Pocket money

The first time I met George as he drove the car from Bangalore to Mysore, he asked me “So, how much money does your mother give you every week as pocket money?” I shook my head and said “none” and he replied “Really? I give my daughters 100 RS a week” and to this day, I haven’t forgotten the envy I felt that day. 100 Rs in 1986 was a lot of money and imagine getting 400 Rs/month.

( side note: I learned later that this is a standard behaviour pattern for most paedophiles, they want to show how good they are to others and want you to consider them as heroes and gain your trust. I also learned later that George knew even before he asked me that amma didn’t give us any pocket money and that he didn’t give his daughters  400Rs a month as pocket money)

Yesterday while having dinner, my son mentioned “my friends think we are very poor Mom”

“How come?” I asked

“Well, last time when we went for the movies D had 100 $ and J & L and 50 each and I only had 10$”

I gave him 10 $. 7.50$ for the ticket, 50 cents for lollies and 2 $ for a burger from Maccas/Hungry Jacks.

I didn’t give money for a drink because I know there is a bubbler in the library, close to the theatre and didn’t want him to consume 7 teaspoon of sugar in a serve of soft drink. All three of my children support the ban of bottled drinking water and carry their own water bottle and he can refill the bottle from the bubbler in the library. ( http://www.canadians.org/water/documents/bottledwater-5reasons.pdf)

“Do you think I was wrong? Did you need more money?”

“No Mom, you gave me enough, I can’t change their opinion and I don’t see how their opinion matters to me”

When George made me feel envious, I also promised myself that I will always give my children pocket money, which is something I don’t do.

If my children need something, it is my job as their mother to provide it. If I haven’t done so, obviously it is something I felt they don’t need. So I feel this thing about saving up their money to buy something they want that I consider they don’t need is pointless.

I do give them 2.50$ every Friday for them to buy  a treat from the tuck shop. Yaya and toothless buy sushi or combine their money and buy something else. Baby buys  Jumbo cookies and share it with her friends.

I do allow my children to earn money by doing chores. Mowing the lawn, folding the laundry, cooking dinner etc. They usually spend that money buying me and each other Christmas/birthday gifts.

I worry that by not going in the same wagon as all their friends might eventually harm my children..

My son..

Few weeks ago, my son and his team mates won a maths competition and his teacher bought Pizza for the whole class. 28 individual pizzas that I am sure she paid for with her own money. I felt it is only right that I should at least say my thanks to the teacher for making my son’s day the happiest, not winning the competition but eating pizza. ( He still wants to marry an Italian girl for the same reason)

In May, my son had to participate the school musical and knowing how he leaves everything to the last minute, I had asked him over and over do you have any costumes to wear. “No, I am fine, they said we could wear shorts” and I believed him. Yaya was in the chorus and she organized all the things she needed.

At about 10 AM on the day of his musical I get this text message from him.

toothless dragon

I called a friend of mine whose son is attending the same school and she told me that the school told weeks ago that all boys need to wear black jeans and black shoes. My wonderful son only found out about that on the day of the program. I was so mad at him.

So this thing about him doing everything the last minute has been going on from kindergarten and when I met his teacher, this is what she said

“He is such a wonderful boy, his homework is always complete and he makes it a point to wish me good morning every morning and says thank you each evening”

When you see such a positive outlook of your child through the eyes of another person, it makes you feel like a monster. I worry so much that he will never learn to be responsible and then find that he is responsible when it comes to things that really matter.

His teacher also mentioned about my son’s sense of humour. I see it every day.

My son loves to sleep in on Sunday and Yaya is someone whose body clock is programmed to 6 AM. The moment she wakes up, she switches on the radio and start singing along using a pitch that makes any sane person think of homicide. In my case, I have accepted this as Karma returning the favour for me singing off tune every morning all those years ago and bugging my mother and my sisters. Often I can hear my son yelling from his room ” Yaya shut up”, But what he said last Sunday topped my list of “things I must never forget”

He got up from his bed, went to Yaya’s room and banged on the door really hard and Yaya very angrily opened the door and screamed ” What do you want?” and he told her

“Yaya, judging by the way you are singing, I don’t think so”

Yaya was speechless for a second and I was clueless as to what was happening and then I heard both of them laughing and the I heard song she was singing along.

“I will survive”



Long weekend..

It is 9.10 AM, I woke up just now and I can smell my son cooking bacon in the kitchen. He has three of his friends staying over last night and it looks like he is making breakfast for his friends. Ah ! the joys of kids growing up and being able to take care of themselves.

A little while later, I am planning to do my standard sad pout and get one of the kids to feel sorry for me and make me a cup of tea. ( it has a 50% success rate).

Today, I am planning to read Caroline Moorehead’s A train in winter. Story about 230 French women send to Auschwitz.

I thought I will post a video of the place I call home.

Have a jolly good day.



I watched the movie Thelma and Louise in 1992. I was a 4th year medical student then and I remember sitting in the theatre, way after the movie was over because of the way the movie ended. It shook me to the core. May be it was the Indian in me after watching all the Indian movies with not so dramatic ending that hoped for a different ending, that somehow there was another cliff on which the car landed and they managed to free themselves and escape..

And I have been a fan of the name Thelma ever since.

Every Thursday, I host tea for my elderly neighbours. It started of with one neighbour and now I have 5 regulars and many occasional drop ins. All of them live in my suburb and most have arrived in Australia following their adult children who migrated to here.

Like me, they are also socially isolated and making a pot of tea and serving some cookies and scones isn’t a hassle. Thursday is my only free day where I don’t have to drive the kids for sports and so we meet every Thursday. They are all surrogate grandmothers to my kids.

Thelma is one of my regular visitor. She is in her 80’s. She plays tennis once a week, walks every morning and is fit as a fiddle. While yours truly thinks tennis racket is a bit too heavy and gasps after walking 100 meters. When I invited Thelma to come for tea, she said she will only come if I make samosas. I said sure.

Working day evening, there is no way I can make samosas from scratch, so I bought frozen samosas and baked it at home. When Thelma saw the perfectly made store bought samosas, she said, she hasn’t met anyone as cheeky as me in her entire life and I told her the only reason I invited her is because I like the name Thelma and We have been good friends ever since.

She talks about her life in South Africa often and recently something that she said caught my attention. She said she was bullied at school all the time and one particular girl once told her in front of everyone ” Thelma, do you know you are the most ugly girl ever born?” to which Thelma replied “Yes, I know, but I have a reason” The bully asked her “oh, yeah, what is your reason?” and Thelma replied ” I take ugly pills every morning, what is your reason?” No one ever called her ugly after that.

I wish I had known this answer years ago.

Updated: Sometime ago, Thelma had told me about her favourite song, she said it is about rose and she can’t remember the lyrics/artist etc, but I must make sure that her favourite song is played when her coffin is taken out of the church..as her farewell song. I found the song this morning..


Oru fish cutlet nte katha..

My maternal grandmother was an exceptionally good cook and everyone in the family used to talk about her fish cutlets.

I have never eaten her fish cutlet because of one episode that happened 2 decades before my birth. It was my youngest aunt’s engagement and my grandmother decided to make fish cutlet for the guests. She got everything ready and how much ever she tried, the cutlets just broke apart when she tried to fry it. I can only imagine her heart break, because she even baked the bread herself that she later made in to bread crumbs to coat the cutlet.

If it happened now, I would have saved the day like ‘Superman’  ( Ok , make that superwoman). All she had to do was to soak a couple of bread slices (sans crust) in water, squeeze the water out and mix it in to the dough and it will hold the cutlet together when you fry it.

I make fish cutlet often. But there is one thing I absolutely hate to do. coating the cutlets in egg. I can’t stand the sliminess of raw egg and I wash my hand every few minutes. Usually, I do this when I have friends over for dinner.

This particular time, this particular friend is from far north Queensland. His house in 1700 KM away from the nearest supermarket. To buy grocery, He flies his plane once every 3 months and go to the town! In other words, I think he lives in Jurassic park era.

After seeing me wash my hand a million times, he very casually tells me.” you do know, you can just use Mayonnaise instead of egg?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

He took the Mayo from the fridge, took a teaspoon in to a bowl, added another teaspoon of water, stirred the mixture,which now looked like a curdled milk and told me, “try this”

I grew up in the city, I have the largest collection of recipe books and a man who has never ever been to a proper school ( he was the product of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_of_the_Air ) and never seen a recipe book is telling me that I can use something that looks like curdled milk instead of slimy raw egg.. this I had to see.

I dipped the cutlet in the mayo water mix, first thing I noticed was that it wasn’t slimy, then I coated it in crumbs, hoping the crumbs wouldn’t stick, it coated in to a neat layer and there wasn’t lumps of crumbs here and there and then I fried, hoping it would fall apart. It didn’t.

Astonished is a word I could use to describe my face at that moment. for more than 25 years, I struggled making cutlets. This was so easy and the least messy.

Oh the things you learn..


When I was in the 10th standard, I was still considered deaf, dumb and blind and Amma had already spoken to the owner of Paikadas ( parallel college) and booked a spot for me because she was sure my SSLC marks wouldn’t be enough to get admission to CMS college/BCM.. But I knew, I will be able to get a very good score even though no one believed me. It was also the time when one begins to think about the future. I knew, I didn’t want to study maths, so engineering was out of the question. I really loved to cook and thought I could do home science and then do hotel management. My second option was to join the diplomatic service. K R Narayanan was the Ambassador to US at that time and I felt, if he could, then there is nothing that stops me from joining the diplomatic services.

As usual, my mother did her darndest to discourage me. “You can’t speak a word of English and you want to be an Ambassador?” :Home science is for girls from rich family who only needs a paper qualification to get married, but you are already deaf, dumb and blind, who will marry you? You have to remember I have 4 daughters and you are not the only one” ( in other words, I should be aware that being deaf, dumb and blind, I might require more dowry and with a home science degree, it will increase further.

Medicine was the only option I had.

Years later, I met Peter Varghese at a dinner, when he was the Australian Ambassador to Malaysia and I felt so jealous. He was everything I could have been, if only I was born to some other mother.

Yaya has been going through a tough time the past few months because she has no idea what she wants to do in her life. For the longest time, she wanted to be an artist and live in Venice. Then she wanted to be an interior designer. After her 13th birthday, things began to change. “I want to make a difference in this world” became her motto.

I didn’t know how to help her and even if I suggested anything, she wouldn’t have listened. So I kept quiet.

Sometimes, I am just so grateful living outside India. The support system the kids have here, I would have never been able to provide for my children had I been living in India/Malaysia.

Yaya had her first appointment with the school based career guidance officer. They went through her interests, dislikes etc and prepared a career path for her.

yaya CG1

She came home all excited. “Mom, my career guidance teacher thinks, I could be an Ambassador/diplomat, what do you think?”


I wish you could have seen the smile on my face.


Sometime last year, I had taught my son how Rubik’s cube work and explained to him about algorithms.

It piqued his curiosity and he has been in to algorithm since then.

After not finding my IPad for the umpteenth time, I added a 4 digit password yesterday morning before leaving home. When I returned in the evening, my son was looking really sheepish.

“What did you do?” I asked as soon as I saw his cheeky grin.

“Nothing” he said

Then I noticed that he was using my IPad.

I knew he would try to crack the password, so I didn’t use any of the standard 4 digits numbers. Since there are about 10000 combinations you can get with a 4 digit numbers. I opted for 8068 thinking that if he was going to use algorithm, a combination of double digit, 0 and a 6 would take a long time.

My son is not telling me how he managed to crack my password.

Honestly, I am scared, there is a thin line separating the right and wrong. and I worry if he would cross that line

“creat”ive parenting

Some time ago, I had invited an Indian family for a meal. The thing is, I don’t go to church/temple etc, I am not a member of the mallu association and so I don’t really meet other Indian families. I do worry so much about my kids not knowing anything about being an Indian and so do the best I can by inviting acquaintances over for a meal.

Most of my Caucasian friends think that I am exotic and even if I serve plain chicken curry and say it is “maharajah’s special” they will think it is a big thing and that I have been cooking all day !  They also don’t know much about all the accompanying dishes that are meant to be served with a proper Indian dinner..so Maharajah’s special served with ghee rice and raita..few cartons of beer and they think that I did something so special. It takes me less than 30 minutes to cook the meal and I am happy too. Plates are mismatched, forks and spoons are mismatched and no one bat and eye when the dessert is ice cream and is often served in a small Chinese rice bowl.

But it really isn’t the same when you invite an Indian family over for a meal. I am not one who usually cares for what other people think about me, but still, I could never bring myself to serve maharajah’s special and ghee rice. I have to think of the pre dinner snacks, and then make sure there is the standard meat, fish, vege dishes, pappadam, raita and pickle..and then the dessert.

I cooked Chettinadu Pepper chicken, fish cutlets, palak paneer, gobi manchurian, raita and served it with butter nan and ghee rice. It took me a long time to cook all this.

The couple who came for the meal had two children same age as my older two. They came to Australia few years ago..but their children can’t eat spicy food, they don’t like spinach, cauliflower etc.. According to the mother, “my children are fuzzy eaters” Then she spend the next hour telling me how hard it is for her to get her children to eat some food. her children didn’t eat anything and I was really ticked off.

I had a very dear friend and her family over for dinner yesterday. I cooked the same meal..her youngest is 8 and it was such a delight to see her coming for seconds..and the chicken was spicy..and the family is North Indians..

Fuzzy children are created..by parents.