When my youngest joined Spanish Immersion, Yaya had already completed the program and was proficient in Spanish. The teachers were under the impression that my youngest would get all the help she needs from her sister. Yaya refused. According to Yaya ” No one helped me and I had to stay awake until 3 AM most days to get my homework done, so baby will just have to do it all by herself”

I was a bit annoyed with Yaya, mostly because she reminded me of my oldest sister. I remember having to learn Hindi in 5th standard and I was struggling. I needed help and I went to my oldest sister who was doing pre-degree(she was home for some reason) and I will never forget what she told me ” if you had paid attention to what the teacher was teaching, then you would be able to do your work, so I can’t help you because you didn’t pay attention to the teacher” I had to stand outside the class as punishment for submitting incomplete homework and the teacher also gave me imposition because she taught my sister and knew I could have got help from her. She didn’t believe me when I told her that my sister refused to help me.

But then again, Yaya had a valid point and I felt my youngest will just have to find her own footing.. I met the teachers and explained that Yaya will not be helping her sister.

The past couple of weeks Yaya has been clearing out stuff from her room. Yesterday When I came home, there were 5 folders on my bed. All the past IB questions answered and filed according to subjects, with explanation notes at the back. She sorted them out for her youngest sister. (Her brother is doing different subjects)

I hate my oldest sister. I know hate is a very strong word. But I hate her absolutely. The things she has done to me are unforgivable and in this life time and then next million life times, I will never be able to forgive her.   I am always terrified of my child turning out to be like my sister. and her brother and sister hating her. But yesterday, when I saw those folders on my bed, my heart was full of joy..that my child did this without me asking her, because she cares for her sister. Loving your sibling is an art. You either get it or you don’t. My sisters and I, we missed it completely. Fortunately, my kids got it. As a mother, that matters the most.

I am going away for a very long drive to Uluru. My friend is taking the kids to her mother’s ranch for the Easter break.(With a family like mine, I have to outsource aunties, uncles, grandparents and cousins, so this is part of the outsourcing.. every Easter my friend takes my kids and hers to her mother’s home and they spend two weeks there)This is the first time I am driving such a long distance on my own. I am worried about the big wet hitting the interior and the car getting bogged. If I am stranded, I will have no choice but  to wait it out till one of my friends organize a rescue mission.. so this really is a mad thing to do. But Bruce Monro’s filed of lights is something I want to see and so I am going. I should be back in two weeks. if you haven’t seen any post in two weeks, either I became croc bait or stranded in the outback..

Wishing you all a very happy Easter..

Speculative fiction

I had Uni late in to the evening yesterday and when I got back home, my youngest was standing by the door looking terrified.

My heart missed few beats, while I tried to quickly analyse what disaster had happened in my absence.

“What happened?”  I asked her and she answered “how bad was it?”

“Huh? How bad was what?”

“My report card” She replied

“You did well, No Mottas, so we can’t make any omelette” I replied. (My children consider the motta and omelette the lamest joke their mother could ever say, but I just can’t resist saying it)

“Then why didn’t you tell me? All the parents texted their kids and let them know what they got and you didn’t”

I really don’t understand this need to let your child know their grade as soon as the parent gets it. What is wrong in coming home and going through the report card together in the evening? I do not think I was wrong in not texting her results. I didn’t even think of doing it. I was at Uni when I got the report card by email and I thought I will show it to her when I get back home, least expecting that my actions caused my child few hours of misery.

“What did I get for English?” She asked


“Oh Goody, then my teacher liked my essay”

“What was the essay about?”

“Speculative fiction” She replied

“Can I read it?” I asked

Surprisingly she sent to me. If only I could write like her !

The sea spray hit his face like a slap, remnants of the salty droplets falling and catching into the tangles of his beard.  The  sunset was resting behind the horizon, the moon only just starting its journey through the night sky, surrounded by the splattering of stars, as if a white-tipped paintbrush had been flicked upon a black canvas,

“Captain, we are cleared for the course, the iceberg was a false alarm.” His co-      captain shouted, trying to let his voice carry through the tough winds tearing through                          the freezing air.

He nodded, staring into the endless churning of the cold waters, captivated by their serenity.

He knew the iceberg was of no danger to the ship. It was the instinct of the captain to know the dangers of the sea.

He did the last final checks of the ship, making sure everyone was underdeck, making sure that everything was in order before heading down to the mess hall for dinner himself.

As he walked through the long oak tables, surrounded by the hundreds of passengers munching on the exquisite foods, he received looks of respect and admiration, and with each he returned an equally-respectful nod.

He took his seat at the end of the room, his co-captain seated beside him. By the time he had finished his plate of food, people were already shouting for a toast.

He stood up, raising his glass of champagne.


“Honest people, do you know what ship you are on right now?” he shouted, his voice carrying through the large ballroom.

Choruses of shouts and cheers resounded, urging him on.

“This ship is the mighty Titanic,” he roared, “The mighty ship that will never sink. The mighty ship that God himself would never strike down!”

The boisterous cheering and applause only died down when he sat down, a smug smile embracing his aged face.

Later that night, when he was lying down on his bed, staring up at the wooden ceiling that creaked with each wave that hit the side of the ship, he swore he could have heard a faint roaring in the distance. It did not sound humane, it sounded monstrous, but it was just in his imagination. No such thing as monsters existed in this ocean, and so with that thought in mind, he closed his eyes, drifting off slowly into a calm sleep.

A clamorous ringing sprung through his head, shocking his half-asleep brain. Shooting his body forward he ran out of his room into the corridor, looking around at the other passengers who were searching the hallway, terror clear as daylight shining in their eyes.

“What’s happening?” A young child said, her eyes desperate and terrified, before her father ushered her behind him, her face disappearing amongst the mass of people.


Lights were blaring red, warning signals going off the charts. A sudden crash hit to the left of this ship, causing the ship to tilt with enough force that he slid and hit the side of the wall.

Pushing himself up, he ran into the control room, looking wildly for his co-captain.

He was at the wheel shouting directions to the crew.

He ran to him clapping a hand on his shoulder to turn him around.


“What the hell is happening?” he screamed.


“There was an attack on the left side of the ship! The crew said something about a massive creature but… how is that possible?” he said, his voice laced with fear as it shook,” It punctured a hole and water is leaking in fast. We need to get the passengers into the life boats before we sink.”

His eyes widened, a monster? That couldn’t be possible. But whatever it was he had to take care of it, he was the captain, and the captain takes charge.


“William, go above deck, help the passengers onto the life boats and then get on one yourself, and make sure the crew get out too, if this ship sinks, I’m going down with it.”

His co-captain looked conflicted, but he knew exactly what he meant. A captain always goes down with his ship. He nodded, turning around and shouting instructions at the crew to get overboard.

A few minutes later, as the last few members of the crew trickled out of the room, he stood alone at the wheel, staring at the glass window of the front of the ship, the glass window that was now underwater, the dark stormy waters all that he could see.

He could feel the distress of the ship, but he stood standing, his hands clutched tightly against the wheel, the pressure bleaching the blood out of his fingertips.

The glass was cracking rapidly with the pressure of being underwater.

He only had seconds.

Water was sloshing beneath his feet. But before the glass cracked fully, he saw something huge and sleek, a large brown body swimming in front of the window, until he could see one giant, beady, monstrous eye staring at him. And that was the last thing he saw before the glass smashed, water streaming inside as strong as the bottom of a waterfall, hitting him fully in the chest with enough pressure to break him, until all that was left was a void of darkness.


“What do you think that was Will?” A passenger said, his eyes laced with fear and disbelief.

“I have no idea. But I sure as hell hope it was a real monster.  Just think about it, the front page of the newspaper, a captain died defeating the dreaded creature of the sea. To make sure that he goes down in history as one of the bravest captain’s ever.”


“They’ll never believe that.” The passenger replied, letting out a wary chuckle.


Last time I spoke to my mother, she extolled the virtues of my nephew..and the most important of these virtues was the fact that he could say thakkalippazham for tomato. Where as my children will look at you and say “say what?” as if you spoke Latin if they heard someone say Thakkalippazham..they wouldn’t even know it is a Malayalam word.

I always get a lot of criticism for not teaching my children their mother tongue, not just from my own mother, but also from every other Indian I meet. It is like I committed a huge crime.

Years ago, I read somewhere that the language you dream your dreams is the language you are most proficient in. For me, I wanted my children to dream in English, not any other language. Their future depend on their ability to converse and write in English.

So what if my children do not speak Malayalam? What are they going to lose? Their cultural heritage? Learning Malayalam was not going to give them a head start in life, neither would it give them any monetary benefits. There is a unit cost to every activity in life. I was not going to invest my time, energy and money to teach my children a language that would not give them any benefit. The only benefit I could see was that my kids could speak to their cousins in Kerala in Malayalam. And since most of their cousins speak English, there was no real return of the investment (my time and money)

By making sure that my kids have a very good grasp of English also made it possible for them to get good grades. Now, that I consider a good ROI. As I wrote before, Yaya wrote her IB final English exam without reading the required books. She got a 7 for HL English. She could do it because she really has a good grasp of the language and can wing it even If she didn’t read the book.

I believe every child should learn a second language in High school. I know this sounds contradictory. Instead of confusing my kids with two languages in their childhood, I gave them a head start in English and then got them to learn the second language by sending them to complete immersion classes.  As I mentioned early, I am only willing to invest my time and money in to something that gives a good ROI. There are 4 languages I was interested in teaching my kids that I considered a good investment. French, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese. Since my kids were keen to study in US, I felt it is better to teach them Spanish. So I enrolled both my daughters for Spanish Immersion, in a school that is really far from my home. The school near my home offered German Immersion and I didn’t think unless my kids want to live in Germany or perhaps Switzerland or Luxembourg there was no real need to learn German. My son is terrible in languages, but is still learning Spanish as a second language, because he knows it will help him in the long run. He is going to Peru in a few months time for student exchange, so he can improve his Spanish.

No, my kids don’t understand what is Thakkalippazham.. My oldest child has already got admission to few of the top Unis.. and for me that is all that matters..

Note: There is plenty of research evidence that suggest that kids learn languages at younger age. As I studied in Malayalam medium till 10th and struggled learning English in Pre degree, I wanted to prevent my kids from going through what I went through. So I chose English as the only language we spoke at home.


I have been meant to write this post for a long time.

So here it is.

She got 40 for her IB. Got an A for her all her subjects which resulted in her achieving  perfect GPA. Her grade was equivalent to OP1 in Queensland. (Highest possible grade).

She had two days off during her IB exams and she decided to go for work . The only time I got really annoyed with her. I wasn’t so much worried about her studying, but going to write the exam tired after working 7 hours shift the night before was not something I was happy about. It wasn’t that she needed the money that desperately. Besides she could work all the days when she finished her exams. She was worried that if she didn’t take the shift her employer might not give her any more shift and plenty of people want her job.. She gets 22.60$/hour. (minimum wage for under 18 is 10$/hour). So she went to work !

Last week, she reached her target of earning 10,000$. Pretty impressive for a 17 year old.

As for Unis

In Australia, she applied to Uni of Melbourne and QLD as plan C. She got admission to both with Scholarship to Uni of Melbourne. She declined both.

In Canada, she applied to Uni of British Columbia and Toronto as Plan B. Got admission to both.


She applied to UC of LA, SD and Berkley. Berkley results will only be out next week. She got admission to both UCLA and UCSD.

She applied to Uni of Chicago. Got the admission.

She applied to Boston Uni, Got the admission.

She is waiting to hear from Princeton and U.Penn and Stanford.

She refused to apply to Harvard because my friend is the alumni co-ordinator for Harvard in Brisbane and she didn’t want any sort of favouritism. She also didn’t apply to Yale because the course she wanted to do wasn’t ranked high in the Times list. She didn’t want to apply to the other Ivy Leagues because she only wanted to apply to 10 unis. (8 in US and 2 in Canada)

She did all the applications  by herself. I only saw one of her essay where she called Tony Abbot (former PM) a boffin. I suggested she tone it down and  I guess she didn’t want any more input from me 🙂

The only thing I did was to fill out the Financial aid application. The rest she did on her own.

She showed me the offer letter from UCLA which stated, Congrats, you have been chosen from 97000 applicants because of your excellent results (something to that effect), I

All this is her own achievements. She knew what she wanted and she worked to get it. My mother once told me, you must dream achievable dreams. I wanted to give my children the best education the world could offer. Was it an achievable dream?

Yes it was. For someone who studied in Malayalam medium and was nick named deaf and dumb and is really awesome to watch your kids aiming for the best and getting there..

I can’t describe the joy I feel..



8.30 and 9.45 pm

Yesterday Yaya came home at 8.30 pm and my son at 9.45 pm. (Yaya will be 18 in June and my son 16 in a couple of weeks)

I had written about staying with my cousins in US and how they went after their 25 year old daughter who came home at 10 pm. She had gone for a birthday dinner with friends and her parents expected that she should be home before 9 pm.

Yaya finished work at 2.30 pm, so technically she should be home after that. She didn’t tell me where she was going, with whom or what she was planning to do. Parenting books would tell you that you need to know every second of your child’s life.

I should, but I don’t. Exactly 123 days from today, my child will be backpacking alone in  Europe, after that she is going to Uni. I am not going to know every second of every minute of every hour of her life.  There is no point in trying to be in control of her life. My job was to teach her to be responsible for her own actions and I just have believe that my child will be safe.

I was cooking dinner when she came home.

“What cha cooking?” She asked

“Falafel” I replied.

“You are an awesome mom, I love your falafel” She replied

“Where did you go today?” I asked

“Oh, I met T after work, it is cheap Tuesday at the movies, so we went and watched How to be Single”

“Did you like the Rockefeller Christmas tree?” I asked

“Yup, that was magical eh? Remember the Santa on the Harley?” (Kids and I went to Rockefeller centre on Christmas eve and we saw a guy in Santa suit riding a Harley)

My son was still not home and we were hungry, so we didn’t wait for him and had dinner.

My son came at 9.45 pm. In his case, I knew where he could be till then. He gets his weekly homework on Tuesday and uses my ID and book a room at the UQ library, so he and his friends could discuss and do the homework and get it over with. He told me, he would be doing it beginning of the school year. So he could still be doing it. Or perhaps he decided to go for a movie with his friends. Either way, it really doesn’t bother me. He came home, gave me a kiss and said “Mom, I am famished, can you please warm up my dinner while I take my shower” and I did. While he ate his dinner, he told me where he was (at the library) and that he finished all his homework.

There was a time I was really paranoid about my children’s curfew. I have now learned to let it go. It feels good to be not so paranoid.



There are two things that would bring out the most beautiful smile on my son’s face. Homemade Pizza and or dosai for dinner.

Every time I grind the batter for dosai, I make a large batch and divide in to few ziplock bags  and freeze them. In the morning before I leave home, I take one of the frozen batter packet and leave it in a bowl outside to defrost. The dosai batter will be ready to cook when I get back in the evening. I usually rely on frozen Dosai batter if I have to work late and don’t have time to cook a proper (healthy) dinner.

My son likes to eat dosai with yogurt and while waiting for me to make really crispy dosai, he mentioned

“My kids are going to be totally weird like me and eat dosai with yogurt”

“Well that would depend on if you marry an Indian girl” I replied

“What do you mean?” He asked

“How else are you going to get Dosai? It is an Indian food. Unless of course you teach your prospective partner how to make Dosai”

“Mom, What makes you think I can’t make Dosai for myself? Why should my wife make Dosai for me? If I want to eat it and I will make it, simple”

He has a point, doesn’t he? Why do I think that his wife has to make dosai for him? I have been living outside India for most part of my life, yet the old Indian values are still in me and it creeps out when I really am not looking.

I am so upset with myself.


My son hates to write English essays. He took English standard level for IB as opposed to his sister who took Higher Level English and got a 7 (highest grade) without even reading any of the required books. (She read spark notes instead of the actual books and wrote her exams)

As a general rule, I never go through any of my kids school work and don’t help them either. Usually I only get to see their work at the end of school year when they bring all their stuff back home. Even that doesn’t happen in High school as all their work in done online. So I am usually clueless.

I met my son’s English teacher during a function at his school. She mentioned that she was really impressed with his latest essay.

“Ah” I said for I had no idea what to tell her. I didn’t know that he had an assignment to do, let alone what he wrote.

“That comparison with Trump and Stalin was brilliant” She said

“Ah” I said

She looked at me as if I just landed from Mars. So I had to finally tell her

“I am sorry, I have no idea what he wrote because I don’t usually go through his work” I admitted.

She was a bit taken back. I guess I probably have looked like a really irresponsible parent.

It turns out that the assignment was about Media and how language is used to manipulate the mass. My son wrote about Trump and his Freedom kids and compared that to Stalin using young kids (Young pioneers/ youth group etc) as a propaganda tool. My son got the highest mark because his Grammar was excellent and he wrote about the current event and linked it to something really interesting.

I do remember talking to the kids couple of years about Stalin’s propaganda. Other than that my contribution to this particular essay is Zilch. However, I can assure you one of the reason my kids do well in school is because from the time they were young, I refused to help them. They have had years of practice honing their writing skills and it has helped them tremendously.

Justice of the peace.

Recently there was an article in Malayala Manorama that an Aussie achayanu Justice of the peace padavi labhichu.

My Malayalam sucks, I am going to assume that padavi in Malayalam means Honorary title.

So this must be a big sambhavam.. And require an announcement in the newspaper ( with such details as the recipient was a bharavahi of various Mallu associations etc) along with a photo of the said Achayan attending some conference..

So, what is the Justice of the Peace? The name sounds all posh and pompous eh? Can you picture the fanfare, elephants, trumpets etc and the Queen awarding the our Mallu knight the Honorary title?

Well not so.

Although our recipient must have imagined  that he received the Order of  Australia award, in reality our Mallu knight in shining armour is now  in charge of attesting the Photostats after checking the original and placing the chop and his initials on the document. It  is a free service.

How do you become a Justice of the Peace? Attend a course, send your details to the local member of the parliament, who then will nominate you and you become one. There are hundreds of them and the service of JP ( as they are known here) is available free of cost in most libraries/malls. There is also a website where you can find a JP near your home in the event you need to find a JP after hours. The service is free.

Since our achayan has gone to all these trouble to get his padavi announced in the newspaper, let us Congratulate him..

Big sambhavam..indeed it is.

Cross roads

Before I begin, I want to reiterate that just because I write difficult things about my kids, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love them or that they don’t love me. We are still a family and we love each other very much.

Yaya and I are in a cross roads right now. She is 17, working and earning 22.60$/hour. She in strong willed and independent like me and I respect those traits in her, for she sure has inherited those genes from me.

Early Jan Yaya had to submit Scholarship application and it required that her school send her official transcripts to the Uni. She mailed the school counsellor to let him know. I told her to go to the school and check and make sure they have sent it and she came after me like a ton of bricks.

“Madre, (she calls me Madre when she is really pissed) I know what I am doing, My school has been around for the past 6 decades and I am not the first student going overseas to study. They know what to do. You make everything seem so difficult, you need to learn to trust people to do their job and you need to stop nagging me”

All of Feb, she drove her siblings to the school to get her on the road hours and twice I asked her, if she would go to the admin and check, it takes 1 minute of her time. She rolled her eyes and said No.

Yesterday she found out that the guidance counsellor only sent her grade 12 school results, not the IB diploma, not the past 4 years of records that the Uni wanted.

This morning she had to take leave from work, go to the school and meet the principal and sort it out, 8 weeks after the submission deadline. She looks like a nervous wreck.

As far as I am concerned, I did my job. I told her to check and reminded her twice. If she didn’t get the scholarship, she will just have to live with the consequences of not being able to study in the Uni she dreamt of going.

I didn’t rub it in.. I wanted to.. but there is no point in making her more miserable..

But I do know that from now on, she will not trust other people to do their job well..She will make sure that they did what they were meant to do.

Painful lesson to learn and a heavy price to pay.

Just when you think..

Just when you think that you know something..y ou learn that you really know very little.

Yesterday while taking my kids to school, I had to give way for an ambulance. My son noticed that we could hear the siren louder when the ambulance was behind us compared to when it was in front of us.

“Doppler effect” I explained.

He was pretty impressed and I added one more feather to my crown..

Few minutes later, we were behind a bus that had the sign for solar power with the tag line “make energy fresh every day”

I read that aloud and  said  “that is not possible, energy can neither be created nor destroyed” (first law of conservation, thermodynamics)

“Mom, you are wrong. Universe is expanding, that simply means the law is wrong”

I had never even thought about that. My son will be 16 soon and he has already thought of all that!

Btw, I was reading about what he said about expansion of universe..and some of the writers talk about stored gravitational energy is being used for the expansion.. This is beyond my ability to comprehend.. so if you know something about it, do leave a comment.