What a beautiful day..

It was supposed to be a hail and rain day..but it wasn’t.
Last night kids and I had an awesome Christmas eve dinner.

Santa gave the Yaya a Samsung Galaxy phone..( selfish reason. She never switches on her phone, She is not supposed to use the phone during school hours and is lazy to switch it on after the school is over. I want to be able to call her. Yaya can’t read without listening to music and I am hoping she will use the phone as her MP3 player and will  switch it on to listen to music.

My son got a proper RC helicopter. When we were in Canada, my son always asked for an RC helicopter and 4 years ago, I bought one as a Christmas present. It was a cheap one ( I was broke). He took it outside to play with it and Yaya asked if she could have a go and he let her..My son and I , we watched the helicopter hovering for a few seconds and then baaam.. she let go the remote..Helicopter didn’t withstand the power of gravity..We shed many bitter tears over the broken helicopter..and I have been wanting to buy him a good one.

Baby got a video camera.. She loves making movies ..( I am hoping that I can appoint her as the family photographer..I hate taking pictures and videos)

They also got a Christmas Ornament from me. Each Christmas I buy them a Christmas ornament, so when they leave my home, they can take their share of ornaments. They also got the usual books, clothes and toys from me.

I got a foot spa from my kids as my Christmas gift. ( and 4 free pedicure vouchers from Yaya, 4 free foot massage from my son and 2 special pedicure and 2 special foot massage vouchers from my baby.. special because she has adding extra love and made the vouchers all sparkly and shiny)

This morning we had appam and stew. Then we played blackjack..

In the afternoon, kids asked if we could go for a long drive.. and we did.
We went for off roading..
We found lots of kangaroos ( not wallabies)
There was no other vehicles on the road…
( I did cry, after we reached back home..my car is covered in thick red dust and I have to wash it off tomorrow)
All in all.. a wonderful Christmas..

Circle of life..

I am laying down in my bed to type this post. I made the Christmas pudding, salad, spring rolls etc.. All I have left to do is to cook the chook and the saddle back potatoes.
Years ago, my youngest sister and I were very close. My room was at the end of the house and  I always lay down and read. My youngest sister is 7 years younger to me and she loved playing “sneaking up to touch the toes”.. She would crawl on the floor, sneak up to the foot of my bed to touch my toes. She gets a point if she managed to touch my toes without me noticing her. Everyone knows that I am (partially) deaf.. so I shouldn’t be able to hear my sister trying to sneak up on me.. But I did.. most of the time..
Right now, my youngest child is doing the same. I never told her about her aunt playing the same game.
She has barricaded me with pillows, just so I won’t see her crawling..but I can hear..and I tap on the bed..when she reaches near the foot..
Life is a circle eh??
Tonite we are having roast chicken. ( chook is being marinated and later I will be stuffing it with minced meat),  home made  potato salad. saddle back potatoes, spinach and cranberry salad, spring rolls, devilled eggs, Christmas pudding, cake, and cherry and pistachio macaroons
I think I have had way too much wine..
Merry Christmas everyone..

Help. Violin music sheets

I thought I had all the Christmas gifts sorted..My younger one has written a new list to Santa half an hour ago…. She wants “Violin rap music sheets”..She is tired of playing classical music and wants to play rap music and could Santa please give her some new music sheets..( rap songs preferred). Does anyone know where I can find something online?

Entey Vanchi .. ( my boat)

I received a mail from a friend I have known for years.,,
One single sentence caught my attention.. “Do whatever floats your boat”
And I have been thinking about that one sentence for a very long time.
What floats my boat??
It is very complicated and I am trying my best to answer that question here.
I don’t know if I ever wrote about my mother’s fear of giving me anything from her home. Be it her love or the items from my childhood. She gave everything to my sisters ( and they lost it all over the years..every single thing)..In her quest for fairness, Amma has even taken things from me to give to my sisters.
I really wanted to keep Amma’s recipe book..It was a 250 page note book. Amma had beautiful script.. she used to practice writing on mirror..apparently that gives you a  better handwriting..( from the time I was little..I knew I would be a doctor..my handwriting is atrocious!!)
The book was very old and Amma had got someone to bind it with thick white thread and you can see the thread knotted from the outside.
In it there was a recipe for 1234 cake and I followed that recipe to bake the cake..every time…I made the biggest mistake of asking Amma, if I could keep her recipe book..( this was when I was doing medicine and we were living in Bangalore.) The book was given to Chechy the very next time she came for a visit..The unfairness in all this is..my sister doesn’t cook, wouldn’t cook and the recipe book was of no use to her.. of course my sister lost it in the course of time..just as she lost every little thing she took from our home..
I stole my grandfather’s cross from Amma. ( it is a very tiny cross and is bend because my grandfather had this habit of nibbling the cross when he was bored, because it was bend, no one was wearing it and no one noticed it was missing). That is the only thing that I have from my home..( I had also stolen Amma’s achappam achu, which she took it back few years ago)
I have no photographs, nothing..from my childhood..from my home..Even a photograph of my parents..I remember when they took the photo..I was in 8th std. Rarely a visit from my father could be considered peaceful.That year perhaps the planets were in perfect alignment. Appa and Amma went to Chithra studio to take a photograph..black and white photo..My mother is not photogenic..and in that photo..she had a nice smile..Apart from their wedding photos, that was the only photo of them together. Amma gave that to my sister younger to me. I begged my sister to lend me the photo for a day, so I could take it to the studio to get another copy..She wouldn’t give me..I never understood how is that one can even have proprietary rights to the photo of parents..
I have this fear of owning something that belongs to someone..because they might come and ask it back..
I also hate recycled gifts for the same reason..It belonged to someone and someone took it to give it to me..
I know I was talking about what floats my boat..
This is what floats my boat..
Things that no one can take from me..that floats my boat..
My memories..
My children.. ( I don’t own them..but no one, not one person can take them away from me. Actually, Amma and my sisters tried it once.. they came to my house in KL..well planned trip..My youngest sister rang the calling bell..I have a security door outside the main door and only my sister was standing outside..and I opened the door for her..the rest were hiding by the side of the gate..They demanded visitation rights to my children..According to my oldest sister, Amma as a grandmother and she as an aunt has rights..This is the same aunty who didn’t open her door when my children went to wish her merry christmas..Yaya was holding on to me and my mother was pulling Yaya from me and telling Yaya to follow Ammachi and Ammachi will raise her better than yaya’s mother..I called the cops..That was the last time I saw my mother and sisters together..and why I ran with my kids to Canada)

Croesus, Money and happiness

I received a mail (fb) from my senior few days ago. He was a very close friend of beautiful eyes. His mail was simple. He is going to Bangalore this Christmas and will be meeting few others to drink and remember the friend who died 2 decades ago. He wanted me to know that they ( friends of Beautiful Eyes) have never forgotten him. It was not just the mail that surprised me.. it was the subject..Croesus..
In 1988, beautiful eyes owned a Yamaha 350 cc bike. He was rich as Croesus and I told him the story of Croesus ( Tolstoy..Croesus and fate). He in turn told his friends about Croesus and the name stuck!!
Croesus was rich..very rich and he was happy. When you are the richest man on earth and happy because you have everything, you can assume that you are better than anyone..happiness is yours alone. There can’t be anyone happier than you. So Croesus thought..till he met the Scholar Solon and asked him if Solon has seen anyone more happier..Solon said yes he has..
He met a peasant in Athens who is happier than Croesus..
Story goes that, Croesus disagreed with Solon ( because Croesus had money and money brought happiness), till he lost his precious son in a hunting accident!!

I wondered if I could ask the same question to Solon??
How can I ask when I am wading in the quagmire of sorrow because you chose to leave me, instead of being happy for what I have?
So I decided to take a stock of what I have in my life rather than what I don’t have.
I have so much in my life that I am happy for…so much..

Exorcising still

I don’t know if I have written about the most interesting patient I have ever had.
I was working as an Emergency medicine Dr. ( Loved the adrenaline rush, hated to write death certificates)
I was on call that night along with another Dr, who was writing his DNB exam. He asked if I could handle the work load on my own, so he could study for his exams..
Usually there is a a lull in admissions between 12 and 3 am and I told him sure. Besides he was still in the same building and I could always call him if I need him.
Nurses were in the next room, talking to each other.
The attendant was sleeping on one of the beds and I was reading a book.
Then all hell broke loose.
The room was full of nurses, all talking at the same time..
they rushed in a patient and then someone told me
“She is a staff and she tried to commit suicide by drinking mercury”
“What? what did she take?” I asked again, just to make sure that I am not imagining.
The usual culprits in suicide are poisons, kerosene etc.. Mercury??
“She broke the bp apparatus and drank the mercury”
I had never seen a Mercury poisoning case before..I ran to get my colleague and updated him.
We checked her vitals, all good.
We reconfirmed the details.
Then we both looked at each other. What do you do to treat mercury poisoning? Is there an antidote?
No one to knew how to treat a mercury poisoning..
Then I remembered, the dept had an emergency medicine manual. I took the book out, checked for mercury poisoning..right under the words treatment for mercury poisoning…there was a telephone number..a US telephone number that said call this number if you ever find a mercury poisoning case..
But the patient survived and I learned how to treat mercury poisoning.
I met her before she was discharged..In the mid 90’s, shrinks weren’t that popular..you figured a way to deal with your problems..and I wanted her to know that I am there for her and that she is not alone.
What I remember the most about her when I met her that day.. was her hair..She had the most gorgeous long hair in two plaits..( The most beautiful part of humanity you will always find among nurses..they standby each other..sharing the work load, changing the rosters to help someone..and in this case, the whole bunch of nurses took care of my patient..bringing her home cooked meals, combing her hair and practically pampering her)
when she was discharged. She took few days of leave and one day she came to the emergency dept to say Thank you to me.
She had cut her hair..it was so short..
The new her..
She was trying to exorcise the ghosts..I knew that feeling..

I cut my hair..
It was not easy..Not least because my hair stylist who is also a very close friend, refused to cut my hair.
She insisted that I would regret cutting my beautiful long hair and she didn’t want to be a part of my misery.
It took a while to convince her that it is just hair and it will grow eventually..( of course, I could have gone to another stylist..but she is my friend and as a single mother, she needs the money especially during the holiday season)
We had a bottle of bubbly ( advantage of a stylist working from home) bitched about the men in our life..
somewhere along the line, the new me was created.
I wanted a very short hair style..and ended up with shoulder length hair..
One ghost is exorcised.. many to go..

I choose to love u in silence,
For in my silence I find no rejection,
I choose to love u in my loneliness,
For in my loneliness no one owns u but me……
I choose to adore u from distance,
… …..For a distance shields us both from pain….
I choose to kiss u on the wind…..
For on the wind is gentler than my lips…..
I choose to hold u in my dreams….
For in my dreams there is no end……

not my words..Found this on fb

more ghosts

I had actually forgotten about one more ghost..
I was 10 years old.
My father had left us and life was hell living with Amma.
When Appa was living with us, we always had good food. Appa used to buy fruits in bulk and after dinner, he used to cut the fruits and we would sit on the veranda and eat. He would teach us about various stars. We also went out to eat most weekends. But the biggst treat was parippu vada . Most evenings, he would buy parippu vada on his way back from work.
From that to an absent mother and kanji, payar ularthiyathu and yogurt with worms.. It was a drastic change.
i remember fighting with Amma one evening and asking her to buy parippu vada. Obviously she didn’t buy. But I remember wishing so much that if only I had someone..( enikku arenkilum undayirunnenkil)
You know, that someone who would help me get out of Amma’s house.
I shed so much of bitter tears.. not just because amma refused to buy parippu vada, but because my father, the only person who could have saved me from Amma left me.
I clearly remember the next morning. I was up early ( So I can read the newspaper first)
From the house you need to walk to the main gate to collect the paper and en route I also collected vellakka (baby coconuts) for my youngest sister. I made a pouch by lifting the edge of my tshirt to hold all the vellakka.
As I walked towards the gate, I noticed this man standing there. He smiled and told me
“Come, I bought parippu vada for you”
Strangers usually terrified me. But there was something about this man. He was so familiar, though I have never seen him before.
He was wearing a woolen hat and had a muffler around his neck. He had a newspaper wrapped parcel in his hand.
“you must not eat anything if given by a stranger” was the manthra we were all taught when we were young.
I don’t deny that I was very tempted to eat the vada. So the best option was to run inside the house, get amma and if amma agrees that I can eat the parippuvada this stranger is giving me, all is well.
I dropped the vellakka to the ground and ran back inside.
He wasn’t there when I came back.
was he a figment of my imagination?? Probably..
But my maternal grandmother insisted later that the person I saw was her husband who died two days before my birth..He always wore a woolen hat..
( The sensible one in me knows that there is no way you can buy parippuvada early in the morning, but the vellakkas were there exactly where I dropped them when I went back)
I spend so many mornings by the gate waiting for him..and much as life was hell with amma, there was this sense of feeling that I was not all alone.

exorcising the ghost

exorcising the ghost!!!
I don’t believe in Ghost.
However one of my family’s legend is the story about Marty’s ghost. ( marty is not his real name)
Marty was an Anglo Indian. ( How he became a part of my family’s legend is another story)

Apparently Marty’s trade mark was his guitar and his dinner jacket. He always wore a dinner jacket. ( Imagine the heat in Kerala and wearing a jacket all the time)
A very beautiful suriani kristiani woman fell in love with this handsome blue eyed malayalam speaking, guitar playing singer and her family got her married to another suriani before the end of the day.
What happened to Marty after that no one really knows. He was supposed to have gone to goa and was busking there. Then it was told that he went to England to study.
Many years later the suriani kristiani woman’s husband died in an accident ( one of the first cases of drink driving casualty in my family..Our man drove the car straight to the jackfruit tree that stood there in the same spot for over 30 years. Both the driver and the tree died and the wood from that tree was used to make a wooden trunk..( I will write about that petti may be tomorrow)
Our Suriani kristiani beauty never really forgot about Marty and used the usual gossip networks to find out where he is. By then Marty had a son..he also had TB.
Now is the most interesting part.
One hot summer evening, Our beauty was sitting down in the veranda and drinking her coffee. From where she sat, there are steps leading all the way down to the main gate which is by the side of the main road. I still remember the gate..blue colour with spikes on top to prevent anyone from climbing in and out. I can’t remember how many steps were there.It was like this.. few steps, then a little platform, then more steps and more platforms. There were either two or three platforms. Where the steps become a platform, there were pillars on either side and each pillar held a flower pot. I don’t remember any flowers in those pots, all I can see is grass, so probably there were plants in the beginning and then no one bothered to take care of it.
Anyway from the veranda, you can hear if someone opens the main gate, which our beauty heard and she got up to see who came.
There right at the bottom of the stairs was this old haggard looking man wearing a dinner jacket.
If this was a hindi movie, you would hear a song and can now see the lovers running in slow motion to each other’s arms. Alas, this wasn’t a hindi movie and I was told that the beauty was too shocked to even take a step further. Marty was a coughing a lot and it took a while for him to climb all those steps and reach the veranda.
What we all were told was, The beauty invited Marty to come and sit and he refused. He said he only wanted to see the beauty and he has to leave.
He left.
The beauty always insisted that she could smell something funny when Marty was standing in front of her.. ( something that smelled like athar)
Few days later, our beauty’s daughter brought a news paper cutting home to her mother.
Marty’s obituary.
Marty visited her on the day of his funeral..
Like I mentioned in the beginning, I don’t believe in Ghost.
My sister met Marty’s son in Goa, He is also a singer and loves busking like his father.

Years later, I was living in Penang. I had just given birth to my youngest and it was a very hot afternoon. The house in Penang had a wet and dry kitchen. I was going to cook some lunch and because I am deaf, I can’t hear the kids crying if I switch on the exhaust fan, so I took the kids to the dry kitchen whenever I cooked. Kitchen didn’t have any aircon and the doors and windows were open.
Yaya and toothless were sitting on the kitchen floor and playing with playdough. I made my own playdough and each day kids got to pick the colour. That day it was green. I had baby in my hand and I could smell this funny smell..As though someone dropped a bottle of neelabrungathi oil. I didn’t have any neelabrungathi. But the smell was so strong. I felt so uncomfortable. I remember asking yaya, is your great grandmother somewhere here? The house behind mine belonged to a Chinese opera singer and she was in Hong kong. The house by the side belonged a to Malay couple and both were at work. So there was no way the smell could have come from the neighbours house. I took the kids and went to the living room. The windows were all closed because the aircon was on. I remember opening all the windows to get rid of the smell.
I convinced myself that I had just given birth and my hormones were acting up or may be I was becoming Schizophrenic!! ( it didn’t help that I also had a patient who could smell things!!)
Months later, chechy went to Chengannur and found out that my grandmother had passed away in January. ( I gave birth to my daughter in the first week of january)
Why this post? I was thinking of exorcising the ghosts in my life ( memories) and I remembered both the incidents and thought I will write about that. We will get to the story of the thadi petti and thukal petti someday..

Travelling with kids

I have travelled with my children since they were babies. Once I visited Rome with three kids under the age of 5. I was still breastfeeding the youngest. It was a challenge flying with three kids. Being the pedantic person that I am, I planned everything to the very last bit before travelling. Baby food,diapers,Toys, books, snacks ,medicine and change of clothes all had to be packed and taken as hand luggage. Hotel was booked in advance and baby cot and play pen were arranged. So was the car rental and car seats.
Even after such careful planning, I was smart enough to have checked in the hand luggage ( including the medicine bag) and just as Murphy’s law dictates my daughter developed high fever midair. An hour in to flight and 12 more hours to land. The airline didn’t carry paediatric medicines and I had no choice but to sponge her down. ( The stress I was under..no words can describe)
Travelling with kids was really stressful when they were young. But I wanted them to experience the joy of travelling and felt it would be better to start them young.
And now that the kids are older,it is so easy to travel with them. They pack their own bags, take the books and toys they want to take and are great company for long distance drive.
We can play hours “I see the cat on the roof and it is a …… cat” ( you have to describe the cat with each letter in the alphabet..alien cat, angry cat, bashful cat etc) and my son comes out with really wacky words..

We will be leaving for Malaysia soon.
I have not planned anything. I have no idea where we are going or what we will be doing.
I would like to do the Borneo Overland trail. Kids want to climb Mount Kinabalu. ( I am trying my darnedest to weasel out.).
I have promised my youngest that I will take her for diving in Sipadan Island for her 10th birthday. ( She can get her open water certification when she is 10 years old and she has been waiting so long to get her certificate) So I have to honour that promise.
But I am not stressed.
It feels so good to go for a holiday with no plans..
I am already dreaming of teh tarikh and roti canai..kway teow goreng , wah tan mee.., mamak mee..nasi lemak..all the kuih muih..