Long weekend

The last public holiday till
December !!!

So far, I did lots of fishing..
Cooked mussels in chilli tomato sauce and Singapore chilli crab last night and watched my son and my baby “pigging out”.. They sat on either side of the table, chased me away ( am
Allergic to seafood) and ate both the curries without any rice..
It was such a delight to watch them talking and enjoying a meal together.
The best part of being a mother is to know that, it takes very little to make my children happy !


My friends come over for tea often..
And those who want something other than tea, there is always beer , chilled to perfection..
Usually I am given advance notice before my friends come over..and in the event it was a spontaneous decision, I cook something while we drink and talk.. It has always been a fun, stress free time and I enjoy having friends over.. ( even when my friends have dropped in without any advance notice, they would bring something to eat like chips and dips or cake etc and my friends are used to my quirkiness….)

Day before I had surprise visitors..”Indian kind”, ..My relatives. It really shouldn’t have been a big surprise and I should have expected them, now that it is school holidays..But I didn’t.

When I saw them at the door, I had to run to my room and wear a skirt over my shorts..and then open the door.. ( oh the trouble one goes through!)

So they came inside..and I like a traditional Indian hostess asked what would they like to drink. They said “coffee”
I opened my kitchen cupboard and found that the last time I bought coffee was when my mother was here..

I couldn’t bring myself to tell my relatives that ” Sorry, there is no coffee” for you see the Indian hospitality doesn’t work that way. There is so much of expectations..and one can’t fail when it comes to offering something as simple as a cup of coffee..
There was bit of hard stuff at the bottom of the bottle that in its previous life was instant coffee..and I scraped the coffee progressively with a spoon, knife,ice pick and a chop stick.., while looking over my shoulder every few seconds and hoping my visitors wouldn’t leave the living room and find me doing the unthinkable..( I did consider adding hot water in to the bottle, but wasn’t sure of how much water to add..I couldn’t afford to make a mistake)
And Indian hospitality also involves serving something to nibble..I found a packet of murukku..yup, a packet..Before I could scream Eureka, I saw that it is an almost empty packet..with few ‘tiny’ bits of murukku in it, but the packet was safely secured with one of those secure clips. Whoever  ( ie one of my monsters) ate the murukku didn’t want to be bothered with throwing the empty packet in the bin, so they left a few bits in it and closed the cover securely..
There were 2 cans of Pringles..but how to serve Pringles in a bowl?
I could have cooked something..like onion bhaji.. again Indian hospitality doesn’t let you cook anything while the visitors are already in your house..for they would feel burdened that you have to cook something for them.. ( it is never a burden to drop in unannounced)

So I served coffee.. ( keeping my fingers crossed that, old coffee won’t kill/maim them).. and as I carried the coffee in to the living room, I found my relatives snickering..
For you see this is what they found in my living room

I did have a TV table and that became a fish tank stand..and I hate the standard type of furniture..I wanted something unique and  have been thinking of  making a TV stand myself and never got around to it. My plan is to buy a plank of camphor wood, do some (wood)planing and make a unique tv table.. so while I get around to it, the tv sits on a foot stool..
I am sure, by now the news of the ‘unique’ tv stand reached Kerala..and what a terrible hostess I am !

Outstanding parents !

I have a fiery temper..at the same time I am pretty rational. ( how the two go hand in hand is a mystery!)
This post is about the ‘outstnading parents’ that make me feel murderous..( and yes, I am still rational)

The first group is the “pure breed”..
The first one I met was in Malaysia, they were the parents of one of Yaya’s classmate and were on a mission to create a pure breed culturally appropriate child.
They believed that KFC and McD were the evil forces that were created to corrupt  children and the kids must be taught not to fall for the ‘temptation’ of eating in those horrible places that serve horribly unhealthy food.
I believe each to his own, if they didn’t want to take their child to KFC or McD, that was their choice. But for me, a mother of three kids, McD gave me an hour of peace and tranquility.. When the kids were crabby and it was a rainy evening, we went to McD. I took my book with me and read while my kids played safely in the enclosed play area.. and the best part of my evening was I had three happy kids and no mess to clean!
But then the said anti KFC parents started using their kids in their propaganda and the said kid asked Yaya.”You go to McD? My parents say they serve  very unhealthy food. They love us so much, so my mom cook all our food at home because it is healthy”
Yaya was 6 years old then. She was heartbroken.. that her mother didn’t love her and that is why she took her to McD. I tried to explain to her that I love her very much ..but my struggle didn’t end there..
I had to pack snack and lunch for Yaya.. and I usually send nuggets as snack and cooked something healthy for lunch..
“You can’t eat nugget” said the annoying kid. “nuggets are processed meat, they are unhealthy”
and Yaya stopped eating nuggets.
It wasn’t possible for me to get carrots and celery sliced to bite sized pieces and make a perfectly healthy snack for yaya. I had to care for siblings too..
I felt murderous…

Years ago, while living in UK, I used to take care of two kids after school. My job involved picking them up from school, making something for them to eat and then wait for their parents to come. So one such day, as I waited for them to come out of the school, I saw this little girl holding a cupcake in her hand and running to her mother saying “mummy, look, I made a cupcake” and the mother snatched the cupcake from the child’s hand and said ” we are vegetarians, we will give this cupcake to daddy”.
You should have seen the child’s face.. and I felt murderous..

As for Yaya.. I waited for another rainy day..fixed her a nice salad..and told her to eat the healthy salad before we go to McD, so she won’t be hungry while her siblings eat their unhealthy burger..She got the message pretty quickly..

I am a vegetarian.. and I learned from the cupcake mother that..my values are my own..and I have no right to force it on my children..

Ps: I feel anything in moderation is fine. It wasn’t that we went to McD every day..Going to a fast food outlet was our rainy day treat..
Now, none of my kids eat at KFC or McD. and I love the vege burger at Hungry jacks and their spicy sauce..So I still go there once in a while and my kids give me that look that says ” I can’t believe you eat that crap” while they eat subway..Each to his own !!!


Last weekend kids and I went to Towoomba for the festival of flowers. I knew the Jacobite church had organized a trip to the festival along the same time I was there.
I spend a lot of time and energy trying to make sure that I was nowhere near the mallu crowd.


When I was growing up the few names I was called were “flirt, chatta kkari (? derogatory name for anglo indian), fast, ahankari ( arrogant)..
I didn’t do anything major to be called all those names. My crimes were rather simple..
I didn’t fit in to the traditional mallu girl mould and therefor I was different and needed a name.

Salwar Khameez arrived in Kerala when I was in the 8th std. Mine was stitched in a little shop in Kanjikuzhy. I remember taking the fabric ( we had plenty at home..Most of my family lived outside India and always bought fabric as a gift whenever they visited us) and walking to the tailoring shop. I knew what I wanted  and I explained to the lady tailor. ( digressing a bit..I never went to a male tailor in Kerala..I hated the way they tried to feel me up on the pretext of getting the exact measurement). The tailor nodded her head as though she understood exactly what I wanted, She even drew a diagram on a piece of paper and clipped it to the fabric.
I waited eagerly for the day my salwar was supposed to be ready ( following the standard protocol by adding 2 weeks to the supposed delivery date and visiting every other day and asking for it).
I remember holding the newly stitched salwar in my hand. I couldn’t try it at the shop, so I practically ran all the way back home.
I tried my salwar on..
What I asked for was open neck front and back..
What I got was a chatta..albeit a bit long.
Even the tailor took it up on her to make sure that I was dressed according to the mallu customs and traditions..
I never understood why I must follow a set guidelines to be considered ‘normal’
I was never normal.. and the taunts, the name calling never ceased..and the most surprising thing was, it was the (mallu)women who always cast the biggest rocks..

And so in Towoomba.. all the mallu women would have been wearing proper decent salwars or pants with long sleeved blouses and perhaps the few courageous ones would have worn jeans ( I doubt it though, for wearing a jeans in front of the pathiri (priest)will not be looked up on favourably)
Kids and I had gone for surfing that morning and I was wearing my ( itsy bitsy tiny weeny )shorts and a singlet..
To an Aussie.. I probably looked normal..
To an Indian.. entey ammo..

ps: As I finished typing this post, I asked myself, Do I really care what anyone thinks of me? Certainly not..then why did I hide from the mallu crowd? I haven’t got a clue..

I know what your daughter is doing….

I know this is a public blog and when I take a swing at someone, I am doing so with the knowledge that when I point my finger at someone, three fingers point back to me.

But this need to be written..

As I mentioned in the post title, I know what your daughter is doing..

You came to Australia because you met all the criteria for an immigrant visa, so you are well educated, well read and the Australian govt considers you to be a valuable asset to the society and granted you a PR.
You made the decision to migrate because you wanted a better life for you and for your children.
You made the choice to raise your children in Australia..
Your children attend Aussie school and you want them to remember always that they are Indians and must act like Indians, for the Indian culture goes back many centuries!..
You want your daughter to be a traditional Indian girl..And you have been living under the impression that you are doing a fantastic job raising a traditional Indian daughter that too while living in Australia.. who wears decent ( ie proper grandma jeans and  not skinny jeans, certainly no shorts and absolutely no short skirts!) outfits, is  quiet and a studious child.
Now don’t get me wrong..There is nothing wrong in being an Indian..

But these are the things you don’t know about  your 14 year old daughter.
She is sexually very active.
She leaves home wearing decent pants..and the reason she prefers to come to school very early is not because she wants to do group studies, it is to change her clothes from jeans to really really small skirt that just meets the school guidelines.
And few weeks ago, you gave her permission to attend the drama practice at her friends house..all day..Your daughter wasn’t part of the drama team and her friends were covering up for her, because she wanted to spend a whole day with her boyfriend and all her friends know what a nasty mean mother you are and would do anything for their friend.. even lie..

You know what is reall disturbing?? All your daughter’s friends talk about you to their parents..and when they meet you at school and when you start extolling the virtues of your daughter..they are snickering behind your back.. because everyone knows that  you are living in denial and that you are the only one in your daughter’s life who doesn’t know a thing about her…and the worst is, you are making a liar out of your daughter..( it takes a lof out of your child to lead the double life she is leading now and you are forcing her to do it.)

As a mother, you have the responsibility and the duty to help shape your daughter’s life in a positive manner..You have the privilege to be that person who can shape her world..You are supposed to be her friend instead she considers you to be her worst enemy..

Was it worth it?

Ah, that little speck

Ever since my kids were little, I follow a simple rule ” don’t punish them for something that I myself would have done”
Basically it started when Yaya was about 2..she was having her breakfast and I told her to be careful with the bowl..
The bowl was a Uriarte talavera..it cost 180$/bowl. I am sure any sane person would ask which mother would serve cereal in such an expensive bowl to a toddler..

My maternal grandmother owned a complete set of Shelley China..She never used them..for she was keeping them for the ‘special occasion’..Over the years, pieces of the china disappeared..But the family never ever used it..not once.There was never a special occasion in the family worthy of using the Shelly..
By the time Yaya was born, I had a collection of China..and I used them everyday because I didn’t want to keep them for the ‘special occasion’

And Yaya dropped the bowl..It wasn’t so much as the cost of the bowl that broke my heart.. but the fear in my child’s face.. She was terrified..I felt, why should my child be terrified of breaking a bowl when I myself have broken a few pieces of the same set?
Why would I scold her when I gave her the bowl?

I learned a valuable lesson.. and so it continued…( and I bought corningware!)

When Yaya was having her birthday party, she wanted to use the dart board. She hung the board very close to the outdoor lamps and the dart hit the lamp shade and a broke a tiny piece. She came inside to tell me “mom, I am sorry, I broke the lamp shade”
Now, who in the world would hang a dart board close to a lamp shade?
I didn’t scold her..but did tell her ” Yaya, you need to remember money doesn’t grow on trees!! and no one in their right mind would hang a dart board close to a lamp shade !”

Last weekend I was getting all my summer gear out of hibernation..and thought I would clean and wax my surf board..The sun was getting in my eye and I pulled the chair closer to the wall..I was happy with the end results..My board looked beautiful. I got up holding the board..and I heard a loud crack..and there on the floor was the shattered remnants of my outdoor lamp shade. Yaya only broke a tiny piece.. I did the rest..( who in their right mind would sit right underneath a lamp shade and wax the surf board??)
And the speck in my eye..it is getting bigger by the day..

Again !!!

I seriously think the planets are in perfect alignment..don’t know how long this would last..but as the saying goes..it is all good..

The one thing as a parent I dread the most is the field trips.. especially those that involves costume. I don’t have any creative center in my brain..

Often I end up feeling miserable ( and murderous)  when I see the elaborate costumes other moms make..

This year my youngest had to go for a “gold rush” field trip and was asked to wear a costume that fits the theme.. My son did the same trip when he was in year 5..and his costume was pretty easy. Old torn jeans, suspenders, check shirt and a stetson..I packed his lunch, sun screen etc in a cloth bag and he looked like a very happy  miner!
Baby wanted something really nice because all her friends are wearing something ‘really’ nice. ( I did try to get her to wear something like what her brother wore and she gave me ‘that ‘ look!! that suggested  jeez mom, I am a girl !)

I didn’t even attempt to sew a costume..Cushion covers is the most I could manage.
So this is what I did. I got her to wear my skirt ( elastic waist, so it fits her), my top,my hat and bought her a neat handbag..

 And she won the best costume award.. Oh yeah !


I did IT !!!

It all started with the curtains..Just as my house is probably the only house with all the internal walls in different colours, so are the curtains.. I can’t stand uniformity..rooms with same curtains reminds me of impersonal hotel rooms..It took a while to find the right curtains..( especially because I am a pishukki ( stingy) and refuse to spend 1000’s  of $ for curtains..)

But then it became boring..it is summer time and I like bright colours..So I changed the curtains in the living room to blue and green sheer.. ( and a bit of truth..the original curtains that adorned the windows will fade with the summer sun and I really don’t want to buy new ones!! seriously pishukki)

And I had an array of gold, red and yellow cushions that certainly didn’t match the green and blue sheers.. The cheapest cushion covers I could find was 15$ each..and they were in a shop that sold all the Indian goodies..How can I bring myself to buy a made in India cushion cover for 15$ each, when I used to buy new ones every other month from the street vendors in Bangalore for 50 Rs for three? ( yes it happened 2 decades ago and I know you probably won’t get any such deals these days.. but my mind and wallet are still stuck to those times..)

So the only choice I had was to make my own..and if my mother was here..she would have had a heart attack..for you see I can do a lot of things, but sewing isn’t one…the sewing machine and I don’t understand each other. To begin with..I can’t even  stitch a straight line.. and that says it all..
I went to buy the fabric.. I didn’t know how much material I needed..  Smart people will tell you, the first thing you need to do before venturing to sew something  is to measure.. but the cushions were at home and I didn’t want to make another trip..I asked the shop assistant for help and she helped me tremendously by telling me that cushions from various manufacturers vary in size!! I took a chance and  bought a meter of each colour ( 6$ /meter)
I did one smart thing though.. I bought green thread..
I checked youtube..my teacher..my guide for inspiration..and I found this

I remember my mother telling me that fabric has some “weave” and you can’t simply cut in any direction.. I have no idea what she meant.. when I looked at the meter of fabric, I figured if I fold it in half from top to bottom instead of left to right ( imagine a rectangle) , I can make two cushion covers. I have a feeling I am not supposed to do that, but who cares?

And here it is..

You can see my sad money plant too..
BTW, the photos in the frame aren’t me.. I bought the frame for the green colour in the photos..

da vinci…

Last Friday my son had a Science class test and one of the question was who discovered the moons of Jupiter. da vinci was one of the answer choice and the teacher had spelled it wrong. My son struck the wrongly spelled da vinci and corrected the spelling and then wrote the correct answer.(Galileo).
Yesterday, the science teacher came to my son’s classroom and was talking to his class teacher and said ” guess what? He ( my son) caught me spelling da vinci wrong” in front of the whole class. Both teachers laughed and said “nothing gets past him( my son’s name)”. One teacher even suggested he ( my son) should be on the payroll !

In an ideal world, the story would end there..but it didn’t. My son was called da vinci by his peers the rest of the day.
Calling the dept of education or going to the school to complain will not stop my son from getting harassed..If he was called a nigger or black boy, then there is some hope for justice..but normal taunts and teasing, there is no remedy.
The only thing I as his mother can do is to tell him “IGNORE THEM”
What else should my son do?

He didn’t come and tell me when his friends taunts and teasing progressed to bashing because he knew I would go to the school and complain..but what none of you understand is that my poor child already endures so much at school..
He wants to be normal like everyone..but the moment you are smart, then the rest of the kids form a pack and do everything that is possible to ensure that you will not enjoy your time at the school. It is a Sin to be born smart..sin to be different..
Every year the school sends students for Brisbane writers festival where the kids are introduced to famous writers and spend a day with them. My son reads at Uni level, he loves writing. But he wasn’t picked to go to writers festival the last three years because ” we ( school) want to give a chance to all the other students” In other words my son is not chosen because he is really smart and doesn’t deserve the opportunity. What should I tell my child when he comes home dejected and disappointed? If I go to the school and complain and then they send him, my son won’t go.. He wanted to be chosen because he was good, not because his mother fought for him.

He goes to school because there is no other options available to him.
His naplan ( National Assessment program – literacy and numeracy) score for this year..???

Naplan results

As I hold his hands and walk him to his future, my only hope is that, he gets there..without killing himself..

My baby

In a lot of ways my son is very much like me..being a creature of habit tops the list.

From the time he was little, Whenever he takes his shower, he has always forgotten to take change of clothes and since none of us would help him and he wouldn’t wear the clothes he had worn before taking the shower, he would wrap the towel around his body  and run to his room to get new clothes from his closet. So it was a bit odd to see him remembering to take change of clothes. The first time it happened I thought  finally the planets are in alignment..but when it happened again, there was an inkling of doubt in my mind..something wasn’t right.
I finally asked him on the third day “What is going on?”
It took few threats from my part before he showed me his back.
He had blue black marks all over his back, courtesy of his friends..

My son is a genius. He was born that way. He was (is) always picked on at school by his friends..and there was nothing I could do to stop it. So I did what I could and told him “ignore them, they are teasing you because they are jealous of you”..
There are laws that protects you from racism. physical assault and some amount of bullying..but regular routine teasing is considered “normal and acceptable”

Few weeks ago, the grade 7 students had to do a windows media project as part of the new Australian curriculum and none of the teachers knew how windows media works. My son was asked by the teachers to do a presentation for all grade7 students.. He did..and the blue black marks on his back were the results..

My son doesn’t want me to go to the school to report it. He doesn’t want to make it any more worst.
“They are my friends Mom and I already told them to stop hitting me”

The school has hands off policy and my son knows his friends would be in trouble if I go and complain.

He begged me not to complain..
I wish I could accept the blue black marks on his back as part of growing up. I couldn’t. It was hard to go against my child’s wish not to make his life any more difficult that it already is..
I told him, I would have respected his wish, had he been honest and came and told me what happened, instead of trying to hide the marks from me. He lost his bargaining power when he did that.
I also needed to have the incident recorded, because if anything happens in the future ( if my son is hit again and he retaliated) I needed to show the past history..
I complained to the school.
My son is angry ..because now his friends give him “death stares”
So long as they are not bashing him up, I can live with that..
I told him” it is my duty and responsibility to care and protect my children and I did what I had to do”
But now I fear.. the repercussions..