Risk taking

I shudder every time I think of all the things I have done as a teenager. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I still did it anyway. I certainly knew there were consequences to my impulsive decisions, but I was also willing to live with those consequences.. My logic then was, The biggest disadvantage being born is that you are going to die.. everyone will die one day, so what is the big deal if whatever I was going to do might end up killing me? I think the most risks I took were between the age of 18 and 20. Around 21, the things that gave me so much excitement ceased to interest me and I found myself thinking of consequences before I did something.

Since apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, I was very mindful about my children following the exact path I took. I read every research paper about Adolescent risk taking behaviour. There has to be a reason why mortality and morbidity rate are exceptionally high in the adolescent age group, despite kids in that age are in their healthiest state of development.

One of the most interesting paper I read was this

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445337 (/http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445337/).

Evidence clearly points to the delayed gratification  of prefrontal cortex in the adolescent brain , the area responsible for making choices, impulse control etc.

When my son was about 6, I noticed that he loved speeding in the ice rink. I watched the instructor telling him over and over about how dangerous it was and he still did it. Even after he completed the full Skate Canada program, I still put him back for skating lessons. It was very  expensive and his instructors were really puzzled as to why I registered him again and again when he had already completed the program. My reasoning was simple, my son seemed to  have an affinity for impulsive behaviour compared to his peers of the same age and I wanted him to be safe and be able to enjoy the risks..I would rather he did it in a skating arena than behind the wheel of a car  I knew there will be  day he will be bored with speeding. where it doesn’t really excite him anymore. .. It did. If I am not mistaken it took almost  9 months.. and he started talking to the kids in group and skated alongside.  I stopped the lessons soon after that.

Yaya on the other hand was very rational  till she was 16. While her brother was speeding around the skating arena, she was calm and composed. She even went for figure skating..

When Yaya was in grade 12, her school organized safe driving classes for the kids, they also organized for people who ended up in Wheel chairs after accidents to come and talk to the kids about risk taking.. especially when driving. She lost two school mates and three former students (who were in first year Uni) to accidents when she was in high school. So it is not that she isn’t aware of the risks. She knows the risks.. but so long as her brain hasn’t developed, she is going to make impulsive decisions and take risks..

Like every parent of a teenager, I am terrified of all that can go wrong. I can tell my children over and over of all the dangers out there..I also know if it wasn’t for some guardian angel somewhere, I wouldn’t have survived my teenage years and writing this post today..

So I wait.. hoping that my children will survive without harming themselves and others.. because as a parent, that is the only thing I am left with.. hope..


Last night Yaya completed 100 hours on the road driving as part of getting her P plate.

The also has been the worst 100 hours of my life.

The first few weeks, she was only going too close to the curb, driving through the round about etc..The moment she realized she is getting better at driving, especially after driving on the highway the first time, she also became a typical cocky teenager..

Recently, at a T junction, she needed to take a left turn and did such a wide turn at high speed that she almost hit an oncoming car on the opposite lane.

“Yaya, slow down” I said and which resulted in her telling me, she knows the rules and the speed limit and that I don’t need to tell her those things and also that she has eyes to see that she did a wide turn.

She refuses to do shoulder check  on merging in residential areas because chances are that there won’t be other cars on the road and she couldn’t be bothered. Besides, her driving instructor has told her that at the time she goes for her road test, they only look for 5 shoulder checks. The fact that shoulder checks saves lives ( hers, pedestrians, cyclists etc) has fallen in to deaf ears.

Few weeks ago, she offered to drive us to the beach. There was a B double on the left lane going at 110 km/hr. She is in the middle lane, travelling at 110 km/hr. Then she felt thirsty, with one hand on the wheel,  eyes off the road and still at 110 km/hr she reached for the drink.. We missed going under the wheels of B double by few seconds. Her defence? Everyone makes a mistake once in a while and mom can’ talk because she drives with one hand on the steering wheel anyway.

My friends tell me that she will get a reality check soon enough when she has her first accident.

I am terrified..


In all the time I have known him we only had one fight.. and you can’t even call it a fight because we didn’t really fight.

We were on holiday and had one more day before we headed back home. Usually both of us tend to be a bit crabby towards the end of our holidays because neither of us wanted the holidays to be over.

We headed out early morning. It was his turn to pick the activity of the day and I followed sleepily. I had absolutely no idea where we were going or what we were doing. When we reached the destination, he asked me something about what I would like to do as in which trail I wanted to walk and I assumed he was asking about where we should go for breakfast.  He laughed when he heard my answer and I was pissed. (honestly, I am not a good company first thing in the morning anyway)

I usually go quiet when I am pissed because I hate to fight/argue.

He chose to trek the trail that takes us to the pinnacle. I was wearing jeans and a sleeveless t shirt and a light jacket.(because I had no idea that we were going to do mountain climbing, but on second thought, I remembered him telling me  the night before that that we should hike the mountain, but in the morning I completely forgot about it)

The first one hour of the climb it was hot and sweaty and he being fitter than me gained a lot of ground…. Because I was in a non communicative mood, he left me alone to climb, except when there was a huge boulder in the path, he waited for me so he could  haul me up. 3 hours in to the climb, it was raining and only he had a rain jacket and being the stubborn mule that I am, I refused to share his jacket.. which led me to get soaked to the bone. 4 hours to the hike and 30 minutes before we reached the pinnacle, it began to snow. I was so angry. I was tired, breathless(asthma) and my clothes were soaking wet and I was freezing. He on the other hand was warm and toasty and happy..because he loves to climb mountains and the view from the top was spectacular.

When we eventually got back to the hotel where we were staying, he made me Chaya and asked me something and I didn’t respond. For the first time since I have known him, I saw him getting angry and the first thing I noticed were his eyes. They looked so strange.. so intense.. He was standing there with his arms crossed and he looked really really angry and he mumbled something. I have no idea what he said to me because it was in Spanish. We needed to get our camping gear from the car and repack our bags before we headed out for the dinner for which we had already made the reservation. We had an early flight to catch the next day… So there he was, standing there, still with his arms crossed and glaring at me and there I was, holding a cup of freshly made earl grey tea, looking at him and laughing. I noticed the intensity in his eyes getting lessor and then he said

“No more Chaya for you” and I nodded my head in agreement, knowing very well that he will make me tea first thing in the morning.

There was one more thing he did that day..

After we had our dinner, on the drive back to our hotel, he stopped by a lake..so I could watch the reflection of lights on the water. It was really cold and I didn’t want to get out of the car. So he parked the car in such a way that I could see the reflection from the car. And he sat there quietly, leaving me alone with my thoughts…and I sat there..watching the beautiful view..and knowing that this is the guy for me.


It is a month since I last saw him. On the positive side, I now only have to wait 3 years and 11 months.

Words can’t express how much I miss him..

Every morning when I wake up, I ask myself why do I miss this guy so much? I don’t really have an answer..

I miss waking up next to him and pretending to be still asleep, so he could make me the worst tea on planet earth. I love the way he whisper my name and try to wake me up. I love the smile on his face when he hands me the cup. I love the softness of his hands..

A very dear friend has been helping me a great deal to cope. Every morning when I think I can no longer take another breath, I call her and she often asks me

“So, what can you do for yourself the next hour?”

Once when I was visiting him, he was doing Sudoku while attending a business call. He did the hardest Sudoku in 18 minutes. I do play Sudoku, but usually it takes me a lot longer than an hour. So I told my friend when she asked me what can you do for yourself the next hour that I will do Sudoku. And I have been doing them the past one month. I can now do them in 20 minutes..

I am yet to go to a lot of places that we  used to go to. I don’t think I can handle that.. Next week, my Uni will start, which is another thing I am not sure how to cope.. I used to see him everyday after my Uni lessons..

Yesterday after seeing me cry, my youngest asked me..”mom, do you ever wish that you never met him?”

I told her,  how can I ever regret meeting a guy who made me feel like a princess every second of my life…


Last night I  asked Yaya what time she needed to leave for work in the morning. This morning I asked her the exact same question again. I remember her answering me yesterday, but I really don’t remember what she said. It was like all those times I placed the cake batter in the oven and looked at the clock to check the time. I remember looking at the clock, but not what time it was.

She was really annoyed. “Mom,How many times do I have to tell you the same thing? I hate having to repeat the same thing over and over” she said

“I understand Yaya, no one likes to repeat the same thing over and over. However, do you remember when you were young, how many times I read your favourite Celtic fairy tales? Each of those stories were more than 20 pages long. How many times you made me sing your favourite nursery rhymes? Tell you the  story of Genghis Ghan? Matsalleh of Sabah? Now it is your turn. Just as you are growing up, I am growing old, today you might only have to repeat the answers couple of times, tomorrow you not only have to repeat the things, you might even have to scream louder so I can hear you. And that is not all, you might even have to listen to me repeating the same old story over and over for the rest of my life”

She was quiet for a few seconds and I think I got the message across.

While she is now in her infallible youth which is flawless, error free and is impeccable, she needs to remember that I am growing old. My physical and mental abilities are declining.. It is time she learned that along with all that makes her youth perfect, she needs to practice patience.. for that is the only thing that will help her cope with the fragility of my old age..

and so it begins..

5 split in to 4.

Oh the things you get to watch.

Last weekend one of the local thrift shop had 5$ a garbage bag sale. Where you can buy as much clothes as you can that will fit in to a garbage bag for 5$. Yaya and 3 of her friends attended the sale.

When she came back, she had 4 tops, 2 jeans and few pairs of shorts. When I used to take her for the same sale few months ago, she used to come home with lot more clothes. So I was curious as to what happened?

“We decided to split 5$ four ways and buy only one bag of clothes, so each of us only needed to pay $1.25.”

At the moment, she is working two jobs and earning her own money. I do not give her any money as I believe that my responsibilities were over the day she graduated grade 12.

All of a sudden, spending her own money is a lot difficult  than spending her mother’s money. She now knows how to stretch her money…which is a good lesson to learn..


I got a GPA of 7 (84%)  for the assignment I had to submit few weeks ago. To be honest, I still have no idea what I actually wrote. I was crying so much that I could hardly see the computer screen. The assignment involved creating a disaster relief project following the South Australian bush fire. I had to read about the effect of bush fire and then think of what disaster relief I was going to provide.

My best friend whom I have known since I was 5 years old had phoned me few days before the assignment was due. She knew about him and what I was going through. She called me to give moral support and I told her I really don’t think I can do the assignment. It was a huge project and required a lot of thinking and I was in no position to even to plan the project. I couldn’t even find information on the towns that were affected by the bush fire..not even the demography..

Unfortunately, my friend felt the best way to deal with the situation was to tell me that, you can’t waste your life for a guy.  Which I wasn’t. I really wasn’t wasting my life on a guy, I had just said goodbye to the love of my life and drowning in my sorrows.

All I wanted was some sort of support.. I couldn’t bring myself to do the assignment at the same time, I couldn’t think of failing a subject.

It was then that a 77 year old woman stepped in..and recited the poem it couldn’t be done

I wrote the assignment not because I didn’t want to waste my life for a guy, but because I knew it could be done, if I tried.



My youngest loves Kesari bath.. I usually make a batch of kesari in the weekend for her, and  she eats it for brekkie. There have been times, she came to my room in the middle of the night to tell me that she is really craving for Kesari and would I make some for her? (She can’t roll the letter R and it sounds like Kesali)

The kesari we had in Bangalore always came in orange colour and I too  added orange colour (saffron)..Till one day Yaya asked

“Why should the Kesari be orange in colour? Why not blue?”

I didn’t have an explanation why kesari always came in orange and explained perhaps in the beginning people might have used saffron. But it was really exciting to make something colourful..an unexpected kind of joy from something so mundane..

And so we started making Kesari in all sorts of colours.. pink, purple, blue, green.. Current version is deep blue. (yes, I am aware food colours are unhealthy..)

Yaya then remembered how her grandmother used to tell her the story of the fox that fell in to the dye left in a bucket(Neelakurukkan). Amma used to let Yaya pick the colour of dye in the bucket and every afternoon we had the same story, but different colour fox.

Unfortunately, my youngest hardly remembers my mom..

Today I wish, if only life had a different path….


Yaya accompanied me for grocery shopping last weekend. Before we left, my son reminded us to buy peanut butter.

“Mom, can we please buy crunchy peanut butter?” She asked while grinning.

“Only If you can deal with the consequences” I replied

And we bought crunchy peanut butter.

The deal we have at home is that, when I get back home after the grocery shopping, whoever didn’t accompany me for shopping has to take the stuff from the car and put it away. In this case, my son and my youngest.

I noticed Yaya whispering something to Baby and she too was grinning.

And I waited…in the kitchen..even though I really wanted to lay down in my bed and read the book I was reading before I went to do the grocery shopping.

It didn’t take too long.

“Crunchy peanut butter, you bought crunchy peanut butter, how could you? You both had one job to do and that is to buy smooth peanut butter”

I wish I recorded my son’s lividity. He was red and fuming. He was even more mad because both his sisters and his mother were laughing so much.

He likes to have a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast and absolutely hates crunchy peanut butter. He has had a hatred for crunchy peanut butter ever since he was a toddler.

He huffed and he puffed and we laughed..

Little while later, he came and lay down next to me.

“Mom, did you realize that I spent my entire life until now with Yaya?”

I never thought of that.

“That is true” I replied

“When she goes to Uni, who will buy crunchy peanut butter just to annoy me?”

It was a question with no answers.


Yaya booked her flight ticket to Europe. She chose the countries she is planning to visit, how she is going to get there and where she would be staying. She has been reading about all the backpacker accommodations, reviews etc and have been booking her accommodation.

She plans to spend two weeks in London and take the train to Paris and spend a couple of days there. Then she is flying to Rome from London, travel to Florence, Milan and Venice. From Venice, she is heading to Barcelona and spend the rest of her holidays (and make occasional trips to south of France) there and then fly to US.

Except in Barcelona, she will be alone during her travels.

She is not known for keeping in touch..so I don’t really expect her to let me know where she is or how the trip is getting on.

On one hand I am terrified .. of the all the things that can go wrong.

On the other hand, I know I raised her well and she can handle herself well..

Hardest part of being a parent is this fine art of balancing the art of letting go.