Ah !

After all the baking and finding empty cookie jars ( my monsters ate them all),,buying gifts and hiding them and then trying to remember where I hid them. Here I am..On a very hot and still summer day..ready to celebrate Christmas.

Christmas for me personally was not Santa or the Christmas tree. It was about hiding behind the curtains in the darkness and listening to the carollers who start singing nicely and then it progress to shaking the gate and banging the drum hoping the noise would wake up the sleeping souls, so they could collect money/cake! I am sure they knew we were not sleeping!

Amma didn’t want to bake fruit cake ( too expensive, fruits and alcohol). She baked 123 cake. Half the time the power supply failed half way through the baking process and the other half time Amma used very old baking powder or even barley powder instead of baking powder. So the real surprise of the Christmas was how the cake turned out. Hard as a rock cake was still better than no cake and my sisters and I ate every bit of the cake Amma baked. Sometimes family friends brought fruit cake as gifts. Moist cake covered with hard icing and beautiful iced flowers and we fought to get the biggest piece.

When my father was home, he spend a lot of money on fire crackers. I loved the poothiri the best..and the smell of gun powder..I was with my grandmother one Christmas and I begged and pleaded with her to buy me fire crackers. She did. She send the farmhand to buy me 3 ola padakkam.  Up until then I wasn’t even allowed to touch a fire cracker ( safety) and there I was, 6 years old and having to light the cracker and then toss it before it exploded in my hand. The first few times I tossed the cracker before it even lit and my grandmother held my hand and guided me.. Once I got a hang of the timing, I wanted more and my grandmother gave me “that” look and I knew it was time to shut up. I don’t think Ammachi was trying to teach me to be self sufficient..but that one instance  of learning to light and throw the firecracker taught me a lot of things..that I could do anything if I really set my mind to it, even if others tell me that it isn’t safe/right etc.

I would have loved a Christmas with a 123 cake, crackers and carollers..the Christmas of my childhood..

Today children and I will celebrate Christmas eve. Typical Aussie seafood dinner. There is also Christmas fruit cake.

My children think firecrackers is all about laser light display ! they think burning crackers is not environmentally friendly and waste of money..not to mention the unnecessary noise !

They don’t understand why one must go from house to house and sing songs about White Christmas that too in a tropical country. It is so lame, they say.

But tonight my children and I, we will share another Christmas together..much as I can’t give them a Christmas of my childhood, I can still give them all my love and new memories..Isn’t that what it is all about?

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas.

We are leaving for annual Christmas holidays on 27th. Be back on 16th Jan !

Wishing you all a very happy new year.



Oh my foot !!!

I am a perfectionist. I have always been one. But when I had kids, I felt I can’t really force my obsessions on to them. Not that I haven’t tried !!! But I make a conscious effort not to be overtly perfectionist..

Last year my kids decided to decorate the Christmas tree while I was at work and when I got back home, I was greeted by the sight of a tree that surely was  suffering from anorexia nervosa ( eating disorder). The  branches were scraggy  and there was an explosion of baubles all over in no particular order that made my tree look as if it is suffering from a serious case of illness. This was an expensive Christmas tree bought when we were in Canada with realistic looking branches. It would look realistic if someone cared enough to open the branches. But my kids didn’t bother to do that.

I was tempted to fix it.. I actually waited for them to go to bed, so I could undo their handiwork and fix my tree. I sipped a glass of wine while trying to figure out how best to do it at the same time not to hurt my children’s feelings..

It was all or none..I either had to leave it as it is or take all the decorations out and fix each branch and then decorate it again. Then a little voice said in my head, it is just a Christmas tree and who cares if it is perfect.. ( must have been the wine!)

Reluctantly I left it..

On Monday, my kids decorated the tree again..and my youngest was waiting for me at the door to show me the surprise.

The branches looked nice, like how it should look..and I don’t know why I said ” baby girl, the tree looks much better than last year. You did a better job than your siblings!”

It turns out that last year it was my baby girl who assembled the tree and this year her brother did it.

Yes, I am known to put my foot in my mouth very often.

Ah, the light!

A year ago about this time I was in the throes of despair.

My friends told me there is always light at the end of the tunnel” Yeah right, I thought for I felt the light surely came from a bullet train!

I shut my friends out. I spend my days wallowing in self pity.

I wanted to run away..from all my troubles.. I couldn’t take anymore.

But then again I had places to go and things to do.

Much as I didn’t know how to survive each day, I also knew I coudn’t deprive my children a chance to grow up without their mother. I chose to have them and I had to raise them. I couldn’t shirk my responsibilities.

So I went home. The trip to Malaysia cost me an arm and a leg, but it was the best thing I ever did. I found reasons to live..

When I was expecting my son, I had a huge craving for kway teow goreng and always went to the same husband and wife hawker team near my home in KL. I didn’t have anyone to take care of me after I gave birth and the hawker wife send me noodle soup cooked following the pantang (rules of confinement)and send it to my home the first three days. I went to see them and she remembered me..after 12 years.. She doesn’t speak English and she still talked to my son ( getting me to translate)..and fussed over him…and it was so special..I felt sometimes I do not see the forest for the trees..that I feel miserable the way my family treats me and don’t see that I always had people even total strangers who cared for me.


This post isn’t really about me.. this is for those of you who might face situations in life that are too difficult and are tempted to run away.. Remember always, time heals, although you may not think so at that time.. and that life is really not hopeless..you may not have anyone who can help you through.. but all you need is yourself..Don’t lose hope..and believe in yourself. Just as the sun rises again tomorrow, so too will you come out of the ashes and be strong again.

And as for the light at the end of the tunnel..sometimes it is not from the train, it is the railway track manager checking the tracks while holding a torch and he can make you laugh like you never thought it was possible….


Another Hmmm!

Couple of months ago there was an entrance test for admission in to year 10 at Queensland Academy (QA) . When I moved to Australia, I heard so much about QA and knew without any doubt that it is the place for Yaya. But they only admit students in year 10 and Yaya was in year 6.

And in year 7 her hatred for science and maths started to develop. But I still had hope. I love science ( not maths, I hated maths) and she being my child would have inherited some part of my genetic makeup!

I saw the ad for the entrance exam in the paper. Few of Yaya’s classmates were writing the test as well. I asked Yaya ” would you like to write the test?”

She gave me that look.

Of course I could have forced her to write the test. But knowing her, she would have handed in a blank sheet just as her mother had done all through her medical college days. I knew without any doubt that I was wasting my money if I registered Yaya for the test.

QA is the place to study. Their science and maths programs are top rated. Yaya will get admission to Uni without much struggle if she is a QA student. But only if she was willing to write the entrance exam!

The hardest part of being Yaya’s mother is to accept that, although she is my daughter, she is very much different from me and I can’t dream for her. She has her own dreams and her own destiny. She is such a brilliant child..yet her destiny is not medicine/engineering.

Sometimes I wonder if I should have forced Yaya.. so she would reach her true potential..but deep in my heart I know..I shouldn’t..

Yaya got straight A’s this semester except for Maths. I actually taught her for the trigonometry test and she got a C..which brought her over all score from A to B. ( I do think that the child might have done better if I hadn’t confused her!)

It is not easy studying in Spanish medium with no prior knowledge of Spanish.

And I am proud of my daughter..

Part 2 out of 4 Yaya Report


Part 3 out of 4 Yaya Report

Part 4 out of 4 Yaya Report


When my children were little, I waited eagerly for Christmas. I loved going to the shops to buy  their gifts and loved to see their excited face on Christmas morning when they opened their gifts..

I always baked the Christmas cake and decorated the tree on December 1st.  We always had a family dinner on Christmas eve..while listening the Christmas carols CD. I gave home baked cakes and cookies as a gift to all my kids’ teachers and to my neighbours.

I have been so busy, I am yet to bake the cake this year. The tree and decorations are still in the attic. I haven’t even thought of what to buy for the kids. This year I baked store bought samosas and spring rolls as a treat for the teachers.

When I was in 7th std, my mother declared that we won’t celebrate Christmas anymore because it isn’t fair on Appa that we are still celebrating Christmas while he is alone where ever he is working!  My mother was looking for a reason not to bother  about Christmas there by saving money and used my father’s unavailabily as an excuse. I felt betrayed and took it up on myself to do everything. I found the tree, got it cut and dragged it all the way home. I made the decorations and even hung the star. I couldn’t imagine not celebrating the Christmas.

I don’t know if it is because I am bogged down with work that I lost the Christmas spirit.. or am I turning out to be like my mother?



Platty is the nick name for one of my son’s classmate.

Platty for Platypus.

When my son told me that everyone calls this child Platty I didn’t really understand why. He did try to explain that Platty wears shoes that are really too big for his feet and he walks like a platypus. But I wasn’t interested in the explanation because I didn’t want my son to call anyone names, besides who would get their son to wear shoes that are too big in this day and age? I  told my son that under no circumstances will he join his friends and call anyone names!

On the day of graduation, all the kids had to stand in a line and walk up to the stage to get the award.

I noticed the way this particular boy walked. He was very skinny and very short and he was walking as if he was slapping the ground with his feet..like a platypus. I looked at his feet to see what is wrong with his feet and noticed that he was wearing a size 9 shoes ! ( my son is a big boy and wears size 8 shoes and this boy’s shoes were bigger than my son’s) .It occured to me why they call him Platty !

My family was no way poor. My father earned a substantial amount of money, but my mother wanted to stretch the dollar to infinity..and one of the things she did was to buy shoes/sandals that were few sizes big that she hoped, I would hopefully grow in to it.  ( better economic sense ! instead of growing out, you grow in to it.. see how you can stretch the value of the dollar?)

I remember how my friends laughed at me when I wore the horribly ugly bata sandals that were too big for my tiny feet. I couldn’t participate in any sports because my sandals would come off my feet every time I ran.

I did what I could to stop the torture. I used a blade and slit the strap off the base and told my mother my sandals broke. Unfortunately my mother was smarter. She heated  a kuda kambi over fire ( metal part of the umbrella) and melted the (cut) edge of the of the slipper and glued it back. If the slipper was ugly before the surgery, it was uglier after amma’s handiwork. And I learned a lesson that day. That I would never do the same to my children.

My son needs a new pair of shoes every term. Not because he outgrew the previous pair, but because the shoes are no longer built like a tank and my son is not known for taking care of his stuff!

But I chose to have children and the least I could do is to not to torment them. Every child has a right to wear shoes that fit.

Get ready to cast your rocks my way..because the boy who wore shoes that are too big for his feet is Indian and this idiotic phenomenon is only seen among Indians. As usual every time I write about Indians, hackles are raised and the messenger is shot !



“Hmm” happens when I am overwhelmed with emotions and don’t have a box to put it all in.

Yesterday was the big graduation day. My son’s class teacher started her speech by saying ” All my life I wanted to be a grade 7 teacher and this year was the first time I was given that opportunity. And so on my first day, I walked excitedly to teach my first grade 7 class maths. Before 15 minutes was up, I am not naming names, but this young man told me I got the whole maths problem wrong !”

There was a moment of silence in the hall and everyone turned to see where my son was sitting. There was no need to name him.

His teachers sang Green day’s ” time of your life” my all time favourite song and also father and son by Cat Stevens



They also played Dr. Sues clip “Ohl the places you’ll go



There was a mother and son dance..and I got to dance with my son..

I have never lived for the future, neither do I care of the past. But as my son held my hand and danced with me..I just wanted the time to stop..Selfish I know.. may be even a bit silly..but he is my baby boy..my precious baby..and he is all grown up..and he will soon leave my nest.


Grade 7

Tomorrow is my son’s grade 7 graduation.

Yesterday he tried on his tux and when he came to my room to ask me “How do I look?”, all I could do was to stare at him and try not to cry.

He looked so handsome. ( yes, I know all mothers say the same about their child!)

How fast time flew and what a journey it had been to this moment.  As I look back to his childhood, I have no regrets. I know that I gave him a great childhood filled with love and happiness. Of course I scolded him, yelled at him, told him I will chop him  in to itsy bitsy tiny weeny pieces and I have made him cry. But I also gave him the best gift, I as a mother could give. My time. I was there every step of the way.

Today, he is a happy 12 year old. The world is his to conquer. I know I can no longer hold his hand and walk with him to where ever his life takes him. But I do know that I raised him well with values that (might) help him in his journey.

I bought him a Waterman fountain pen as his graduation gift. And this is what I wrote on the card.

My darling, life is a blank sheet of paper. For some it might be a tiny scrap of paper, for others it might be A3. What matters is not to look at what others have, but to see what you have. There will always be someone more talented,  taller, blonder, prettier, luckier, and they have connections. But there is only one of you and that makes you special ! You have the power to fill your blank page with whatever you want in your life. It is your life and remember always it is not success or failure that should define who you are, but the fact that you gave the best in everything you do. In life, you win some, you lose some.  At the end, when the journey is all over, it is much better to be able to say ” I can’t believe I did that”  than say, “I wish I had done that”

Take a chance, live a life without regrets and most importantly, be smart and use the gifts you have been given.

I am proud to be your mom.


5 years !!

I think it is probably due to growing up in India and India’s 5 year plan ( ?panchavalsara padhathi)that makes me look at my life in a group of 5 years.

Ancham class ( 5th grade) was a big deal for me, because all grade 5 students were allowed to use mashi pena ( ink pen) instead of pencils. Ah, the thrill of refilling the ink pens !! ( does anyone remember?) I felt I was a big girl already when I was in grade 5, because I was allowed to write using ink pen like all the adults! ( Ball point pens were just coming in to the market then!)

patham class..SSLC ( 10th grade, secondary school leaving certificate)..it was the Mount Everest for me. From the big girl in grade 5 to a teenager on her way to college..( and boys!!)

5 years of medical college..from a teenager to a doctor..loved, lost, loved again, lost again..

When I walked out of the college gates holding my degree, the world was mine to conquer. I had 127RS in my bank and headful of dreams and hope.

Then there was a 5 years.. missed abortion, miscarriage, missed periods and keeping my fingers crossed each and every month and then the telltale signs of impending periods, but still hoping..

Then Yaya came..then her brother..then baby.. all in the next 5 years!

The next 5 years was all about nursery rhymes, bed time stories, fevers that kept me awake all through the nights with fear.. I cherished the hour I got after my kids went to bed before I slept off, often holding the book I desperately wanted to read..What used to take me 3 hours ( to finish reading) took thee days..often more. I couldn’t wait for the kids to grow up knowing very well that I would regret making that wish when they leave my home.

Then the 5 years of school going kids..homework, school lunch, birthday parties, swimming, skating. I felt I was the Guinea pig on that exercise wheel!

Yesterday a very dear friend asked “where do you see yourself 5 years from now?”

In 5 years, I will be 46.

Yaya and toothless will be in Uni, My youngest will be in grade 11.

So,Where do I see myself in 5 years?.. I don’t know. I thought it was scary when my children were little and they had fever. ( I imagined cancer first and flu last!!) I thought holding a birthday party was stressful..I now realize those fears are nothing compared to facing the unknown of today and tomorrow..finding the right courses, getting admission to the uni, drugs, alcohol, teenage pregnancies..

I am Methran Thambi’s grand daughter, I lived in 4 continents, I speak a handful of languages and I am shit scared thinking where I would be 5 years from now.


I screwed up !

I don’t know if this part of me is inborn, part of my genetic makeup?

I am well read, have a very high IQ and I should be able to not  screw up over and over, Isn’t that why we are given a brain?

Yaya got a C for the maths test ( trigonometry) and my child came home with a broken heart, hoping that I would console her.

She was waiting by the door for me when I came back and as soon as I entered the house she said “mom, I got a C for maths”

Without thinking I said “I am very disappointed”

Apparently, according to my child, the worst a parent can do is to tell their child that they are disappointed with them. She said, she wouldn’t have minded if I scolded her, but not tell her that I was disappointed, for I made her feel  that  not only she failed herself, but also her mother.

If I could turn the clock back, I would hug her and tell her it is just one exam, it isn’t the end of the world. After all how many mottas ( zero marks) I got for maths !

.Erinja kallum paranja vakkum ( stones that are cast in to the water and the words that are spoken can never be retrieved)

This is not the first time I screwed up. When we went to Canada, Yaya only studied few months in grade 1 ( in Malaysia) and was enrolled in grade 2 in Canada. When I went to pick her up, she ran to me holding a piece of paper and told me, “mom, I got 49/50 for maths”

This is a child who never went to kindergarten and only had 5 months of formal education. I should have been proud, No?

You know what I asked my child? “How come you only got 49?, why didn’t you get 50/50?” I regretted it the moment those words came out of my mouth. It was like I am programmed to be not satisfied. I know I shouldn’t be like this.

I know I should encourage my children and not break their spirits.. but sometimes it is just so hard..

And yesterday was also the happiest day for Yaya..

When Yaya came back from Spain, she had to do a literature study and write 1500 words essay on any Spanish novel/book. They had 14 days to do the assignment. All the kids in her class picked small books, but not Yaya. She chose to read El Alquimista by Michael Scott. ( 428 pages). It took her 9 days to finish the book and she had to stay up until 3 am for 5 days to write the assignment.

The mother in me wanted to ask her why she chose such a difficult book?, the mother in me wanted to tell her, you should have picked some obscure book that your teacher wouldn’t have read and doing so would have given you a bit of leeway to BS. The mother in me wanted to tell her to go and sleep when I saw her awake at 3 am for she still had to get up at 6 am and go to school the next day. But she persevered. The Saturday before the assignment was due, she woke up at 5, sat down and  started writing. She didn’t even leave her room to eat lunch,( I send a tray to her room). She reminded me of myself all those years at the medical college. That is exactly how I studied. I was so proud of her.

She got straight A’s for her Spanish assignment. The only student in her class to get straight A..Her teacher showed her work to the whole class, flipping page after page and saying ” see, not a single grammatical error, this is the best piece of literature study I have had the pleasure to read in a while”

But I had already told my child I was disappointed..