The best

The past few days have been exceptionally busy and in the middle of last night, I had to bake a birthday cake.

I have always loved baking, but at 12 midnight, I wanted something that is quick to bake and tasty.

I found this recipe for Tiramisu cake ( Since it has over 1000 reviews, I felt I should give it a try. This is one of the easiest cake I have ever baked and I thought I would post it here.

I always have a packet of cake mix in the pantry so there was no measuring and beating the egg and butter together, add the egg one at a time like the standard way of making a cake. I chucked the cake mix, the eggs, margarine and milk in to a bowl, gave it a quick whisk, poured in to two pans and baked it. I have a bottle coffee syrup that my kids use to make cold coffee, I used few table spoon of that to flavour the cake.Though the recipe asks for three layers, I only had two similar sized pans and decided to do two layer cake.

I didn’t have mascarpone. So I followed the hint in the first comment. Beat a block of cream cheese with some cream and icing sugar.

As soon as the cake(s) cooled a bit, I poked it numerous times with a needle and poured a generous amount of Kahlua all over the cake.. Then I iced one cake with the cream cheese mix, placed the second cake on top and used the rest of the icing on top. I was too tired to do the cream frosting. The cake came out really well.

If you like coffee and Kahlua, give it a go.


I took my children to watch ” The internship” yesterday. My local cinema has a cheap Tuesday deal and so does Dominos Pizzas. I am never the one to give up on savings..4 movie tickets for 23 $ and  4 large pizzas for 20$. It is all good !

As I was walking in to the theatre, I met a classmate of Yaya, who is also in my basketball team and whose parents are very good friends of mine The moment our eyes met, I noticed that she was becoming distraught. I pretended for her sake that I didn’t see the boy who was with her.

I can only imagine how the rest of the evening went for her, for I had been in the same situation so many times. A situation created by mother, where I wasn’t allowed to do anything and I didn’t agree to that rule. Although I was much older than Yaya’s classmate and was a medical student when I went to watch a movie with my boyfriend at that time, every time I met someone who knew my mother, I felt my world ended..I would spend the rest of the day  thinking of all possible excuses and creating various alibis  that would help me get out of the new trouble that I got myself in to. The one thing that bothered me to no end was that I wasn’t sleeping with the boy in question. My crime was going for a movie with him, which I would have told my mother, if she was someone who was approachable. What was wrong in watching a movie with 50 other strangers? Close proximity leading to other physical acts of intimacy? If I wanted to be intimate with a guy, why would I want to go to a theatre with 50 other strangers, when there are plenty of other safe/private places available?

In Yaya’s classmate case, there is plenty of things I wasn’t happy about. First of all, she is watching a movie at 5.30 pm. She will have to find her way home in the darkness ( winter now). She certainly can’t get her parents to pick her up from the theatre. I worry so much for her safety. She is an Indian Muslim girl and the boy she is with is a white Aussie guy. One of these days, someone will tell her parents and I worry how this is all going to end. How would it feel one day to learn that the daughter you raise thinking she is innocent and pure and wears only loose fitting jeans and baggy t shirts, actually changes to mini skirts and tight tops at school every day and has been dating boys since grade 8 and that all the group studies, field trips etc that she had to go was just a cover to hang out with boys?

I am no way proud of all that I did in my teenage years, but I do know, half of what I did was out of pure spite for my mother. At that time It was so much fun to beat Amma in her game of control. While my mother thought she was doing the best to control where I went, with whom and  for what each time I came home for the holidays, I  went to Madras and spend 2 weeks roaming the streets and my mother still doesn’t know. But at 42, I know how stupid I was to have travelled the streets of Madras alone with no place to stay and relying on youth hostels and railway stations for my accommodation. If I went missing, no one would have even known to look for me in Madras.

My mother’s mistake  was that  she forgot she too was once a teenager and the biggest thing  parents could give a teenager is their trust. My mother failed in that. So are the parents of Yaya’s classmate. They all think ela vannu mullel veenalum, mullu vannu elel veenalum, kedu elakku ( if the thorn falls on the leaf or if the leaf falls on the thorn, damage is only to the leaf) and do all that to protect their daughters.. Only if they learned that while they were protecting the leaf from the thorn, there were other stuff going around that were much bigger and do more harm.

Leaves need sunshine and warmth and a solid tree to grow on..


Oh the things you will learn !

Now that it is school holidays and that there is no sports activities, all of a sudden my weekend was free. It was 9 degrees in the morning and there was no way I wanted to go to the beach and I felt like a headless chicken. Until now, my weekends was nothing but driving from one sports venue to another. With nothing else to do and three bored kids, we decided we will go for shopping ( and I didn’t want to cook lunch)

My youngest wanted stationary from Smiggles. Over priced, useless stuff in my dictionary is the most treasured item in my children’s. But I have known the joy of owning a Flora pencil. When most of my classmate had the normal dookkily red and black pencil ( can’t remember the brand name) mine was a white pencil with beautiful deep pink flowers and green leaves. So we went to smiggles. Being the smart Mom that I am, I told them 15 $ each and not a penny more, for I know without such a clause, I will be looking at getting a gun to rob the bank. No kidding..By the time you add the cost of the pencils, pens, erasers plus this and that, x 3, it would cost me 100$.

Baby found a pencil case for 14.99, there was one for sale for 5$, I tried my best to get her to buy it, but she gave me that look. ( I live in eternal hope that my children would inherit mine and my mother’s pishukki genes)

Yaya bought a lot of pens and pencils.

My Son found a  electric sharpener. ( I wanted to ask, how would it hurt you to use the manual Steadler sharpener we have at home, but since I offered 15$ for him to spend, I couldn’t tell them how to spend their share)

As we walked to the counter to pay, I heard Yaya ask, “Toothless, do you remember what had happened to your finger?” Soon they were both giggling.

“What happened to your finger?” I asked

There were total silence. They were looking at me as if I committed some crime, not the other way around.

Of course my curiosity is piqued.

“Out with it” I ordered.

After a few attempts of “it was nothing, don’t worry about it” etc and knowing that his mother is like a terrier with a bone and won’t relent,

Very sheepishly my son said ” Mom, do you remember when I was little, my finger was bleeding?”

I remember the incident very well. It was a normal day, suddenly all three of my children started  crying, in the midst of crying melee, I noticed my son’s little finger was bleeding. It wasn’t a normal injury. It looked like his finger was crushed, but normal crushed injury is from top to bottom, this one was all around. Neither of them would tell me how he got it. ( baby was too young). My son was crying because his finger was bleeding, Yaya was crying because her brother was in pain. I still don’t know why baby was crying, probably for the same reason as Yaya.

They never told me how he got the injury.

And according to my son “mom, I wanted to see how your pencil sharpener works and tried to sharpen my finger  using your  sharpener” ( desk top version)

Oh the things you will learn..(when your children grow up and tell you the truth)..

Winter Solstice

Today is winter solstice in southern hemisphere, the shortest day of the year, the day I look forward to every year, for from now until summer equinox, the days are going to get longer and the nights will be shorter.

I learned about solstice and equinox in the 7/8 standard. Living in Kerala at that time, it was beyond my imagination that there would be a day I would live outside India and be able to see the four seasons, the solstice and the equinox. My life then was the same as the life of the proverbial frog in the well. I could see the blue sky and I knew there is a lot more outside, beyond the walls of my home, my village and my country. But it wasn’t even possible to imagine that I would be able to travel and see the world. Every equinox/solstice, I take a deep breath and tell myself, I have come this far, I shouldn’t worry about the journey ahead. And I am thankful for all that I have.

Winter Solstice is also the time to remember Jephthah’s daughter. The story is in the bible. Judges 11. He lived in Gilead and was from the tribe of Manasseh. He took a vow that if he could defeat the Ammonites, he would sacrifice the first thing ( human/animal) that walks out of his home to greet him when he returns home after winning the war with the Ammonites. It was his daughter who came out of his home to greet him. Jephthah insisted on sacrificing his daughter, so he could keep his vow. He set her own fire on a winter solstice. This story always made me upset because earlier, the angel of God spared the life of Isaac. Why wasn’t Jephthah’s daughter’s life not spared? ( If you read the Jewish law, you would learn that the vow Jephthah took was illegal and there were other options available to him that he could have used to break his vow legally and spare his daughter’s life)

Today is also the last day of school for this term. Kids have school holidays for two weeks. I look forward to not having to get up very early in the morning.

The ring.

The most difficult part of being a single mother is  when your children fall ill. Although I am trained as a doctor, I am a basket case when my children fall ill.

Over the years we have had so many medical dramas and I often wonder how my poor heart is still beating.

Few days ago, while playing basket ball, my son had a bad fall, which I didn’t see because my head was inside my book. I only understood something happened when I felt people were looking/staring  at me. By then one of the parent and the coach has already carried my son to the bench. As I ran to where my son was, I thought I could hear all the parents chanting “traitor” or something similar to that, for it is a big parental crime not to watch your child play basket ball, instead  read novels, especially when he is a very good basket ball player and is well known for the three pointers that he often scores.

My son knows he is a good basket ball player, so do I. I don’t understand the need to sit there and watch his every moves. At the end of the day, it is just a game and like everything in life, there is always a winner just as there is a loser. There isn’t anything that I would gain by seeing my son score a three pointer. My son isn’t an extension of my ego. But not many parents agree to my view.

By the time I reached my son, I noticed he was holding his left hand very tightly. “oh dear lord, a fracture?” I asked myself. Fracture means,Visit to the hospital, x-ray, get the cast, meanwhile I have to get someone to pick up Yaya and baby..all these thoughts came to my mind in a flash.

“Mom, it hurts” he said and my heart broke to a 1000 pieces.

I checked his hand and noticed that his ring finger is getting swollen. Tears were welling up in my eyes and I heard my son say “now what am I going to do with the ring?”

“What ring?” I asked. I didn’t understand what he was saying.

“Mom, look at my finger, if this swelling doesn’t go down, can you imagine what size wedding ring I will have buy ?” “oh my ring, oh my ring” he sang..

The he got up, hugged me and said ” oh Sarahmma, you are such a worry wart, it is a just a jarring of the finger”

He went back to play.

And my poor heart is still beating..

She did it!

Once in a while  you hear the success stories like this that make you  want to jump up and down and scream at the top of your voice and say “Yay”

She is a very dear friend of mine. The youngest sister of 5 brothers, born in to a very proud pathan family. She got married when she was studying in grade 10. Her husband already had a master’s degree. Her brothers only wanted the best for their baby sister. Soon, he got a scholarship to study in US and though he promised her family before the wedding that he would never take her away from them, that is exactly what he did. She came to US, not knowing a word of English and her husband considered her an embarrassment, belittled her every chance he got. He never let her go out of the house. When she was growing up in her village, she was the one everyone called to play an instrument something like Thabla during wedding celebrations. Her husband refused to let her play that even for family functions.

She learned English by watching TV.

Then her husband decided that they should migrate to Canada. Unfortunately, he got stumped with the idiotic rule called “Canadian experience” and couldn’t get a job. ( He has a PhD from US). He had to do odd jobs and She had to work as well to put food on the table. She got a job in a Pizza takeaway. She worked there from 4 pm till 12 midnight. Eventually she became the manager of the shop. She still works there.

But this post isn’t about her job. This is about her daughters. She was determined that the education that she was deprived off, she will give her children. This woman who earned slightly above the minimum wage in Canada, set aside 100$/child/month for their education. Some of the money came from child tax, some came from her salary. But every month, she would keep aside100$ for each child.

Her second daughter graduated this year with two degrees and got a very good job.

Years ago, someone from Malaysia left a comment on my blog saying something like, ” how can ordinary people like me migrate when we have no family outside Malaysia to support us”

I always believed that there is only person that stands in front of you and block your path that leads you to  your dreams and ambitions. That is you.

Both her older daughters have now graduated and are well employed. Neither of them had to take a student loan. ( The money their mother  saved as well as scholarships helped pay for their tuition fees).

PS: there is one more reason I am eternally grateful for having a friend like her. During one of our conversation, I had mentioned how much my son loves Pizza. I was struggling financially then and buying pizza was not something I could afford. I often baked pizza for my son. but it was never the same as store bought Pizza. Many evenings, if there was a pizza order cancellation   where they had already made the pizza and the customer called in to cancel, she would save those pizzas for my son and bring it to my home after work. I am sure after working for 8 hours and driving back home in the cold and wet rain/snow, the last thing you would want to do is to drive to your friend’s house and deliver pizza because her son loved pizza. I can still remember the happiness on my son’s face when he woke up to find pizza on the table the next morning.

I am lucky to have great friends.


Enemy of the state.

My neighbour had a hip replacement surgery last week. On the day she was discharged from the hospital, her sister in law came all the way from Tasmania to be with her and help her recuperate.

Had this event happened in my family, my mother would have never gone to help her brother’s wife. Because in Kerala, sisters in law are considered to be enemy of the state, the evil witch who came to wreck havoc in the family and take the loving caring brother away from everyone who loved him.

My mother would have said, it is the responsibility of the children/husband to take care of their sick mother/wife and washed her hands off. ( makkalu nokkette)

In my neighbour’s case, she has one son living 10 minutes away and another 30 minutes away. Her sister in law only came in to the family 10 years ago ( second marriage). Yet she spend her money, flew all the way from Tasmania to help her husband’s sister.

Why are we so different?

I was wrong.

To be where I am today, I went through a lot and if you have studied in India, then you would know what I mean when I say, it is not just hard work alone that is needed to pass each exam in India. There has always been associated emotional stress.

One external examiner hated girls with short hair and failed them in the pracs, another hated all the North Indian students, another demanded money to let you pass the exam etc. It was a game with too many unknowns and each exams was a nightmare. In short, it was both mentally and physically exhausting to do a degree in India.

Since coming to Australia, I am not eligible for any tax break for my kids education expenses, my medicare levy has increased and I pay a huge amount of money as tax. I have always felt that it isn’t fair to tax me so much when I worked my ass off to get my education. Where I am is because I was willing to work hard.  My neighbour ( the one with the annoying dogs that barked all night) works once every few weeks. She got it all down to the pat. working just enough hours to get her benefits from centerlink. She drives a Mitsubishi sports model, lives in a three bedroom house with rent subsidized by the govt. She even has a full gym in the garage.

In a few years, my children will go to University. Most scholarships are means tested and my income is above that and my children won’t get it. I have to save every penny, so I can afford to give my children the best education. But a lot of money that I earn goes towards my tax.

As usual, the government does what it does the best. They steal from Peter to pay Paul and  recently, Ms. Gillard increased my medicare levy to provide something called NDIS. ( National Disbaility Insurance). Again I felt, I am being penalized for working hard.

Last weekend, as usual, I was at the basketball court waiting for my daughter’s game to begin. The games were running late and the team before ours were still playing the first quarter. I had my book with me and I found a place to sit. Next to me was a woman with a child in the pram. As soon as I started to read, the child started to howl. I looked at the child, really a bit too old to be sitting in a pram. The mother tried giving the child various toys, hoping to quieten him, and at the same time cheer for her daughter over the sound of the howling. I also noticed that how much ever the child was throwing the tantrums, she never once got annoyed with him.  And then he started tossing his toys around. I noticed he can’t speak and was getting more and more agitated and was screaming. The parents around her was giving her the dirty looks. Eventually one of the toys landed on my body and the mother was so apologetic. “I am so sorry, my son has autism” she said. “It is alright” I replied.

“Usually, my husband is home and I leave my son with him, but now he works in the weekend too, so we will have money for our son that can pay for his care when we are old and unable to take care of him” she must have seen the dirty looks the other parents were giving her and felt the need to explain.

Every time my children say ” it isn’t fair”, my standard response has been “life isn’t fair”

I was bitter when I was asked to pay more money, so the government can support the disabled. Here I am cribbing about few hundred dollars I have to shell out each year, while  a parent is forced to work even during the weekends, so they will still be able to support their disabled child in the future. Clearly life isn’t fair and clearly, I was wrong.

Personality !

There is a quote in Latin that says” Quod sis esse velis nihilque malis”. It is loosely translated as, you must wish for what you are, nothing less nothing more and I have always believed that.

I am happy to be me and though I have many faults there is nothing that I wish to change and there is nothing that I want more.

In a nutshell, I could describe me personality as, stubborn, determined and driven. I live for the moment.

And then I found this. A software that analyses a blog’s personality. I assume, it is cross referencing Alexa and other web ranking services and keywords used in the blog to create a report based on that.

But still I felt this was interesting.

Link is here

Here is the result.

ESFP – The Performers

     The author of is of the type ESFP.
The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft beautiful textiles, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead – they are always in risk of exhausting themselves. ESFPs love being around people and having new experiences. Living in the here-and-now, they often do not think about long term effects or the consequences of their actions.
ESFPs live in the moment, experiencing life to the fullest. They enjoy people, as well as material comforts. Rarely allowing conventions to interfere with their lives, they find creative ways to meet human needs. Active types, they find pleasure in new experiences.
The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation – qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions. ESFPs are excellent team players, focused on completing the task at hand with maximum fun and minimum discord.
Common satisfying careers: Artist, Performer, Actors, Teacher, Social Worker, Nurse, Event Coordinator, Chef, Fashion Designer, Jeweler, Retail Manager, Recreation Worker and Interior decorator.
Notable ESFJs: John. F. Kennedy, Richard Branson, Hugh Hefner, Deepak Chopra, Paulo Coelho, Quentin Tarantino, Mel Gibson, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Megan Fox, Jamie Oliver, Robbie Williams, Dan Brown and Chewbac
Martial epigram 10:47 where the Latin Quote is from
Have a jolly good weekend.

Three crabby kids

It all started with a 10 minute snooze. Yaya’s alarm clock rings 5 minutes before mine and as I snuggled under my blanket, waiting for my alarm clock to ring, Yaya decided to come and lay down next to me. A part of me knew, this was going to be a mad morning because everything has to work like clockwork for me to be able to handle their school lunch and then get ready and leave home in time. But how often does a 15 year old come and lay down next to her mother?

15 minutes later, I got up and only then I remembered, I was planning to send Mac and cheese for lunch. It takes 18 minutes to cook the pasta and then I have to make the sauce. I couldn’t really think of anything else to cook and so I decided to stick to the same menu.

10 minutes to 7, while I am making the hot chocolate, child number 3 walks in to the kitchen looking visibly angry ” Mom, I told you to wake me up extra early last night and you didn’t”

She did tell me and I forgot. “I am sorry, but I forgot”

“You never wake me up on time and she started to rant”

“You are 13, you could put the alarm on and get up on your own” I said

“See, you don’t even know how old I am. I hate you” Belatedly I realized she is only 11 and it is her brother who is 13.

Moments like this, I really want to take a big huge cane and hit her till she shuts up. But I know I am the mother here and I should be more matured. So I ignored her progressively increasing rants.

Few minutes later, my son walks in to kitchen wearing a shirt that hasn’t been ironed. His shirt looked like, he rolled it, wrung it, rolled it again and ran a bulldozer over it. This is the shirt, I hung to dry properly on a hanger and somehow  the transit from the clothes line to his cupboard  has made it look like I haven’t even washed it.

“You shirt looks crumpled” I said

“I know, I can wear it if I want to” He replied.

If my son wants to look unkempt, then  I felt, he should be allowed to. After all, it is his life.

“Can you please drop me to the bus stop?” He asked

There is a short cut through the park to the bus stop, but every time when it rains, the ground gets very soggy and because the long and winding route to the bus stop is 1.3 km long, I. being the nice mom, drops them to the bus stop.

7.02, I got the lunches all packed, made hot chocolate and got ready to drive them to the bus stop.

They take the 7.04 bus.

No sign of Yaya. So I called out to her and said ” Yaya, it is 7.04 already”

“Mom, do you think I am blind? I can see the time”

Of course, she can see the time. Why should I bother?

And then my son started his drama. “Can you please drop me first? I am going to miss my bus”

“No” I replied. Why must I drive twice?

Eventually, her Royal highness came out of her room. I looked at the clock. 7.15.  As I reached the main road, we saw the bus going past.

“All because of you Yaya, I missed the first three buses. My friends are all in the other bus and if I am late by a second you bring the whole world down and you are 15 minutes late”

They both decided to see who can shout the loudest.

I dropped them to the bus stop. Neither of them gave me a kiss. My son even slammed the car door for good measure.

Came back home, child 3 isn’t talking. She was giving me the silent treatment. I dropped her to school. She too didn’t give me a kiss.

Ideally, I should really be mad, annoyed and hurt. I am actually smiling writing this post..These are the realities of having children. Some days nothing works and they do their darndest to make you wonder why you ever had kids. But this evening, when I get back home, all this would be forgotten. They will be wonderful children again..

Such is the life of a mother.