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.

Hmm

I haven’t abandoned the blog.

It is just that the past few weeks have been extremely busy.

My youngest had a lesion on her nose. I noticed it on Friday, spent two stressful days(Sat and Sun). Though the sensible one in me was very sure, it was a benign lesion, the mother in me analysed the likelihood that it could be malignant. It also didn’t help that she is extremely fair and won’t use sunscreen. A part of me wanted to scream at her for not being careful I called the specialist on Monday and managed to get an appointment for the afternoon. And he decided to do excision under GA the very next day. It was too short of a notice for me to get leave, so I had to drag Yaya to the hospital and make her stay with her sister while I went to work and spend the next few hours imagining all sorts of horrible things.

Taking Yaya to the hospital took a lot of effort. First of all, she hates hospitals, secondly there is nothing for her to do while she was there and her sister was in the OT.  Very rarely I have yelled at Yaya and I did, when I told Yaya that she needs to be with her at the hospital and she refused.

After my youngest was discharged from hospital and as I was driving back home, Yaya told me

“mom, I think I want to become a doctor”

I swear, I thought I was hallucinating.

To be honest, I never wanted any of my kids to become a doctor. The amount of time and money one invests in becoming a doctor is really not worth it. Those days of medicine being all about saving lives are no longer the reality. Doing medicine will take a huge toll on you and that is the truth.

https://ericlevi.com/2017/05/13/the-dark-side-of-doctoring/

No other profession is this demanding and I don’t see the need why my children should sacrifice their mental health and well being when there are plenty of other jobs they could do.

I have never told my children what they should do with their life. So, I told her, if that is what she wanted to do, then I will support her..

In the 7 hours, she was at the hospital with her youngest sister, She has already found out the requirements to do Medicine at her Uni and chosen to do Chemistry next semester. This is apart from the part that she is aiming to do a four year degree in 3.

The funniest part of this drama is, in the event she decided to do medicine in Australia and joins my Uni, I will be teaching her 🙂

Such is life.

I am heading to Singapore tomorrow (for work) and will not have a chance to blog till I come back in mid June.

Bah!

I think I screwed up!

That in itself is a huge statement..that too coming from me!

First of all, it is the SAT my son wrote couple of weeks ago.

Unlike his sister who knew what she wanted to do and how to go about it, my son only decided to write his SAT exam in May end of March. And then he was busy fixing up his car and was building a speaker box for his sub-woofer from scratch. Although as a rule I never tell my kids to study, having seen my son not touching a book, I thought I would tell him to study. Which was a big mistake. He called his sister and asked her if she studied for her SAT and she was in the middle of her Uni exams and was annoyed with him for bugging her and replied she didn’t.  To be honest, she didn’t study, however she did go through the practice exams four days before the test. My son felt because his sister didn’t study and I nagged him to study, he is not going to study. I also forgot to buy the books for the new format SAT. He wrote his SAT without studying and with no clue as to what is the actual syllabus. In a couple of weeks, he will get his SAT results and let us just say that I am not very hopeful.

I also screwed up with his subject selection of IB. He moved to a new school in grade 10 and at the time he joined, he was doing Physics, Chemistry, Economics as his major subjects. I remember sometime in term 2 he came and told me that he doesn’t like Chemistry and wants to switch to Computer Science and I said fine. We both forgot one critical point. All engineering degree  programs have Chemistry as a prerequisite. He received a letter from Caltech that they won’t consider his application without Chemistry!

Uni of Qld has an intense Chemistry bridging course starting 3 days after he finishes his IB exams. He and his mates were planning to head for schoolies celebration for a week right after his exams. I know it is unfair to ask him to study right after his final exams, not  when all his friends are having fun.

The other option is defer admission for a year, which means he will be off Uni for 2 years(He finishes grade 12 in November 2017 and won’t start until Sep 2019. I am not happy with that for I think 2 years is too long.

So, all in all.. I screwed up.. big time..

 

Changes

I had a beautiful mother’s day with my children. I spent a bit of time evaluating my current and future role as a mother and this is what I think.

Until now, I spent every bit of my  time with my kids and everything I did was with them in my mind. And now they are tiny adults on their way to be full adults. It is time for me to do the things I wanted to do. It is my time.

Last Friday eve, I went out for dinner and walk with friends and came back home very late. In the morning when I got up, there was a note on the kitchen table. “Mom, good morning, we are going out to eat brekky and do a bit of shopping, your tea is in the microwave”.

Now that my son has his own car, he takes the girls out for brekky, drop them to wherever they want to go and fetch them after parties if they ask him.

My actual role as a mother has drastically reduced. I was a bit worried about how I will function when I have too much of free time. I go out to meet with friends more often, read a lot more, take the dog for walks a lot more.

It is actually so much fun to be a mom of three teenagers with half the load of work( to do as a mother).

Strength

I hate public speaking. 18 months of my masters degree, I avoided all the assessment that required me to speak/present one way or another. (Often asking my group members to present). In Manila, I did have to do power point presentations and I hated it very much.

Couple of weeks ago, I had to go to the Uni to meet with a Professor. I never take the lift as I really want toned legs and intend to wear short skirts in to my 70’s. Just as I was going up the steps, a staff from another department whom I know vaguely was coming down the steps. She was wearing a beautiful dress and I told her that.

10 minutes after that, I got an email from the Director asking me if I am free to meet him right away. So, I went to see him.

Turned out that they desperately needed a tutor for medical students as the current one had a family emergency and the person  whose dress I commented on  was heading to attend the crises management meeting  and she mentioned at the meeting that she just saw me and think I should be asked.

Long story short, I got a job as a tutor. I wanted to stick around in Brisbane this year till my son finishes his grade 12 and had declined the job offer in Manila. This job was perfect. But the only issue was public speaking. Apart from the fact that I never ever taught medical students until that moment. I heard from other tutors that it is a very hard job as most medical students think of themselves as high and mighty. Plus this was the middle of the semester and I have no clue what the students have already being taught.

Last Thursday was my first class and this morning my boss forwarded me a mail that was sent by a student.

My point is writing this point is about fear. We all have fear of not being able to do something. But there is strength in all of us. If you set your mind in to something, you can do it. I proved it.

 

My bubble

My best friend came to visit me last week. Apart from BE, he is the one friend I had kept away from my family, especially my oldest sister.

Silly as it sounds, my sister had this need to steal my friends. It started with the niece of our neighbor who was studying in Kottayam and used to visit my neighbor once in a while and  ended with my senior at medical college who was staying in the same apartment complex where I was living in KL. The last one was really a traumatic experience. She and I were good friends when we were medical students and imagine my happiness when I found her staying in the same apartment complex. Our children were good friends and I visited her often. My sister came and stayed with me and she and my sister became good friends and their friendship continued even after my sister moved out to her own place to such an extent that my own sister would come to the apartment complex to visit my senior and  not her own sister! One day I visited my senior and Yaya kept saying my sister’s name and finally I asked “is my sister here?” Hearing that my sister very sheepishly came out of the room she was hiding. I have never talked to my senior after that.

Sorry, I was digressing.

Anyway, my best friend had a meeting in Sydney and decided to come over to Brisbane and visit me. He bought me my favorite coffee and a slave.

I like to start my day with tea and then the rest of the day I drink coffee. By now you all know that I am very picky when it comes to the things I use. For coffee, I only use single origin coffee and insist on the bean, roast etc that suits my taste.  When I was visiting India, I loved Kalmane coffee and  my friend bought me a few packets of Kalmane coffee.

But it was the slave that I want to write about.

I had an extensive collection of music when I was studying medicine. I could only study if music was playing in the background. A lot of my music had events/memories attached to it. So every time I wanted to remember something, I played the music that was connected to it. When I was leaving for Malaysia, my mother told me that I can’t take my music tapes as they belong to the family as some of it was bought by my father. It was such a devastating blow. In one strike, she took all my memories away from me. I never ever could collect my own personal collection after that. Over the years, my friends have given me ipod, spottify account etc and I have never used them. I just couldn’t bring myself to start collecting music again. My friend knows about my inability to start a music collection again and how much I miss listening to music

He gave me an Amazon Echo (Alexa) and  linked it  to his account. Not sure how he has done it. He has even sorted out various playlists for me. This morning all I had to say was “Alexa, play my favorite music” and the first song was Dire Straits Money for nothing. It was one of BE favorite song. I remember him singing this song. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, white with blue prints, a Khaki shorts and his trade mark hat when he sang this song.

My family is totally screwed up, but I have wonderful friends who will do everything they can to make me smile.

I am happy today.