She grew up in Thailand and now calls Pune her home where she lives with her husband Sadik and son Yaseen. Her penchant for paranormal phenomena led her to author her own books in the paranormal genre. A great cook (her Youtube channel is testimony), a tough yet loving mother and a fond traveler, today we interview Tesney P. Yuphin of TesAtHome.
Q: Tell us a little about Tesney- the blogger, author, mother and avid traveler.
I grew up in Thailand, and moved to India about 12 years ago. My husband is from Kerala, and our son was born here in Pune. I am an introvert so I’m quite reserved in nature. But I express myself through my novels, blog and YouTube Channel. Growing up in a small village close to nature is one of the main reasons why I love travel. I love arts, I can paint, and I love music. I also have an obsession for paranormal phenomena and mysteries so I write paranormal fictions on the side.
Being a stay-at-home mom who strives to sustain a career at home can be a privilege and a complication at the same time. I have to balance between taking care of my family 24/7 and pursuing my professional persona.
Q: What does a day in your life look like?
I wake up at 6.00am sharp to cook for my kid and my husband. They are on different diets. My son eats whole food while my husband is gluten intolerant and mainly on paleo diet- so the food is not the same. I make it a rule to take care of myself first because, only then, I can efficiently help others. I strictly work out from 8.00-9.00am and then I come back home to tidy up the house. From 10.00am -2.00pm, I work on things related to my blog and my YouTube channel- cooking, taking pictures for a recipe post, drafting an article, or shooting and editing a recipe video. At 2.15 pm, my son Yaseen is back home, and we have lunch and spend some time together till 4pm when he goes for tuition. I start cooking again at 5.30pm, and by 6.15pm we have supper. I write my novels at night because it’s quiet and eerie which is perfect for the tone of my stories.
Q: How has a cross cultural family like yours influenced your son’s upbringing?
When Yaseen did not speak a solid word even at the age of 2.5 years, we consulted a doctor. She told us that the different languages used at home may be confusing him. When he started going to school, he became very talkative, and now he speaks more languages than me. Other than languages and food, there isn’t much that he has to adjust to. I find Thai culture and Indian culture to be very close to one another. We are caring, respectful to elders, polite and conservative. These values are what we cherished in our family. Yaseen embraces all of these traditions, making him a very open-hearted and adaptive person.
Q: Why have you chosen minimalism? And as a parent, how tough has it been to incorporate it into your child’s lifestyle?
Minimalism is a tool to help me stay focused and eliminate the unnecessary items and ideas. It has changed my life, and I’ve become more productive, efficient and anchored. It is important to note that minimalism is not about having less, but it is about getting rid of the excess so you can have room for things that actually matter to you.
I think it’s one of the most important lessons you can offer to your children. We have taught Yaseen to be a conscious kid which means he makes every decision based on the valuation of certain thing. I didn’t throw away all his things overnight, and in fact, I didn’t use the word “minimalism” with him at all. Ever since I’ve explained him the concept of ownership, I constantly ask him “How this stuff can add value to your life? How does this item make you feel? And how can this thing make your life better?” This conversation may seem mature, but kids can be very accepting and honest. Yaseen’s answers often help him decide and evolve. Sometimes toys and items can be very distracting which can potentially interfere with the development of the young minds.
“It is we who teach our children how to be greedy by giving them diamonds instead of sticks and stone.” – Shefali Tsabary from the book the Conscious Parent. This philosophy has helped guide my parenting choice. I believe that, by stripping away toys and items that are designed for specific proposes, you give your children freedom to be creative and allow them to be capable and to grow to their full potentials.
Q: Do you see any difference in parenting styles of Indian and Thai parents?
I think the traditional and core values of Indian and Thai parents are very similar. We nurture our young ones, we provide support and advice them, and we want our children to be successful. Beating is an important part of disciplining. There is a Thai proverb that goes “If you love your cattle, tie them up, and if you love your children, beat them up.” In traditional Thai parenting, discipline means caring and is meant to keep the children on the right path.
But just as in Indian culture, Thai parenting styles have also transformed over the period of time. Now, parents have become relaxed in terms of discipline. Children have more freedom while being exposed to unimaginable possibilities. We’re living in a resourceful era, and parenting styles are mixed and customized to suit the lifestyle.
Q: What inspires you and your family to travel? And how do you manage to do it?
Nature inspires me to travel. When I was a kid, my dad often organized hunting trips where we spent days and nights in the forests. These expeditions were some of the best memories in my life. My husband loves road trips so we’re always looking forward to step outdoors. Even on busy weekends, we manage to go trekking to the forts around Pune. On long weekends, we can travel further to other cities and towns. When my husband takes a long break from office, we usually drive down south to his hometown in Kerala, stretching our trips in many days to explore different routes and terrains. We make time to travel, and we always keep our budget tight.
Q: You’ve been traveling ever since your son was little. Any tips for parents who aspire to be travel with their kids?
Some people think that they have to give up a lot of thing when they have children, the truth is it doesn’t have to be that way. I first made an adventure with my kid when he was only about 3 months old. Of course, there are some challenges, but it’s kind of wonderful to be a person who shows a brand new soul this beautiful world. So go out there, and the only tip I want to share is to be patient with your kid and everyone around you.
Q: How has all the travel shaped your son’s development? What positive development do you see in him due to the travel?
I always tell everyone that if there’s one purpose of my travel, it would be to promote cultural acceptance. We’re living in a divided world where people exclude other cultures, religions and regions due to misinformation and fear. Travel is a great way to understand why people do what they do, to be educated, and to be empathetic with the rest of the world.
Former Vice President of the United State Joe Biden once quoted his mother “Nobody is better than you but you are better than nobody.” During our travels, I always tell my kid to open his heart and look at the world. Every single person on the planet is dealing with things in life, and in the end, we’re the same so we should be kind to each other. Our journeys so far haven’t just taught him to be grateful and humble, but they also made him a content and confident young man.
Q: Has there ever been an experience during your travel that made you rethink your decision of traveling with your little one? How did you overcome it and what was your takeaway from it?
We crossed the dangerous point of our travel the very first time we travelled with 3 month old Yaseen. It was spontaneous and I didn’t realize the risk until we were on an overloaded, sketchy, wooden boat in the fierce sea to Murud-Janjira Fort. I carried him in a baby car seat, and there was no life jacket. The boat was full and the water touched the edges of the boat. I think had one more person stepped in, the whole vessel would have sunk. We arrived at the base of the fort, but we decided to turn back because we had to be transferred to a small raft to get to the fort which looked even more dangerous.
It’s important to know your limit, and I did regret not asking the boat to turn back as soon as I noticed the huge risk we had taken. From this experience, I’ve learned to be more alert and conscious about the situation that we’re in. It is okay to fail because there will always be an opportunity to conquer another time. But at the same time, this experience was so extreme that we have become so confident to try anything when we compare any adventure to the trip to Murud-Janjira Fort. We still haven’t gone back there since then, but I think we’re ready to try again.
Q: You’ve authored a book on paranormal romance. Can you tell us a little more about this genre and the book?
The first English literature I read was an Edgar Allan Poe’s Collection of Horror Stories, and it has stayed with me. I’ve written short stories and novellas since I was in high school, but they’re mostly unedited and unfinished. My first novel, Lavender Blood, was published on Amazon Kindle in 2013. It’s is a paranormal romance, a genre focuses on romance with paranormal element included in the plot. Lavender Blood is set in a secluded town of Phillips Lake where mysteries take over the town when newcomers arrive. The book integrates romance, action and suspense in the story line. It is meant to be a series, but I have been behind schedule on releasing the second book.
I’m also editing my new novel, The Grave Shadows, which I hope to publish it this year. I’m also a fan of H.P. Lovecraft who inspired me to develop a darker series and break away from young adult paranormal romance genre and concentrate mainly on paranormal and horror.
Q: What are plans for the future? Do you plan to compile your travel tales or recipes into a book some time?
Actually, my husband has always insisted me to finish my novel, the Poison Spoon, which I initiated many years ago in NaNoWriMo, a writing marathon program. It’s a story with comedy and horror twists about a group of girls traveling from Mumbai to Kerala for a cooking competition. The story is very real to us because we kind of planted the snippets of our own travel experiences in the plot. My husband believes that it will be a good one, but I’m not finding time to work on it.
And yes, a cookbook is always on my mind, and I hope to be able to share it in the near future.
Q: How is the Pune- Myanmar – Thailand road trip project planning coming along? When will we be able to read about it live?
This is one of the most frequent inquiries on our blog. I’ve planned to document the whole trip and live-update everything on social media. Also, there should be a coffee table book coming out of this trip. A lot of travelers from India and around the world have shown interest in this trip. Unfortunately, the cost of self-driving trip is high and the strict international regulations can be very tricky. So we’ve postponed it for now until we find a sponsor or come up with a huge fund.
Q: Answer in one word- what do you want your son to remember you as?
A guide, a woman who shows him the world.
We hope you liked this interview. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. You can follow her on twitter, facebook and instagram and read her blog Tes At Home. You can also buy her book Lavender Blood here.