This morning my son wore a tux to school. ( He bought one for 20$ from the thrift shop). He is doing a business presentation at his school. His ( fictional) company came out top in a group of 18 companies.

First of all I am thankful that the school provides opportunities like this for the kids. 18 groups ( of ten students each) were given as part of a project to teach them business management skills with three million dollars ( not real)  and I million shares and they had software that tracked every decision the CEO made and the share values fluctuated like in real life. My son made the decisions backed up with mathematical calculations and his company did extremely well.

The journey to this moment was not easy. The last three years of our stay in Vancouver, there was a bar of chocolate in our fridge with his name on. He got the chocolate in Kindergarten for Easter and was so tormented to make the decision to eat it. Apart from that, he also had the notion that if he couldn’t eat it, no one else could either, so he wrote his name on the bar and kept it safely in the fridge. Every now and then I reminded him that his chocolate is still in the fridge. I didn’t throw it away because this was a good opportunity for me to teach my son a valuable lesson. So I kept in the fridge. When we were moving to Australia and while emptying the fridge, I showed him the chocolate and told him, ” you can eat it or it goes in to the bin” He didn’t want to eat three years old chocolate and it went it in to the bin and I explained to him that , if he had made the (right) decision to eat it on the day he received it, like his sisters did, that would have ensured that he enjoyed the chocolate, by delaying the decision, he gained nothing.

Over the years, I refused to make decisions for him. He wanted a computer, he needed to do the research and choose. He wanted new t-shirts, he had to go to the shop and buy. (that was something he struggled with the most because there were too many to choose from and he couldn’t do maths to figure out which one suited him the best)

I also started making him pay a bit of money regularly to charities and made him volunteer at the Thrift shop so he learns to share. ( He made the decision to donate money to a charity as part of one of the decisions he made for the business project and his teacher was very impressed)

He ironed his business shirt ( Blue stripes)  and polished his shoes last night. He tried a few neck ties before deciding which one he was going for. ( he went for a grey silk tie, I would have preferred an earthy/red tone, but he will learn to figure out what works eventually).

It is such a delight to watch my boy grow up to be a capable man.

I am very happy.


She is my classmate, the only daughter of her parents. She knew that to have a better future, she needs a good education. So she started learning English as a second language and then eventually came to Australia as an International student to study nursing. She passed nursing and decided that she needs a master’s degree..

She works in a sushi restaurant for the maximum hours she is allowed to work. She saves every single penny. Her parent help her with the tuition fee, but her living expenses are all on her own.

Last month she bought a beat up car with the money she saved working the last three years. She hasn’t been once since she came to Australia.

In one of the group assignment we worked, she spent 8 hours to write 800 words. ( She still struggles with English, but was determined to do a good report)

In exactly 6 months from today, my oldest child will leave home.. She knows she is on her own ( financially)

I meet so many international students who work and support themselves  and I was one of them..

But still it feels really send Yaya out to face the world on her own.


Yesterday morning, first thing I did was to go to the library. I haven’t read any serious  novels since my classes started. I am a creature of habit and having classes at odd times, having to take the public transport etc has knocked my carefully laid out, perfectly planned to the very last second life in to  chaos. Thursdays I had classes until 7:30 pm and  it took more than an hour  get back home and often I didn’t even have time to grab a cup of tea before taking my kids for their basketball games. ( And I still had to do my assignments after we came back home at 10 pm).

I haven’t had a dinner party at home and I missed having my friends over.

I haven’t taken my kids for holidays.

I haven’t done any gardening, not even watering the plants ( automated it)

My house is a mess.

I read Hwan Sok-Yong’s The shadow of arms until 2:30 am last night. Today, I will work on my garden, tomorrow I will clean the house and on Sunday, I have friends coming for dinner..

I am so glad for the few days of time off from Uni.




Yesterday, when I wrote about studying here is like a walk in the park, there is one thing I forgot to mention.


While it is acceptable and often required to write exactly what is in the text books in India, Plagiarism is a big offence here. Before starting the course, every student is required to attend mandatory lesson about plagiarism and the libraries conducts regular classes about how to reference your work properly.

Few weeks ago, another one of my (Indian)classmate has been hauled up to meet the academic integrity officers for plagiarism. If the integrity officers find the offence a serious misconduct, he will be asked to leave the program/University.

Plagiarism rules are very simple. If you copy something word for word from another source, cite it. If you copy the content/ideas reference it. Uni also provides access to turinitin, a program that checks your work for plagiarism

I understand some of the Indian students find it difficult to write in English, yet you find Chinese students who learned English as a second language and struggling to use google translate from Mandarin to English and  spending hours at the library trying to write 800 words essays and they do it without plagiarising.

I think it is the attitude of the Indian students about plagiarism (I am smart, my work is better because it is straight from the text book) that is causing all the trouble. Perhaps it is time Unis in India took active role in stopping plagiarism, a daunting task when some of the Vice chancellors themselves have been accused of plagiarising their entire research topic.


6  months of my master’s degree is over, that is one full semester and how fast it went !

I am glad I am doing this.

If you have ever thought of studying further, trust me when I tell you this, studying in a Uni outside India is like a walk in the park. Of course there are plenty of assignments, but your professors do not make you go through emotional trauma/bullying like they do in India. There is no rot learning either. Most of my exams are open book. Usually when I have an open book exam ( via blackboard, not pen and paper), my classmates also do it simultaneously and we chat on FB to make sure everyone got the right answer. My son quipped when he saw me doing this “Mom, it is supposed to be open book, not open facebook”

I met a lot of nice people.

I am happy.


Last Saturday, Yaya wrote her SAT subject test ( Spanish and Biology)

I live very far away from the test center and no shops are open at that time of the day when the test starts ( 7.45 AM). So I end up waiting at the car park till IKEA (nearest shop) opens and watch parents dropping their children who are writing the SAT.

Caucasians and Asians: They drive to the car park, stop for a few seconds, student alights from the car, they drive off, student goes to find where the test center is.

Indians: They drive to the car park. Park the car. Student alights from the car, so does Mom and Dad ( plus the rest of the family in some cases). Mom checks the hall ticket, pencil case etc the student has, Dad gives last minute instructions. They all walk  to the test center. They discuss exactly where the student should wait for them after the test. They wait, till the student enters the hall. Plus an extra few minutes, just in case the student needs something the very last minute. Then they leave.

I am not picking on the Indian parents. My mother was exactly the same. So are all my cousins. Somehow we refuse to teach our children resilience. We think we would be bad parents if we don’t walk every step of the way with our children.

I saw this article in the local newspaper. Imagine sending your 14 year old daughter alone to a strange place with just 5 Hong Kong dollars knowing that your child is going to be homeless.

Article is here

( page 13, Q weekend, Courier mail + Joyce Chiu June 6-7 2015)




Revenge best served old

Nope, that wasn’t a spelling mistake.. I meant ‘old’

First, let me talk about him.

He is the oldest son of his parents, the undisputed heir of the family. He was given everything  even before he asked for it. And then it was time for him to get a wife. His parents wanted only the best. She must be good looking, not very educated ( so she is amenable to be to be a perfect wife) etc were their demands

She was beautiful and fit all their criteria. And the marriage went ahead and her life sentence began.

He only ate typical Suriani cuisine. There must be meat/fish everyday. Food must be ready and hot when he came at lunch time, house must be spick and span every single minute. She was never allowed to have friends or go out with them. He held the economic power too and didn’t let her buy anything new for herself. One saree for Christmas was all that she was entitled to.

If she didn’t follow the rules, she was beaten.

Today, he is old. He can no longer walk, let alone raise his hands.

He can’t go to the market anymore and even though she is still fit and strong, she doesn’t like the smell of the market and besides he was the one who did all the marketing all these years, she finds it very difficult to do the necessary negotiations with the sellers. So no meat or fish. She developed a liking for peanut butter sandwich for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

She is an active member of the Matha Mariam samajam now. She goes for all the meetings, retreats etc, wearing her new sarees and matching blouses. ( it is a joint account and he can’t go to the bank to change anything and even if he did, her children give her money)

40 years of life sentence, she is free now.

Revenge is best served old.


Sometimes you learn so much from your kids.

Yesterday, I had to fetch Yaya from the library and it is a pretty long drive. So, I asked my son if he would like to come along. ( mostly so I could spend some time alone with him and partly to alleviate boredom).

As I drove out from my house to the main road,  the road is a steep hill and as I  reached the top, I noticed that the moon was rising in the horizon. It was such a magnificent sight and I told my son, “look it is a full moon”. Reluctantly, he switched off the game he was playing on his hand phone and watched the moon.

“Isn’t it amazing mom, how the sun’s rays shine on the moon that has no light and make it so pretty to look at”

“Indeed” I replied

“Mom, have you ever thought that there is actually no darkness?”

“What do you mean? There is darkness” I answered

“No mom, there is no darkness, there is only absence of light”

I had never thought that darkness is a temporary phenomenon of not having light..

It was a good lesson.. that when you feel that your life is all gloomy and your days are all dark …it is only temporary..

light is omnipresent. And for moments like this, I always make it a point to spend time with my children.. you learn so much.

Group project, the bane of my existence

When my children were little, the one thing that drove them to the point of insanity was group projects, Often the teacher paired them with students who are not good in  their studies. I always told my children that they simply have to accept the fact that they need to learn to get along with others who are not always like them. I remember Yaya single handedly doing a group project in grade 5 all by herself because no one in her group wanted to do it  properly and Yaya couldn’t bear to hand in a shoddy project..and the tears she shed ..I think I wrote a blog post about it.

And now, I face the same dilemma. All of my assignments that I have to do by myself, I got 7 ( highest GPA) but some of the courses require me to do group project and that is the main problem. I understand not everyone is going to be as driven as I am. But this is a masters degree and by now everyone should have learned  that if you are going to do something, do it well.

I am meant to do a group project on a WHO report..and I received a mail from one of my team member.. That she spent the past 3 days searching for the perfect picture for the report cover page. Another one then commented on how beautiful the picture is and how our project is different from everyone else’s  ( based on the cover page, not content) and that we surely will get the highest mark. Sadly, the content most of my team members have managed to get is copy and paste (change few words to avoid plagiarism) wiki…and somehow they think that is sufficient.

It reminded me of this Calvin and Hobbes cartoon

There are a series of 6 comic strips and  you will understand what I mean when you get to the part with ‘ no marks for the professional clear folder’

And finally this is what I would like to place on the cover page..