I didn’t have any sex education at school.
I remember wanting to read the 10 std biology book when I was in 8th std ( there were supposed to be diagrams of male and female body in the biology book.). But the logistics involved in getting a 10th std book when you are in 8th std was a bit difficult.By the time I was in 10th std, I was too busy studying to actually spend time to understand ‘things’ we are supposed to understand without actually being taught. !! ( obviously learned the fine art of rort learning, because I had no idea what I was learning)
I was also a loner at school mostly because Amma encouraged us not to talk about Appa to our friends and I used my loner identity as a shield to protect me from others. So I missed out on the usual sex talks the pre adolescent kids have.
Happily I went to the medical college believing Akkachi’s story about the belly button and the zipper!! ( I still can’t believe I was that naive)
I felt that my children should be taught what they need to know at home. It is my job as their mother to teach them about sex. I had this wonderful notion that I will answer all their questions truthfully..and I did.
It went like this
When my son was about 7, he asked me how babies are born.
My truthful answer …”Mothers go to hospital to give birth”
I actually wanted to hit my head on the wall..
But what was I supposed to say to a 7 year old boy? That the mother gets labour contractions and the cervix dilates etc etc??
Along the same time, the school send a note saying that they are bringing in a sex education counsellor and requires my permission for my children to attend the sex education class. I was also invited to a preview of what the counsellor will be teaching my kids the day before the actual session. ( truth be told, I was happy to let someone else to do the talking)
Happily I went for the preview.
She( counsellor) talked about the physical changes etc, talked about sex and what happens during sex, she then proceeded to talk about contraception and how to use the condom..She even demonstrated the correct application of condom using a banana..then she casually said it is better that pre school and kindergarten students learn the correct application of condom, so we can prevent STD’s.
What? She was going to show my 5 year old baby how to use the condom??
Now, I am doctor and I am not a prude, But I want my children to learn about sex at the right time. I wasn’t going to let my kindergarten child learn about how to use a condom. I couldn’t.
I refused to sign the permission slip.
I have sat with each of my children and talked to them about their body, what changes can be expected.. etc.
I also explained about sex to Yaya and Josh. Baby is too young..
The reason for this post is
My son loves James Patterson books.
He read Kill me if you can two days ago and told me it is a good book and insisted that I read, so I read.
There is incest ( father and daughter and extremely descriptive) in the book.
I am extremely uncomfortable after I read the book.
Both Yaya and toothless read at University level. It is not possible for me to tell them not to read a book because they are too young. But I worry, if a 11 years old is matured enough to read about incest..

Oh the wonderful children of India

Apparently the ‘Indian’ Children are so wonderful..
Let me extol their virtues
They respect their elders by giving up their seat/recliner (even if there is an empty chair right next to the one they are sitting on)
They speak their mother tongue.
They study all the time and don’t waste time by reading story books.
They eat Indian/Malayalee food every day..
They ( girls) wear decent clothes like Salwars..
They ( boys) don’t waste their parents money on frivolous things like deodorants and hair gels
And the most important thing.. they never never never never talk about sex/hot guys/hot girls..

Where as my lazy children.. They speak English, Japanese, French and Spanish, but not their mother tongue, they ( girls) wear shorts to school, they never study and waste their time by reading story books. They like to eat pasta, steak etc that are not part of Indian culture, they talk about hot guys and girls and my son ( god forbid) applies hair styling gel on his hair every morning..

and I, their mother failed in my duty as an Indian mother to inculcate ‘indianess’ in them..
Must be a sad day for mankind.

Sprig of curry leaves..

The thing with Malayalees is that, they complain much about life in kerala/India and love to live outside Kerala/India..But the truth is you can take a Malayalee out of Kerala, but you can never take out their food fads,prejudices and taboos that are so inherent in them.
They would never stop complaining if the fish curry didn’t have curry leaves or if the kappa didn’t have mustard seeds, because in Kerala, they get nice fish that they cook in meen chatti and buy fresh kappa from the junction!!

My grandmother used to make Sambharam for the weary travellers. In those days there were no restaurants one could just walk in to and order a drink. it was before the PET bottles were common and taking a bottle of water along was not practical. One depended on the generosity of people living near the main road, who would make sambharam and keep it in the kooja near the gate.
If that was how my grandmother treated strangers, one can imagine how she took care of her guests!!
I had relatives over recently..( unexpected, unwanted), nevertheless they are my relatives and I was going to show them respect and treat them well..
I tried
But my sins were too many for me to be a proper Malayalee!!
I was told over and over and over that I was a bad mother because I didn’t teach my children to speak in Malayalam.
Since it was MY choice as to what I teach my children, I ignored the comment. My children, my rules..Simple. They were finding faults with everything my children were doing and were criticizing them. My children are experts in ignoring such an extent that the complaints soon progressed to my children are not showing them respect!! Perhaps they didn’t understand that respect is earned.
BTW, I still don’t understand this. I have two recliners. Yaya was laying down on one recliner and reading her book. The other one, exactly the same type was empty.My relative had a tantrum cause when he came to the room, Yaya didn’t get up from her chair and offer her chair to him. why was he barking like a mad dog at my child when there was an empty chair right next to the one Yaya was using??
When the said relatives couldn’t get a rise out of me with their personal barbs about my children, they then proceeded to hurl invective at my cooking skills.
They were dying to eat Kappa and Meen curry. What is it with Malayalees that three weeks after leaving Kerala, they act as if they can’t live another day if they don’t get a bowl of kappa and meen curry?
Not enough that I had to cook rice and roti for lunch and dinner and also make something my kids would like to eat. ( there is no way my children would eat rice for lunch and dinner every single day)
But they are guests and guests must be treated i drove to the nearest Indian grocer ( 65 km away) to buy frozen Kappa.
But did you know, frozen kappa is not as tasty as fresh kappa? (I am still missing the point here, what were they expecting?? I must start planting kappa??)
Did you know only tenggiri( neymeen) is good to eat with Kappa? ( My local super market sells bara, snapper and salmon)
How could I make fish curry with ready made ginger paste? ( in winter, fresh Ginger is 18$ a kilo and I refused to buy ginger at that price and resort to using ready made ginger paste)
They watched me closely as I cooked the fish curry just in case I screwed it up.. and they soon realized that there were no curry leaves.
I almost pictured them dialling 911, it was that serious!
They wanted to know where they can go and get curry leaves. Fish curry without curry leaves is not fish curry at all !!!!
My cousin has a huge curry leaf plant in her garden and if I call her, she would bring me some. But I was so tired of people who come and stay with you and expecting and wanting their life to be exactly as it was in kerala. So I told them, we don’t get curry leaves in Queensland. ( I do feel guilty for lying, but I was just so tired of them)

Just for the record, it is highly possible that if you are visiting Gulf/US/UK where there are a lot of Malayalees, you can probably get everything you get in Kerala.
But some of us are not that lucky.
We use frozen kappa, make fish curry using red snapper or Bara and we probably don’t get worked up if we don’t get curry leaves. That doesn’t make us any less Malayalee. We just adapt and do the best we can.
You could however be a bit nice and stop complaining and enjoy a nice meal, even if it is Kappa without mustard!!!!( and turmeric and curry leaves!!!)

Investing for my children

My father stopped paying my tuition/hostel fees when I was studying 4th year MBBS. I had to send my marks sheet to him each year and I did without fail. My sister called my father to let him know that she was told by a reliable source ( read George) that I failed 3rd Year MBBS. My father was convinced that I forged my marks sheet and much as I tried, he refused to believe me. ( He did find out that I have been regularly signing on his behalf all the internal marks sheet, so he was more than convinced that I forged the marks sheet) I called my sister and begged her to call my college and speak to the Principal and ask if I passed 3rd year or not. She ignored me. ( How much I hated her then !!)
My father wanted me to apologize to him for trying to cheat him and after working so hard and scoring the highest marks for most subjects, there was no way I was going to apologize. My father decided not to send me money and I decided to show to him that I can and I will survive and finish my degree. (after all I am methran Thamby’s grand daughter)
By then I had a single room, so no one in my batch knew what I was going through. I just told everyone that I was sick and tired of eating mess food and decided to cook my own food. Gangamma was in charge of sweeping my room and she knew what was going on. Every now and then she would bring (steal) a plate of rice and curry from the mess for me. She even used to make raggi balls for me and bring it with her to the hostel. I ate bread and banana whenever I was hungry. ( My hospital served lunch at 12 noon. The staff would bring huge aluminium pots that contain rice, sambar and vege to the wards..and the patients/relatives would to line up to get the food. Up to my third year, I used to look with great disdain at the type of food(crappy) and the poor pathetic people who waited to eat such pathetic food and in Year 4..when my stomach growled, I wondered if I could ask the staff for a plate of same crappy food.)

I got my cousin to buy salwars from Delhi ( cheap) and bring it with him to Bangalore ( free shipping) each time he came for a visit and sold the salwars ( marked up %) to my classmates and juniors. I also did tons of catering..( I used to supply cakes to expats living in Bangalore) I bought materials for my own salwars from the khadi exhibition and got them stitched at rural areas when ever I was posted there for community medicine projects..( Cheaper and the tailor was so happy that he was stitching the salwars for the village doctor, he would make it faster for me)
I couldn’t afford to wear the salwars I was selling!!!
I did finish MBBS, without my father’s financial support. My first salary ( 750 rs) as an intern..when I received it, I felt I was walking in the clouds..
Coming from such a background, I was even more determined that my children will never go through what I went through.
I buy a gold coin each year on their birthday. ( Even when I was struggling financially, I still bought a gold coin, albeit a smaller one)
Each of them have an education plan that I have been paying since their birth,
I have already kept sufficient money in FD in each child’s name for them to buy an old junk when they go to Uni
( if they don’t go to Uni, I will sell the gold, cash in the educations plan, use the money and sail around the world!!!)
But still my mind is never at peace..I still feel that I am not doing enough.
This year for Christmas I bought silver coins for them..( gold is getting too expensive and six gold coins in a year is not feasible)
Yaya and baby are getting the kangaroo at sunset and toothless is getting the year of the dragon coin..

Invictus (unconquered)

I think,Invictus is one poem that would describe the real relentless quest for knowledge and my pride and stubbornness..
I have achieved everything I set out to achieve. Often My head was bloodied..but it was always unbowed..
I used to read this poem for my children when they were little. My son mentioned yesterday that of all the poems I read to them, this is one poem that made a huge impact on him..
He said Mom, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul”.
That was all I wanted my children to learn..that their destiny is in their own hands..
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Earnest Henley

Black and white photographs

Black and white photographs from Kerala..
Yaya is doing a collage project..
Her subject is
Malayalees ( all encompassing eh??)
She is hoping to get a collection of old black and white photos ( older the better) of Malayalees.
if you have any old photos, would you please scan and email them to me. daofto at gmail dot com


Yaya: ” six packs is what makes a guy ‘hot'”
“Toothless: “OMG, I can’t believe you said that ! What about his personality, his intelligence, his knowledge? How can you judge a guy by his physical attributes alone???”
This was followed by a 10 minutes argument of who is right and my son won the round..

few minutes later, while watching a YouTube music video
Toothless to Yaya, “OMG, look at her huge boobs..isn’t she sexy???”
And I am still laughing..

Tempus Fugit

Many years ago, I was invited to a dance party. It was held in one of my friend’s house. We had to cart all the furniture in the living room to the balcony, so there was room to dance..What I remember the most of that evening dancing in a room with no furniture was the wall clock she had..It didn’t have any number on it. just two words “tempus fugit” ( time flies).
Tempus fugit is the first Latin phrase I taught my kids.
When you teach children, you expect them to understand what you are trying to teach them.. No?? You don’t really expect that your children can teach you a thing or two..
Yesterday my youngest wanted to go to the library because she finished reading the books we borrowed on Tuesday. So I took her ( the fact that the library is air conditioned and that it was 31 degrees yesterday also played a part in my decision to take her to the library)
I do prefer the kids go to bed at 9 pm ( except on Friday which is ‘any time o’clock bed time)
My son has been the first to push the bed time rule..he does switch off the light at 9 pm and then read using the phone torch..So I gave up trying to force the kids to sleep at 9.
My youngest went to bed at 11 pm last night. Before she turned off the light, she came to me and told me” Mom, please wake me up early tomorrow morning, I haven’t done my home work”
She is given the home work on Monday and has to submit the completed work on Friday. At 11 pm, just before she went to bed, I didn’t want to scold her. But I was very angry with her.
I woke her up at 6.30 this morning.
Yaya wanted Panini for school lunch and I was busy in the kitchen.
I went to check on the homework progress to find my child laying down on my bed and reading her book.
“Have you done your home work?” I asked her”
“not yet mom, don’t worry, I will do it now”
I was pretty mad at her, so I raised my voice and told her to
“get up now and do your home work”
“jeez mom, what is your problem?” She asked, while continuing to read her book
My blood was boiling..The nerve she has..and she dares to ask me what is my problem, not enough that she was not even looking at me.
“my problem is ‘time flies’ and you haven’t done your home work and you need to submit it today, you should have done your home work on Monday and you waited until Friday morning. This is unacceptable”
She raised her head over the top of the book and looked at me for a few seconds and then replied

“Mom, time sure flies, but you are forgetting that there is a time for everything. If I did my home work on Monday or 10 minutes before it is due on Friday, the end result is still the same, so leave me alone”
The truth is I was lost for words.. I was tempted to do a mallu style argument, tharkkutharam parayunnodi..But the truth is, she was right. I don’t know why I am forcing them to do their home work in advance when the end result is still the same.
She did finish her home work at 8.25 am, then got me to check it to make sure that she didn’t make any mistakes.
Tempus fugit..may be not really


He is 11..
Almost my height.
inherited my fiery temper.
Loves to play soft ball with me.
hates cleaning his room.
will complain till the end of time when I ask him to do simple things.( feeding the chooks or collect the eggs), yet when I am doing anything that involves actual physical labour(carrying the grocery bags to the car etc), he will help me without me asking him.
I have never asked him to mow the lawn, he does that on his own initiative.
I go after him like a ton of bricks when he puts all his T-shirts for washing. ( he does that to avoid hanging his clothes in the closet. When we go out somewhere, He takes 5 to 6 T-shirts from the hangers, try them on and won’t put them back, instead he puts it all for wash knowing that I will most likely hang them in his closet when they are dry!!) He still does it every single time!
When I ask him “who is his current crush?” He answers “mom, I am a boy, I can’t just have crush on one girl!!!”
When he is hungry, he eats a can of tuna, he actually takes a can of tuna as a spare in his lunch bag, just in case..
When I drop him at school and if he is mad at me ( often because I make him fold his blanket), he will walk off without giving me a kiss. All I have to do is wait..cause I know how much ever angry he is, he will still come back to give me the kiss.
My job each morning is to pick what deodorant he should use. He has a collection of Lynx.
He thinks I am a super cool mom because I bought him an AC/DC T-shirt..
But more than anything..he download songs for me. He listens to almost same type of music that I like.
This was send yesterday. I haven’t heard this song for ages .. I actually prefer Garth brooks singing the song though..

standing up for..

I am the second child and having a super smart older sister meant that I could never really step in to her shoes. It was also worst in my case because Amma never felt she needed to step in and protect me.
So, when I got motta (zero) marks for maths, I not only have to face my mother’s wrath, but also face being ridiculed by my wonderful sister. Each time my sister harassed me, I would run to my mom for protection..and my mom would join my sister and make it worst.
And I am very aware of pack mentality.
I have never practiced partiality when it came to my children.
They know that I love Yaya the most, because she made me a mother, toothless the most, because he is my only son and baby the most, because she is my youngest and that I love them all equally.
Yet, the older two finds instances that they claim I was being partial,
For eg, I used to carry Yaya’s school bag for her. ( it weighed a ton when she was attending school in Malaysia). I still continued to carry her bag for her till she was in grade 3, by then her brother was in Kindergarten and I had to carry his bag and told Yaya to carry her own bag, the same thing repeated when her brother was in grade 3. ( baby was in kindergarten)
Both of them waited for baby to be in grade 3 and insisted that I can’t carry baby’s bag any more because baby is now in grade 3. It didn’t matter that poor child also had her violin and music books to carry..The law is the law, as per the two older one.. The fact that it is my physical self that is doing the actual carrying and it is none of their business as to what I can or cannot do was irrelevant.
Baby loves chocholate, but if I buy her chocolate, then I am spoling her, according to her oldest siblings..( no mention about all the lindt chocolates I bought for Yaya and pringles chips I bought for toothless)
Baby still gets free taxi ride to the kitchen each morning.. ( it was something that I started to get the kids up from their bed when they were little. If they got up when I woke them up, then I carried them to the kitchen..They loved it and we called it the taxi ride) The fact that Yaya and toothless each weighs around 45 kg is not up to discussion. You still give baby a free taxi ride is the usual complaint.
it isn’t that my children are vicious. I
but the problem is, sticking up for your youngest child is a bit tricky..