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…


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.


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..



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.


Yaya had her school formal ( prom) last week.

I never understood why formal was a big deal until last week. My impression of it was from all the American movies I watched. Girls getting dressed up and attending the event with her date, travelling in a flashy car etc etc.

The preparation for the event started few months ago. First was the dress. Do we get it stitched or buy? The choice of the fabric material was the next issue. Then the colour as it not only had to suit Yaya’s complexion, but also her date. He is a Ranga ( ginger head) and she couldn’t wear a lot of shades as he needed to wear something that matches and it would clash with his hair.

I had a kutch/mirror work lehenga in medical school and I really wanted Yaya to wear a lehenga. A friend living in Mysore went to so many shops to look for one and we couldn’t find something that we both liked. There was also cultural issues, my Indian descent child can wear, low neck, off shoulder dresses etc, but not wear a short blouse and show her midriff. She finds showing one’s belly disturbing! So no lehenga.

I was also very busy with my work and Uni and didn’t have time to sit with Yaya and find a dress. Besides I felt she really should do these things on her. Which she did. She found the dress she wants on ASUS and paid for it using her credit card (45$). Then she found another dress that she felt might look good on her and asked if she could buy it too? If she didn’t like it she can return it, so I let her.

And we ended up with  a red dress and a blue dress, both looked equally good on Yaya and we had to do a survey with all our friends and families to see which one she should wear. We had a near 50: 50 split.

I liked the red, but she went for blue because it had sequins on it and it would really sparkle under the disco lights.

My best friend organized hair and make up for Yaya ( because she knew I am clueless and was busy)

Yaya got dressed at my friend’s place and she took Yaya for the function. I had Uni in the morning, so I got home, changed and went for the parent’s party directly.

The function was held at the local golf club..As I parked my car and started to walk towards the hall, I met other parents and their beautiful daughters and handsome sons..and the one thing I noticed was the beaming smile on all their faces..and that is when it occurred to me, why formal is really important. As a parent, you are actually witnessing your child turning in to an adult. It is like one minute you are packing their school lunch and dropping them to school and then all of a sudden you see them as adults..

There were few steps to climb to get to the venue.. It was raining a bit and I was wearing heels. I really didn’t want to embarrass my child by falling down, so I climbed up the steps slowly, just as I was nearly 3/4 of the way, I looked up.. there on the top step was my precious child..all dressed up..looking like a Bollywood actress and smiling. She took my breath away and I had to think happy thoughts so I wouldn’t cry.

Parents had only 30 minutes to spend with their children before the actual party started. ( actual party is only for the kids). My friends had already organized a party for the parents at a local pub and I joined them for the parents party. We reminisced the past 17 years of being a parent. And it was good.

Away until Oct 15 th.



In all fairness…

After my last post, I have been a bit tormented and I still don’t think I will ever understand the reason.

My oldest sister got married a couple of years ago. I don’t know when, where or to whom. She sent a mail inviting me for the wedding and I ignored it because for me it really doesn’t matter what she does with her life. I didn’t think I would gain something by attending her wedding.. I couldn’t imagine having to deal with my family members and all those dramas and the four of us meet face to face.

The sister younger to me got married when I was living in Canada. I didn’t attend her wedding either. Partly due to financial reasons, but mostly due to the fact that attending her wedding was not something up in my bucket list of things to do.

My youngest sister had a baby few years ago.. I find it really odd that I, who remembers every one of my friend’s birthday do not know when my nephew is born or how old is he this year. She sent me a video of her child and I never watched it. Why should I? What difference would it make to my life if I watched a video of my nephew? I don’t feel any affection for my sister’s kids.

At the same time, I celebrate every milestones of my neighbour’s grand daughter and consider her as my niece and she calls me Aunty Sarah. She visits me every week when she comes to see her grandparents. I buy her cute girlie things and sometimes take her to the park. I also consider a friend’s son as my nephew and wait for his mom to upload photos of him on FB.. Few of my children’s friends call me ‘mom’ and one even added me on FB as her mom.

When I wrote that two of my sisters didn’t attend my wedding, I must admit that I didn’t attend any of their weddings either. I can’t cast that rock of accusation without telling both sides of the story.

I wish I knew why we became the way are now. Amma used to always say, “you only have each other” and did everything to make us fight with each other. I think she enjoyed what she was doing The anger and resentment I feel for my siblings is endless. Today my siblings are not part of my life and they  will never be part of my life.

I am not at all upset that I have no contact with them.

But the peace I feel for not having to be part of any of the dramas.. that is priceless.

You did well !

That was a comment my cousin made few weeks ago and after reading the post today you will know why that particular comment meant a lot to me.

My cousin was the person who annoyed me the most by constantly reminding me of the importance of family and forgiveness. How I should remember the sacrifices made by my mother and be grateful. She always made me feel like a horrible, ungrateful wretch.

When she was here few weeks ago, my kids were in the kitchen cooking. Each of them sharing the cooking duties and when it was time to drain the pasta, my son took over the job, because he didn’t want his sisters to get burned while draining the pasta. Yaya hates bacon In her pasta, but cooked it because her brother loves bacon in his pasta. Baby hates Mushroom, so Yaya made Alfredo sauce, but sautéed mushroom for herself and me and added that to our pasta at the end. They were talking to each other, teasing and laughing while cooking. My cousin watched the whole thing and then told me

“You did well, by walking away from your family”

There has never been a day where my sisters and I talked to each other without fighting, without sarcastic comments/retorts, without selfish thoughts and acts. I have no memories of happy times with my siblings. ( Two of them didn’t even attend my wedding..)

I could attribute my children’s love and respect for each other as a luck of the draw. But I think it is because my kids have never seen conflict within the family and that has saved their relationship with each other.

There is an old Sicilian proverb, if the tree doesn’t bear fruit, cut it off at the base. ( Similar to the one in the Bible) and that is just what I did. If my family can’t get along, there was no point exposing my children to all those traumas..and the best thing to do is to walk away. I am happy I did it. I saved my children from my family.



Yaya’s mid term exams are going on now. The result from this exams will be used as her predictive score for admission in to US unis. ( Her final results will only be published after the admissions closing date). So it is very important that she gets really good score.

Beginning of this year, I noticed that she was struggling with Maths, especially calculus. Her first term score was 5 ( highest is 7) and I finally asked her if she would like to have a tutor?  She refused. initially and after a few weeks of pestering she relented by saying that she will try a tutor for one lesson and if she doesn’t like him, then that is it.

So I looked for the hottest tutor I could find. ( The only way I could ensure the tutor would last) He is a 3 rd year Engineering student, got the highest grade in grade 12 and very good looking and Yaya was very keen to have maths lessons!

Then there is a girl in her class who always got 7 for maths and Yaya and her have been competing to be the Dux. ” I am never going to be better than her” was Yaya’s response after every maths exam. “She is so good in Maths, I inherited your brain mom, why?” were all became part of her grievances.

Last week she had her Maths exam and she not only got the 7, but also beat her friend by 1 mark. It was the impetus Yaya needed.. All of a sudden the clouds of doubts have parted and it is like there is a new Yaya.. the really confident one..



Having a best friend who speaks 6 other languages (None of which I speak) apart from English means that I get to hear a lot of songs I would have never heard otherwise.

Today I have a test and I haven’t studied anything. I am going for the probability..ie..if I pick B for all the questions I don’t know the answer to, chances are that I get 1 in 4 right. ( I think we can safely assume that my GPA is heading south)

Instead of studying, I am listening to this song..

Lyrics and translation here