Yaya has her final maths exam today.

It is a day I dread the most, not because I am worried abour her score, but because I have to survive the night before. She came back from school about 4.45 yesterday. As soon as she came back, she fixed herself a sandwich and started to read a  novel. Ideally, if you have a major test coming up the next day, instead of reading a novel, you use the time wisely and study. There is no ideal situations in my house and I kept my mouth shut.

I made tacos for dinner because I know it is her favourite. And I waited for the storm..

It didn’t take too long.

Right after dinner she told me “Mom, I have my maths test tomorrow, Can you help me?”

I nodded my head.

I learned Maths in Malayalam. My child learns in Spanish. And we both have to meet in “English”

That is still fine with me. But the biggest problem is, she comes to with her ears and mind closed and it drives me insane. Yesterday the topic was trigonometry.

“Mom, I know all the equations, I don’t know how and where to use them” She said

“It is like this” Before I could complete, she said “I don’t want you to explain, teach me how to use the formula”

I know from past experience that we will have world war 3, if I as much as raise my lovely voice a degree higher. I had to literally bite my tongue, so I won’t scream at her.She wants my help, but won’t let me help!!!

Eventually we went through all the problems ( And I loved teaching her, “some people have” “curly brown hair” “turn permanently black”)

In between every 5 minutes she complained “I hate maths, why do I have to learn all these, when am I ever going to use any of these in my life, blah blah blah” I let her rant, for I have done the same many many years ago.

And as she packed her books back in to her back pack, she said


I braised for more tantrums, but the tone was a tad different, so I looked at her.

“Mom, I am scared” She said

“Of what muthey ?” I asked

“Mom, I dream so big, I really want to study in an Ivy League Uni, what if I am dreaming false dreams, won’t it all come crashing down with a mighty bang?”

I looked at my child, I could imagine her fears and it wasn’t a moment for me to tell her one of those famous follow your dreams quotes. Her fears were real..

So this is what I told her.

“Yaya, there are two sets of people in this world. One simply exists and the  one live. It is much easier to exist, follow the paths already trodden by others..But dreams are for those who wants to live..it is your dreams..it is the knowledge that there is a real chance that  dreams can actually come true, that gives you a reason to live and makes you follow your dreams”

“But mom, there are thousands of kids apply to Ivy League colleges each year, what makes me stand out among them?”

“It is you, you stand out”


“Yaya, if I am given a chance to pick any baby in the world as my child, I will still pick you.  I love your determination, I love your dedication and I love the fact that you never give up, and don’t forget, most Universities give you extra points for being proficient in a second language and in your case, you have done very well learning Spanish. ( yaya will have a diploma in Spanish would have done two years of her degree in Spanish by the time she completes her grade 12)

She looked relieved..

I dread the next few years..I know her dreams are lofty..But all these years, I have taught my children to aim for the stars..and I worry if I was over ambitious..

Yaya will be doing pre IB in grade 10 and IB in 11 and 12.Does anyone here has a child doing IB?


8 years ago, my son joined the kindergarten on a cold and wet autumn day. I carried baby on my back and held his small hand as we walked to the school that day. I think he was born with a sensor that told him where the puddles were. He  walked straight in to  the puddle  and splashed the muddy water. My jeans was soaked  so was his jeans !

He was always naughty, but when he had pneumonia and the Dr’s told me to arrange for his last rites, I never remembered all the good times I had with my son. All I remembered were the times I scolded him. And I promised myself that I will cherish every moment of my children’s life..

So I bought him gumboots..and he walked and jumped and splashed the muddy water in all the puddles and in winter he used to slide on top of the frozen surface..

What I remember the most about his kindergarten days was the annual school concert. His class sang “Spring time is garden time”. He was standing right in front, holding a paper flower and singing at the top of his voice and I could see that he was searching for me in the crowd, so I waved and when he finally saw me, his face lit up. I will never forget the smile on his face that day.

Yesterday was his grade 7 annual concert.

8 years have gone so fast !

I am pretty sure I gave my son a great childhood.. after all I let him walk through all the puddles ! I was a very generous mom with an absolutely loving heart!!!!, so I thought..

Not so !!

As we reached back home, I opened the door, let the kids in and thought I would check on my plants.

I should have known..

But at 9 pm, I wasn’t thinking straight. I was tired and  was thinking of making a cup of coffee as I entered the house after checking the plants. My son was hiding behind the door and he howled so loud, I missed a heart beat,

“Not in the night you monkey,You scared me, I missed a heart beat” I screamed. I was so angry with him !

He looked at me for a second and then very quietly asked

“Mom, You have a heart? Since when?”

I haven’t laughed so much in a while!


Do you remember going for movies in Kerala when you were a student? Chances are, if you are a female, you did go for the movies without your parents permission ! I can’t talk about guys, cause I studied in an all girls school and all of us were in the same boat. You start saving money for the ticket, wait for samaram ( strike) and then rush to the theater hoping against hope that you will not meet anyone you know..

It wasn’t that I didn’t ask my mother for permission. I did and she said “no”. I did tell her that all my friends are going, which was met with the famous question that was my mother’s response to every one of my requests, every single  time “If all your friends jumped in front of the train/jumped in to the well, will you join them?

There was no point trying to find an appropriate answer to that question. So I did, what I had to do. Went to the movies without telling Amma. I watched Shaolin temple..and a mallu movie.. all I can remember about the movie  is childless Sukumari’s husband ( ex military) has an illegitimate child..and there is a scene in which she waters the plants..all in macrame hanging baskets.. ( there was a fad in mid 80’s in Kottayam where everyone made macrame pot hangers. The macrame chord was only sold in the shop near the main bus stand and ladies corner and there was a waiting list !!!)

I still don’t know why my mother and the mothers of my friends never allowed us girls to go for a movie. I think it was part of the deal ( ? conspiracy) of raising “pure, innocent girls”

Yaya’s school is 30 minutes brisk walk from the nearest movie theater. She does go for movies most Fridays with her friends. The school ends at 3 and the movie starts at 3. ( good exercise for all of them!)

I never felt that I should tell ‘No’ to my child. ( and the truth is, how can I ensure that she actually didn’t go to the movies?, when my mother still has no idea that I disobeyed her?)

The only thing I have done is to say that “any request for money is equal to one dinner” The first time I wasn’t very specific. So she made maggi mee. Basic version. Added hot water in to 4 bowls of dried noodles and served the whole family! It was dinner!!! and she kept her part of the bargain!

So I had to be a bit more specific and told her. Each 10$ that I give her, she had to cook a proper full course dinner following the proper guidelines by a qualified dietitian. If she can’t find a dietitian, she can talk to me and I will help her !

Last Friday, she made enchiladas..meat and spinach filling for her siblings and spinach and cheese filling for me.. It was good.

As she served us dinner, she told me ” I am counting on NASA to make pellet food that taste good, because there is no way I will be cooking when I leave home”

Like they say….You can lead a horse to the water…


My father took us to Trivandrum to show us Ravi Varma’s paintings at the art gallery next to the zoo when I was 6 years old. More than the visit to the zoo and the art gallery, what I remember the most are two things.

One, njotta poo.. ( ? morning glory flowers). I really don’t know the name of the flower in English. All I remember is that you hold the flower petals together and smack it on your forehead, it pops. It was neat the bear enclosure. There were steps leading to the top from where you could view the bears through the open roof. We were not allowed to go up the steps because someone accidentally dropped their baby many many eons ago in to the bear enclosure and the rest of the story is pretty straight forward!

I was annoyed with my father because he could have held my hand. So while the adults climbed the steps to view the bears through the open roof, I found a tree that was covered  with njotta poo creeper and is full of purple flowers. Happily I picked the flowers and smacked my head with the flowers to pop them and my father smacked my butt for embarassing him in front of his family/friends/colleagues and neighbours. May be you should add the bears too in the previous list !

Second thing I remember is the visit to some stately  govt office building.. There was a fountain and lots of blue lotus flowers. My father took us there because blue lotus was rare and he wanted us to see them. There was also a row of shops across the govt building and my father bought me kadala muttai ( peanut candies) and I remember hoping against hope that his generosity would extend to a glass of naranga vellam ( lemonade). Alas, no such luck!

My father also taught me that if I am ever tempted to jump in to a lake for swimming, I should always look for lotus. If there is lotus growing, then the depth of water is less than 6 feet and it is safe. ( Lotus roots can’t grow beyond 6 feet)

Amma used to grow lotus in a small metal tub in our balcony in Bangalore. By then I had read about the Lotus Eaters. ( Homer’s Odyssey) It was also around the time I was trying to figure out what exactly I want from my life. The lotus eaters, they ate the lotus and spend the day in a dreamy land. ( lotus is supposed to be a narcotic). You don’t really have to do much to grow lotus.. so the people lived a very happy life not doing anything !

My house in Bangalore was  near the main road and each day I watched men and women rushing to work, traders pushing their wares in carts, kids studying to pass the exams while waiting for the bus.. everything and everyone was in a hurry..but the lotus eaters.. they just ate the lotus and spend their days absolutely happy.

I felt, we are all chasing empty dreams..Success alone doesn’t bring happiness and I wanted to be happy. I wanted to do things that made me happy..

I did just that. I started to live a life where I chose what makes me happy and did that..still do..

And I also learned that , out of mud and dirt comes the most beautiful flowers !

I have always wanted to grow lotus. I never had time when we were in KL and it was not possible to grow them in Canada.

When I talked to the staff at my local garden center, they told me you can’t grow lotus in shallow water.  As usual, I felt I have nothing to lose and planted them in a kiddie pool/sand pit.( 12$ at Bunnings)

The bud hasn’t opened yet..but it will in a few days..

In life,  people always try to stop you from doing what you want because they assume they know better..but be the lotus eater..do what you want.


It is almost Christmas time ( almost for the shops, not me) and my mail box has been flooded with flyers. When my children were little, I went through each of the flyers looking for ideal toys for them. I lost count of many Barbies, bratz dolls, lego sets I bought over the years..but what I remember the most is the absolute joy on their face when they opened their gifts on Christmas morning.

Now my children no longer believe in Santa, neither are they interested in toys. All Yaya wants for Christmas is a new sim card for her phone, my son wants a recurve bow and baby wants a puppy.

Yesterday while talking to Yaya, I told her I miss going to the shops to buy toys for them and she looked at me for a second and then said

“Really mom? Don’t you remember how you used to ask us how many barbie dolls/train set you need? or how you used to threaten us and tell us that you will leave us behind if we don’t leave the shop ‘right now’?”

What she said is very true.. I did all that and more.. I felt a pang of guilt..I dreaded the visits to shopping malls, especially the toys section when my children were little. I was forever saying ‘No’ to all their requests.

We had our Thanksgiving dinner last night. ( Canadians celebrate in October and Yaya wasn’t here, so we chose to celebrate the American Thanksgiving)

I roasted the turkey, baked cornbread, pumpkin pie and apple pie, cooked candied carrots and cranberrry sauce.

And as we ate our dinner I asked my children what are they thankful for?

Baby said ” her annoying, but wonderful siblings”. My son said ” for being able to visit all the places that we travelled this year” and Yaya said ” I am thankful that you are my mom”

My heart almost exploded with joy.when I heard Yaya’s reply!

And my children asked me What are you thankful for?

When I woke up yesterday morning, I had thought about what I am thankful for and felt I am thankful for my children and wonderful friends,, but yesterday evening, while my child told me that she is thankful that I am her mom, I realized the biggest thing that ever happened to me was that I was able to enjoy her childhood with her.. I was there ..every step of the way. So yes, I wish I was more patient when my children were little and said less “no”s, but that is ok..what mattered most was that I was there..to see all the smiles and wipe all the tears. I am thankful for that.

Happy Thanksgiving !



Few months ago, kids and I went to the lifeline op shop ( thrift shop) in Ipswich. I was looking at the pottery/ceramic items they have on display and baby was standing near the glass display cabinet. She called out to me and said “Mom, can you help me get this this hand fan and can we please buy it?” She couldn’t reach the top display shelf and as I walked towards her to help her, this middle aged woman heard my daughter speaking, looked at the item on display and quickly  grabbed it before I could reach there. (first come first serve scenario) . It was an ordinary Chinese hand fan that you can always find in the night markets in Malaysia. My child was very disappointed and I promised her I will get her a new fan when we go back to Malaysia.
When Yaya came back from Spain, she brought a lot of stuff for siblings.. But the one thing that made my hear swell with pride is this
 It is always the little things that matter.. always..


I met Nenek ( grandmother!) in 1995. She had a food stall close to my home selling fried Kway Teow ( penang Char fried). I love good food. But of all the good food that I love, Char fried Kway Teow is my favourite and is also the only thing that I don’t know how to cook. ( I have practically  tried every single recipe that is on the net and to this day haven’t been able to replicate Nenek’s char fried kway teow).

The fried Kway Teow is cooked with prawns and one prawn is all it takes to kill me. So I make it a point to talk to the hawker and explain my allergy every single time. That is how I started to talk to Nenek. She was in her late 60’s when I saw her first. Sometimes when she closed the shop for the night, she would come and sit with me while we both listened to the karaoke skills of my neighbours ! ( In 1995, after work there was not much entertainment available in KL, except for going to Bangsar on Friday, I spend most evenings in the food court listening to Karaoke while eating my dinner)

Once I asked Nenek “how many kids you have?”

( my life at that time revolved around babies.. each month I spend a day crying when I got my periods, for the periods was a sign that I didn’t conceive)

Nenek looked at me and shook her head

“How come?” I persisted

( I needed to belong somewhere and all my friends and relatives were having babies.. all except me..)

She pointed to her left leg. She had polio as a child and had a limp.

I couldn’t figure out what is the relationship between a limp and conceiving. So I asked again


“No one wanted a crippled for a wife” She replied matter of factly.

I didn’t know what to say to her.

But this post isn’t about an unhappy crippled woman no one wanted.

Wait, I will get there!!!

Nenek’s Kway Teow goreng was very popular. She opened the stall exactly at 6.30 and by then there would a be queue of customers waiting. Each day she brought a fixed amount of raw materials needed to make the kway teow goreng. And each day she closed the shop when she ran out of noodles ! Often there would be at least three or four disappointed customers.

I did my master’s degree in Health services management and anyone with a bit of marketing knowledge would know that all Nenek needed to do was to bring more raw materials.. Nenek was ‘sitting’ on a golden goose.

Being the smart person that I am, I suggested to Nenek that she should bring more raw materials, so she can open her shop longer.

“what for?” Nenek asked

What a stupid question, I thought.

And Nenek explained

“I am 67 years old. I only need  money to pay for my rent, my clothes and to buy raw materials for tomorrow. The noodles I cook each day and the money I earn from that covers what I need”

“What about your future Nenek?” I asked

“What about my future?” She asked me back.

I thought of her falling sick, not being able to work, her hospital expenses…etc etc..and I thought she was irresponsible for not saving up for her old age..

Was she?

Nenek was one of the happiest people I have ever met.. She lived a life worth living..and I have always asked myself if I would have the guts to live a life like hers..and say I have enough..

You Changed!

I am a creature of habit. I rarely change the way I do things and am very weary of change. I still wear the same work clothes that I wore before Yaya was born. Of course I bought new clothes the past 14 years, but the new ones are very similar to the old ones.. I only wear pencil skirts and have worn the same style for the past 18 years. I don’t follow the fashion trends and all I am interested in is that I am always impeccably dressed when I am at work. ( not trying to blow my own trumpet la, but you would never find me at work with chipped nail polish, even a single strand of hair out of the coiffure or without my high heels.. but it is a total different story when I am on holidays! Now that I think of, surely there is a double personality hovering somewhere here !)

25 years ago, I met my physiology lecturer on the 2nd day of joining the medical college. I had wheezing and he was the doctor on call. He was reading a book at that time and I asked if I could borrow it after he finished reading it. It was the first English novel that I finished reading in one sitting! . ( seventh secret by Irving Wallace) Three things happened with that book, I realized that I could read and actually understand ‘serious’ books in English , that I am a quick reader and that I could borrow books from him. ( I am still trying to find the second book I borrowed..I always thought it was by Kushwant Singh, but I can’t seem to find the book. It was the story of an Indian boy going to study in US, his room mate’s name was Randy and he joined the mile high club on the flight back home from US. Anyone remember the book?)

Then the vibrator incident happened and I avoided him as if he had plague..

He used to a be a voracious reader 25 years ago, he was studying for PG entrance exam and he wanted to be an ortho.
He doesn’t read anymore, didn’t complete his PG and though he is working and earning a lot of money, he thinks he didn’t achieve anything in his life.
But he tells me that I have changed.
Have I?

Here I am

The blog got hacked ! How and why? I don’t know.

But what I do know is that I have really awesome friends who helped me get my blog back from an early demise!!

A lot of things happened the past few days. Yaya is back and my house is finally back to what I am used to.

But the most interesting thing is this

My gladiolus ( gladiom kliom kliom) bloomed. I bought the corms from Kmart because it was on sale in August. and it was on sale because the corms were supposed to have been planted in early spring. I felt the worst that can happen if I planted  the corms very late is that it wouldn’t blossom this year..

Life is like that, Isn’t it? Sometimes you just plant those little dreams.. Sometimes they blossom.. sometimes they don’t. But you will never know till you plant them.

So here is wishing you all good luck following your dreams!! Plant them now.

( In the background you can see the Muraya that depserately needs a pruning..it is full of tiny buds.. even on those branches that needed to be pruned!)