and I worried how she would cope, skipping a full grade and living in a new country.

I remember her wearing her favourite black jumper with a picture of guitar on one side and a skull on the other side in grade 3. I remember her teacher calling me up and telling me that Yaya had asked if she could rewrite her maths exam again because she wasn’t happy that she didn’t get 50/50 (she got 49)

Grade 4, she and I were beginning to have clashes.. An expected outcome when two strong willed people have to find a middle ground. I remember her telling me ” You better be nice to me, for I am the one who will be picking the old folks home where you end up eventually”. She said it oh! so seriously and I couldn’t stop laughing. I remember her listening to KT Tunstall’s Black horse and a cherry tree over and over.

Grade 5 was a blur, we were getting ready to migrate to Australia..She and her best friend had a massive crush on the same boy.. and they spent hours figuring out who should have the right to date the guy..

She only attended 3 months of grade 6 (skipped a grade) in Australia. On the first day of school Yaya had to do a spelling test and got 1/20 right. She couldn’t get Aussie drawl.. I remember how scandalized she was when she told me, her classmate invited her for a pool party and asked her to bring thongs.. (Thongs in Aus is flipflops and in Canada is G-string)

Grade 7, she was in and out of love, her friendships circle changed constantly, she was hormonal and annoying. She also had a massive crush on Cody Simpson. For a long time I was enemy number 1, however that changed, when I drove her to Gold Coast for a Cody Simpson concert.. Suddenly, I became an awesome mom.. I remember her getting the outstanding student award for Japanese, a language she only had a year to learn, when all her classmates have been learning it for 4 years.

Grade 8, she refused to write entrance exam to all the elite schools. I felt she would benefit from learning Spanish, so I registered her for Spanish Immersion program. The first 6 weeks of her Spanish immersion, every time I saw how much homework she had and how intense the program was, I wondered if I did the right thing.. 29 students started the program and only 12 completed the program. Around middle of grade 8, she and I started getting really close. She would come and lay down next to me and talk to me.

Grade 9, the highlight was the trip to Spain. She went for 6 weeks and send me one email. House was so empty without her and I started to wonder how I was going to live without her.

Grade 10, I started to see her mature in to a beautiful woman. She took great pride in getting dressed. She became more responsible and fun. I remember her laying down next to me and reading her books.

Grade 11 she joined the IB program. It must have been hard for her because all her friends from Spanish Immersion decided not to do IB. I wondered how the friendship circle of the past three years would survive, but it did. She still met her friends for lunch everyday even though they never had any classes together. I still sent school lunch for the whole gang most days.

Grade 12, I saw her determination.. IB is a lot of hard work and is known for kids burning out. I was so worried for Yaya. But she was determined. What I loved the most was how graciously she admitted defeat. She lost the dux award by one point (the first semester maths exam where she got 5 and her friend got 6) I would have beaten myself to death if I had lost being the dux and having my name engraved in the school office for ever because of one single exam. She told me ” mom, in life you win some, you lose some”.

This was her school ref letter.


I don’t know what the future holds for Yaya.. But I do know this. She is an amazing daughter and I am one heck of a lucky mom..



I submitted my last assignment of the semester an hour ago. I am heading to Sydney/ Melbourne for few days..

Thank you all for the mails and advice about the public transport.

A bit of beach, a bit of blue mountains, a bit of walk and lots of Malaysian food is what I am looking forward to…

until then


Help Pls

If you are from Sydney Australia, can you please help me?

I will be in Sydney all of next week and  have messed up our rental car booking and have no car on Tue and Wed. The two days we have earmarked for visiting Sydney.

I need to figure out places to visit and how to get there, keeping Harbour area as my main location. I have never used public transport in Sydney before and am clueless. If you can add in an awesome south Indian/ M’sian restaurant in that list of places to go to. that will be super too.

I will of course shout a round if anyone would like to join us for dinner on Tue or Wed

My assignments are all on due on Monday morning and am flying out of Brisbane on Monday arvo, so won’t have to time to actually google and find the info myself

Pls email me ( elfintrot..at… gmail….. dot…com)or leave a comment here




Yesterday while I was cooking dinner, Yaya came to me all excited and said

“Mom, I found the perfect dress for my graduation”

And then she proceeded to show me the photo of the dress. My son was helping me in the kitchen and he had a look at the photo of the dress Yaya wants to buy and commented

“Yaya, that is a lot of air for 75$”

I looked at him for explanation and with a cheeky grin he explained

“Mom, there is less fabric and more air on that dress, what with the plunging neck line and bare back”

I stood in front of him, to save him from being murdered..



I know jealousness is human nature, but sometimes it is really too much if it involves children.

A friend of mine who is an IB teacher has a daughter of the same age as Yaya. Sometime ago, we were talking about the extended essay (EE) IB students have to write and she accidentally mentioned she has copies of the student EE papers from her school. So I asked her if she would let me have a look at them. She found an excuse each time and I got the message loud and clear.. that she really doesn’t want to give it to me for fear of Yaya getting more marks than her daughter.

Yesterday two of my very good friends had the worst argument one could ever witness. It was all to do with their daughters applying to US universities.

Friend 1 is a Harvard graduate and is an American living in Australia.

Friend 2 is an ordinary single mom whose daughter suddenly decided that she will also sit for the SAT and apply to US unis.

Friend 2’s daughter scored more marks for SAT than friend 1 and things went down hill. Friend 1 doesn’t want friend 2’s daughter to apply in certain unis, cause her daughter is applying to those unis and her chance of getting the admission will go down if two students from the same school apply and one has better SAT score.

We have all been friend for more than 5 years and meet each other for dinner every month. But all of a sudden, when our daughters are getting ready to apply for Uni admissions, you notice how bitchy everyone really is.

In life there will always be a student who is better than your child, just as there will always be a student not as good in studies like your child. Would it be so hard to accept someone doing better than your child? Is there a need for jealousy?


echo beachSource: http://www.weekendnotes.com/images/cimg366111.JPG

Yesterday I wanted to go to my favourite beach. Tide was in around 3 pm, so I thought I would leave Brisbane by 2 and get to the beach in time for the high tide. Yaya’s exams were delayed and by the time I left Brisbane it was already past 3.30 and then I got stuck in peak traffic. I reached the beach around 5pm and I found that the track that I normally use for hiking is closed. So I decided to hop/walk on the rocks to get to where I wanted to go.. ( you can see the rocks in the photo above)

I am very safety conscious ( at least that is what I thought) and even planned my escape route if the tide gets unnaturally high. There were few paddleboaders in the water, returning to the shore and I waved hi to them and continued with my rock climbing, I was bare foot, carrying my back pack that contained my beach towel, book and a bottle of water. I was really enjoying the walk, it was really beautiful, very quiet and tranquil and I felt so much at peace. Then I heard a familiar rustling sound and where I was about to step on was a snake. Ideally I should say, I am Methran Thambi’s grand daughter and am fearless. But I was frozen, I wanted to run screaming, but I was still standing on top of a rock and I still needed to walk back all the way back to escape. Eventually, the snake went away. But the problem was when you see one snake, you imagine a snake hiding beneath every rock, every leaf moving was a snake..and it was really traumatising..I just couldn’t walk back all the way climbing on the rocks. I finally found a track that let me get back to the trail that was closed.

I had left my phone in the car, there was not another human anywhere near me and if I was bitten by the snake, I wouldn’t have made it alive.

As far as my stupidity goes, this should top my list.


I never thought there would be a day where I would drink double shot espresso without sugar.

And they say never say never.

I have always been a tea drinker and my kids buy me my favourite Kusmi tea ( Prince Vladimir) every year for my birthday. I am also very lazy to make my own tea and usually steals from whoever is having a drink. Unfortunately for me, my partner likes to drink strong black coffee and between the choice of getting up and making myself a cuppa or stealing his, I chose the latter..

First few times, I thought I would puke. The coffee was so bitter.. but now I am so used to it and actually like it.

Last year my neighbour had invited me for tea and then apologized that she didn’t have any sugar at home because they never used sugar for anything. Weirdos, I thought to myself. I have not had anything with sugar since I came back from my holidays.. Who is now the weirdo?