There you go !

They say only when you lose something, you realize how important it was to you. Yesterday morning was nothing short of a nightmare. I was planning to send pasta for school lunch. As soon as I woke up, I switched on the kettle to boil the water. It takes a lot longer to boil the water on stove top, so I always use the kettle. Then I remembered, Yaya killed my kettle. I took a deep breath.

I really wanted a cup of tea..then I remembered.. yup, you got the drift.

I always send hot chocolate during winter time..then I remembered…

I also realized, I really don’t have any suitable container to boil the water in the microwave..So I used my soup bowl..It only holds enough water for one the time I managed to transfer boiling water from a wide mouth soup bowl to narrow mouth thermos, I lost half of the water!

I thought of telling the kids.. they are all taking upvas ..My entire routine was gone..all because my daughter killed the kettle..and then she casually walked in to the kitchen to ask  me..”What is for lunch today?” and I told her “nintey ammayi appante thala”  Sometimes it is really good that my children don’t understand Malayalam..Yaya knows a bit, but Ammayiappan and pure tharuthala is beyond her level of understanding.

“You are still mad at me, aren’t you? she asked.

How do you get angry with a natural born walking disaster?

I shook my head. “Nah, I am not angry with you.. It is just that  I never realized how important a kettle was until now”.

“I am so sorry Mom” She said. I kissed her head and told her, “it is ok”. ( I also noticed that I had to stand on my tippy toes to reach the top of her head..few more months, she will be taller than me..her life long ambition is to be taller than me!)

So, in the evening, I decided to check the local coles supermarket, if they have a kettle. After the basket ball game, I took the youngest two and we went to Coles.

As we were walking in to the shop, I heard my son say “that is odd, I didn’t know guys wear sarees”

“What?” I asked.

“Look, he is wearing a saree” my son pointed the saree clad mallu achayan to me.. He wasn’t wearing a saree, but a lungi, which my son thought was a male version of saree.

I have never laughed this much for a very long time.

It occurred to me that neither my son or baby has ever seen a guy wearing lungi in real life. All my male cousins who live outside India don’t wear lungi ..

Years ago, when my sister younger to me was in 4th standard and my youngest sister was in kindergarten, one evening after school, they came home howling.. They were really a sight..they looked frightened, panting after running all the way from school, faces flushed with tears and sweat. I can still hear my mom’s voice quivering when she asked them “entho patti mone” ( what happened?)

It turns out that, as they walked home, they saw two white people ( Caucasians), one had long hair ( dread locks probably) and someone told them, the white people are pillare piduthakkar  ( baby/kids snatchers) and my sisters ran all the way to escape from the white people.

Caucasians were a rarity when I was growing up, but I never thought a mallu achayan in his lungi would be a rarity for my children..


Over the years, I have learned so much from my children.. some were pretty simple, like my son teaching me that gaol and jail are pronounced the same way, which I had no clue. But some of the lessons I have learned have made such a huge impact on me !

I have always been very fair in my dealings with my children and since I always picked up the older two from their school when they were in Primary school, I  do the same for my youngest. It is no way an easy job, but because I have done it for her siblings, I will do it for her till she graduates  grade 7.

As soon as she got in to the car, she asked me “How is Yaya?”

Yaya has been sick and didn’t go to school yesterday.

“Must have slept all day” I said and we both laughed. Both of us know, if Yaya isn’t reading, then she is sleeping.

“Mom, Can you take me to Coles?” She asked.

I don’t do weekday shopping, so I asked her “Why?”

“We could buy some pastries” she said.

Pastries are my weakness. I can and will eat 4 to 5 Apple Danish in one go.

“Sure” I said.

While she went to get the pastries, I bought some fresh salad and corn. I had already marinated the chicken before leaving home and I smiled happily thinking the dinner is going to be pretty easy. Boil the corn in the microwave, salad is already prepared and I just have to add the dressing and fry the chicken..I had borrowed Sidney Sheldon’s ( he died, someone else is writing using his name) latest book The tides of memory and couldn’t wait to get home to read.

We got home, I wanted to see Yaya and see if she has any fever, Quickly I took the grocery to the kitchen and just as I was leaving the kitchen to go to Yaya’s room, I found a note on the kitchen counter, “sorry mom, burned the kettle”. ( Obviously, she switched on the kettle without any water inside!). I was mad, so I counted to 100 in dutch, then in German and my anger didn’t dissipate, so I decided to make myself a cuppa and while I was getting my cup is when I noticed that my youngest had arranged all the pastries in a plate and was making lemonade ( from concentrate). It also occurred to me that usually, she finishes most of the pastries during the drive back home and this time, she actually didn’t eat any.

Then I watched her take the pastries and the drink to Yaya’s room.

I followed her a few seconds later.

I found my oldest and youngest sitting on the bed, sharing the pastries and drinking the lemonade.

I felt so bloody ashamed..that I have three sisters and never once  have I shared anything with them. Yaya is no way a wonderful older sister. She is the pain the butt older sister. She has two sets of rules. One for herself and one for her siblings. For eg, No one can enter Yaya’s room or take her stuff without her authorization, but Yaya can enter her sibling’s room and take their stuff and use it without their permission. ( She even took my son’s headphones to school without telling him, while the poor guy turned the house upside down looking for his missing headphones, not to mention the grief he got from his mother for misplacing his headphones!).. It takes a lot of love to overlook the faults of an overbearing sibling..I failed in that..but my baby, she succeeded..


Rules !

Yaya got in to trouble at school yesterday.

She was not feeling well in the morning, but she had homework to hand in and she decided to go to school. By mid afternoon, she called me to say she is feeling very sick and asked me if I could pick her up.

I took the rest of my day off and went to her school to pick her up. I couldn’t find a car park, so I parked my car on a solid yellow line, ran to the office, spoke to the staff and ran back to my car. One of the office staff went to get Yaya and as she was leaving the class, she send a txt to me to ask “Mom, where are you parked?”

All hell broke loose then. The office staff got so mad at Yaya and scolded her for using the phone. It was a major issue. Students aren’t allowed to use their phone in the school. Rules are rules.

The one person I will always hate in my life would be Mr. S. He was my medical college Principal’s assistant. From day one, we never got along. He felt he was the Princy when the actual one was away and loved bossing the students around. I was never one to care and he went to the extreme to get me in to trouble. By third year most of the professors knew, I never attended any classes and preferred to study on my own. They left me alone. But not Mr. S. He would snitch to Princy and both would hunt for me, while I was safely hiding in my room with the door locked from outside! Attending classes is didn’t matter that I am very good at autodidacticism and gained no benefit from attending lectures. Rules are rules..

During my first visit to India after returning to Malaysia, my brother in law and I went to pay my youngest sister’s school fees. While we were waiting, an office staff asked us “how are you related to Ms. Sally” and we replied “sister and brother in law”. She very kindly informed us that my sister has a boyfriend ! and I can still remember the shock on her face when my brother in law asked her “is the boy handsome?” Rules are rules.. ( in this case, convent girls aren’t supposed to have boy friends)

Yaya was very upset and she thought I was going to scold her, so before I could say anything , she said “mom, even the teachers don’t mind the students using the phone during class time and I wasn’t even in the class and I was sending a txt to my mother, not my boyfriend” She rattled on.

I held her hand and told her “Yaya, please stop, I am not angry with you”

She looked at me as though I spoke Latin, a few seconds later she smiled..

PS: I do not condone breaking rules per se..but sometimes I feel we often pick on small things and ignore the bigger picture.When I was growing up, wearing nail polish was considered a crime against humanity and if caught committing such a heinous crime by the teacher,we had to scrape the nail polish with blade at school. The idea was that students shouldn’t waste time to paint their nails, instead they should spend all their time studying..And now it is hand phones.. Each generation finds a new rule to break..

Peer Pressure.

I always thought that as a mother, the peer pressure I needed to be aware of when it came to my children were all about drugs. alcohol and smoking, in other words bad company. I was so wrong.

There are only 14 kids in Yaya’s class. They started with 28 kids in grade 8 and half dropped  out over the past two years because the program is very intense. The 14 are very close and this is the last year of Spanish Immersion. Next year, they either need to join the IB or do regular OP.

Trouble has been brewing ever since Yaya said she is doing the IB.  Parents of one of her classmate are Ivy League graduates and she insists Yaya is wasting her time doing IB because you don’t need to do science or maths to get in to an American ( Ivy) Uni. When I asked Yaya, if her friend’s parents did science and maths, she tells me that both won academic Dux award in their respective schools in grade 12. (Academic dux is for core subjects, science and maths).

Her friend insists Yaya will fail the IB because IB is very rigorous and keeps telling Yaya that she should take up art subjects to get a better OP score.

Yaya also volunteer at the thrift shop once a week, which her friend think is a waste of time and energy. There is no need to waste your time, when you can ask one of your relatives to give you a letter that “you worked” in their office/company etc. Besides why would you want to volunteer, if you must work, then do some work where you get paid is the advice her friend is giving.

It doesn’t stop with that. Then there is me. According to her friend

“My parents really don’t care where I go or what I do. They let me go to bed any time, they let me drink alcohol, they let me do this or that” In other words Yaya’s mother is horrible because even though Yaya is allowed to go to bed any time, her mother doesn’t allow her to drink alcohol. I have allowed her to taste alcohol, but  I feel15 years is too young to drink alcohol.

Every other day, Yaya comes home with her spirit  broken to a million pieces from school ..”Mom, I wan to make difference in this world, but what if I failed” is the common theme.

Every time, I tell her the same. “You will never know till you try.Do the best you can and it will all work out well in the end”

Some days, that is all she needed to hear, but most days, she will ask “What if my best isn’t enough?”

Then I tell her, if a girl who never spoke a word of English, who learned all the subjects in Malayalam, who is deaf and dumb and blind plus all that Deepa S wrote in her comment, can pass MBBS with flying colours and do her master’s degree in a well known British Uni, then her daughter’s best is enough to conquer the world. So you see, there is an advantage to having a screwed up childhood. You can show your children that, if you can succeed while facing all those disadvantage, then there is nothing that stops them from getting where they need to go.

6 more months till Yaya finish her grade 10 and then she will be free of her friend’s negative influence.. each day, I dread seeing my daughter’s sad face, but I know eventually Yaya will come out a winner..I hope so.

I am such a horrible mother !

My youngest went to school this morning crying. I made her cry.

I have followed the principle that if my children have exams, then it is up to them to study. It was how I was raised. Amma never once sat with me to help me with my homework or teach  me for my exams.

Until now, all three seems to have had no issues when it came to exams. Yesterday morning while driving my youngest to school, she casually mentioned that she has history test tomorrow and she asked me all the questions about Australian federation. Whatever I knew, I told her.

This morning, while I was making the school lunch, she came to me and asked “Mom, can you quiz me?”

It was such a huge tactical error on her part. I was busy and she shouldn’t have come to me.

While rolling the sushi, I asked her the questions that her teacher said ‘might be part of the test’ today. Her answer to the first question  about when Australia became a federation was ” I am not sure, it might be 1867 or 1901″

I lost my cool the moment she said ” I am not sure”. I don’t believe in I am not sure. I have all the books about Australia at home, then there is google, then there is her sister and brother and then there is me. She could have asked any one of us and we would have helped her find the answer for her.

I scolded her so much.

I know one can never take back the words once spoken.

Only after I dropped her to school, I realized why she said 1867, Henry Parks had suggested to form a federal council in 1867 and she would have thought that was the day federation started. It was such a simple mistake that was not worthy of me chewing her brain for breakfast..I wish I wasn’t so harsh on her.. I will apologize to her this evening, but I know no amount of apology will take away the hurt I caused her.

Atithi Devo Bhavah

Growing up in India, the one thing that was common in all the households were how we treated our guests..Atithi Devo Bhavah..Guests are considered to be equal to god and every time someone visited you, be it on a short notice or otherwise, you treated the guest well. You used the best china, served the best food. In Chengannur house there were special plates and glasses that were reserved for guests. Same in my mother’s home. Amma never sat down with us and taught us how to treat a guest, but we all knew to be in our best behaviour and envied the guest who got to eat bigger slices of the cake while we ended up with the crumbs.

I often have friends over for meals and they all know where the beer, wine etc is and they help themselves to it, while I cook dinner.

I do panic if I have an Indian visitor because most often the mixture and other kurumura that I had bought for such an event would have been eaten by monsters and offering wine/beer wouldn’t have been a smart thing to do. I do feel terribly guilty for offering tea with nothing to munch, but what else am I to do? Indian snacks take at least 15 to 20 minutes to make and there would be too much drama with my Indian guests trying to make me not  to cook, for they feel guilty and eventually everyone feels guilty and I end up serving just tea.

Last Thursday, my neighbour came to visit me as soon I returned in the evening. Her hips have failed and she is using crutches to walk and it does take a lot of time and effort on her part to walk to my house. I knew something was wrong the moment I saw her at my door.

I invited her in and made tea. It turns out that her mother’s health deteriorated the night before and she just wanted to talk to someone. She didn’t want to tell me in the morning and waited till I returned home.10 minutes later, Yaya came back from school and as soon as she entered the house, she said hello to my neighbour and asked me

“Mom, can we go to the library?”

“Sure, but later. Today is Thursday, library is opened till 8” I replied.

My neighbour was crying and I just held her hand.

15 minutes later, Yaya came to the dining room and to my shock and horror said

“Mom, I think, we should leave for the library now”

My neighbour left immediately.

I was just so mad at Yaya. How could she do that?

How have I failed to instill something as important as Atithi Devo Bhavah in my children? It isn’t that Yaya is a mean child. She baked a cake and frosted it for my neighbour on her birthday few months ago. But when it came to her need to go to the library, she felt her needs are more important. I did explain to my child that what she did was so totally wrong..but I think, I am to blame here.. I forgot  to teach my children simple things that  are really important to me.


Recently, the high school where my older two attends had an introduction program for students and parents who are planning to join the school next year. The school usually match up ‘new’ parents with ‘old’ parents and I met this lady whose daughter is very interested in the maths acceleration program. She, like me doesn’t live in the catchment area and needs permission from the dept of education to register the child in a non catchment area school. The process is pretty straightforward and I told her the only draw back is, there is no school bus service. School bus is only for students attending the school in the catchment area.

“How do your children get to school?” She asked

“They take public transport”I replied.

“What time do they have to leave home?” She asked

“They leave at 7 AM” I said

“What time do they get up?”

“About 6 AM”

“My god, isn’t that too early?” She looked at me as though I have committed the biggest crime ever known to mankind by getting my kids to get up 6 AM.

I didn’t know how to answer a question like that. How is it so bad if your child gets up early in the morning? ( Millions of kids around the world get up at crack of the dawn to get ready and catch the school bus)

“Is there a direct bus to school from your place?” She asked

“No, they get off at the bus station and then walk 2 km to their school.”

Actually, most of the kids walk from the bus/train station to school. They all have a meeting point where those who came early wait for the rest of them and they walk together. In the evening, all of them walk together again to the station.

The mother that I spoke to was none too happy about her child having to get up very early or having to walk to school from the station every day.

That brings me to the point..Does it really harm your child if they get up early or having to walk a bit?

I wanted my children to learn responsibility, time management and be independent..I also know their school bag is very heavy, now they even have to carry their laptop to school each day..My mother always complained that my parenting style was  thumpiyeyum kondu kallu eduppikkuva.. 

Am I being too harsh on my kids?



Weekend find

Kids and I, we usually go for long rides on Sundays and last weekend we were at a farmers market. Our visits to farmers market is mainly for me to find plants, as I mentioned before, I support the entire garden industry in Queensland by buying plants and then killing them.  My kids “love” going to the markets because we follow 50:50. If I spend 10$ on plants, then I have to spend 10$ to buy them something. It is only fair, they say, after all they are getting up wee early hours of the  morning to come with me. It is a sure win for them because I always buy plants ! ( You do have to admire my children’s negotiation skills !)

This particular market also had a seller selling all sorts of junks and antiques. I do love collecting antiques. My point is, if I put 10$ in the bank, to double it, I will have to keep it in the bank for at least 18 years and I am hoping to find something that is cheap now, but will appreciate and will give me a higher return than if I had kept the money in the bank. I also want to give my children things that they can sell if they ever need quick money ( like the gold watch the Mangalorean’s grandfather gave his son when he went to England to do Medicine)

While looking at all the junk the trader had, I came across a brass vase with dragons on it. My son is born in the year of dragon and I collect dragons for him. The dragons on this vase were added after the basic vase had been cast and I knew it required a skilled craftsman.

dragon vase

Digressing a bit here. Brass has been used in prehistoric times, Romans perfected the art of casting brass , however the technique called lost wax method was first used in India as the archaeological evidence in Harappa suggests.

Lost wax method.

I noticed that there was a stamp at the bottom of the vase, but I really didn’t want to investigate it further, because I didn’t want to show my enthusiasm to the seller. He wanted 20 and I am still an Indian !! Eventually, we agreed to the price of 16$.

I couldn’t wait to get back to my car to check the stamp at the bottom.

It has a Xuande mark, but I don’t think it is a Ming dynasty piece. My bet is 2 centuries after Ming Dynasty.

Either it is a beautifully made fake or it is an original.. But either way, It was money worth spending because similar ones are going for 300$

Assoyakkum kushumbinum marunnilla Divya..

This post for deepa/divya unni. shanu.. I think you have an issue with my  blog and have been trying insult me for a very long time.

I have not forced you to read my blog. But, you are still doing it under your own volition. I approved your comment to my last post because it seems that you are so worked up with your jealousy and will not stop and keep creating new id’s and leave spiteful comments.

I am so sorry to say that you are wasting your time.

I am posting your IP..that over the past few months you have used to post comments under various handles.

Please stop wasting your time and mine.

Divya Unni

Divya Unni