Finally

Monday nights are usually movie nights for me. Yesterday I was meant to watch Bridge of spies with my partner  and I think he got his periods yesterday! ( I swear, men get periods too). He was so crabby yesterday that we decided to cancel the movie night.

Just because he didn’t want to go for the movie, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t, so I checked the movie guide to see if there is any movie, I could watch on my own. (I felt his periods should be over by next Monday and we could still watch Bridge of spies together) I noticed that my local theatre is showing Amar Akbar Anthony. I couldn’t believe they were showing Bachchan’s movie in Brisbane. I haven’t watched a Hindi movie for ages, so I thought I might as well go and watch the movie. Yaya has exams going on and my son was speaking to his gf on Skype, so I asked Baby, if she would come with me to watch an Indian movie.

“Mom, I won’t understand a thing” she said

“That is fine, you can sleep if you want to, and  I will buy ice cream for you after the movie”

“Fine” she said and packed her colouring book and pencils to take along.

The other reason we watch movies on Monday night is that I get student discount and the ticket only costs 5$. I was shocked when the movie attendant told me the price for 2 tickets , 32$. Bloody hell !

As Baby and I walked up to the cinema hall, I noticed a lot of Mallus around and I was expecting Punjabi/Hindi crowd.

Something really wasn’t right.

And then the ads started.. Mallus speaking English in Mallu accent..Even a simple street name like Annerley road was butchered beautifully.

It occurred to me that the last time I actually watched a Malayalam movie in the theatre was when I was doing pre-degree. That is a loooooong time ago !

When the movie started Baby asked ” Mom, what language are they speaking?”

“Malayalam” I replied

“Isn’t that your language?” She asked

“Yup, yours too?” I replied

“Nope, Mom, I am a Canadian, I am not whatever you are”

I didn’t have any response.. after all, you reap what you sow.

Fortunately, movie had English subtitles and whoever has done it, has done a decent job and I noticed that Baby kept her colouring book aside and was actually watching the movie.

I loved the theme song..apart from that I didn’t find  anything remarkable. But Baby watched her first Malayalam movie..

What really bothered me was that a lot of people brought little kids along to watch the movie. It is time Indian movies started classifying movies according to the age. There was too much violence in the movie and I found it really disturbing that little kids are exposed to so much violence.

Hmm

Yaya’s final exams will start tomorrow and she is currently on  SWOTVAC ( Aussie equivalent of study hols)

She started a new job last week and went for on the job training most of the days. She attended a Halloween party at her friend’s house on Saturday and had a sleepover. I see her sitting down in her room and revise every now and then.

I don’t know if it was the way we study in India, or if it is because I am a student who believe in the  very last second panic studying. Few days before my exams, I am usually so stressed and will be biting every bit of my nails and wouldn’t even eat anything for fear of wasting time. My child on the other hand baked a cake last night, filled her uni application forms etc. I am terrified every time I see Yaya not studying. I am tempted to tell her ‘don’t waste time, keep revising’

But then I tell myself, I haven’t told her to study until now and she did well and I am sure she knows what she is doing.

Honestly, her style of studying terrifies me.

 

Sisterhood !

This happened sometime ago and I can’t remember if I wrote about it or not.

As a full time Uni student, I suddenly found I need a new bookshelf and bought one without thinking where I was going to keep it. I like my bedroom sparsely furnished and I hate clutter. So, I ended up keeping the bookshelf in the closet..it is an ideal place, if only I could remember that the walk in wardrobe has now become squeeze in wardrobe..I often end up bumping my arm on the corner of the book shelf. Along the same time, my friend bought a new dining table at his place and I bumped my thigh in the corner of that as well. (I misjudged the height)

And then I went to do grocery shopping wearing a singlet and shorts.

The lady standing in front of me at the checkout kept looking at me funnily.

Perhaps this was the first time she was a scantily clad Indian woman.. I thought to myself.

As I walked out of the shop, I noticed that the same lady was standing outside and when our eyes met, she said

“Excuse me”

“Yes?” I asked her

“I am so sorry to bother you, but I noticed the blue black marks on your body and wanted to tell you that, you don’t have to take this, there are laws in this country that can protect you”

It took me a few seconds to get what she was trying to tell me. She thought I was a victim of domestic violence.

I explained to her that I will never ever tolerate abuse of any form and that the blue black markings on my body was my own making.

It felt so good.. that people care.. even when they are strangers..

Perceptive

I was home the first week of  my children’s school holidays and on the first day of holidays, my son came to my room to give me a kiss before he went out. He always gives me a kiss before going out.

“Where are you off to?” I asked

“Going out for a movie with friends” He replied

“have fun” I told him.

Few days later, the same scenario repeated again

He came to my room, gave me a kiss and I  asked him

“Who is the girl?”

He looked at me for a few seconds and then asked me

“How do you know there is a girl?”

“Darling, it is pretty obvious, last time you went out for the movie, you wore shorts and t-shirt, today you ironed your shirt, wore matching shorts and have generously dabbed yourself with Davidoff( more like dunking himself in perfume)”

“Mom, you are so perceptive” he replied while grinning.. because there is a girl 🙂

I think one of the most important skills a mother ought to have is perception. My kids are not going to update me about every details of their personal life. They don’t have to. But that doesn’t mean that I ought to be clueless.

Old age

Last weekend, I helped my elderly neighbours to put their house on the market (my job involved emotionally supporting them as they are devastated)

Their house is one of the most beautiful houses in my street, every brick in that house was installed with care and thought and they spent a substantial amount of money to make it a dream home. This was their dream home and this is where they wanted to die. Sadly, they are unable to live in their own home due to failing health and must move in to a retirement home.

They had hoped to travel around the world after they retired. They managed to go for two cruises since they retired and now they are not physically able.

They spent so much of their income making their home beautiful and now when they sell it, they are going to lose the pension they are entitled to as most of the government financial aid is tied to your income. ( they will get close to a million when they sell their house and will have to say goodbye to old age pension from the government)

I looked at my own financial position.. I think I am doing ok. I travel and see all the places I want to see and am not keeping those dreams for when I retire. I refuse to spend a great deal of money on my house and then when I am forced to sell it, lose my pension. I also send under 10K ( max amount I can send overseas without declaring it to the taxman) to my foreign account every year, so when I retire my savings are not in Australia and my pension won’t be affected..

Little things

As I have written many times before, I can only get along with people who read. I am digressing a bit here, bear with me..

When Amma and my oldest sister was here five years ago, I had gone out in the morning to the library to get books. When I got back, I cooked lunch quickly, so I could read the books. After lunch, I went and laid down on the day bed to read and a few minutes later my sister asked me “ninakku vayikkunathu manssilavunnundo?” (loosely translated it would mean, do you understand anything in the book you are reading..in other words she was insinuating that, having studied in Malayalam medium, I will not be able to understand English) As far as insults go, that I felt was way below the belt. I remember thinking, how little she knows me.. and how sad is that even in our middle age, we are still trying to insult each other.

Anyway, I like guys who read.. the more they read, the happier I am.

My friend is a voracious reader and has over 3000 books on his kindle. I am still old school and can’t deal with kindle. I like the feel of  holding a book in my hand. ( besides, if you are like me who reads through the night and doze off, a kindle falling on your nose hurts a lot more than a book)

At the airport, I got my novel out of my backpack to read and he took his kindle out.

“What are you reading?” I asked him

“Cutting for stone” He replied

He looked at the book I was holding, “The shadow of the wind”

We laughed so much.

He was reading a book written by a Malayalee and I was reading a book written by a Spaniard. (He is half Spanish). How bizarre!

But more than all these, the one thing that really made me happy was that he woke up every morning before I did, made me tea and then woke me up by saying “chayyyyyyaaa” He imitated the way I say Chaya perfectly. The truth is, he doesn’t know how to make tea. He dumps sugar and creamer and the tea bag in to a cup, then add hot water, dips the tea bag few times and voila the tea is ready. (he doesn’t even stir the sugar) I did consider teaching him how to make tea, but then again I felt I like the way he makes tea..after all each cup of tea is a journey of sweetness….first few sips, no sugar.. then it progressively gets sweeter and the final sip is the sweetest..

To be woken up every morning with a hot steaming cup of tea.. that was priceless..

And that is that…

Why?

As I never miss an opportunity to travel via Malaysia, we had a few days stop over in Malaysia during the holidays and we managed to miss  our connection flights. (long story). So I found myself standing in front of the airlines counter, trying to rebook our flights. There were few middle aged Indian men standing in the queue and one of them saw me and from the moment he set his eyes up on me, he kept turning to look at me. I noticed the kalava (red string bracelet) on his right arm and wondered if he even knew why he is wearing that bracelet.

My friend and I were playing scrabble on our ipad and both of us hate to lose and were desperately trying to prevent the other from scoring by blocking all the triple word etc.. Even though I was getting annoyed with the way this guy was staring at me, I was too busy trying to win the scrabble game/prevent my partner from winning..so I ignored him. Eventually I managed to rebook our flights and went through the immigration..( we were still playing the scrabble game and the customs staff were laughing at us) We had a pretty long wait for our flight, so we found a place to sit far away from the crowd  and continued with our game. A little later, I noticed that the guy with the kalava on his arm was sitting right in front of me and staring at me.

There were so many things that were wrong with this scene. I am 44 years old. At my age I should be left alone to do what I really want to do. Besides, I was travelling with a partner (really hot guy) and why in the world would I look at another guy? What makes an Indian guy wearing sandals and mismatched pants and shirt thinks that is God’s gift to women and is hotter than the one who I am with and is wearing a Ralph Lauren shirt and Saint Laurent jeans? I know I sound snobbish, but I don’t see the reason why I should be hassled like this.

A little while later, the passenger sitting on my right side got up and left. My partner always sits on  my left because he knows I am deaf in my right ear. Within a few seconds the guy with kavala on his wrist came and sat next to me on my right and I told my partner to swap our seats. My partner didn’t have any clue until that moment  what was going on and he is still surprised that some Indian guys act like this. The thing is, I really don’t understand why some Indian guys behave like this. But this kind of harassment ought to stop.

Precious

If I could pick one memory as the most precious during my vacation, it would be this.

I have been wanting to visit this island in the Sulu sea after reading about it in a novel many years ago. My main interest was the turtles that come to the shore to lay the eggs. I have always been fascinated with turtles, ever since I read about the hare and tortoise story in the Aesop’s fable and the story about Achilles and the tortoise, ( I have written about Zeno’s paradox in one of the earlier posts)

Although I have seen turtles in the aquarium, I have never seen them in the wild. The last time I went to another island hoping to see a turtle, none turned up. So this time, I was really keeping my fingers crossed.

The island itself is very tiny and an hour away from the main land. It was also very close to Philippines and there has been a spate of kidnapping by rebels/pirates in that area. I wasn’t really worried about my safety, but I was terrified for my friend. Caucasians are much more valuable when it comes to ransom demands. So I called the ranger to make sure that we will be safe and he very kindly informed me, “if you see any boat coming towards the island, run and hide and throw your passport away”

We arrived at the island in the morning, but it was really hot, so we decided to go to the beach in the late afternoon. I have been to so many islands, but there was something about this island that is different. It was so peaceful and beautiful with the coconut palms swaying in the breeze to some ancient rhythm. I remembered my grandmother and looked at the top of the coconut tree to make sure that there were no dangerous coconuts up there waiting to split my head in to two, before I sat down underneath the tree. Watching the waves gently lapping against the shore was soothing to the eye.I even found few Indian Badam trees ( The last one I saw was in my father’s office 40 years ago) near the shore..From where I sat, I could see one of the Philippine’s islands… the reef was very shallow and the water was crystal clear. My friend decided to go snorkelling and I joined him in the water, scanning the horizon for pirates.. Water was really warm and even without a snorkel, I could see hundreds of colourful reef fish. Then all of a sudden my friend told me ” I just saw a baby turtle” And I  thought the heat must have got in to him and that he was hallucinating. Baby turtles are programmed by mother nature to swim to the deep ocean as soon as they are hatched, so there is no way he could have seen a baby turtle near the shore. Then I saw something swimming next to my leg and it was a baby turtle. I turned to look at the beach and I saw  at least three dozen baby turtles on the beach and they were all running down the slope to get in to the water for their first journey to the wild.. One of them actually swam to where my friend was standing, checked him out for a few seconds and swam off.

Usually, the ranger collects most of the turtle eggs as part of the conservation program and the eggs are hatched at the hatchery. There are plenty of wild life in the island that eat turtle eggs. It takes 2 months for baby turtles to hatch and judging from where they were coming out, I am pretty sure I did walk over the nest when we came to the beach. Even with all those adversities, they still hatched and chose the right moment to leave the nest, so I could have this beautiful memory..

 

Independence

When I left for my holidays leaving my three wonderful children home alone, I had left three children who depended on me for everything ( starting from waking them up in the morning) and I came back to find three independent children.

I was a nervous wreck when I left because until this time, I had never left my children alone at home and I worried how they would cope without me? Honestly, leaving them alone without me was the best thing I have ever done.

The dynamics among them have changed. They seem to be more considerate of each other. All of a sudden, they seem more matured..

Since I came back, I haven’t cooked a thing. Three of them are still doing all the cooking. Baby gets up in the morning and pack school lunch for herself and her siblings. She does such an awesome job and make things I have never even dreamt of. I never really thought she could cook. The first time she baked me a cake for my birthday, I had to drink it. (She was 6) She loved tweaking recipes and it was always a disaster! Yesterday she made meat patties and used Thai red curry paste to flavour it and it smelled really good. Every evening the older two siblings tell her, how yummy the lunch was. Yaya and my son handle dinner. Last night we had roasted sweet potatoes with salad and guacamole. I am not a huge fan of sweet potatoes, but somehow the combination of guacamole and sweet potatoes was super.

Kids also do the dishes by hand. They wash the dishes they used and haven’t used the dish washer. I was really surprised to see that all three of them come back from school and wash their own lunch containers. (I still have the notice that I wrote few years ago about the amount of money Il charge as fine if they don’t put their lunch containers for wash before dinner time and at one time I earned about 17$ in fine from my son alone)

They do the laundry separating in to three loads, coloured, blacks and white and hang the clothes just the way I want with the hook of the hanger facing the left and the labels to the back. The best thing was they changed my bed sheet before I arrived. I like sleeping on fresh bed linen and always change the sheet when I come back after holidays and my kids knew that !

House was generally clean, but the kitchen counter was a bit messy.

As my semester is about to finish, I am bogged down with assignments and usually  I would be really stressed towards the end of semester because of  lack of time .. However,  because the kids are now in charge of the kitchen, I am now left with plenty of free time..in fact since I came back, I have attended Latin American movie festival at my Uni, often watching movies back to back, going for dinner at Maccas and coming home at midnight 🙂 (I kind of feel like a teenager.. I have never had this much free time and fun in my entire life)

And I did have the best holiday too…life is good.