I received a heartbreaking letter from a mom ( yes, I got her permission to write about it)

She is a first generation immigrant to England from Kerala. All she ever wanted was to ensure that her children were given the best. She worked so hard and made so many sacrifices for her family.


Two weeks ago, she registered her son for a ? speaking class because he is very shy and she felt he needed help. ( I think it is something similar to toast masters that teaches you to talk confidently) and it costed 180 pounds. Her  teenage son forgot to go for the class. This for her was the last straw.

Her son completed his A levels few weeks ago, haven’t applied for his undergraduate uni admission, decided to take a gap year without planning anything as to what he is going to do with his time off, haven’t bothered to apply for his L plate or go for driving lessons. He just sits at home all day and do nothing.

She doesn’t know what she should do, and is tired of doing everything for her children. She wants to know how I get my children to do things on their own.

I honestly don’t think I have any magic formula. The only thing I do is ‘not do anything for my children’. If my kids wanted to do something, they simply have to do the work. ( If I want them to do something like getting  Yaya to apply for her L plate, I find ways to make her do it. I have written about it) Basically I think if you did everything for your children and made their life really easy, it will be difficult for them to take responsibilities on their own..

btw, if I paid 180 pounds and if my kids forgot to attend the class, I don’t think I will take it quietly.. I can assure you all hell will break loose here.


My nephew phoned me yesterday to thank me for insisting that he buys something for his father from here and give it to him.

My nephew and his father are not close, they don’t even talk to each other. He felt it is a waste of time and effort to buy something for his father as he was sure his father wouldn’t appreciate it.

I told him

Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana,

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani.

Obviously he doesn’t understand Sanskrit and never heard of Bhagavad Gita. I didn’t have the time to explain the whole story to him and this is what I told him.

“Your duty in your life is to do the things you are supposed to do, irrespective of the outcome, it is not for you to decide the impact of the outcome ( how your father is going to react) or worry about it. Your job as a son is to accept the fact that he is your father and that you will get him something  from here, just as you got something for the rest of your family members”

He bought his father a wallet from here.  Apparently his father was very happy to receive the wallet and immediately transferred his cards and all from the old wallet and started using it.

My nephew would have never known how much his father would have appreciated his gift, if he hadn’t bought something and given it to him.

Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana,

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani

Perfect plan

Newcastle-Australia-BeachImgae source: http://www.newcastlediggers.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Newcastle-Australia-Beach.jpg.

When we went to Sydney, we stopped at Newcastle to visit the beach.

Imagine this..

Crisp winter morning. Temperature of about 15 degrees. Warm enough to go for a swim and cold enough not to get sun burned.

Beautiful blue ocean and matching blue skies..

You wait patiently  for the whales to do the tale flip and then you spot the whales not too far away from he shore.. It was so incredibly beautiful.. ( and to think that I paid money to take my kids for whale watching  in Canada when we could do it here for free)

And it occurred to me that, I really don’t want to leave Australia. This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived and I enjoy my life here.

I still want to work and live in South America and Africa which will complete my bucket list of having lived in all the continents. But after that I want to come back and live here. There  lies the biggest problem. My children don’t want to live here and I really don’t want to live in US. In a decade or so, I hope to be a grandmother and I can’t imagine not living close to my grandchildren and spending time with them and  spoiling them rotten.

As I was waiting at the fish shop to buy fish and chips for my kids, I watched a dignified (looking) older lady buying ice cream for her grandchildren and then it occurred to me, I am just going to do exactly the same. I am going to bring my grandchildren to me by being  the best grand mom on earth. I am going to buy a beachside apartment in either Newcastle or Geelong ( two of my fav beaches) and a schooner. I am pretty convinced that future grandchildren will tell their parents, Grandma has the most awesome place and will take us sailing in her Schooner, so we are going to Australia to visit her.

I think this plan will work. I am going to buy lottery tickets starting today.

Through my nephew’s eyes

My nephew went back home yesterday and at the airport he told me ” Sarah, I don’t want to go back home”

My nephew is 19 years old, his mom loves him more than anything else on earth, but for him everyday life at his home is a nightmare.

These are the things according to him we do differently

We always eat our meals together. When food is ready, I ring the bell and everyone stop whatever they are doing and come for dinner. It doesn’t matter if they are halfway through their favourite TV program or that they are not hungry. After dinner, we usually talk about our respective day. I ask each of my kids how their day was, how is their boyfriend/girlfriend/current crush etc are. Then we talk about politics, current topic is Greece economic crises.. ( Yaya mentioned slowing down of Chinese economy last night, so perhaps we will talk about that today)

We always say goodnight to each other and my children usually do not go to bed without giving me a good night kiss. ( If I annoyed them sufficiently enough, then they won’t give me a kiss and I spend the next few days complaining about how mean they are even though it was I who bugged them, I seriously believe in my maternal rights to complain)

We play board games whenever we get a chance. I still sit with them and play Monopoly ( When I was the banker, I did give myself extra dough when no one is looking, sadly I have been banned from being the banker and no longer get to build a lot of hotels and win the game)

I have never once told my children to study. ( This was his biggest surprise, that all three of my kids either read novels or go out with their friends instead of studying whenever they have free time/holidays)

Our love for long distance drive. ( Before coming here, he has been to the beach twice in 19 years and since coming here, we went to the beach 8 times)

Our messy house. I had friends over for tea and my house looked like a pigsty. ( My house is already small and I have so many kids staying over night) Apparently his mother cleans the house if a courier is dropping a parcel to the main door.

What he didn’t like was my rule ” I cook, you eat” Apparently his mom makes three different types of meals most evenings so everyone ( his bro and father and him) gets to what they like. She doesn’t cook vegetables because according to her, no one likes vegetables. I am a strong believer of the idea that fussy eaters are created by their mothers. I believe in feeding my kids a balanced meal and we have salad/veg with every meal and my nephew really struggled when I told him he can’t leave the table till he ate one serve of the vege.

According to him, no one ever talks to each other at his home, both his parents are very busy with their work and everyone eat whenever they are hungry. His father comes home from work late, sits in front of the TV till bedtime. His mom gets home,spend a lot of time in the kitchen to cook the food that she thinks will make each of the family member happy.

I read this sometime ago

” I think there are roads that lead us to each other. But in my family, there were no roads – just underground tunnels. I think we all got lost in those underground tunnels. No, not lost. We just lived there.” Benjamin Saenz

Rainbow !

I took the kids to Sydney for a short break and we had an awesome time. Now that they are older, I don’t get stressed when they are out on their own. They wanted to go for a movie and they could find the theatre on their own and even find the cheapest way to buy the ticket ( Family pass.. Yaya and her best friend became the adults and toothless and baby became the kids)


Usually when we get back home, I have to chase my children to put their clothes dirty clothes for wash. This time, my son did the laundry without me asking him. My youngest cleaned the car, while Yaya and her friend baked Macaroons. All of a sudden I was like a rudderless ship with nothing to do. So, I went to my room to pout and  hibernate. No one missed me..  After a while, I thought I might as well read the newspaper. Being a creature of habit, I still read ‘old’ news paper, in this case the weekend newspaper.I try not to miss  reading my weekend newspaper even though the news is old, because I love the writings of some of the columnists very much. I found this article by my favourite columnist and I thought I would share it . (http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/angela-mollard-why-you-shouldnt-despair-if-you-hit-rock-bottom/story-fniym874-1227429309879)

Every time, I hit rock bottom, I tell myself,  I can’t go any more lower and  the only thing left is to go up. Sometimes, it is really hard to believe that there are rainbows after a storm.. It is comforting to know that you are not the only one who has hit rock bottom, even famous people have been there..


My son managed to drop 10 kg in 12 weeks. He weighs 74 kg now.

He did it by portion control and a bit of exercise.

The first thing I did was to stop making snacks,cakes and tarts. Every time he felt like having a snack he had a fruit. ( Bananas or apples). He loves canned fruits, so once a week he had a small serve of mixed fruit in apple juice as a treat. Other than that he hasn’t had a slice of cake, serve of ice cream or a chocolate bar the last 12 weeks.

He stopped eating fast-food completely. Reduced the quantity of food he consumed which really worried me for I couldn’t bear to think that he would feel hungry. Mom, it is for the greater good, he said.

He went on the bike regularly every day the first 6 weeks and then he lost the motivation. I didn’t want to nag him because he already lost so much weight and I knew if I continued with portion control he would be fine. He walked the longest route from his school to the bus stop everyday. he played basketball twice a week.

My point is this. You can really lose weight, if you are determined. You do not need to consume any magic potions that claim to burn fat or follow some stupid diet. All you need to do is eat what you really want to, but in smaller portions and walk.

Walking is free, cheap and efficient way to burn calories.

Power dressing

One of the fondest memories I have is of watching my oldest sister getting ready for college/work. In to the room goes an unremarkable ordinary woman and out of the room comes out the most gorgeous woman you have ever seen. I have never seen anyone who dress up as good as my oldest sister.

Me on the other hand was clueless. I didn’t know what colour suited me or what type of dresses I should wear that will make me look good. I used to read all the fashion magazines for hints and still was hopelessly clueless.

It took a long time for me to figure out what really works for me.

The first thing I did was to stick to a colour theme. I am neither fair complexioned nor dark complexioned. I am somewhere in the middle. ( I am sure Indian matrimonial columns would have the right description for my skin tone, but I haven’t seen the ads for a long time, so I can’t remember what I should call it)

I decided to stick with navy blue, black and red colours.  I love red because you can stand out really well in a group of guys in their black suits, so any meetings that involves a lot of male colleagues, I wear red. ( One of my friends tells me that he takes it more like a warning.. red..danger)

Having only three colours to work with, it makes it really easier to sort out the accessories and shoes. I don’t have to worry about what earrings to wear each morning.. I sorted them out to three categories.. wear with black, red or blue. All my jewellery are from the thrift shop, so I don’t cry each time my children borrow a pair of earrings and return only one  often with missing backing. Yaya is the biggest culprit.

I don’t like to wear pants. I am still a girly girl. However I am blessed with the ugliest chopstick legs ( really skinny malnourished legs) you can ever find. So I have to wear skirts that are above my knee level. ( if I wear lskirts that reach below my knee then my lovely chopstick legs will make it  look as if I am walking on stills 🙂  )

I own 15 black jackets. So when I send one set for dry cleaning, I won’t run out of jackets. I have lots of tops ( cami, sleeveless or standard blouse) that I wear with my suits. I only wear cami if I know for sure that it is not going to be a long day and I don’t have to take my jacket off. ( I really don’t want to screw up my professional appearance)

I also own a lot of shift dress in black and blue and I wear jackets with them.  My eternal wish for washboard abs are yet to materialize and until such day, I have to hide my sexy flabby tummy under a jacket.

I wear high heels. I am 5’4 and compared to my sisters, I am a midget. Between the choice of wearing ugly flats that make me look frumpy or killer heels that makes me look tall and sexy, I chose killer heels. ( And I know I will regret this particular choice eventually when my back is wrecked) I also have a mini tool kit with assorted heel tips replacements and regularly replace the heel tips, more now because I don’t drive to Uni.

The one thing I am yet to learn is to wear matching scarves with my outfits. There are too much of choices when it comes to fabric colour, material, lengths etc and anything with too much choices scares me. I am sure a beautiful scarf  worn with a jacket would make me look really good.. But that is something I am yet to learn.

Every night before going to bed, I make it a point to choose my outfit for the next day. It saves me so much of time in the morning.

I guess that is that about power dressing.



Dress for less.

When I returned to Uni after the surgery, one of my TA mentioned that the Prof was trying to figure out ( after receiving  my medical note from the uni administration) who was I in a class of more than 160 students and another lecturer told him that ” She is the one who is always well dressed”

I take great care to be well dressed. However that doesn’t mean that I spent a lot of money on my outfits. I haven’t bought a single new dress since I came to Australia. Every single one of my outfits are from the second hand ( thrift) shops. I go to thrift shops in upmarket areas as most thrift shops tend to sell items donated to the store and upmarket areas tend to have upmarket items donated. I can find branded clothes for a fraction of the price in those shops. All my suit jackets and blazers are branded and I haven’t paid nothing more than 10$ for each. Some of it were still brand new ( with the tag still on it)

I know using second hand stuff sounds a bit mangy to many people. My point has always been, if you can happily go to a restaurant and eat from a plate hundreds of other people have eaten from while relying on their dish washer to do a good job, then washing second hand clothes before wearing them should be fine.

Sometimes you find a lot of treasures too at the thrift shop. I found an antique aboriginal woomera in a non-descript thrift shop somewhere in NZ for 1 $. My friend it is worth about $500.

Yesterday, I found a pair of beautiful earrings for 5$. It took me all night to search on google to find where it is from.

earrings photo (2)

earrings 2Someone somewhere spent a lot of time to handcraft this earring and I am now the proud owner.


Yaya turned 17 last week.

I can’t believe that I am a mother of a 17 year old. Ideally I should feel very old, but I don’t. I feel ‘slightly’ old. Which I think is a good thing. I still have plenty of things I want to  do and achieve and don’t really  have the time to grow old.

Her best friend whom she hasn’t seen for 6 years came all the way from Canada the day before her birthday as a surprise for her. When Yaya came home, her friend opened the main door. It took her few seconds to understand what was going on and then the screaming, yelling, jumping up and down etc started. She was so happy 🙂

And then she and her best friend left for a party and spent the night at my best friend’s house. Yaya’s friends baked her a cake and treated her for breakfast and I picked her up in the afternoon.

I was a bit disappointed that my child chose her friends over me. But then again, this too is a stage of her being more independent and that means having a life that doesn’t include me.

I bought her a Boss headphones ( blue tooth) so she could use it when she goes to Uni. Her sister bought her a gold earrings and her brother bought her a tiny diamond pendant.

I am proud of the woman my daughter has become.