Academic honours

It was a delight to watch my children walking on the stage to collect their awards. Clearly, it was their hard work and going the extra mile to do the best helped them  win the award. I was really happy for my children.

But this post isn’t about my children. This post is about the most annoying boy you would ever meet in your life.

He is my son’s classmate. He is very annoying and extremely disruptive in the class. He often throws things at his classmates. He never completes his homework and the only reason he is allowed to attend the school is because of the ‘inclusion’ policy. But he got a perfect score for  every  maths competitions conducted locally and internationally. ( My son only got  high distinction, not a perfect score) He is a genius stuck in a brain diagnosed with severe Asperger’s.

He didn’t win any award yesterday. I know the awards are for overall achievements, but I feel sad that we only recognize what we consider normal.

Life isn’t fair..

Away until Monday


This happened the last winter kids and I were in Canada. Yaya was in grade 5, learning to talk back and make her stand as a pre teen. I don’t remember why we were arguing, but I remember very clearly her response ” Mama, you better be nice to me, for I am the one who will be choosing the nursing home where you will end up staying when you are old”

That dialogue shook me to the core.( more so because around that time a Chinese Canadian man was arrested for keeping his elderly mother in an unheated garage in Toronto during the winter and he was claiming carer’s benefit)

I didn’t have children because I wanted an old age security, I had them because I really wanted children. I raise them because it is part of having children, not because they need to pay back for all that I have done for them..pathu masam chumannu, theettam kori, kashu koduthu padippichu…I certainly didn’t raise them so they could be my ATM ( any time money) in my old age.

I do not want my children to take care of me in my old age. It is not fair on my children to be burdened with a cranky old woman, just because she gave birth to them. ( I am already stubborn as a mule and strong willed, imagine me 20 years from now) I am responsible for my life and it isn’t my children who should pay for my old age care or take care of me.

I hate the Indian/Asian notion of filial piety where the children are forced to take care of their parents because the parents sacrificed so much for the kids. . Every parent be it in the west or east chose to have the child and raising them is the result of that choice. But to burden them with taking care of their parents by religious or cultural bounds is a phenomenon seen in India/Asia. Elder abuse is extremely common in India and one of the reason it is happening is that some children really don’t want to take care of their aging parents, but are forced by the society. ( I think there is even a law that mandates children to take care of their parents) Years ago, there was the support of the extended families to take care of the older parents/in laws. Now with the nuclear families, both parents working and raising their own children, parents end up as a liability. To make matters worst, life expectancy has increased dramatically over the past two decades so are the chronic diseases (India has  about 90 million people over the age of 60 and women outlive men)

I chose to live outside India/Malaysia because of  the support system available for an older person. I will be eligible for old age pension and I can access government support when I can no longer take care of myself. But while I can, I intend to live in my own home ( and the plan b of driving off the cliff when I can no longer take care of me is still there)

One of the first thing I checked before buying my house is how safe it would be for me when I grow old. I didn’t want a two storey because I wouldn’t be able to handle going up and down the stairs in my old age. Actually  I didn’t want any steps anywhere in the house, I wanted the house to have wheelchair access, close to public transport so even if I ended up not being able to  drive, I can still go out or can employ people who can get to my place using public transport.

I got this as an email attachment sometime ago

A thought to ponder for the seniors !

(Phil. Star Article by: Letty Jacinto-Lopez )

At their 54th anniversary, my friends made a decision to distribute their
combined assets among their living heirs. Their rationale, Para walang gulo.
(To avoid trouble). They added one proviso: While still alive, income
from these properties will be used to maintain our present lifestyle
inclusive of medical expenses, extravagant trips and unlimited shopping.

That’s easy, replied the heirs. The income was substantial to indulge the
old folks with a bonus that the heirs can use in any manner they wanted.

The first year passed without a hitch, but soon the problem surfaced. Each
child used all kinds of tactics to keep the money from his parents. It
reached a point where the poor retirees had to beg for sustenance, robbing
them of the dignity
they worked hard to uphold.

What went wrong?

Bad decision, said a cautious friend who warned the couple of this scenario.
Children are so unreliable when it comes to inherited money. Money
received, which was not expected and not a direct result of something they
worked for, is not given the same value as money earned with their own
sweat and tears. They lose their sense of propriety; gratitude is tainted
by greed and decency gone. This is compounded by in-laws who can tilt or
convince their respective spouses to throw out good sense and filial
affection like soiled rugs, Honey, they’re going to die anyway, so why
waste good money on them?

To avoid falling into this vulnerable, pitiful state, 
keep these 10 tips in mind:

1. Do not retire. If you’re over-aged, retire and get all the benefits but
find another income-generating job or open a business that will keep you
active physically and mentally
. Travel and bond with true friends, play a
sport, learn a new hobby and volunteer in your community or parish. Don’t
loaf around. Your spouse will hate you because you’ve become a sloppy,
listless bum with nothing good to say about the household and things that
you never bothered about before. Solve crossword puzzles, play Scrabble,
write your memoirs, and above all, read …this will keep you alert and
keep Alzheimer’s at bay.

2. Live in your own place to enjoy independence, privacy and a solo life.
If you move in with your children, your rank or degree of importance is
reduced to that of a bed spacer who has no place of honor or, worse, like
crumbling furniture merely displayed with no added value. Might you kowtow
to conform to their own rules that are not kind, considerate or mindful of
you? If you witness your children engaged in a war of will and wits with
your grandchildren, whom will you side with? Will they even appreciate your
arbitration? Remind your children that silence is not a sign of weakness;
you are merely processing data that is taking longer to complete.

3. Hold on to your nest egg, bank deposits and assets. If you want to help
your children, do give, but not to the extent that you wipe out your life’s
earnings, singing heroically not a shirt on my back nor a penny to my name.
Staying solvent and in the black is a good hedge against all kinds of
tempests. You will sleep better, you will not be afraid to express your
opinion and you will be confident about yourself.

4. Don’t believe your children’s promise to care for you when you grow old.
Priorities change. Many children are not guilt-ridden or filled with a
sense of moral obligation when the wife and offspring take top billing in
their lives. There are still children who would consider it a privilege to
show compassion, genuine love and deep concern for their parents but be
warned that not all children think alike.

5. Expand your circle of friends to include young ones who will definitely
outlive your old BFFs. Keep up with new inventions, trends, music and
lifestyle including all the scams and schemes you should guard against.
Remember that when you mix with the young, you also open a fresh avenue to
channel your thoughts, experiences and values through so that the lessons
you learned are not lost, forgotten or buried with you.

6. Be well groomed and smelling fresh of spring water all the time. There’s
nothing more depressing than seeing people exhale when you walk by because
you reek of baul (camphor chest) or lupa (dirt). Old age or bust, don’t
look and smell like a corpse when you’re not one yet.

7. Do not meddle in the life of your children. If they ask for your
counsel, give it, but be ready to accept that they may not take it. Their
situations in life cannot be compared to the situations that you
experienced in your life. The playing field has changed and they need to
develop their own set of survival skills. If you raised them to be street
smart, they can handle themselves in tough situations and be able to read
people. Champion and encourage their dreams and desires but on their own

8. Do not use old age as your shield and justification for turning grumpy.
There’s nothing more annoying than an arrogant, old fool. Welcome each day
as another chance to be kind and forgiving, to yourself and to others.

9. Listen to what others may say. Do not throw your weight around just
because you are a septuagenarian or a nonagenarian. You are not a
depository of knowledge. Even if the roles have been reversed, make growing
old a fun-filled, pleasant experience for you and your brood.

10. Pray always and focus on your eternal life. You will definitely leave
everything behind, a final journey detached from burden and care. Be more
accepting that, sooner, not later, you will croak. Prepare your swan song
with a humble and contrite heart. If you believe in a merciful and loving
God, there is no need to strut like a star. Nobody is.

Money – Your last power at old age ! 

So save for your old age, don’t have children and think that they will take care of you in your old age.


Friday when I got back home, I noticed that the postie left the mail partially inside the mailbox and the letters were soaked in the afternoon drizzle. All the postie had to do was to push the letters in to the mail box. I was mad at the postie and at my children who came home before me and could have picked up the mail. As usual there were bills in the mail and then I noticed two letters from the school. I am a bit scared to receive letters from school, mostly because the only letters my parents ever got from my school/college were detailing my crimes. Since apple doesn’t fall too far from the trees, with trembling hands  I opened the soaked mail.

Both Yaya and toothless won the academic honours award for their respective grades and the school send a formal letter to inform me.( they also got individual subject awards and I was aware of that. Academic honours and that too both of them was a real surprise)

Happily I opened the door and found Yaya sitting on her favourite spot all gloomy and sad.

“What happened?” I asked her

“Mom, my teacher is so mean, today she drew a chart in class to describe the characteristics of students who will be successful in their life, then she told me, ” you have no future, I saw you talking to your friends in the assembly, you show no respect and people like you will never get anywhere in life”

I showed Yaya the letter from school. This should have been the proudest moment in her life, but her teacher’s remark made much more impact on her.

I told Yaya about Dr. S. He was my forensic medicine lecturer. He only had basic MBBS degree and got a job as a lecturer because his father was a big shot at Medical council of India. ( probably why he got admission to do medicine in the first place). Initially he was teaching anatomy and after teaching everything wrong, he was transferred to Forensic medicine. He picked on my from day one and  told me ” You should quit doing medicine, for people like you give a bad name for medical profession” It wasn’t because I wasn’t a good student, it wasn’t because I failed a subject. It was because he didn’t like me, because my reputation had preceded me after all the things George had done.The only other subject other than anatomy that I didn’t get the first three place is Forensic medicine. He didn’t give me the mark I deserved and it was fine with me. But when I got my final marks card, I took a copy of my marks card, went to meet him and gave him the copy and told him ” It isn’t people like me who should quit doing medicine, it is people like you with just an MBBS degree acting as if the world revolves around you that should quit the medical profession. Today, you and I have the same degree and one day, I will have more degrees than you and you will still be an MBBS degree holder and teaching forensic medicine, so remember the next time you go after another student, that you are nothing”

I told Yaya that the opinion of one teacher doesn’t determine her destiny, but it is a reason for her to work really hard, so one day, she could walk up to the same teacher and prove it to her that she was wrong all along.

A son for life.

I met my cousin ( My aunt’s son) when he was 10, although I was only 23 at that time, I considered him to be like my own son. I hoped then that one day I will have a boy of my own and he will be like my cousin, for my cousin was the sweetest boy I ever met until then. He is the only son of his parents, very gentle and even tempered. He never got angry, never spoke back to his parents and was very loving. Mother’s day and Father’s day at their house was a big event. The three of them ( father, mother and son) did everything together and every year they went to new places for their holidays. I can still see him walking in the middle with his mother and father on either side.

A year ago, he met a lovely girl and they bought a house of their own. He moved out on mother’s day ! Though he lives 15 km away from his parents house, he never has time to visit his parents. And even when he  comes home, he stays in his room with his girl..

Yesterday while we were sitting outside and talking, my son came to me to give me my goodnight kiss. ( To this day, my son has never gone to bed without giving me a goodnight kiss) My aunt started to cry, because her son used to do the same.

My aunt said to me ” You know, there is a Chinese proverb, you lose a son when he marries a girl and gains a son when your daughter get married”

I know my aunt and uncle miss their son very much and I know this is a stage in life.. I also know soon my boy too will leave home and I will feel the same way.. If only life was simple..

No drama

Yesterday when I got back home at 9.30 after Yaya’s basketball practice, as soon as I opened the door, the first thing I noticed was the dining table.  It was set and dinner was ready. The house was very quiet and I couldn’t find my aunt and uncle, which was very odd. I checked the bedrooms, the washrooms and finally found them in the pergola. Both of them were sitting in the pergola, with their legs crossed and praying silently. ( They are Buddhists and my aunt chants Om mani padme hum 1000 times every day)

I have a small statue of Buddha in the pergola. I bought it  for no particular reason. I didn’t think of my relatives when I bought it, but it made them very happy.

Same time last year, I had my relatives from Kerala staying with me. We always eat our dinner at 7 pm ( except when my kids have sports practice) and because that, I often do not let the children eat a heavy snack when they come back home from school. So by 7, they are famished.. On the first day of their stay, when I served dinner at 7 pm as usual, my cousin declared ” we should pray before dinner” My kids rolled their eyes. Then they asked for the bible. We don’t have a bible at home. My relatives were scandalized. Then they wanted to sing hymns. My children don’t know any hymns. I was given a lecture of how irresponsible I was. And then the prayers included weeping, pleading and begging and it went on and on. While the prayers continued, my children  decided to eat, because there was no end in sight for the prayer session and they were really hungry. They also had to do their homework.

I was given another lecture as to how to show respect  and treat my guests.

I don’t understand why Indians act this way.


Visiting relatives, last term of school, award ceremonies, going to uni, writing assignments, hot summer days. sums up my life the past few days.

I saw this article few months ago and wanted to post it here.

Vayasaayi” ( aged/) is a word I have heard often while growing up in India. There was an expiry date to all activities in life determined by the society. When you were young, if you did something that wasn’t socially acceptable, you were told ” mottennu virinjilla” ( Haven’t even hatched completely from the egg), but once you crossed the socially accepted hatching period, every thing you did was dependent on vayassayi. If a middle aged woman wanted to wear a sleeveless blouse, she was criticised  by saying vayassayi…ennittum…These types of limits set by the society affected the women much more than men.

When I told a very dear friend that I am doing my master’s degree, she asked ” You already have a master’s degree, why are you wasting your time and studying again at your age?”

Then you read articles like this that are so much more inspiring..


I know the photo is blurry and vayassayi people can’t see.. so here is the gist of the article.


Ordinary People

Lyn Davey 62, flight attendant, Camp hill.


I feel like I’ve lived my life back to front. At the age of 62, I’ve moved away from my family. I’m living in rented share accommodation, working part time at my local IGA ( supermarket) and just started my career as a flight attendant. I’d dreamed if being a flight attendant since I was 16, when I took my first plane and just loved the experience.


I grew up in Rosalie, 12 km south of Mackay. My father Fred was a motor mechanic. Mum Audrey, now 88, helped with the business. Back then, it was felt education was wasted on girls because you would only get married and become a mother. So when I was 15, I left school and started work as a legal secretary in Mackay. I married when I was 20 and had three children ( Gilliam 38, Cameron 35 and Martin 32). Back then, if you were married or had children, you couldn’t be a flight attendant. Life moved on. I married my second husband and had another daughter Vivian now 26. I never gave up my dream but  I was busy with my children and worked at various jobs. It wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I first applied to a couple of regional airlines, but it came to nothing.

In 2007, I took a job in Brisbane as an admin officer for a union. I answered an ad for a share accommodation and got a part time job at nights at IGA. I love people and became friendly with lots of customers there. When a customer said she worked for Virgin and wished she had me on her team. I felt it was meant to be. I just had to try. At age 60. I put in application and seven months later, I was offered a position with Jetstar. I took my first training flight in March last year at 61 1/2 years of age. I love it with passion. I have three young grandchildren, an elderly mom and a disabled husband., so I feel I can relate to so many different people on board.

My home

I was 16, when I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s My hometown song for the first time. I was studying for the MBBS entrance exams and was already planning to screw up the Kerala state entrance exam, so I won’t get admission to do Medicine in Kerala. I wanted to escape from Kerala and eventually India. It was not luxuries or comfort that I was after, but my freedom. I couldn’t live with the cultural taboos that forced me to conform to rules that I didn’t agree to. I felt Mallus (and Indians) are hypocrites. I was not willing to change, so I could conform to the expectations of others. Leaving was the only option I had.  I am still a Malayalee, that will not change, but I live following my heart, chasing my dreams and am happy because I am in control of my destiny, not the society that I live in.

And now I call Australia home…


This is my home in Australia.





The lounge is extremely small and when I bought the house, I was planning to knock off the wall that separates the lounge from the kitchen and build a small kitchen at the far end. I wanted an open plan home and my idea would have been brilliant if I could do such a simple job. Unfortunately, It turns out that there is a cross beam support in the wall there and it will involve a lot more work to create a new load bearing support, ( not to mention the permission from council)

When I have a large number of friends over ( which is very often), I host garden parties because there is no place for everyone to sit in the lounge room…The house is small..but the heart is big and I am happy..


Yaya’s best friend is going to New York to meet her boyfriend during the Summer holidays. ( I am not sure who is footing her airfare , if it was Yaya, I would have told her to get a job, earn the money and pay the fare herself, But that is beside the point).

When Yaya told me about her friend’s impending trip to NY, I told her, I can’t wait for the day she brings a boy home to introduce us to him. For which my son replied ” Yaya when you do bring a boy home, please inform him in advance that he needs to pass my ‘tests’, then mom’s , then Met’s, only then he will be allowed to be a part of our family, and make sure he knows that if he treats you badly, then he will have to deal with me”

( All my life, I wanted a big brother who would have protected me and I was so pleased to hear my son say that to his big  sister)

But what Yaya said was what surprised me the most. “Mom, I don’t believe in teenage romance, right now I want to concentrate on my studies, I don’t want to rush in to a relationship now.”

When I was a teenager, I was desperate to fall in love. When a guy showed some interest in me, it felt like I was on cloud 9. I wanted to fall in love with  the one who would save me from my family, the one who would love me for who I am and cherish me for what I am.  Not once I thought of the implications. Sure, I wanted to study and get a degree. But that wasn’t my priority. My priority was finding love.. it didn’t matter where love was, I was going to find it at any cost. My desperation was directly related to my mother’s actions.

I read somewhere that “experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you”. My life with my mother was a nightmare, but those experiences taught me to be a better mother and my children has benefitted from my painful experiences. I will always bear the scars, but not my children.


Away until Monday



It is so good to have the blog back online. ( Server migration caused the site to be offline)

A lot has happened in the last 4 days. I am 4 more days older and wiser ! Which is a good thing I hear you say.

I have my Chinese side of the family coming for a visit in a few days, My house is a total wreck. None of my kids want to give up their room for the visitors. I  can’t blame them because I don’t like anyone else sleeping on my bed.

I must tell you how hilarious it was, when I went  to buy a mattress few months ago. Growing up I slept on the mattress my grandmother( maternal) made for my mother ( paruthi panji ) as part of her bridal trousseau. Then we upgraded to foam mattress my father bought from mid east. At one stage I slept on a bed made from stacking 5 foam mattresses and spend a lot of time pretending I was the princess ( as in the princess and the pea story). In the medical college, I broke Amma’s heart by cutting one of the foam mattress to fit my hostel bed and Amma used the left over foam to make a cushion. ( The long strip of foam was rolled in to a pinwheel shape)

When I went back to Malaysia, I had no money to buy a mattress, so slept on my Razai  for the first few months and then bought a Dunlop mattress ( no bed still). It took a few more months before I bought a bed. In England I bought my first futon because I was staying in a bedsit and there was no space to put a proper mattress, besides it was the cheapest option, couch and bed in one.. The love for futon stayed all through till a few months ago. I was laying down on my cotton filled, comfy low bed and thought of all the things I had dreamed of wanting and it occurred to me that I had always wanted a four poster bed. By now, it is pretty obvious that I am a mad woman and needless to say, I decided to buy a four poster bed. Happily I fixed the bed after it was delivered. My idea was to continue use the futon mattress, only thing was, the mattress was a foot short on all sides. I wish I could describe the look on my children’s face. I had no choice, but to go and buy a new mattress. .

The sales rep at the furniture showroom asked me to lay down on the display mattress and see what kind of a mattress I would like. There were at least 20 different mattresses, all had a panel of washable fabric at the foot side, so your shoes won’t dirty the mattress, but no other covering/sheet. I could see all sorts of people laying down on those mattress to check, which one they like. I couldn’t bring myself to do that.  ( This is the same me, who travelled all over India in reserved and often unreserved train compartments and slept on those hard railway seats without any complain )

The sales guy tried his level best to convince me that the only way I could find my perfect mattress is by laying down on it.. but alas no luck. I needed a mattress, he needed the commission, but there was no way he could sell me one, if I don’t know what I wanted. I found the solution to my dilemma. If in doubt, always remember, eenie, meenie minie mo works.. I did just that. I have no idea what type/specs of mattress I bought, neither do I care.  As far as I am concerned, If I am going to count the sheep all night, the mattress isn’t going to make a difference..

Oh yeah, I was telling you about my family coming over for a visit. The good hostess in me wants to make my visitors comfortable when they come to my home, but the OCD sufferer doesn’t want to share her bed. And the house is a wreck because I am trying to rearrange the furniture in the living room and the TV room to make some space.. Did I tell you that my house is very small and built up area is only 210 sq meters?

PS: It looks like my OCD is increasing as I grow the first part of the blog should actually be read as older and stupid..

It looks like I lost the last post titled The contrast, I think it wasn’t saved when the server was changed..Anyone knows if there is a way I could retrieve it?

A tight slap..

I am not a violent person, but I wanted to give ‘her’ a tight slap yesterday. I attended a get together at a very dear friend’s home yesterday. All of us have children of the same age and our children are good friends. All the girls decided to watch a movie and the all the boys chose to play xbox games. My friend being the sweetest person that she is, made popcorn and drinks ( mocktails) for the girls  as a treat. I helped her to carry the drinks and as we entered the media room, her daughter asked her very rudely ” What do you want mom?”. She saw the popcorn in her mother’s hand and said ” You can leave the popcorn on the table ” and when the mother did that, the daughter very rudely told the mother ” You can go now”. I wanted to give her a tight slap. There is no excuse for rudeness.

A senior of mine hated her father visiting her at the college. Her dad was a typical small time farmer, who chewed pan, talked loudly and preferred to sit down on the floor. When we returned from our morning rounds, you would see him sitting on the floor in front of the hostel, happily chewing and spitting the pan everywhere. I guess she felt her dad wasn’t up to the standard of everyone else’s dad and always scolded him for coming to visit her. Even after she scolded him, he still came the very next month to see her. I used to feel so sorry for that man.

But my friend was an assistant District Attorney before moving to Australia. It is not that she is uneducated and not up to the standard in comparison to other mothers. I think, if Yaya talked to me like that, I would have given her a piece of my mind right then and there.  I am a nice, kind, gentle whatever mother, but I will not tolerate disrespect.