Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tanya Turns 9

Tanya is 9 today....

What happended in 2008....

She is still the same little skills learnt at 8 were cycling and playing tennis. She also began to swim 100mt races in swimming.

She is confident and can sing comfortably .

Her first solo recital..both vocal and piano.

We visited New Zealand ,Singapore and India.

Summer too was hectic as she revised her writing and reading skills in Hindi and Malayalam.

She did all the activities she could in a given week...

Her weeks Schedule was so hectic that it kept me on the run all the time.

Sundays began with Children's Choir as early as 8:30 followed by other Church activites till noon.

Sunday afternoons was catch up time for her Kumon sheets and sometimes even mandarin classes.Cycling around the compound was another highlight!

Monday after school began with swimming followed by piano lessons at home.

Tuesday was even more hectic Chanterelles , voice training classes and Jazz.

Wednesday..we took a breather for an hour after school practising typing at school library and then actors workshop followed by tennis lessons at ACC.

Thursday: We had swimming and mandarin lessons( can read and write about 800 characters). It was also catch up time for home work for the week.

Friday: We had 2 hour art lessons where she tried chinese painting, pencil sketching and all..

Saturday : was Girl Scouts as a brownie and then a Junior...

Its going to be the last year with so many activities as we have to begin picking and choosing to keep up the academic standards...

She is growing up....

Her first camping trips.. attended 2 separate camps at Camp Taiwan.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


This was the biggest event she has taken part so far. and will be Under 8 years old category.

When we signed her up we had hopes of her winning a few medals...however seing the number of participants ..there was no way....

She still did her best had got one 4th place and 6th place.

She enjoyed herself and made new friends.

In total there were 443 participants taking part in 2234 lanes divided by 7 gives you an approximate of 320 heats.

There were participants from all over Asia ranging from 6 year old to 18 years old.

The category Tanya was competing had 51 participants Under 8.
Her results are as follows:
John, Tanya (8) G (S1) Postion Points
1:03.53S F # 12A Girls 8 & Under 50 Free 19 ---
2:34.86S F # 14A Girls 8 & Under 100 Breast 8 11
1:14.16S F # 16A Girls 8 & Under 50 Back 18 ---
1:09.67S F # 32A Girls 8 & Under 50 Breast 10 7
2:23.77S F # 34A Girls 8 & Under 100 Back 4 15
2:36.38S F # 45A Girls 8 & Under 100 IM 11 6
1:37.65S DQ # 47A Girls 8 & Under 50 Fly ---
2:32.13S F # 49A Girls 8 & Under 100 Free 5 14

They are really noteworthy for a child who does less than 2 hours of swimming a week..Also her willingness to complete after knowing she is not going to achieve any medals.She contributed 53 points to her school team.

Well Done Tanya

Lighting up the Tree


Lighting up the Tree in TES...Riona was the part of 25 girls who sang for the X'mas tree lighting.

She did a fantastic job.

Children's Choir at TIC

Tanya sang well and Riona did well too...

Girls love singing...such little events take a huge step in their confidence levels.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I found this information very useful!

International Food Fair

This years food fair.Tanyas performance on the stage.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008


What a difference an year has made:

The girls did extremely well in ACC Annual Swimming Championships!

The first day it was Tanya's turn .
She took part in 5 events that is permitted.

Her Results were as follows:

50 mts Breast Stroke - 1st Place
25 mts Breast Stroke - 2nd Place
25 mts Back Stroke - 2nd Place
50 mts Free Style - 4th Place
25 mts Butterfly - 5th Place.

All in all she did a fantastic job in all her events.
For three of her events she had to do heats and then a it was a good day...with a lot of swimming to do...

The next day - Sunday was Riona's Category:

We had convinced her to give it a good try. She has had about 20 hours of swimming lessons in all so there is only so much you can expect.

She took part in

25 mts Breast Stroke - 4th Place
25 mts Free Style - 4th Place. ( By the way she swam breast stroke since she doesnt know any other stroke)

She had to do a heat and a final for each event, something that was hard to explain.She kept reminding me that "you said only two times" .By the time she swam 4 times she was enjoying it...That was the hard part a heat and a final for every event...She was really tired and just didnt want to do the finals...but she did without much noise eventually...she is growing up finally....

It was a great weekend to remember for the girls...they had fun and was exhausted that they were in bed at 7 pm....

Here are a few photos of the session!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Taipei Living

We completed two years of living in Taipei....two years ago I wrote how we spent our first 15 days here...
And for the occasion to be remembered Riona lost her first tooth.

And I got my reality check we are still in Taipei when you pick up an apparent legal notice in your post box you cant read a word on it..

We have come a long way:

Here are things I learnt in Taipei

I managed to blog most of the significant things and sometimes the insignificant too we did when we were in Taipei!

It doesn't bother you when you read a notice in the elevator saying "Dear inhabitants"

For the first time I managed without a maid.

I can cook a full meal and host dinner for a dozen people.

My knowledge on systems of education and curriculum has increased so much that early childhood education is something I can write a book on.

I learned to drive on the right side of the road...

I have no fear in going to a place knowing very well you can't communicate with anyone.

On an average day you meet over dozen nationalities with varied culture yet you are part of a big picture and you may be asked with astonishment Are you Indian?How I wished I could say that I am from China?

While in Taipei we visited most tourist destinations in Taiwan.

We also visited Hongkong, Japan and New Zealand...and literally all in the span of 12months.

Tanya and Riona are into singing, dancing and swimming very actively.

My best friend in College became an author and I must say I was thrilled..

My sister had a baby.

I helped a good friend set up a website.

I spent and did a very expensive course on Internet Marketing.And really didnt put to any use..In retrospect it was a waste of money.Though my first website was up

The world witnessed the unfolding of Sub Prime Crisis.

I counted months to leave the country and I am still here after two years.

I managed to trade options and think I know my niche area now.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

What is IVY League?

What is Ivy League?

I am often a part of conversation where parents of teenagers comfortably talk of how her cousin is in an IVY League College and how students from a particular school had very high percentage going to IVY League Colleges. Other than it meant some colleges which were reputed I never knew what it meant…and decided to lend a listening year and not contribute hoping I will be as informed by the time it is time for my daughter to graduate.(She is eight years old now)

I wondered whether the others in the room really knew what it meant but everyone was presenting a well informed and knowledgeable look. I decided before I blurt out something very dumb I better do my research and hence ended up writing this post.

What is Ivy League?
• A small group eight private universities.
• They enjoy an excellent reputation
• They attract top students.
• “Ivy League” originally referred to sports and not academics.
• They all are located in North Eastern US
• All are long established private institutions.

Which are the Universities

1. Brown -
Admission related Information :
Where is Brown?

Test scores
There is no preference between the SAT and the ACT.
SAT scores must be submitted along with 2 SAT Subject Test scores.
ACT scores must include the Writing Test.
Tests should be taken by January of the applicant's final year of secondary school.
SAT score (25/75 percentile) 2010-2290
ACT score (25/75 percentile) 27-33
I don’t understand these scores yet but will soon and not sure how authentic they are. So please do your own research.

2. Columbia
Admission Related Information

Where is Columbia?

Applicants must submit SAT or ACT (with Writing) scores, plus 2 SAT Subject Test scores. For engineering applicants, one Subject Test must be in mathematics and the other in physics or chemistry. Home-schooled applicants must submit scores from 4 SAT Subject Tests.
SAT/ACT and SAT II scores must be received by January 1.
SAT score (25/75 percentile): 1980-2220
ACT score (25/75 percentile): 28-33
I don’t understand these scores yet but will soon and not sure how authentic they are. So please do your own research

3. Cornell
Where is Cornell?
Cornell University
410 Thurston Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850
Test Scores
There is no preference between the SAT and the ACT.
Applicants must submit a SAT or ACT with Writing score plus 2 SAT Subject Test scores.
The Common Application is used with a Cornell supplement.

4. Dartmouth
6016 McNutt Hall
Hanover, NH 03755
Test scores
There is no preference between the SAT and ACT.
SAT /ACT and two SAT Subject Test scores must be received by January 1.

More Admission Information

5. Harvard

Undergraduate Admission Office
Byerly Hall
Eight Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Test scores
Harvard requires scores from the SAT or the ACT (with Writing) plus 3 SAT Subject Tests.
There is no preference between the SAT I and ACT.
Applicants should take the ACT by mid-February and/or the SAT I and II by mid January.
The Common Application is used together with supplemental forms.

6. Penn
University of Pennsylvania
3541 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
The SAT is preferred over the ACT. However, both are accepted.
SAT scores must be submitted along with 2 SAT Subject Test scores.

The Common Application is accepted with a U Penn supplement.

7. Princeton
Princeton University
P.O. Box 430
Princeton, NJ 08544

The SAT is strongly preferred, but ACT (with Writing) scores are accepted.
3 SAT Subject Test scores are required in addition to the SAT or ACT (with Writing).
Engineering applicants should take one SAT Subject Test in mathematics and one in physics or chemistry.
Applicants should take these tests no later than January.

8. Yale
Yale University
P.O. Box 208234
New Haven, CT 06520
There is no preference between the SAT and ACT. Applicants may submit scores from the SAT plus 2 SAT Subject Tests, or from the ACT with Writing.

Hope the post was useful. I learned a lot in the process of writing it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Piano Recital

I can't imagineeven the month of September is coming to an end....
It seems endless catching up week after week..

Tanya and Riona had their first Piano Recital.

They did well for their first attempt.

Other Highlight of September Riona managed to swim one lap...and jump into the pool from the deep side.
Tanya started her tennis classes at the club and loves it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Onam Sadya in Taipei

I was excited when we received an invite for an Onam Sadya. I promptly offered to make Palada Payasam lest,I will have to display my true culinary skills. Its been at least 6 years since I have spent Onam week in Kerala….the last being in 2002.

My first attempt at Palada Payasam for over 25 guests.

But in 2002 my daughter due to be born any day other than eating good food I could not participate any activities. Having said that my last Onam celebrations would have been at least 16 years ago….the last years in College…

We had a gathering of all the Keralites who could brave the impending Typhoon Sinlaku come and take part in the Onam Sadya…It was a great evening to meet and greet Malayalis a majority I am meeting for the first time.

The girls had a feel of Onam Sadya at least how the different items are laid out although being late at night they were too sleepy to comprehend anything more.

Here are the photos of the evening.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Art Galleries Taiwan

I was researching on some art galleries to visit to choose some good paintings to collect from Taiwan.I am not a collector of very expensive Art but can appreciate good things.

I am listing them in Alphabetical order as I find them.
However I will give a few specific comments if I did manage to go there and found something really unique.

Lee Gallery

KK Wave Art
The gallery displays Art Works by Colourful Stone.

Chen Ling Hui Contemporary Space

Some of the artists displayed include Chang Chihcheng,Miao Xiaochun

-His speciality being 3D computer image photography

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Riona is six years old!

Riona turns 6 today.....

And she enters Grade 1 (Year 2 on Sep 1 st)....Its convenient to remember her milestones as her birthday usually falls in the first week of the academic year.

What could Riona do when Riona was 6.

Literacy - She could read over 300 words...yet she lacks fluency and hesitates to decode.Numeracy - She can comfortably add and subtract upto 100 using her fingers.

She has been to Kumon over 10 months...

Extra Curricular Activities

She did a great Jazz performance although she was not too happy attending classes..
She disliked Chinese Yoyo -- though seems to show some inclination for music...

She is yet to lose a single tooth...

What does Riona want to achieve before she turns 7.rather what is her Mom hopes and dreams for her!

I hope to see her swim well, skate and cycle.

Hope she is well versed with her class room expectations. and become a fluent reader...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Summer 2008

Yet another summer will soon pass by....and 2008 Summer Holidays will be History...
Its been the longest so far that I had to put up so far....starting June 7th and will continue till September 1st....

Tanya started the first week with some swimming lessons to improve her strokes and caught up with her long ignored Kumon "Daily Sheets" ..."Daily Sheets" is never done daily so it has become a big chore for weekends.

The second week...she was off to a Summer Camp at school....and the third week we caught up with all worksheets to do in Kumon and all set to travel to Singapore and India for Summer of 2008.

Riona finished classes on June 27th and we left on June 30th, 2008 from Taipei Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport, yet another time for a period lasting almost 6 weeks, it amazes me how easy it has been to travel with them as they grow up...


At Singapore we stayed at Alpana's house....the girls were very excited to have a dog around.Though I have been sufficiently warned the kids may be afraid...they were quite cool....

We started the next day with a 2 hour seesion at a studio..

Tanya made some fancy jewellery and Riona had a blast at Ananya's house.They had a good time playing with a few friends left who they knew at Aspen heights.We signed off the day with a dinner at Tanglin Club hosted by Manjula....

Girls with Aparna missed a chance to meet her daughters Anya and Anika

The day was hectic but we had a great time.Tanya and Riona went on to meet Muskaan the next day.And as they happy days pass by fast we soon found ourselves taking our flight to Kochi.

Although the flight was delayed 3 hours it went ok and we were home at Kochi by 2 AM.
We spent the weekend with Sedj's family and was back on Sunday evening to start Hindi classes for them.

So on Monday we started Typing classes and Hindi Classes...

Well by end of holiday they had 22 hours of Hindi, 18 hours of Malayalam , 9 hours of chess and about 8 hours of typing lessons...

Tanya doing her Kumon worksheets at Kochi!
Some of the highlights, I go to see my extended family as we attended my Grandfather's 24th death anniversary .
I managed to have lunch with Priya from CyberCash at Kochi - after 4 that was a long time..

I did write about my Bangalore trip earlier...

Well the month passed away so fast and there we were boarding another flight back to Singapore.

We met our friends Sumedha and her daughters and met up with all the others and back was in Taipei in August 8th just in time to watch the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics

Tanya,Riona,Abha and Aditi

All in all we had a hectic but wondeful break from school and Taipei and I had a BIG break from Cooking.....needless to say I added a few kilos....( which is next big activity to work on).

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bomb Blasts in Bangalore

Every six months when we visit India we make a fleeting visit to Bangalore.
The reasons vary from catching up with good old friends, doing some errands and visiting places we lived and shopping of course. Just the familiarity and great memories brings us back as often as we can...

This time my trip was being more special...for a long time I have not travelled alone to Bangalore also wanted to catch up with old friends and colleagues....

I also had some cumbersome errands in my list like changing address in my driving licence , getting my Voters ID Card....

So after contemplating several dates I ended choosing to spend 22nd,23rd and 24th in Bangalore.

I went around doing errands and visiting friends....all of two days and was wondering if I will ever get to shop...well finally I managed to shop at Forum Mall on 24th Thursday evening from 4 to 6 PM..after having got my address in driving licence changed and collecting my Voters ID Card.

And I was glad the highlight of the trip being to get a lot of work done through Govt agencies.

I finally took the train and was back at home in Kochi by half past 10 on
25th....and lo in another 3 hours...bomb Bangalore and the rest is all "news everyone knows:...

I just took a long breath and thanked my God for his unending protection on me!

I literally spent over 6 hours each day the previous three days(Tuesday to Thursday) the same vicintiy between Adugodi...Koramangala...the famous Forum Mall...

This is a true testimony of God's protection over my life.....and the highlight of the trip was I was safe home before the bomb blasts....and wasnt stranded in the traffic jams that followed...While my brother and sister called home to check if I did reach back safely...and I was grateful...I did not stay that extra day to do some more liesure activities....

I always believed ...When God plans....he plans for eternity in perspective...not looking only the present...

Praise God!

A verse that came to my mind from the Bible!

Psalm 91 7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Year 1

Riona finished her school on 27th June....and I was all set to do the last minute things before we head to Kerala for our longest vacation to my home town....

Riona has come a long way this year at TES.

Things she did at school.
She had reached Level - Green at her school Reading Scheme.
She can confidently read familiar words...though we still need to work on her decoding skills.
Her Maths skills are limited to basic addition and subtraction.

Her Year 2 teacher was leaving the school for good and Riona really grew a lot with her guidance.

Here are a few photos!

Some of Riona's Year 1 highlights are

Girl Scouts

JAzz Performance

Granny in year 1 show

Art Classes at Home

Singing at Church

Some photos of work she brought home.

Monday, June 30, 2008


Riona and Tanya had a wonderful scouting year.
Most of the photographs are on the Daisy Troop and Riona truly transformed and grew in the group.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Third Grade

As promised , this is one piece of writing I found on Tanya's perspective at the end of third grade.

In her own words written on 5th June 2008;

I used to be quiet,
But now I am wild.

I used to be shy when I am in the spotlight.
But now I am beginning to shine.

I used to believe in Santa Claus,
But now I know that my parents are the one's who are sneaky.

I used to be a cute fish who swims,
But now I am a shark.

I used to only have myself as a friend at home,
But now I have my cute but embarassing sister.

I used to sleep with a teddy bear,
But now I have my blanket and comfy pillow

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Girls Dance Show....

Riona's dance comes in the beginning and last 2 minutes is Tanya's Jazz
So have patience and enjoy!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Third Grade

Wow...a whole academic year has gone by full of good things and some not so good things....
This is my perspective of what I went through while my daughter pursued her Grade 3...
Like I always said....its always a reminder when Riona reaches that stage...what happened,,,also years from now....they will exactly know what as a mother I endured during her third grade...

August 2007
Come Aug 16th Tanya is off to a new classroom at her school.
She has a new teacher that definitely added to her excitement but her best friend Ellina in 2nd grade was not to be in her class...
I remember her first project was on "ME" Collage and I went out of the way to help her out.
As days went she made new friends all outside her class room yet in third grade....
Swimming session started and she began swimming twice a week as a part of Barracudas team...

September 2007

Nothing unusual I can recall....other than that she made good friends with Sabrina having to lose her in less than a month as she moved to another school...
We took a trip to the Kenting and thoroughly enjoyed the beach...and the great weather.

October 2007
We continued with our Kumon worksheets at home always having to catch up and for the first time I started hearing she has to take ERB's this year...It was a mission for me to find as much information I can and so I started searching on the web...what can I do to help my child get a better score...ERB,CTP-4 ,WRAP are terminologies became a part of our daily living at home...yet we all knew very little what that is..She won a single medal at ACC swimming competitions....

November 2007

She has her biggest swim meet...and she won a medal in a relay...but continued to be motivated to pursue. She became a Brownie in Girl Scouts and started looking forward to alternate Monday evenings where we left school past 5 pm..

December 2007

We went to Kochi our India Holiday plan and the girls had a blast with all their cousins.She celebrated her eighth birthday.

January 2008

School started with a series of field trips and she began being friends with Ellina,Michelle and Carissa - a foursome that played all year.Tanya learned cycling in Singapore ..yet another skill she acquired..

February 2008

As usual Chinese New Year Holidays...we focused on preparing for ERB tests and literally sat home all lousy weather..

March 2008.

We had her conference at school was in for a shock with her DRA results...
Now I am wiser and understand DRA terminology like an expert...needless to say Tanya too got wiser and is aware how one test she did not focus can mess up her positon in school completely ...great lesson learnt...

April 2008

A fantastic holiday in New Zealand during the spring break followed by CTP 4 for which we will know results only in fall.

May 2008

Lot of parties...Thrid grade camping at Taiwan...and Camp Taiwan again with Girl Scouts..her first voice recital and absolutely hectic time...and lo we are at the end other year...

She had a Biography Power Point Presentation which needed a lot of parental help.And both Sedj and me did everything we could in the little time to help her....

One evening she spontaneously came and told me " I love you both so much" ...I asked her almost instantly what happened she said..." You know you both are helping me so much"

I could read a child who values timely help!What she didnt assume it was what was expected by us.

She is losing both her friends who made her school life wonderful Michelle to Beijing and Ellina to Canberra....yet looks forward to a fabulous fourth grade.
and a fantastic summer holidays...

Given below are few photos with a lot of memories.

While I think of all great things that happened what could have been better...

She could have done much better in her DRAs ..only if I was aware of such a thing existed..

Her typing skills could be better. I realised if a child could read at age 6 had an advantage at Grade 3 better typing skills definitley have an her environment

So we will focus on her reading( read retelling and imagination )skills ,typing skills and want her multiplication tables to masterd till 20*12.(She is currently at (12*12)and hope to brush her language skills in Malayalam,Hindi and Mandarin.

She attended Mandarin lessons and Piano thorugh the whole year also put up a wonderful JAzz performance for The Spring .

I hope Tanya to write a journal of her Third Grade Perspective soon....for all to read...

Saturday, May 31, 2008


Tanya gave a great performance in Chanterelles .

Monday, May 26, 2008

Every Day Mathematics

I found this video very useful to understand different maths curriculums followed in American schools and why it is necessary and important that I need to teach my daughters mathematics at home.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Camp Taiwan

I was all excited to go for camp Taiwan with my daughters.
I have never done any camping before and so was very keen to have a camping experience.

Camp Taiwan was a very nice place maintained by a couple who runs the placa and all activities.Its luxury style camping amidst nature.

Here are the photos we took.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Aspen Heights!

It was interesting to find a video about the condo we lived in Singapore...
I have no idea about the realtor who has made the video but the condo was a very nice to place to live....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I had wriiten about swimming and how my children learned to swim.

This post is more of a status update.

May 3 was an Spring Meet at Tanya's School.

Its been almost a year she has been practising two times a week.
Though she swims all her strokes her speed is still nothing to write home about among other swimmers..yet I feel very proud of what my daughter has achieved.
She can do about 10 laps at a time without any complaints...I wonder if I will be able to do that even once in my life time.

At the Spring Meet She happily took part in 5 events ( Max per individual) and won two medals....I thought it was a great achievement and I am really happy she was able to achieve it...and it was a great motivation to pursue harder ...

The Events she took part and the timings are

Event 5 Girls 8 & Under 50 SC Meter Breaststroke
2 John, Tanya 8 TAS 1:10.81 1:12.38
Event 8 Girls 8 & Under 50 SC Meter Backstroke
9 John, Tanya 8 TAS 1:15.89 1:04.73
Event 13 Girls 8 & Under 100 SC Meter Breaststroke
1 John, Tanya 8 TAS NT 2:33.91
Event 14 Girls 8 & Under 50 SC Meter Butterfly
7 John, Tanya 8 TAS NT 1:48.67
Event 16 Girls 8 & Under 100 SC Meter IM
4 John, Tanya 8 TAS 3:11.30 2:44.29

Here are a few photos of the Spring Meet

Meanwhile I am trying very hard to get Riona also to start swimmming.She is just beginning to learn the strokes and trying hard...but one can already say she has made progress.look at the video the time she turns 8 like Tanya I hope she has opportunities to develop it further. I think its a great excercise all your life..

I feel a great sense of accomplishment that I could get my kids to do it....and they love it too....

Monday, May 12, 2008

Year 1 Show by Riona

Riona's class did a Red Riding Hood show.she is the Granny dressed in pink pants and top.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Voice Recital

Tanya's voice recital....
She was vry nervous but sang very well.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Character Sketch

While working with my 8 year old on how to character sketch I found this presentation very useful!

Monday, April 21, 2008


We got to see a performance of Tanya at her School's Annual Spring Fair..

She did so well..We were thrilled!

Watch her Dance for " Work this Out" from High School Musical!

She is in the right dancing with a Denim Skirt!

Singing " Yesterday Once More!

Tanya at far right!

The Pizza Dance!
Tanya at far left with her friend Michelle!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Art Classes

Finally its showing some light ..on my insistence we started Tanya starts with Chinese Brush Painting classes..It was not as colorful as her expectation of a work of art as they start only with black ink...

Her first weeks work....not vey interesting !

A great improvement...showing results!

We are getting there Riona with art teacher....doing "Easter Eggs " topic chosen by Her Highness Riona!

Monday, April 07, 2008

New Zealand

New Zealand - Intro

We just returned last night from our longest holiday as a family to New Zealand.
We had a wonderful time and the experience was awesome.
I am eager to write as detailed as I can as this would be the first holiday the girls can probably recall so I want them to read it several years from now and they should bring "great memories" of holidays in their childhood.

Very often we end up taking several pictures during a holiday and we look over them may be for a season. Earlier days when we were taking prints we would take a look or two and they finally get into an album and stay there untouched unless some relative or acquaintance shows some interest ...then we pull it out...yet we will hardly have detailed memories....this is true for me...and I am sure for most people..and in this digital age we view them a few times on the computer screen and there it goes to one folder which is untouched in our hard disk..for several years to come.....Like if someone asked me today what we did in Sydney for a holiday 2 years ago... I would not have much to say.(I wish I had blogged about it)...even if I could manage to pull out the photos ....hence blogging I think gives me a greater chance of recalling and reliving the great experience one goes through in life.It also gives me the convenience of answering a friend who enquires " what did you do in New Zealand" " just check out my blog" is an easier and I think more helpful answer.

So this detailed account of would be written as a journal for my family to recall our great experience....needless to say if you are planning a trip to New Zealand it will give you great pointers things to be done and may be some things not worth the time and effort.

March 27th Thursday
All set to take the longest flight we have taken as a family.
I was apprehensive it was an 11 hour flight .....also it would be the first time the entire holiday we would be driving on our own....I did a lot of planning as to what we should do and what we should cover each day....

The countries the girls had been to before are India, Singapore, SriLanka,Malaysia,Brunei,Japan,Hong Kong and Taiwan.

So New Zealand would be their ninth country they are visitng.And they were notably excited as we had a family from New Zealand as our neighbours for a brief period .Also Tanya had a close friend from Australia and Riona's Year 1 teacher is from Australia they knew they are going to some faraway land which is distincly different from Asia where they had lived their life so far. And sure they were excited to have English spoken and written everywhere...

So we boarded the flight by 10 PM from Taoyuan International Airport.
Much of the flight both Sedj and kids slept which was really good...I did catch some sleep too...the flight was full...
We arrived at Auckland about 2:30 PM local time. Th girls were happy eating at McDonalds at the airport.

We picked up the car from car rental company along with a GPS .....we also exchanged some currency to New Zealand Dollars...

We could clearly feel the difference in pace of life.

Every one looked relaxed and laid back....they were people just sitting outside the departure lobby just relaxing and no hurry to leave or go anywhere.

We also saw two girls who held a big banner saying " Welcome Grandma"....truly relaxing atmosphere.

We called on an Indian family we were corresponding about nitty gritty details of our trip.
Ramesh and Vrinda were extremly helpful to give us the quick tips of what to do and what is not worth ...We spent about 3 hrs with them before heading off to Lake Taupo where we had booked our stay.

Here are few photographs taken in Ramesh and Vrinda's house.

Here is a video taken ....Do they look like they have just completed 11 hr flight couple of hours before....So I think all the apprehensions was in my head and they took full advantage of the opportunity of making new friends....

A noticeable factor all over New Zealnd is the existence of Trampoline...
It seems to be a add on everywhere ....every motel/hotel/mall seems to mention that it had a trampoline.

Lake Taupo

New Zealand - Part 2

We left their house at ManuKau after having yummy dosas to head for our destination at Taupo.

Our destination 279 kms away and the time estimated was 4 hrs.We took about 3 hrs..

We were surprised to see "Bombay" signboards

On my return I figured out that it refers to a ship that came to the region in 19th Century

More info on click on this link Bombay Hills Auckland

Well the kids slept through the drive....and we were quite tired just hoping to reach our destination.

We arrived at Taupo at about 9:45...and took us about 10 minutes to identify the exact place we were supposed to stay.

Although we had made arrangements that we would be doing a late check in to our utter despair we could not find our keys and folder in the security box to which we had the password to.

By God's Grace we located a guard just in the nick of time...from what we gathered later he does a round at just once at 10 PM, we managed to get our unit opened.

If we had not....I would have been blamed for messing up our vacation for the rest of my life....the confusion was there because we had changed couple of times on our date of arrival and somehow they didnt seem to have the latter message....

It was fabulous place to stay...just beside the Lake Taupo.

I would recommend it to anyone Lake Side Villas

The unit came with a full kitchennete....and it was simply fabulous.
We retired that night for a well deserved rest....

Some photos of the unit!

The Road Outside

The Entrance

The LAke View

Lake Taupo

Day 2

Huka Jet Falls
Huka Prawn Park
Skyline Rides

We were up late and it was one of those days we had not pre booked anything since we thought we may be too tired... So we got up and got ready to set out for the day. We headed to the Taupo Shopping Centre which is about 10 minutes walk or a 5 minute drive. We just caught breakfast at Subway at 11 AM and needless to say we were all hungry.

I like to write some facts about New Zealand All facts will be in Bold Italic NewZealand lies in the south-west Pacific Ocean compises two main and many smaller islands.It is similar in size to the British Isles but only has a population of just over 4 million.

NEW ZEALAND KIWI - Unique to New Zealand ,kiwis are flightless,nocturnal,burrowing birds that live on the forest floor. They have a cone-shaped body,strong neck ,small head and powerful muscular legs. Vision is poor but hearing and smell are both well developed.

Well we headed off to Huka Jet Falls Ride.

About Huka Falls

The Huka Falls are the largest falls on the Waikato River, near Taupo on New Zealand's North Island.
The Waikato river is one of New Zealand's longest rivers and it drains Lake Taupo - the largest freshwater lake in all of Australasia.
At the Huka Falls, the Waikato River which is normally 100m wide, is squeezed through a 20 metre wide gorge and over a 20m drop.
Every second up to 250,000 cubic metres of water gushes through the gorge and shoots out over 8 metres beyond to create a beautful blue/green pool.

The name Huka is the Maori word for 'foam', which is appropriate as the falling water and rapids certainly resembles foam, especially under flooding conditions.

I had decided let only Sedj take this as I did not want the girls to be frightened by their first ride. While he took the ride in a jet boat to view the spectacular Huka Falls...we decided to walk around . We strolled into the Huka Prawn Park premises and Tanya was quite excited when they told her that she actually can fish and afterwards they will cook the fish she caught and we can have a sumptuous meal...The idea was so appealing and the girls got excited. I for one knew its not a good idea and fishing is not one of those things none of us had patience for or the skill set...but they were persistent and we had to kill some time so we finally gave in and spent $70....It was probably the most wasteful expenditure of the trip...but if we look at it another way it taught our kids a very important lesson that fishing is not their game....sometime they need to get it themselves...and here they got it because these were prawn farms which had over 40000 prawns in each and they still could not catch one...or shall I say they did not have patience to wait with the bait till they get hold of one....I would say its a good time killing activity and if it thrills you to catch a prawn...I am not sure none of us will ever try fishing was good lesson learnt at an expense of 70 dollars.
Moments that taught them fishing is not their game.

By the time we had our misadventure with prawn fishing Sedj was back from his adventure ride and was very thrilled.
Here are the photos!

Then after the prawn fishing adventure and huka falls jet ride we headed to Syline Gondolas for a ride. It was a very enjoyable place for kids as they liked the Luge rides...They took turns and did them a couple of times before he headed back from Rotorua to Taupo.

The Skyline Snaps!

We went to the Woolworths supermarket and did some grocery shopping so that we can at least get to eat breakfast at our villa.

Zorb Rototua

Day 3 - 2nd Half - 30th March 2008 New Zealand

WE headed to have lunch in Rotorua Shopping Centre and was thrilled to find a good Indian joint at the Food Centre.

We did some shopping for shoes....and had to as shops close at 4 PM being Sunday

After our Zorb adventure which one Sedj looked good and was a good experience.

The Zorb is an 11 foot high inflatable transparent sphere which you can ride inside.
Only Zydro ride was available that day ...and Sedj had a good time as you can see in the photo and video...

The silhouette is Sedj waiting to get boarded in the Zorb...
Sedj is inside the Zorb rolling down the hill..

After the Zorb we headed off to the Polnesian Spa and had a good experience of hot sulphur pools....

orakei korako

Day 3 in New Zealand- First Half

RiverJet Thermal Safari

Today’s first activity was a pre booked river jet ride which includes a ride through fantastic geothermal wonderland and a thrilling jet boating experience.

The trip was about 3 hours.

The cruise is through the Waikato river with very tall pine trees on the sides.
The stunning native bush and abundant wildlife you’ll encounter will leave you with a lasting impression. During several stops along the way the guide cum driver explain about the rich history of the area and its unique wildlife.

The trip included a free entry to Orakei Koraka also known as the Hidden Valley
Orakei Korako is situated on the Waikato River at Lake Ohakuri, which is a Hydro-Electric power plant. The name Orakei Korako can be interpreted as “Place of Adorning”. Maori women used the pool to bath and beautify themselves for ceremonies.
The Silica Terraces that form the base of Orakei-Korako Geyserland and Thermal Park are believed to be the largest of its kind since the destruction of the famous Pink and White Terraces in 1886 on the edge of Lake Rotomahana beneath Mount Tarawera.
At present, there are up to 23 active natural geysers that play freely throughout the area. One geothermal consultant stated that Orakei Korako has the greatest number of active geysers of any geothermal field in New Zealand, with the most variable and most interesting changes.

There is a vast number of boiling hot springs to view at Orakei Korako as well as mud pools and there are extensive bush walks to enjoy through areas of native flora and fauna.

The highlight for many visitors on the walk through the valley is the thermal Ruatapu Cave (sacred hole). The cave extends 120 ft down to a hot pool at the bottom named “Waiwhakaata”, which means "pool of mirrors".

The experience is one of its kind….it cannot be told and explained ….but the one hour walk through the well laid out path way gave a peep into various geo thermal activities one normally never gets to see….

Check out their website for more vivid pictures

Orakei Korako

The valley has almost completely unchanged for thousands of years. The safe walkways lead you past spectacular silica terraces, boiling mud pools, gushing geysers and into an extremely rare geothermal cave. The serene beauty formed from and around all this geothermal commotion will leave you astounded.

Even though the beautiful surroundings of the Waikato River are an important part of the safari, we also like to –in good kiwi fashion- had a bit of excitement. The jet boat takes you frighteningly close to obstacles in the water and we shot at full speed towards the river banks. And of course you’ll experience the legendary 360 degree spins. We were fortunate to have about a dozen of them thanks to our friendly driver .While Tanya was highly thrilled Riona couldn’t get the full substance of the trip and was looking rather weary by the last half hour.

Waitomo Caves

Day 4 - Waitomo Caves - New Zealand

Taken outside the Glow Worm Cave!-Awesome experience!

We headed off to Waitomo and did a full blown guided tour of the glow worm cave and Ruakuri Cave..

The experience was truly unique and had a good time shopping for souveniers..

We headed back to Lake Taupo to do a cruise in the lake ...The day was cloudy ..but we still did a full two hour cruise...

Lake Taupo Facts

Taupo has an exciting and unique history in the thermal heartland of the North Island in New Zealand.

Taupo and its legendary lake, is a unique New Zealand town whose birth started on the volcanic slopes, where western dead lands were swept by dust storms. This is a place rich and steeped in spiritual and cultural history in the coming of the Maori, and the struggle and endeavour of early European settlement.

Lake Taupo began its dreamy watery beginnings with a volcanic eruption in 186AD. This enormous eruption blew a 660 square metre hole in the earth sending ash into the atmosphere so high and so far, that the Chinese and Romans recorded these fiery red skies.

Lake Taupo

It is so vast that the entire country of Singapore can fit inside the Lake of Taupo..

The cruise took us to the rock carvings of Mauri...

Length 25 nautical miles (46 km)
Width 18 nautical miles
Perimeter 104 nautical miles
Area 60,000 ha (600km²)
Volume 59 km³
Height above sea level Minimum (chart datum) 355.9m
Depth Maximum 186.8m below chart datum. Average 110m

There is enough to do in Taupo itself for a full week in terms of sight seeing and activities...

You can check that out in this link LAKE TAUPO

We went home and the kids and Sedj some time in the spa at the villa.


Day 5 - New Zealand - Hasting and Napier.April 1 2008

We headed off to Hastings and then to Waimarama Beach..the beach was very inviting and beautiful.

But the water was really cold and hence decided not to venture out too much...

One of the main reasons we went to Hastings was also we wanted to go to a water park...Splash Planet...but they had already closed since Easter for the winter season...

We headed out to Te mata Peak...beutiful view from the peak...

We then went to Napier and had a Mongolian Barbeque for Lunch..

The girls went to play around a playgound near the beach...

While on out trip back the police finally caught up with us with a speeding ticket...we learnt our lesson and never drove above 100 km for the rest of the trip....

Once we were back to our Lake Side Villas Sedj and Tanya went for bike ride ...

These pictures we take outside our unit....the scenery and nature was awesome and cannot be described by words...

Under Water World -Auckland

Day 6- Taupo- Auckland-Paihia 2nd April 2008

We set off to Auckland very early so that we can go to Kelly Tarltons under water world before heading off to Paihia...

We finally reached there...but the whole place was very disappointing...if one has seen under water worlds in Singapore , Hongkong this does not live up to the expectations...

The only highlight for Riona was she got to see Penguins....

After the Huka Prawn Park misadventure this was the next....

We headed to take a cruise on the Auckland Harbour...Auckland/ New Zealand had the highest per capita of see them in the dock...all kinds...

We headed off to Paihia....for another 4 hour drive....

Paihia - a great place to spend 2 to 3 days though we were there only for a night...

Once we checked in to our hotel we went to see Hararu falls...Another spectacular view...

On our way back we saw a home being shifted by a trailer...just couldnt get good photos as it was dark...

We did some souvenier shopping...and went to bed..

Bay of Islands

Day 7 - Bay of Islands Original Cream Trip

This was indeed highlight of the trip....
It was a full day trip...6.5 hrs with an hour for lunch at an Island,,,

We had an excellent guide on board...and thoroughly enjoyed the whole day....

It was truly an experience of a kind...

Before we went on cruise

The first half before lunch!

Post Lunch

Includes the island walk!

Hole in the Rock

We headed back to Auckland as soon as we landed ashore .

We reached Auckland about 8 PM and checked in to a hotel for our last night in this beautiful country...We headed off to Ramesh and Vrinda's house for dinner.....and came back to take rest...

Shopping in Auckland

Day 8 Shopping in Auckland 4th April 2008

We headed to Victoria Park Market to shop as it was widely advertised...It was ok but nothing unique or outstanding about it...Then we headed to dress-smart and WOW it was a shopping paradise and clothes and accessories at very reasonable prices...We had a limited bought a few things rather quickly before heading off to airport....
I would recommed about 4 hrs there if you really intend to shop...

A few photographs taken on the last day!

We returned our car and had lunch at McDonalds and boarded our 11 hour flight home..

Need less to say that the flight seeemed long but we were all tired and longing to be on our own beds back at home in Taipei..

All in all it was a wonderful trip we had as a family..

Sedj drove about 2500 kms during the week...I must mention I did do about 1/10th when he really felt sleepy....and he was a great father patient with his daughters during the entire trip..

He bathed them very morning through the trip and that was a great relief that I wasn't already at my wit's end before we headed out for each day...

The girls had a long break from the nitty gritties of school and home work.....
And they were good too not once I had to carry Riona because she was tired and they survived the 7 days of driving too...

Thanks for reading if you did reach this far...its not a great account but they are memories that will last a life time for us as a family....


The only things I feel we could have tried to cover was Cape Reinga via 90 Mile Beach Tour ( which is a full day) also visit Agrodome so the girls got to see a Sheep Show and feed Sheep...since the shows are not very frequent you may have to plan half a day for that...

A final Sum up the itinerary for someone who may wonder what to cover in North Island

Thursday night - Fly Taipei - Auckland
Friday - Arrive Auckand - 4 hours drive Check into hotel at Taupo
Saturday - Huka Falls Jet,Huka Prawn Park,Skyline Rides
Sunday - River Jet Thermal Safari, Zorb , Polynesian Spa
Monday - Waitomo Caves , Lake Taupo Cruise
Tuesday - Hastings - Waiamrama Beach, Temata Peak,Napier - Acquarium
Wednesday - Kelly Tarltons Underwater world , Auckland Harbour cruise,Haruru Falls
Thursday - Bay of Island - Original Cream Cruise
Friday - Shopping at Acukland - Fly Auckland to Taipei

New Zealand - A great Holiday Destination to chill out!or be very active like we did!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Are you bored of facebook?

This kind of summarises my feelings on FACEBOOK!

I enjoyed the video!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Palm Sunday

This was the first stage performance for the girls for their Children's Choir.

Here is a line Tanya sang Solo at the Sunday Service for Palm Sunday!

Chinese Painting Classes

Finally I managed to find an art teacher for the girls.
I wanted someone to come home and teach them....and considering the girls skill levels are very different it was extremely difficult to find some one who also speaks English!

Here are a few photos of their first lesson.

Tanya began with Chinese Brush Painting and Riona still with pastels!
Will keep posting their progress say once in a quarter!

Chinese Brush Painting being introduced

Busy with her own creations!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Voters List!

Did you know that you can check whether your name is on the voters list online.
I know we can do this in the state of Karnataka.
Click this link
Voters List

The lists are available in English and Kannada.

I felt really happy when I could find my name in the list although it had some errors.

The FAQs also cleared in my minds things I didnt learn even in my civics paper in school.

Its a great site to check it out and you will get a good perspective how India's largest democracy operates.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thinking Day!

Thinking Day for the Girl Scouts..

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lantern Festival

I was quite happy to be included as a helper Mom to visit the Lantern Festival at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. This would be give me an opportunity to have a first hand look. On my own I would not have ventured out to see it..

We arrived at the venue after a bus ride and an mrt ride.
The group watched the Change of Guards ceremony and roamed around the grounds to see various lanterns displayed.We also had a quick glance through the museum..had lunch all was well and relaxed.

On the way back I almost lost a person in my group for about 5 minutes...Oh my that was too stressful although I tracked my group till they came out of the ticketing machine after the train ride...I didnt have one in my group....for about 5 minutes literaly missing between the mrt station and and till we came to board the bus. after a quick panic search and few calls we realised the person had joined another group but it was a disturbing experience....than a relaxed trip...

Well I still have a few good snaps of the trip .....enjoy the different lanterns madefor the Year of the rat!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Chinese New Year

Unlike last year when we were new to Taiwan, during the CNY holidays we took the opportunity to see the whole of Taiwan so we drove around each day.

This year having just come back after a hectic 3 weeks trip back to India I was in no mood to travel we decided we will stay at home .

I wanted to take the opportunity to catch up lot of homeschooling worksheets I work with Tanya and also get Riona to do more work in a more disciplined way.

So I set out with an elaborate time table and we as a family worked at home - essentially worked with our kids on their maths and English.

Even Sedj took extra care to be with Riona and get her to do a lot of things to.Riona now can write all days of the week,number names till hundred so we were really happy.

Tanya worked through over 300 pages in her worksheets .Believe me thats a lot for an eight year old....

So all in all we had a quiet hard working time at home and best of all I realised we actually can be at home a week as a family without any complaints...

Years from now I am sure one day I will wonder what did we do with a week of holidays
so this post will bring back the good old memories.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Who is Syrian Roman Catholic?

Very Often outside of India whan I walk into a Church I am faced with a similar question.
“Are you a Christian?”
“Your whole family”
“Yes we grew up in a traditional catholic family”
“OH really we didn’t know they were Christians in India and so how long have you been Christians”

“Yes we come from a state about 20% of the population are Christians and “ blah blah….
“I am Syrian Roman Catholic” I can see their eyes falling out and their mind wondering “What on earth is that”
This is almost a typical snapshot of a conversation I get into any Christian Church outside India.

This typical conversation is one reason I thought I would write this post, the other to have clarity of thought as I continue to bring up my kids in a Christian upbringing.

This post would bring out what we believed as we grew up.
• There are several denominations of Christians in Kerala
• Most Kerala Christian Groups follow certain customs like wedding customs and use Malayalam language as liturgy.
• We believe St Thomas did come to India in 52 AD.
• St Thomas is believed to have established seven churches - Kodungallore, Palayur, Paravur, Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Chayal, Kollam
• The present Christian population has descended from the early groups that were converts from Upper Sects like Namboodiri Brahmins.
• Christians were referred to as Syrian Christians because they followed Syrian Liturgy.
• Of the Christians Catholics – 60 %,Syrian Christians – 20% and the other.
• The Roman Catholic Church accepted allegiance to Pope and came to be know as Syrian Roman Catholic.
* There are Roman Catholics converted by European missionaries known as Latin Roman Catholics.
*There is also Roman Catholic group mentioned earlier called "Reethu" or the Malankara Syrian Rite.
*The Roman Catholic Church went through it's own evolutionary struggles after the Portuguese power declined in India.
*In 1662 the Dutch took over Cochin from the Portuguese.
*The Portuguese before departing elevated a local priest to bishop and papal representative. He ruled the church from 1662 to 1687.
*There was a period of dominance by Carmalite missionaries during the Dutch period. However there was an ongoing struggle for local autonomy in the church.
*In 1887 the process of liberalization started. Two new diocese, Kottayam and Trichur started with local autonomy. Three Kerala priests were appointed as bishops *In 1896 for the first time. New diocese in Palai, Kothamangalam, Tallicheri and Manathavadi were started.In 1956 the status of Changanacheri diocese was upgraded.In 1969 the metropolitan of Eranakulam was elevated to Cardinal.
•For the Catholic Church of Kerala the most momentous occasion was the visit of Pope John Paul II. The Pope visited Kottayam and performed the beatification of a Kerala priest and nun.
• Even though the Kerala Catholics follow the religious practices of Roman Catholics world over, they have much in common with other Kerala Christians.
* They follow Syrian rites as opposed to Latin rites.
*Roman Catholics along with other Christian groups use Malayalam language for service and follow certain local customs and traditions during weddings funerals etc.
• While the Church in the West is still Evangelical, in India the focus of the main line Church is social.
* There is also a strong ecumenical movement.
*Kerla Chrisitans have brought about great prosperity and has their own respectful place in society.
* The religious practices of this group were shaped in the place of origin and are dominated by Church services which follow traditional patterns.
*Their basic belief is in the Christian doctrine and life after death.
*•Baptism is practiced by all Kerala Christians. The Episcopal Churches emphasize child baptism and use sprinkling of water in the name of the Triune of God.
• The Lord's Supper is celebrated by various groups and the Aramaic word Qurbana which means "offering" is used for the practice. The Greek word "Eucharist" which means thanksgiving is also used and is an expression of one's renewal of faith and participation in the death and suffering of Jesus Christ.
• The liturgy of the Roman Catholics is western.Syrian Christians use several accessories such as the bells, the veil, the altar, the cross the coverings and the candles.
• Many Hindu traditions and customs are followed by Kerala Churches.
• Both the Hindu women and the Christian women at the time of marriage have an amulet tied around their neck by the bridegroom. It is called "Thali" by Hindu and "Minnu" by Kerala Christians.
• There are many other Hindu traditions followed by Christians such as dowry system, decorations with rice flower, and forty one day observances after a death in the family.
• Syrian Christians celebrate all Christian religious days. The more orthodox people maintain Lent for twenty four days prior to Christmas and fifty days prior to Easter. Those who do so, eat only vegetarian meals and refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages during Lent. Easter week is very important. There are special Church services on Palm Sunday and also every evening including Good Friday on Pesaha (Maundy Thursday) There is a special Church service with Holy Communion. Good Friday is of great significance and Church services start at nine o'clock in the morning and continue on to three o'clock in the afternoon. On Easter Sunday Church service starts at four o'clock in the morning and concludes with Holy Communion. Easter breakfast and family get together is traditional.
• Only recently westerners have begun to recognize Christianity's Eastern foundation. Christianity in Kerala is older than Rome according to the St.Thomas tradition. It began as an Oriental religion.
• Arranged marriages are common. During the marriage ceremony exchange of rings is less important than the tali which the bridegroom ties around the bride's neck.

If you are a Syrian Roman Catholic I hope this note was informative.These are notes and point I gathered over various articles.I have no proof if they are authentic.
I know it is what we believe,and continue to practice and respect the traditions!