A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Sundays

Posted by Pepper on September 18, 2016

Sundays are meant to be lazy. In fact, the very mention of Sunday conjures up images of me lounging around in bed, aimlessly flipping through channels on TV, going for a lazy dinner, you get it? It’s all justified in the name of ‘Sunday’! I am embarrassed to say, that’s how the past few weekdays have been for me. Lazy! I’ve had a lot of work, but for some reason, I decided to go on a strike. I refused to even look at work.

My office work has started to get to me. Maybe it is because we are on the verge of wrapping up and shutting down the company. Maybe because we are in the process of liquidating all our assets. (Sad, I know, but I am not going over the details right now) My nature of work has changed. From actively managing operations, I am now having to manage sales. And if you know me even a little, you’ll know just how dreadful I find that word. The very idea of sales makes me panic.

I think there are two kinds of people in this world. You are either a sales person or you are not. I am clearly not. And yet, I’ve had to feign a certain level of confidence and go out there and sell. I must say, I have been surprised by my abilities. I feel stumped by the positive responses. I feel amazed I did it. And yet, in my heart I know that it has taken a phenomenal amount of effort to get there. I’ve had to drag myself far, far out of my comfort zone and don a personality that is completely alien to me. I’ve had to overcome anxiety, palpitations and an unknown sense of alarm.

As a result, I think I became insincere to my work. It’s because it felt so unnatural. I found myself distracted every time I tried to work. So I let go and barely looked at work in the past few days. And though I was lazing around, there was a certain guilt that followed me. I felt like I was on an undeserved break. I hadn’t earned it.

Falling slack when you are in my position is scary. I’m aware I am shouldering a lot of responsibility. I can’t afford to screw up. So I pulled up my socks today and I have been working all day. I know it is ironical that I chose a Sunday to throw myself into work. You know that feeling? When you were in school and would open your textbook just a day prior to your exam and be totally overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information you had to absorb? Yeah. That feeling. I experienced something like that today when I went through my work.

I started bright and early and ploughed through the day. I took almost no breaks. I got a lot of work out of the way and I’m fairly pleased by the amount I managed to finish in just one day. I think my productivity levels peak at such times.  And now I think it is time to wrap up and put away my laptop. Thankfully, my evening off today won’t feel like an undeserved break. Happy Sunday to you!

Posted in Slices of life | 3 Comments »

One and done

Posted by Pepper on September 12, 2016

I’ve never been much of a drinker. I did however, drink in social settings. Quite safe to say that my alcohol consumption has never crossed the ‘occasional’ mark. A while ago, I decided to go on a self imposed ban and chose to completely restrict all alcohol intake. Well, not just alcohol. I also eliminated tea and coffee from my life. This was a huge step for me, given my addiction to coffee. I *tried* to cut out sugar too. Let’s just say that mission was an epic fail. Because, desserts. And chocolate.

This Saturday evening, Mint and I found ourselves home with no real plans. This is quite a rarity for us, so I was happy to spend the evening relaxing at home. The sister was meeting a friend of hers at a food court and we asked her to pack some food for us. I requested her to drop it off at our place on her way back. I’m not sure what got into me, but I told Mint we should get a few drinks. We found a big bottle of Black Label in our cabinet. I’m not a whisky person, but since I was drinking as a one off, I decided to go all out.

It started out rather innocently. And I don’t even know at what point I got that high. I don’t think I’ve been that buzzed in a long, long time. In fact, I don’t remember being that buzzed ever. It was funny because I have a clear memory of all that I was saying and doing, just that I was unable to stop myself from saying it. I punched Mint’s arm every 2.5 minutes and then dissolved into fits of laughter. I also spoke a truckload of rubbish. I know I was talking non stop and I couldn’t get myself to shut up. I even made some smart suggestions to Mint and told him we should sleep under the sofa that night. Yes, under. Not on.

All of a sudden, I could feel the effervescence welling up inside, threatening to spill out anytime. Clutching my head and babbling things like ‘ Chakkar is coming. Ulti is also coming. Spin ho raha hai’, I ran inside the bedroom. I also forced Mint to follow me. Once in the bedroom, I insisted I wanted the lights off immediately. I told him I hated the lights. They were evil.

I really have little memory of what happened after the lights were turned off. I don’t even know how much time passed. All I remember is racing to the washroom suddenly when I realised I had to throw up. Yuck! I then went on to clean up the mess in my drunken state. I crawled back to bed, thinking I’d feel better after the puke fest. But no sir! I wasn’t done. I went on to throw up 4 more times. I quit cleaning up after the first 2 times since I figured there would be more to come, and we might as well do it all at one go. After the 5th session, I was confident I had nothing left to spew out. I told Mint I was done and he could proceed to clean up now. I must say, the poor guy did a good job of cleaning up all my puke.

I slept finally, after being forced by Mint to drink a lot of water. He said it would help with my hang over in the morning. Thankfully, other than a mild headache, I didn’t suffer too much the next morning. In all of this, did I have fun? Hell yes. It was good to shed all my inhibitions. The puking was gross and a complete spoiler, of course. But all in all, I did have a lot of fun! Would I do it again? Nope! I think I’m done.

 

Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour | 10 Comments »

It’s hard to escape the cheer

Posted by Pepper on September 9, 2016

when the atmosphere around you is so festive. When I look around, the pulsating vibes find a way to reach me and I succumb to the excitement. All day, I watch the passing crowds and hear cries of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’.

The scent of incense hangs heavily in the air. Our apartment complex is lit up. Every evening, I watch people assembling around the idol when it is time for the aarti. The sarees add a riot of colour. The kids have been rehearsing for days for the cultural programs that follows the evening aarti. As I take my walk, I am stopped by a visibly happy man. He offers me a piece of modak. There is excitement all around.

On the day of immersion, I watch the processions from my window. People dance to the beat of the drums. I can tell this is one moment they have looked forward to for a long time, and now that they are living the moment, they are relishing every bit of it.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to you! I know there is just so much wrong with the way we celebrate the festival. But today, I am only going to focus on what is right.

Posted in Celebrations | 6 Comments »

My mom’s birthday celebrations

Posted by Pepper on September 7, 2016

A few weeks ago, my mom celebrated her 60th birthday. We thought the milestone called for big celebrations. While I was still struggling to accept the fact that my mama would now be categorized as a ‘senior citizen’, my mom was very excited about her change of status. Well, let’s just say she was really excited about her upcoming birthday.  I haven’t seen such childlike excitement in many adults. Definitely not for a birthday. But then, my mom is more child like than most adults..

We decided to celebrate all year round. In the beginning of the year, I told her that her 60th birthday gift from me would be a year long shopping spree. Clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, books, just about any personal item she wanted. The only condition was that it should be for her personal use and not a general item for the house. Because I know my mom and how easily the idea of a gift is lost on her. She thinks of everybody’s collective benefit and chooses what is most required by all. This time, I wanted to ensure it was about her.

It turned out to be a great idea. I told her she had to shop worth at least x amount by the end of the year. If she hadn’t exhausted the limit, I would keep persuading her to buy more. It’s a very consumerist approach, but the only way to get my mom to indulge. Through out the year, we had multiple shopping sprees. We’ve bought her bags full of clothes and other interesting bits. Most times, the sister’s hatred for shopping made her skip the outing. The end result was just me and mom spending many evenings browsing through different stores. We would then take the opportunity to head out to a new place for dinner and coffee every time.

The chatting and giggling over coffee or dinner has been the best part. I can’t ask for a better friend than her. Our conversations range from deep, philosophical stuff about life to lame gossip about people we know to debates about controversial issues to silly banter. The two of us have had so much fun this year. I think the idea of a year long shopping spree was a great one. It was an experience that we both got to take in and savor bit by bit.

 

Here is a pic of my mom posing in some of her new clothes. I know I have blurred her face, but to me, my mom is gorgeous. I’d never guess she is 60 if I were to meet her somewhere. I keep hoping I have inherited her genes and that I can manage to look half as good as her by the time I turn 60. But the recent changes in me don’t make me hold on to much hope. Also, although I am such a fan of my mom and think she looks remarkable for her age, I know she isn’t exactly the healthiest. I always worry about her osteoporosis and her very brittle bones. All I can do it pray she never has a fall!

mama11

My gorgeous mama

Our original plan for her birthday was to do nothing more than a family dinner. But slowly, questions about how we were celebrating began trickling in. My mom has 5 sisters, 3 of who live in Mumbai. They’re all so close, we joke about Madhur Bhandarkar making a new movie based on their bond, titled something like ‘Behne’.

Anyway, I digress. So my mom’s family starting hinting at wanting a small party. My mom is the youngest sister and has always been babied by her elder sisters. My mom turning 60 was a milestone even for them. We decided the occasion did indeed call for a small party. We booked a place in our clubhouse. Soon though, the number of guests quadrupled. My mom’s sisters, their husbands, my cousins, their kids, my mom’s cousin. We decided to go all out and make it a big lunch party with cocktails and drinks thrown in.

My mom got a new dress made for the occasion. I could see the excitement building. Unfortunately, it so happened that none of us were available to go and book the cake on the day we had planned to. I was sick, Mint and my dad were traveling and the sister wouldn’t be back home till really late that day. We feared the cake wouldn’t be ready in time if we waited for the sister to order it after getting back. So what did we do? I told my mom to go and book her own birthday cake! She thought it was hilarious to be telling the guys there to write her own name on the cake. Anyway, she is such a sport, she laughed it off and went on to do it.

The party turned out to be a lot of fun. While we did have a lot of people, it was still intimate with only family. We also went out for a dinner later that day, just the parents, sister, Mint and I. It was a day well spent and I’m glad my mom had fun. Here’s hoping the coming year is as exciting for her.

Posted in Celebrations | 14 Comments »

The act of moving on

Posted by Pepper on September 6, 2016

When I was little, I mean two ponytails and teddy bears little, I was conditioned into believing my life would follow a typical progression and I would be the mother of two kids by the time I hit 30. I would have a high paying job I love and look forward to everyday. I would also have a dog. And a fun and happening life. I admit, my conjured image of an ideal life was more driven by social conditioning than my own desires. Plus, I was young and stupid.

Having said that, I still didn’t imagine myself not having a single child by the time I turned 30. I suppose I got older a lot sooner than I expected to. I mean, I always wanted to have kids from the time I can remember. I just didn’t know when. When I got married, Mint told me in no uncertain terms that he never wanted to have kids. The word was ‘never’. While such statements did worry me at times, I knew in my heart that he was merely freaked out by the idea of raising a child. He would overcome his fear when the time was right. Also, we did have a lot of time on our hands. We married young.

Time as we all know is a slippery factor. It passes before you know it. All of a sudden, I found myself anxious about my age. I decided it was time to push Mint to think. After a lot of debates and discussions, he ‘agreed’ to have a child. This would worry me at times. Because he only agreed. He still didn’t seem to want it enough himself. But he told me this was the best he could give me. He wasn’t sure he would ever want kids desperately. He would only agree and maybe feel happy about his decision at a later point. But right now, agreement and an assurance that he would give parenting his best shot was all I would get. After more debates and discussions, we decided the time was right. After some more thought, we decided our first choice was to adopt a baby girl. When we signed up for adoption at the beginning of the year, I was ecstatic to get the ball rolling.

Little did I know then that our ride was going to be tumultuous, to say the least. Things changed rapidly. Our personal situation became so precarious that we could no longer be sure about adoption. But until we are sure we can’t adopt, we don’t want to give it up. And unfortunately, it is taking us some time to be sure of that. Our circumstances are making us dangle on the edge. And I find myself wondering everyday. How long should we hold on to this dream? Is it meant to be? Should we start thinking about having a biological baby if adoption isn’t working out? In the end, we decide to wait a little bit longer for adoption to work out before we think of embarking on the journey to have a biological child. This waiting however is wearing me out.

Mint often asks me, why I am so sure I am ready to have a baby. I think my desire to have a child right now is still mild. It hasn’t peaked, but I sense it is there. I think I want a child because I am bored of the monotony. I want to experience something intensely challenging and there are few things as challenging as parenthood. I know having a child will be exceptionally demanding. It will shake us and make us refocus. I like the sound of that. Plus watching a child grow is fascinating. That, and the truth that I can’t deny. I want a child because most people around me have one. And the world has led me to believe that I should have a child by now.

Sadly, since our personal situation is so wobbly and we don’t yet know what path we will take to have a child (and that we shouldn’t even be thinking of having a child until things settle down for us), I know waiting is imminent. A baby will most likely not be on the cards for us for a long time. A year? Maybe. More than that? Perhaps. I have no answers. The thought of my passing age makes me panic but there is little I can do other than convincing myself that though I may be 30, I am not that old. A delay worth a year or two might hurt me a little but it will not kill me.

The social pressure is momentous. Either it has escalated all of sudden, or I am falling prey to it now more than ever. At first, people would ask me when we planned to have a baby. It would anger me and I would respond based on the circumstances and who the questioning authority was. I would either find a polite way of asking them to f*ck off or I would brush it off and laugh. Things seem to have worsened now. From asking me when we plan to have a baby, people have now graduated to asking me if I am pregnant. This has made me cry twice. I’ve thrown a fit, wondering if I look that fat or have such a protruding belly.

People are ruthless and insensitive. I was asking a friend to drop by since she hasn’t yet been to our home, and she kept saying she would come only when I gave her a reason to come. It took me a while to understand her implication. She then went on to say her son would want some company and there was no child in our home. I really couldn’t think of how to respond. It’s just that much harder when people your age do it to you. You can’t even blame it on the mindset of a past generation.

And then there was my yoga instructor. Or rather my ex yoga instructor. She lives in our apartment complex and has known my family for ages. She conducts classes in the community hall. While I was trying to get some inputs on some muscle strengthening exercises, she told me she would rather show me some exercises that will help me conceive. She went on to add that the said exercises have worked for many women and that I would surely benefit. Boundaries anyone? I guess that concept is unheard of in India. I’m sorry, but if I ever need your help in conceiving, I will let you know, thank you. To say that I was enraged would be an understatement. It explains why the said teacher turned into an ex teacher.

Wherever I go, I am hounded by the baby question. The badgering is incessant and merciless. Even if I respond politely, I am subjected to more intense grilling. The fact that we’ve been married for six years makes us undergo constant scrutiny and interrogation. It has reached a point where I have begun to avoid social interaction.

Every move of mine is examined, inspected and dissected. If I am at a party and I refuse alcohol, people ask me if I am pregnant. God forbid I have a stomach upset or some unexplained nausea. People will move on to congratulating me. I feel so suffocated, I am scared to even let out a sigh, least it is interpreted the wrong way. I feel vulnerable wherever I go. I guess I didn’t find the questioning and the investigation half as grueling earlier because at that point I genuinely didn’t want to have kids. Now I think I am ready to have kids and the same questions sting me a lot more.

It’s easy to ask people to ‘not care’ about what others say. I am guilty of telling my unmarried friends to not care about the so called well meaning relatives’ nudges and jabs, asking them to get married. At times it is easy to ignore, but other times it is not. And it is especially hard when you struggling to achieve the same thing you are expected to have.

As for me, I think a lot about time lines. How important are they? What do you do when the time you take to achieve some goals overshoots the time limit you set out for yourself. Sometimes I wonder if our society is devised in such a way that it requires your life path to be constantly aligned with your peers. We usually do find it easier to connect with folks who are in the same phase as us. Whether it is the phase of choosing a partner and getting married, or experiencing parenthood, or the same level of seniority in professions, etc. The moment your lives stop running in parallel, you are made to feel a sense of alienation. Is this why we are pressured into following what is a typical trajectory?

If you’ve chosen differently or life didn’t happen to you at the same time, you’re going to be made to feel like a misfit or a social outcast, depending on how different your choice is and where you are placed at that time. I know we’ve chosen differently. And since adoption is still our first choice for having a baby, I think I have to prepare myself for a lifetime of being under the glare. I know I have to stand up and face the invasive spotlight that will always follow me. Much as I’d like, our unconventional choice doesn’t let me scurry into the shadows and live in oblivion.

Whether it is getting married, or reaching a certain milestone in your career, or having a baby, or buying a house when the world thinks it is time you should own one, or having baby no. 2, the probing never ends. I am actively working on desensitizing myself. One day, I know I will reach that zen emotional state. Hopefully, my posts will map the path I took to get there. Until then, I will continue to silently cringe at the comments and push myself to move on..

Posted in A penny for my thoughts, Er-rant-ic behaviour | 52 Comments »

Lasting impressions

Posted by Pepper on August 20, 2016

Some people touch your life only for a brief period, but leave behind such a lasting impression that you end up remembering them forever. She was one of them. The first thing I did when I walked into college on the first day was to go through the list of professors who would be teaching us. And I saw her name there. Luku Sanya! She would be teaching us Effective Communication. Wow.

I was elated. When I told my mom this, she was as impressed. Ms. Luku Sanyal was one of the earliest faces of Doordarshan and one of the first English news readers of our country. Of course, she was a familiar name and my parents held her in high regard. She was the one who read the news to the whole country when Indira Gandhi was arrested. She gave news updates about the ‘Emergency’ in our nation.

I was terribly excited by the mere idea of being trained under her. Communication is my most favourite subject. And to have the fortune of learning from such a legend was too good to be true. I waited with baited breath for her to arrive in class on our first day. I distinctly remember the thump of my heart when she walked in. What an astounding personality.

I learnt from her later on that an “ordinary looking person can SCREAM personality”. Her words. She was the one who made me realise that it wasn’t about how good you looked or how pretty your physical features were. It was all about the way you carried yourself. And needless to say, she carried herself remarkably well.

Luku ma’am as she was fondly called, taught us Effective Communication for two semesters and Radio Studies for another. Since I have always been so much in love with the field of communication, I used to hang on to every word she said in class. I know I owe a lot to her. She greatly fixed my accent, diction, speech and language skills.

She taught me how to pronounce words like ‘jewelry’, ‘pronunciation’, ‘product’, ‘Wednesday’ and more the right way. Words that have a seemingly simple pronunciation but ones I realised I had been messing up all this while. Her constant reminders of “there is a difference between how you pronounce V and W” and that we should ‘Cut our lips when we talk’ to pronounce each syllable correctly will always stay with me.

I was intrigued by her life. She almost always had a cigarette in her hand, which she would duly finish in the department office before entering our classroom. For a woman in her late 60’s, I thought she was brave. She hardly discussed her personal life, but I knew she had been in a violent marriage.

A few weeks ago, I saw an FB post put up by one of our department heads that said that Luku ma’am was critically ill. A week later, we heard she passed away. Very soon, it was all over the news.

Times of India carried a piece.  “News reading legened Luku Sanyal is no more

DNA carried another piece. “Tributes pour in as legendary news reader, writer Luku Sanyal passes away

There were other articles floating around. I read all of them. I went back and read her earlier interviews too. For days, I couldn’t shake off that feeling of remorse. It still hasn’t left me completely. I think of her time and again. But now, that feeling of remorse is slowly being replaced by pride and gratitude. She was such an amazing person. She helped me build my skills. I take such pride in saying she was my teacher.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 2 Comments »

N for Nerve

Posted by Pepper on July 11, 2016

Mint is dark skinned. I guess it is quite evident from the pictures I put up. What I haven’t mentioned is that I am absolutely crazy about his skin colour. I think it is delicious. I call him by various names and his colour has been the inspiration for many. Other than the rich colour, his skin also has a smooth, buttery texture. I used to call him my ‘Dark chocolate’. Then I switched to ‘Butter’. Since I thought Butter sounded incomplete, I began to suffix it with ‘Singh’. I addressed him as ‘Butter Singh’ for a very long time. I also had his number saved under that name in my phone. Yes, he is probably the first Tamilian ‘Singh’.

After a point, I thought Butter Singh didn’t have a good ring to it. I changed it to ‘Makkhan Singh’. That name has stayed. I have to give him credit for responding to my calls of ‘Makkhan Singh’ without batting an eyelid. Sometimes I rub my hands on his bare skin and ask him, ‘Are you chocolate or are you butter?’, only to answer the question myself and call him ‘butter chocolate’, or ‘chocolate butter’, depending on what I fancy at that point. I often ask him what his name is, just to make sure he remembers his basics. He says something to the effect of ‘Chocolate Butter Makkhan Singh’. He knows he cannot ever utter his real name in response to my question, unless he wants to repeat the names I have given him a hundred times.

So, the point is I am in love with his skin colour. Of course, there are days when I actually poke fun too. I am not sure how, but he got a lot darker after we moved back from the US. I guess it has a lot to do with playing for hours on the beach, under the harsh Indian sun. He also refuses to use sun screen each time he goes to the beach, which is atleast 3 to 4 times a week, each visit lasting a minimum of 2 and a half hours. He is extremely tanned and I often pick at that. But, only I hold those rights. And our family.

I was in the kitchen with our cook the other day. She was telling me about a marriage proposal they had received for their daughter. In the midst of her story, she looked up at me asked me, ‘Aapne aapke husband se shaadi kaise ki? Aap gori hai aur woh saavle hai. Kya aapko zabardasti shaadi karni padi?’. It translates to, ‘How did you agree to marry your husband? You are fair and he is dark. Were you forced to marry him?’

I was totally unprepared for something like that. In that one moment, I felt enraged, offended and shocked by her audacity. What nerve did she have to say that? I didn’t even know how to respond to that. So I continued to be speechless. Was I forced to marry him? If only she knew how much we fought the world to be together. If only she knew how crazy I was about his skin colour. At that time, I chose to not reply, because I really couldn’t think of a fitting response.

I should have probably just laughed. I knew Mint would. But for that fleeting moment I had the desire to protect him from all scorn. Anyway, I did mention the incident to Mint later that night, and as I had predicted, he had a good laugh. Given our nation’s obsession with fair skin, I am sure a lot of people think he isn’t ‘good enough’ because he is dark, but this was the first time somebody said it aloud to me. I am glad it happened though. It taught me to not care. Next time I’ll just laugh.

Posted in Slices of life | 41 Comments »

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Posted by Pepper on June 26, 2016

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M for Musings

Posted by Pepper on May 26, 2016

In the recent past, I’ve spent many hours contemplating about life. What is the right way of living it? Of course, I haven’t found an answer to that. But all my introspection has led to some clarity. I know in this life, we all strive to achieve one common goal. Happiness. But unfortunately, I think our idea of happiness is skewed.

When I ask myself what it is that makes me happy, I can rattle off a list. Wearing good clothes makes me happy. Eating out and exploring different kinds of food makes me happy. Reading good books makes me happy. Travel and holidays make me very happy. Every item on my list has one common requirement. Money. It almost made me believe that happiness has a cost price. Until I realised with a thwack one day, that it doesn’t. My happiness doesn’t need to be dependent on any external stimuli. In order to be happy, all I need to do is, well, be happy. It is simple and it is free.

The more I think of this life, the more worn out I feel by its complexities. All I really want is a simple life. I think I can find true happiness in simple every day living. I’ve reached a stage where I find myself unwilling to work under highly stressful conditions. Not even for good money. And I also seem to have developed a low threshold for stress. A work day that is longer than 8 hours, a bad commute, a mean boss, a very demanding work culture. For me, all of that equals stress. I see a lot of my friends voluntarily choosing this life. They get good money at the end of the day. The wake up at the crack of down, work hard in the morning to put together lunch boxes, leave their homes in a rush, go through a crazy commute, go through their work days, rush home, feel exhausted, put together dinner and then crash. That is their life on loop.

I’d rather earn less money and pick a peaceful job. These jobs would also pay me less. Simple living is based on the principle that by lowering our expenses, we can lower the time spent earning money. That free time can be used for a variety of purposes. I love the sound of wading through life at my pace, pursuing my interests and having time to volunteer.

I know it is unrealistic on my part to expect myself to embrace all ideas that Simple Living promotes. But I have started taking baby steps in that direction. I try to lower my consumption. I am going to try reduce my possessions. But I know there are some things I can’t give up. Eating out and exploring different food for one. But I am going to limit that activity to only a few times a month.

We also cannot eliminate debt from our lives. Not until we have cleared our home loan, which will take another decade. Until then, I can revisit my idea of happiness. I can try my best to simplify my life and cut down my wants. I know I am saying this now and I might completely change my tune when I am carried away by the glitz. But I am willing to consider this as an experiment and make a genuine attempt at embracing simplicity.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 19 Comments »

L for laughable

Posted by Pepper on May 24, 2016

bathroom

 

That is a picture of our shower area. I live with a ridiculous fear. I suspect somebody is hiding behind the curtain and waiting to pounce on me when I am in the midst of my business. I don’t know why, but I have always lived with this fear. Every morning when I enter the bathroom, I first peep and check to make sure there is nobody hiding behind the curtain. I do this every.single.day.

While I have always done a thorough scan of every new bathroom I enter (especially if it happens to be in a hotel!) before I even consider undressing, I find it absolutely ridiculous that I do it in my own home. It is laughable. It is embarrassing to admit. But I suppose all of us have some absurd fears that we simply cannot explain? Please tell me I am not the only one.

Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour | 14 Comments »

K for Kindness

Posted by Pepper on May 23, 2016

Mumbai is hot. That is an understatement. I see everybody around me perspiring and sweating it out all the time. While it is obviously very hot outside, it is also very hot inside the house. Unless you keep the AC on 24/7. And that is something I am not a fan of. There is something very unnatural and suffocating about keeping all the doors and windows shut all the time. So we try to cut back on our AC usage and only use it intermittently.

We try to get by by consuming a lot of liquids. Mint flavoured buttermilk and chilled lemon Tang. I have several cups of these a day. I’ve been meaning to cut back on the Tang, because oh the amount of sugar I consume everyday! But an iced glass of Tang is just what I need at times and giving it up has been tough. So the sugar overdose continues. I must at least try making up for it by going for extra long walks, but again, the heat is such a killer.

Anyway, this post isn’t about my coping mechanism for summer. It is about the birds and how the scorching heat and dry, acrid air makes them suffer. A while ago, we noticed a line up of pigeons fighting over a few drops of water in the balcony at my parents place. This water was toxic, dripping from our air conditioner. To watch the pigeons thirstily peck and gulp the few available droplets of carbonized water was heart breaking.

Ever since that day, my dad began to lay out a fresh bowl of water for the birds in the balcony. I was hoping to see more sparrows quench their thirst, but most days we just saw pigeons. I am a pigeon hater but the heat made me feel sorry for them. At the end of the day, my dad would take the almost dry bowl and replenish it with fresh water.

A few days ago, my dad had to leave the city for some work related travel. The sister was given instructions to water the plants in his absence. He told me to refill the water bowl for the birds. Unfortunately, I forgot to do it for the first two days. I would only remember at the end of the day, feel too lazy and decide to do it the next day. This happened twice.

The third day, I noticed the fully dry plastic bowl was lying upturned. The pigeons were back to gulping the drops of water that ran from the air conditioner. I kicked myself. The birdies must have surely been missing my papa. I set down the cold litchees I was about to peel and decided to first get the pigeons their bowl of water. This heat is particularly cruel to the birds. Us humans have destroyed their habitat anyway. The next time I indulge myself with some iced refreshments to beat the harsh summer, I’ll stop for a moment to think of the birds. And whether I have done my part for them ..

Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

J for Jumble

Posted by Pepper on May 21, 2016

That is what my life seems like right now. Dictionary defines ‘jumble’ as “A confused multitude of things”. While my head is almost always jumbled at any given time, I am trying hard to straighten my surrounding. So how do I cut out the junk and jumble from my life?

There are a lot of things I can do, but I think I want to start with a few basics.

For one, I need to attack my closets with a vengeance. In Mumbai, homes are small and storage is always short. I don’t blame myself for having to stuff a million things into a tiny space. Organizing is particularly hard when you don’t have enough room. Things just find a way to a place in which they don’t belong. Before I know it, everything seems out of place. Sigh.

Anyway, so my first step is to sort through my wardrobe and simply reduce the number of clothes I own. No, they aren’t worn out. Yes, I still use them. No, I am not bored. I am simply tired of having to manage with such little space. The wardrobes are always in a state of disarray and I feel helpless. So one of my tasks this weekend is to pull out tees and other outfits that I think I should say bye to.

Here is my problem. And I think I may have mentioned this before? I don’t really know who to pass on my clothes to. I’ve always donated clothes to our domestic help and their kids. You don’t have to look too far most times. I will have a separate bag of clothes for them. Clothes that I know they will use and appreciate.

But a lot of the clothes I want to give away now are not ones that maids and their daughters would wear. A lot of them are tank tops, halters and other clothes considered ‘immodest’ by some parts of our society. Also, many of these are expensive labels and brands and I don’t feel like passing them on to people who will not value or even recognize them. I wish I had a cousin or a friend I could hand clothes down to, but I have nobody who is my size. So I have a bag full of some neat stuff that I am forced to give away only because I have no space to keep it, but I don’t think an NGO or a domestic helper would really appreciate them. Oh I wish India had a Goodwill. Let me think of what I can do..

Next on my list is sorting out the kitchen. Because of Mint’s crazy obsession with boxes, we have an entire carton of boxes that came as packaging for various kitchen items. He hates throwing any kind of packaging material and it gets on my nerves. Why add to the clutter? He thinks it helps us organize better when we are ready to move next. That logic sounds ridiculous to me. I wouldn’t want to keep a box that came with a set of mugs for 2 years just so we can use the same box to repack if and when we move. I feel stupid for having listened to him for so long. I think it is time to throw out (or put away to recycle rather) a ton of cardboard from our kitchen and free up some space.

And while we are fixing the house, I might as well get the water heater in one of our bathrooms fixed. We’ve not bothered to do that for the longest time. Since the in-laws along with Oregano will be visiting us soon, we will need both our bathrooms to be functional. More on the in-laws upcoming visit later!

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments »

Because some things shouldn’t be left incomplete..

Posted by Pepper on May 19, 2016

I started the A – Z writing challenge in November last year. To my dismay, it stands incomplete even at the end of 6 months.. I know, I should have at least tried completing it in April, when the entire world was on board. But I didn’t. I wasn’t busy. I wasn’t pressed for time. I was simply lazy. But things that are left incomplete continue to haunt me. And so I will attempt to finish this one more time. I will continue from where I stopped, of course.

The last time, I stopped at ‘I’. Hopefully, May will see me reach Z. Here are all the previous posts in one place.

A for All

B for Blessed

C for Cockroach

D for Dream

E for Exercise

F for Flight

G for Goals

H for Hope

I for Integrate

See you tomorrow, I hope!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

35 and counting..

Posted by Pepper on May 18, 2016

My parents completed 35 years of marriage a week ago. The sister and I call them our angels. We’ve had the fortunate of growing beneath their wings and we can’t feel more blessed. In my eyes, not only are they the most perfect parents, but they also are the most perfect couple. So much in love! They talk to each other at least twice a day on phone when my dad is at work. I hold them as a shining example every time I nag Mint. The guy is known to not answer his phone. Ever. Hmph..

Of course, we had to celebrate the parents anniversary. And after a lot of debating, we finally decided to go for a pool side buffet lunch. It was a relaxed Saturday and we had a great time. All through I kept thinking of what it is that makes the sister and I so crazy about our parents. After all, not all our friends worship their parents the way we do.

When I think of it, it isn’t like they made no parenting mistakes. In fact, I think they’ve even committed some blunders in the past. And no, I am not talking about dressing me up in a frock that had pineapples and the alphabet A all over it. (Seriously, why though?). I am talking about real parenting mistakes. For example, I distinctly remember being whacked by my mom on several occasions for getting a Math sum wrong. In my world, that is blasphemous! You cannot raise your hand on a child for a reason like that. My mum apologizes profusely now when I remind her. She believes she was stupid. The whacking could have deeply affected my psyche and made me fear Math for life. Or did it? I don’t know. But yeah, both mom and I agree that approach was terribly wrong.

My dad, he made mistakes of a different kind. He has always been over indulgent. He would drive the sister and I to school every morning just because the school bus came 15 minutes too early. We paid hefty bus fees and used the service only while returning home. So we wasted half of the fees for the sake of 15 minutes of extra sleep in the morning. I think I wouldn’t do that for my child. What about teaching them the value of money? If we are using our hard earned money to pay for a service, we should utilise it. And what about other life lessons we could have learned? Waking up in time and viewing that as a necessity. The sister and I could have grown up with a sense of entitlement because of dad’s over indulgence. Thankfully, we didn’t.

But, their mistakes apart, they did for too many things right. And most importantly, they acknowledge the mistakes they’ve made in the past. Growing up, my parents turned into our best friends. I’ve written several posts about how terrific they are. I don’t know how I would have turned out without them. In fact is it their awesomeness that makes me scared of being a parent myself. I feel unsure I can be such an amazing parent.

While the sister and I obviously consider our parents to be the best in the world (typical kids, aren’t we?), it is heartening to see Mint echo the same thoughts. He’s never really been very close to his parents, and it is only now that he realises how beautiful and strong a bond can be between parents and child. It has been wonderful to watch him develop a very intimate relationship with my parents. A relationship that is independent of me. He has his own personal relationship with them and I know he doesn’t care about them because they are my parents anymore. He cares about them because they are two people he respects and loves sans obligations. He does think they are the nicest parents ever, and that coming from him is wonderful.

So my dear Mama and Papa, your 3 kids are nuts about you. You’ve had a great run together. 35 years is big. Here’s to many more fun filled years..

 

Posted in Meet the family | 12 Comments »

Keep calm and.. moisturize

Posted by Pepper on April 29, 2016

Mint has terribly dry skin. The skin on his legs is completely parched. If you even gently run your nails around his ankles, you will see white flaky lines all over. The sight would make me cringe. I had been pointing out to him for years, that his skin needs intense moisturizing. But the guy would simply ignore my pleas and concerns.

Well, on second thoughts. He wouldn’t ignore them. He would promise to take action. I bought the best body butter I could lay my hands on (rich cocoa enriched with shea, I must add). Along with that, I ensured he had timely reminders from me. Please use it regularly! He would promise to do so but most of the promises would fall flat after he had used the cream once or twice. He simply couldn’t keep up. Moisturizing was never a part of his daily regime.

To make it easier for him, I bought a bottle of some nourishing body oil. Probably that was easier and quicker to use. Again, he promised he would use it but he was simply unable to live up to his commitment. I moved the bottle of body oil next to his shower area. This would make it hard to miss. It would be in a very accessible location. All he had to do was pat down some oil after his shower. As usual, he said he would do it. But after a month of me eyeing the bottle and noticing no change in the quantity it held, I decided to give up without even confronting him this time.

The last time we were in the US, I couldn’t resist buying a bottle of ‘Jergens Ultra Healing Extra Dry Skin Moisturizer’ for him. I don’t give up easily, you see. Maybe this one would help repair his skin, even if he didn’t use it religiously. It was a big bottle and I just hoped the extra weight in my luggage would be worth it. But who was I kidding? The bottle sat untouched on our dressing table for months.

Some time ago, I noticed those awful marks on Mint’s ankles again. Flaky white scrawling. It made me shriek. Enough was enough. I pushed him back on the bed, pumped some moisturizer onto my palm and applied it on his legs. To my relief, I could see an instant difference in his skin. It looked so much healthier with just one use.

That was motivation enough. I began to apply moisturizer on his legs every night. He would sit back and continue using his laptop, I would silently massage his legs. The boy got used to it of course. Whenever I asked him to do it on his own, he would grin and ask me to do it instead. This was my own doing. I knew it. He needs to worship me. I’ll let him know that I accept offerings in both cash and kind.

That is how our night time ritual began. It continues till date. And surprisingly, rubbing moisturizer on his legs is something I have come to enjoy myself. It is rewarding to see his skin heal, day by day. In the quiet of our air conditioned bedroom (for which we need to be so grateful! I keep thinking of how the homeless survive in this heat), with the calming scent of eucalyptus, and our bottle of Jergens, we find our solace in fixing things.

Dear Mint, just keep in mind though that without me in your life, you’ll have some rough times.

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 25 Comments »

 
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