Mark Twain wrote

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

And so, Yaya and I are going on a two weeks trip to India. Part of her arts project is ‘expressions’ and she wants to travel as a nomad in India and capture the raw expressions of ordinary life.

As usual, I haven’t planned anything and I am terrified. I have stayed alone with my three children in a remote mountain cabin in the middle of winter when the temperature was -30 degrees C, but going to India scares me. I worry about our safety. The first thing I did when Yaya told me she wants to visit India was to look for a hunting knife. I am not joking. I always carry a Swiss Army  knife with me, but I could so totally see myself trying to find the right knife when I am in trouble like the girl in an English movie ( can’t remember the name) trying to rob a man in the subway and when she flicks the Swiss knife, the can opener flips out instead of the knife !

I wanted Crocodile Dundee kind of knife.


It turns out, switch blades are illegal in Australia..So we are back to Swiss Army knife.

So much as I am worried about all that can go wrong, I look forward to spending time with my oldest child, show her all my favourite places and create more memories..

She wants to eat Dosai, get her nose pierced and travel in the trains.

I will be in Bangalore from 12th to 14th of July. If anyone would want to join me for a meal, do send me a mail. daofto at gmail…

Back on 17 th July

Until then, Adios..


This morning Yaya came to me and told me ” mom, can I skip the sports this arvo because none of my buddies are around and I can go the library and work on my EE ( extended essay for IB)” Her sports buddies are away on a trip to Melbourne.

For Yaya to skip her sports lesson, I have to call the school and tell them that she has an appointment and please excuse her from the class. The school authorities obviously don’t care if my child attends the class or not and the process of signing her out is very simple. I call the school, tell then Yaya’s class number and full name and the magical word ‘appointment’ and it is done. She can leave the school. I don’t like to lie and I hate being put in this kind of situations.

Most of her classmates skip the classes regularly by getting the parents to call the school. I only had 17% attendance for Anatomy, but I was an adult and making my own decisions. ( I also had to bribe the staff at the post office where the letters from my college were sent to be posted, so I could confiscate the Principal’s letter warning my mother of woefully inadequate attendance record 🙂    )

Would you lie to the school if you were put in the same situation?


Yaya will be 16 end of this week.

How fast time flew..

I asked her what she wanted for her birthday and she said ‘nothing’. She apparently has everything she wanted. Initially I thought I would buy her a car, mostly because I am terrified of her wrecking my baby. However, I didn’t want to set such a high standard for 16th birthday gift, because I will have to buy the other two something just as good. I have no intention of buying three cars and am not going to go through comparisons between siblings.

So this year, I bought her an Infinity ring.


She has reached the age of consent and as her mother, I am worried about all that can go wrong. There are things I wished my mother told me when I was 16..

So this is what I am going to tell her..

Infinity..is the love that I have for her

Infinity is the possibilities of all that she can do with her life.

No guy is worth your tears, so wear the ring always and remember to be with someone who won’t stay mad at you, who can’t stand not talking to you and who is afraid of losing you.




My youngest is away on a school trip to Canberra.

The evening before she left, Yaya went to her room and asked “where is the list?” ( of items she needs to take with her). Together, they went through the list, sorted what she would be wearing each day, rolled each day’s clothes in to a bundle. ( rolling the clothes to small bundles saves space, I learned it from a Army friend) It took them about 30 minutes to pack the bag. I didn’t check if she took everything because I trust Yaya  and know very well that she will not miss anything.

Her flight was at 7 AM  and we had to leave home at 5.15 to get to the airport on time. Both Yaya and my son wanted to come to the airport even though both watched the world cup on telly and didn’t have enough sleep.

As it was a school trip, there were lots of parents at the airport. Some helping their children to carry their hand luggage, some helping them through the security check and some are actually travelling with their children to Canberra.

Baby carried her own bag and did the check in  and security check all by herself and didn’t even bother to turn and look at us or wave a bye. I took a deep breath and told myself, I will just have to accept the fact that this is life and soon I will start making more of  these early morning trips to the airport and that end of this year, I am done with elementary schools and in 4 years, I will be 47 and will live alone in a 4 bedroom house in Australia and my children will be on the other side of the planet.

I strongly believe as a parent, it is my responsibility to teach my children independence. I can’t hold their hands forever and guide them through life. Although I am a bit disappointed that my child didn’t even wave a goodbye. I know, I did well to raise a capable, independent child.

I  am also very happy to see siblings stepping in when there is a need without being asked to.

Life in times of world cup

Last night all three of my kids woke up at 1.30 AM to watch Germany vs Portugal game with me. 4 years ago, I tried to get them to watch the world cup final. They were 12, 10 and 8 years old then and slept through most part of the game. This time, they knew the names of all the German and Portugal players, they knew the statistics etc.

Next world cup, I will only have my youngest child home. ( Yaya will be 20 years old and my son will be 18)

I am feeling miserable..


Sometimes, however smart you are, it is best to shut up.

Yaya had to do a self portrait as part of her visual arts project. She had to take a photo of herself and then draw the portrait, cataloguing the process. Yaya is a very pretty girl and chose to pose for a photo as if someone had punched her. One cheek puffed up and the eye half closed. I really wanted to ask her, What is wrong in posing for a normal photo? Why all the goshti? She was very proud of her portrait photo and much as I wanted to tell her to take a decent selfie of herself, I kept quiet.

She completed her portrait few days ago and I haven’t seen it. A friend of mine went for the school open day and called me to say, the arts department has chosen Yaya’s portrait as sample work by students to display and everyone is amazed as to how well she has done the portrait.

My son’s mechatronics project is also there as part of the display. He chewed my brain for days and was mad at me for not helping him. Eventually he designed a robotic crane system and is representing the school for the young ICT competition end of this month.

As a mom, it is really great to see my children’s work being chosen for display. But what is more important here is, had I played any hand in this, I would have most likely messed it all up for the kids. My idea of art is perfectionism, and Yaya’s portrait has been chosen because she took the chance to be not perfect. If I had helped my son with his mechatronics, it wouldn’t have been a crane system.

I am just so glad that I didn’t influence my children’s thinking process..


Now that my youngest is in grade 7, I no longer park the car and walk her to class every morning. I do the illegal stop and drop. Yesterday was the last day to pay the school trip fees and I forgot to do the bank transfer. And so I had to park the car and walk to the office to the pay the fees.

As I got off the car, I noticed a mother and child arguing and the child took the school bag from the trunk and stormed off. Then it happened. The mother called out to her child and told her, if she doesn’t give the mother a kiss, she will regret it when her mother dies.

I really wanted to tell this mother that my mother used to say the same thing to me and she is in her 70’s and still alive.

“When I die” was my mother’s favourite dialogue. It doesn’t matter how serious my crime was. It could be as simple as not saying ‘bye’ or serious as telling amma ‘I hate you’. It was always met with the same response “When I die….” you can fill in the blanks here

1. you will regret talking like that to your mother

2. you will not have anyone to give a kiss/or have a mother to give you a kiss

3. Your father will marry again and your step mom will never treat you like your real mother and you will regret…

4. One day you will become a mother and you will know how it feels when your children treat you the same way.

5. remember, Karma is a bitch..and nee vithachathu, nee thanney koyyum ( You will reap what you sow)
6. ippol than arinjillenkil pinney than ariyum. ( one day you will learn, if not now)
As a child, I was not allowed to have a bad day. And even if I had a bad day, I still had to be nice to my mother because ” when she died…….”
I remember sitting in my classroom, all worked up and feeling tremendously guilty.. worried that Amma would have had some sort of accident and died and I will live the rest of my life with regrets because I didn’t say Bye to her that morning. What a horrible child I was that I couldn’t even say Bye to my mother after all that she did for me.
I have had my share of “I hate you mom” to slamming the car doors and not saying Bye from my children. But I will never tell them “When I die….”
When I die, I die. end of story, but I will not instil fear in my children by manipulating their feelings.


When Yaya was little, every afternoon she and I used to paint. It started with magic painting books. ( you apply water with a paint brush and the colours used to appear magically. http://www.amazon.co.uk/A4-Magic-Painting-Book/dp/1851283609) and as she grew older, we progressed to crayons, colour pencils and water colours.

Up until grade 7, she said she wanted to be an artist and live in Venice. I am not the kind of the parent who believe that my child must do either Medicine or Engineering. I believe they really should do what makes them happy. Venice is a really nice place to live and if my child chose to live there, all the better for me. I can make frequent trips to Venice ! I also told her that most artists don’t make much money while they are alive and that is still ok, so long as she can eat stale bread and cheese. ( Yes, she did roll her eyes)

I didn’t hear much about becoming an artist once she joined high school. Every now and then she would come to me and ask “Mom, what should I do when I grow up?” and my answer has always been “whatever you want, the world is yours to conquer” which often elicited the response ” you are of no help” and few more eye rolling.

Honestly, I would have liked her to be in the foreign services. She loves to travel, speaks a lot of languages and is very strong willed and gets what she wants. But that is my opinion and I prefer to keep it to myself.

Yesterday she came to me and told me ” Mom, I think I want to do environmental law ”

It was something totally unexpected. I didn’t even think she wanted to do law.

I am happy that she is thinking about what she wants to do and is free of pressure from her parents. Every child deserves that freedom.