A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Little joys

Posted by Pepper on January 14, 2021

I was looking at the weather forecast for the next few days and noticed we have 2 days of good weather coming up. To add to the joy, the good weather spell is colliding with the weekend. That means so much to me. I will finally feel inspired to get out and do things.

Otherwise, the wretched cold in these winter months makes me feel too uninspired to get out of the house. I’ve told myself I will bundle up and that it will be okay, that getting out and getting some fresh air is important, but add the covid stress and the frigid weather and it leaves me with no motivation to go anywhere.

So I am really looking forward to this sunny weekend. It’s also a long weekend. Double yay! I told Cotton and Candy about it and the first thing Cotton asked me was if we could go and meet the ducks. My poor baby has been missing them. We used to take the kids to this outdoor strip mall that had a pretty pond with ducks in it. We could buy a pack of duck food from one of the departmental stores there, which was basically cracked corn, barley and a mix of some other grains. And Cotton and Candy would go crazy feeding the ducks. Sometimes the ducks came and ate right out of your hand! It was one of their favourite things to do. I say was because we haven’t taken them there in 2 whole months now.

Here are some pictures from our last visit there.

Feeding the duckies. We keep alternating between the ducks that stay in the pond and the ones that come out to take a stroll.

When Cotton and Candy want to continue walking around the edge of the pond forever. They are just so happy

Just one with my overexcited babies. I barely have any pictures with them on this blog. I should try to change that.

These happy little outings with them remind me of my own childhood. Where mom and dad would take the sister and me to a select few places. Worli seaface has always been special to me because of how joyous it made my childhood. We would go and watch the waves and walk along the edge of the water, eat freshly roasted peanuts sold to us in newspaper cones. I remember feeling just so happy. Childhood is precious.

And now I get to relive parts of it through Cotton and Candy. I really hope their childhood is as happy as mine has been. For now, we have promised them we will take them to meet the duckies soon.

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Imagination 101

Posted by Pepper on January 13, 2021

Cotton and Candy are writing the alphabets on their magnetic board. Mint is sitting next to them and working on his laptop. Candy scrawls a big B, then looks at it and tells Mint, “Appa, B toh bra jaisa dikhta hai” The letter B looks like a bra.

I stop wiping the kitchen counter and burst out laughing. My daughter has an interesting imagination.

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No means no

Posted by Pepper on January 12, 2021

On average, Mint and I find ourselves repeating that statement at least 20 times a day. Explaining boundaries, especially physical boundaries is hard when it comes to toddlers. Now put toddler twins and that task becomes a lot harder. Because we are talking about two little people who are exactly the same age and have the same level of understanding and maturity. No one is better than the other.

We live in such an awfully sexist world, we feel a higher sense of responsibility to raise our son to be respectful, sensitive and well, just somebody who doesn’t cave in to gender stereotypes. If you know Cotton in person, you will know about his reputation of being one of the sweetest kids on the block. Honestly, he’s a darling. But I still worry, because the default setting of the world turns men into entitled and sexist jerks. You have to work really hard to tune out of the default setting designed for your gender.

Candy, on the other hand, is a brat. She is fierce, loud and defiant. She is also not as sensitive as Cotton. In fact, she is my rowdy kid. But again, I wonder. How long will she continue to be such a dynamite little girl? The default setting of the world turns women into fearful, subservient beings. And it takes a little extra work to raise a bold, fearless girl.

Anyway, I digress as usual. I was talking about setting physical boundaries. Cotton came crying to me with tears in his eyes. He said Candy wasn’t letting him hug her. He had accidentally hurt her foot and was feeling guilty. He told me he said sorry to her but he also wanted to hug her. I told you, he is a darling child.

But Candy made it very clear that she did not want to be hugged. I told Cotton to respect that. If she doesn’t want to be hugged, he can’t keep asking her for one or forcefully give her one. No means no, remember? I went over this concept for the nth time. If someone does not want to be touched, you can’t touch them. Not even your sister. Not even if you have the best intentions. There are no two ways about this. No means no. Period.

He, as usual, was struggling to grasp this. He told me he lets Candy sit on his back whenever she pleases. That is true. She practically rides him. And he lets her. Fair point. I told him he could tell her he doesn’t want to indulge her. He can say no too. And she has to respect that.

A common scene around here. Please ignore Candy’s very stained sleeves.

But he said he has no problem when she does that. Then why should she have a problem when he takes similar liberties. Okay, I told him that sometimes he may be okay being touched by someone. That does not translate to that person being okay with being touched by him. Always ask first. Consent is very important. Of course, I do try to balance our view points by asking Candy why she thinks it is reasonable to expect certain privileges when she isn’t willing to return them. This is all about such a fine balance.

Consent is something Mint and I try to model to them. We ask them first if we can kiss them. Even if we don’t, we stop the moment we see the slightest sign of protest or discomfort. No means no is a statement we explain and repeat so many times. The rules apply to us too.

Of course, they still don’t get it. We once heard Candy telling Cotton, “No, I don’t want to share this with you. No means no”. We told her that is not how this works. And we explained again the concept of consent. From our part, we make sure there is a lot of dialogue and conversation about this subject. And even though they don’t get it in its entirety now, someday I hope they will.

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Posted by Pepper on January 11, 2021

I cooked raddish sambar and rice for lunch. I think that one is our favourite sambar. Though Cotton and Candy will pick drumstick sambar as their top favourite.

We introduced the song “My name is Lakhan” to the kids. Yes, those are the after effects of watching AK vs AK. It was amusing to watch them dance to it. My brats know a host of Hindi songs, some that belong to a very different era. I once heard Cotton singing, ‘Tum aa gaye ho, noor aa gaya hai” as he was completing his Peppa pig puzzle. If my 3 year old son is singing that song, I must be doing something right.

I folded an entire load of laundry. Laundry folding is probably on the top of my list of ‘Tasks I despise’. I’ve always hated it and now I find it even more annoying to fold clothes that belong to such tiny humans. It’s just harder to fold a tee that small. And there are millions of them.

I watched on my Instagram stories, the whole of Austin swoon over the snowfall they had today. It made me very jealous. Bay Area is so cold and temperatures get much lower than that here, but we never see snow. I guess it has more to do with the altitude than the temperature. I hate cold but love the idea of experiencing that occasional snowfall.

I allowed myself to nap in the afternoon. Winter makes me feel so sleepy and groggy, it isn’t even funny. I woke up and treated myself to some ginger tea. And then I went for a long shower and used the body scrub I received as a gift from Secret Santa this Christmas. My skin feels so new.

We did our Indian store grocery run and went to the FedEx office to mail out some return orders. I feel so accomplished.

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Cat in the back(yard)

Posted by Pepper on January 8, 2021

Cotton and Candy spent a lot of their lock down afternoons last year running amok with their chalks and drawing in the backyard. Many times, I’d hear them call out to me and I knew what was coming. They would demand that I draw whatever it was that they were fancying at that point. The incessant ‘pleassseee’ would make me give in. Never mind that I had no freaking clue how to draw a unicorn. Or a fire truck. I have used all my imaginary and artistic skills and created some masterpieces.

One afternoon, they requested I draw a cat. That one was not too hard. So I drew one and left them to it.

That evening, I was just passing by and I stopped in my tracks when I saw a real cat sitting right on top of my drawing. To say it was freaky would be an understatement. I called Cotton and Candy and they echoed my feeling of amazement. I knew I had to click that sight so I ran to grab my phone. Unfortunately, in the 5 seconds that I took to get my phone, the cat had decided to move to another spot.

I had to tell Mint, and the entire world at that point. I had to tell them what happened. Mint just laughed and called it a ‘funny coincidence’. Whereas me, I kept insisting that my drawing was so real, the cat appreciated the familiarity. Why else would it go and sit right on it? Mint laughed some more at my ideas. That guy doesn’t recognize my talent.

This was in the earlier home we lived in. We used to have stray cats that climbed into our backyard every now and then and they were a source of delight for Cotton and Candy. Mint believes the positioning of that particular cat was purely coincidental. I insist it wasn’t.

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Decisions galore!

Posted by Pepper on January 7, 2021

After going back and forth on this decision a million times, we have finally decided to resume preschool for Cotton and Candy. Since we moved homes, we can no longer send them to their previous school. It makes us a little sad because we absolutely loved their school to bits.

Anyway, so we have been touring different daycares and preschools and that’s been taking up all our time. Because we typically spend over 2 hours in each school. Going by the number of questions we ask the owners and teachers, Mint and I are probably considered nightmare parents to deal with.

What is their teacher student ratio? How much do they focus on art? How does an average day get divided? What is their academic curriculum like? Do they have mixed age class rooms or do they separate kids based on age? Do they provide meals? Do they assist during meal times? Do they help kids wipe their bums? What does good education mean to them? What extra curricular activities do they engage in? Do they have field trips? How do they imbibe and hone social skills? How do they stimulate kids who are academically advanced? I can go on..

And if those questions aren’t enough, we are living in the times of covid. So we have further questions about their safety and sanitation protocols. Phew.. This is such a long process. We have finally short listed 2 schools for them. We are now tearing our hair apart trying to pick between school A and school B. School A is significantly cheaper than school B. They seem to have a good focus on academic learning. School B seems to be great for over all social and emotional development but is a lot more expensive than school A. They also aren’t as academically inclined as school A. Left to me, I think I would pick school B, but financially, we feel pretty constrained. Especially after putting in so much money in this home. I can’t wait for these brats to enter public school so we can avail the free education this country offers.

We still haven’t made a final decision and have given ourselves time until this weekend. The mere idea of sending them has gotten me nervous and we had to tap into our reserves of bravery. But I am hopeful that everything will work out in the end. * Fingers crossed *

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Never have I ever

Posted by Pepper on January 5, 2021

This isn’t about the show. This is about my own list of firsts. I asked Visha if I could steal this idea of her post and she was nice enough to agree.

2020 was a year of firsts. Prior to the past year, never had I:

  • Left dishes in the sink for 3 days straight. Both Mint and I were bone tired.
  • Eaten cereal for lunch and dinner.
  • Allowed myself to make bulk purchases of lentils and rice from Costco. The pandemic actually made me more comfortable with buying 20 lb bags of rice.
  • Been so effing furious with Candy as she tore half a roll of toilet paper for the sake of entertainment. I mean, how much more precious can that commodity get?
  • Felt victorious on scoring a delivery slot for grocery!
  • Baked such amazing Banana bread. With whole wheat and honey.
  • Used lipstick and dressed up to go from my bedroom to my living room.
  • Used castor oil in my hair. This has become a weekly ritual and I love the difference it is making.
  • Used my dishwasher to rinse tomatoes and cucumbers and in fact, all kinds of fresh produce. Yeah, we used to do this in the beginning of the pandemic.
  • Convinced myself to grow house plants. I only started with 2, but hey, they are still alive!
  • Thought I would need a glass of wine every evening. Almost.
  • Thought I would see the day where Mint insists on shaving his head fully and going bald. Just because it was convenient. So glad the hair is now back.
  • Spent so much quality time with Cotton and Candy. Just breathing into my babies has been so refreshing.
  • Been used as a trampoline for several hours a day. Cotton and Candy think it is reasonable to jump on me when they please. And I am crazy enough to let them. Because they are adorable. But I don’t tell them that.
  • Thought a parking lot would be the top choice for a meeting place for friends. I can’t keep count of the number of times we parked our cars several feet away and chatted across our cars with windows rolled down.
  • Felt this level of agitation and gratitude at the same time

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Spice spice baby

Posted by Pepper on January 4, 2021

Today, we drove around a bit to get our fix of Ethiopian food. One of the things we had ordered was Shiro Wot, along with Foule. We asked them to make it spicy, because well, we love spice. I couldn’t wait to get back home so that I could dive into my food.

We got home and went over the annoying drill of trashing the containers and sanitizing and disinfecting all that we had to. I finally sat down to eat and before I could stop myself, I stuffed a humongous spoon of the wot in my mouth. Before I knew it, my ears were ringing, my vision was cloudy and I let out a meek cry. Those guys took our instructions of ‘make it spicy’ a little too seriously, and I almost pictured an over enthusiastic chef throwing in an entire box of the spice mix into our food.

I walked to the kitchen to fetch myself some iced water, hoping it would help. It didn’t. I then ate a spoonful of sugar. And to top that, I also brought out a bowl of cold yogurt. When I got back to the dining table, I saw a similar fire blazing in Mint’s eyes. He seemed more in control though. “Why didn’t you warn me?”, he asked. I giggled and said I had to first think of ways of surviving and was busy trying to rescue myself. He said he was relatively okay because he had only eaten a tiny spoonful, unlike me who had tried to take in as much as I could at one go.

And because we are evil, evil parents, we decided to experiment on Candy. She has a high tolerance for spice and we wanted to see just how high it is. We told her to have a tiny lick of the spoon we were giving her. And then we waited in anticipation. She seemed to be thinking and looked at us nonchalantly and said ‘Ya, it’s nice’. Say what?! Hmm, maybe we give her just too little then.

Because we didn’t get any dose of drama and entertainment from Candy, we decided to expand our experiment to include Cotton. Now his spice tolerance isn’t even close to Candy’s, so we were waiting with bated breath as he tasted the food. He seemed to take a while to process it and didn’t have much of a reaction at first. And then he did a wild little dance before he started screaming on top of his lungs. We tried to suppress our laughter and pretended to have no clue of what we had subjected his taste buds to. Only when we had turned away did we allow ourselves to laugh. I know, we’re evil like that.

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Trashy choices

Posted by Pepper on January 3, 2021

During the Thanksgiving sales this year, we bought a new TV for our bedroom. I’ve always told Mint that I don’t watch much TV because I don’t feel like staying on our couch for too long and if we had a TV in our bedroom, I would be happy to watch while staying in bed, snuggled in my comforter.

Now we do have a TV in our bedroom and I still don’t find myself turning it on too often, even though I have the pleasure of watching while being snug and cozy. It made me think and I concluded that it is the lack of a cable connection that makes me a little averse to the idea.

I mean, we have NetFlix and Prime and the works and a lot of good content at my disposal. But all of that comes with the burden of making a choice. I don’t want the onus of making a good choice to rest on me. I end up putting a lot of pressure on myself to pick the right show or the right movie to watch. I miss having various channels on cable that I can flip through and being able to casually stop if I find something interesting. Or even indulge in mindless guilty pleasures.

I don’t mind watching trash that is being aired on cable, as long as I am not the one who is choosing it. In fact, let me be honest. I miss the cable connection in India because I watched so many trashy Hindi movies that were being played. I enjoyed that trash without feeling guilty. Because there weren’t too many good choices available anyway. So might as well enjoy this trash that the cable operators have chosen to play. It wasn’t me. THEY chose to play it.

It is only now that I realise I really did have an appetite for trashy Hindi movies. I miss them. And while most of those movies are available to me now, I really can’t be the one choosing to play this sexist, misogynistic and illogical nonsense over all the good content available. Can I get myself to make the choice of playing Hum Saath Saath Hai? Cringe. Double cringe. I judge myself for enjoying it. No I can’t choose it. But I wish it was available to me without having to choose it.

Also, I think it is more gratifying to watch, or rather catch some good content that is being aired without you deciding when it will be played. There is some pleasure in being at the right place, at the right time. It is the same for music too. The kind of thrill I feel while catching a good song being played on radio when I am driving is not comparable to what I feel when I choose to play the same song myself on YouTube. The human mind is strange.

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Posted by Pepper on December 31, 2020

How ridiculous is it that my first post of the year is being written on the last day of the year? I absolutely had to write today. I can’t let an entire year go by without posting on my blog. That has not happened in the history of my blogging journey that began in 2004!

What a year you’ve been 2020!

Mint and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in March. We had already been in lock down for several weeks and I was hoping that by the time our anniversary rolls in, we are in the clear and the fire ignited by this wretched virus has been extinguished. I remember tching tching and thinking how terrible it is that we’re in the fag end of March and are still dealing with the impacts of this virus. LOL!

Can I just say we struggled as parents this year? I mean, I am aware that everyone struggled in some way or the other. But as parents of 2 year old twins who were always home 24/7, this year was batshit crazy. It made me realise how much we value our daycare/preschool set up and I can’t list the number of times we considered sending them back, this virus be damned. Other parents told us we were lucky our kids were at an age where they didn’t have to deal with online schooling. We on the other hand wished they had online school and some sort of structure to their day.

Now that I have spoken about how hard it was, I want to take a moment to list out the positives. Because truth me told, there were plenty of those hiding beneath the covers of everyday life.

Cotton and Candy. My marvelous kids. I can’t believe they turned 3 years old in September. This year, we got to witness a deep companionship that was rock solid. Sure, they fight and get on each other’s nerves and then want to go back to playing like nothing happened. Just like any other siblings. But this year was different. It came with the stark realisation that they are a constant in each other’s lives. The world around us shut down. We pulled them out of preschool. We stopped stepping out of home. There were myriad changes in our lives. But the one thing we saw them learn was that come rain, or shine, or pandemic, they have each other. They truly are a constant in each other’s lives and I am so grateful we get to witness this bond.

We acquired some new skills. I started waxing my eyebrows and was surprised I was fairly good at it. How liberating it is to be able to shape my eyebrows on my own! I gave Candy two hair cuts. One of them made Mint pick up a fight with me because I had ruined his precious daughter’s hair. I won’t deny it. It turned out outrageous. But it is hair and it grows back. I left Cotton’s hair to Mint and he seemed to do the job so remarkably well, I asked him to consider changing his profession.

We cooked a hell lot this year. I know this is true for most of us, but being a family who loved dining out and trying different restaurants and cuisines, I expected to feel deprived this year. And strangely, I didn’t feel the deprivation as much as I thought I would.

Another big thing is that I finally started using my grinder and making my own idli – dosa batter. From scratch. This was life changing and it took a pandemic for me to get to it. 10 years of being nagged by a mother in law didn’t do it. And now there is no way I can imagine going back to store bought batter. The wet grinder I own gives us out of the world idlis. Good bye Shastha and Ganesh. I’m not going to explain those names. If you know, you know.

I had, or rather ensured I found a lot more time to chat with my parents and sister this year and I spent literally every evening on video call with them, hearing my dad’s very lame jokes, having deep conversations with my mom, laughing with my sister about things that only we laugh about. Even if we were caught up, we made it a point to pause and connect and just breathe and laugh together. Those daily conversations were so uplifting and I said a prayer of gratitude every day. My family survived this year.

Here’s a big one. We bought a new home this year. A beautiful home at that and we managed to get through the whole move in the middle of the pandemic. It has beautiful palm trees on one side and red wood trees on another. We love having out coffee there. Sharing a picture of me sitting by our pool.

I’ve almost been tempted to blatantly show off our home by sharing some pics on Instagram. But the key word here is ‘almost’. I didn’t do it. For that matter, I haven’t even shared pictures of some of our glorious vacations on IG. We had a blast on our holiday in Singapore and social media didn’t get a whiff of my trip. We have had several such trips and I feel so torn between sharing and not sharing pictures. A part of me wonders how can a trip be gratifying if the world has no clue we did all that we did? The other part rolls eyes and tells myself to stop being so lame and shallow. And most times, I debate so much in my head and decide in the end to not share. But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying and feeling entertained by the snippets of the good life that people share. I am genuinely thankful to some of them for perking me up.

In an odd way, we’ve lived more this year. Every celebration was taken very seriously and we went all out carving pumpkins for Halloween, lighting up our whole house for Diwali, getting a big tree for Christmas and giving the kids a dose of the Elf on the Shelf. This year was all about the little things that gave us big joy.

But now I am done. There is only so much isolation I can handle. I am desperate to get back to normal life. I want to allow myself to fervently hope that 2021 is an easy year for all of us. But if there’s anything 2020 taught us, it is to live with no expectations. And on that cautious note, I will sign off. If there’s anybody reading this, Happy New Year to you!

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This and that

Posted by Pepper on November 26, 2019

Life is speeding by. I don’t think this space of mine is ever going to capture the intricacies of my life the way it used to. But I feel the urge to pop in every now and then. Just that I have to make do with the very limited time I have and not bother about structure, comprehension and order. But then, when did I ever focus on those?

– Life is really busy. I have a lot of friends that give me that needed dose of daily sunshine. In the midst of our busy lives, we meet for coffees and dinners. I am so very thankful for these people and for the genuine support we give each other. Navigating life is so much easier when you have people to lean on.

– And there are other people who I chose to cut out of my life. They are good people and some of them were really there for me in my time of need. So I continued to take the effort to stay in touch with them. Effort that was never reciprocated. They were always busy. I continued to push myself to take more effort from my side. I felt I owed it to them for all the help they rendered.

Until I realised that there is only so much I can do. I didn’t enjoy the permanent burden of initiating contact. Life was busy for me too. So I decided to stop trying. And I felt a huge load was taken away from me. As for those people, they disappeared. If I call out for help, maybe they will turn up again. Like I said, they are good people. But I don’t think they have enough space in their life for this friendship. And that is fine.

Because there are so many people who are over enthusiastic to make us a part of their everyday. I am thankful for this clarity and wisdom I have to choose the people I want in my life and to know whom to classify as unworthy.  Really, nobody has excess time.

– Fear. This has been a constant part of my life. I live in fear of my mom having a relapse of her cancer. I have reasoned with myself, calculated and recalculated the probability and the odds of it happening again, been rational and told myself to not think of things that aren’t in my control, but none of it has worked. I have now learnt to live my life with fear, and it is okay. I continue to go out, play with my kids, have fun with my friends, work, cook, shop, read, all while being fearful. It took some work to be able to operate under the dark shadow of fear, but I have learnt the skill by now. For now, I am thankful for each day, where all is well.

– Cotton and Candy. They don’t get any spotlight on this blog, but I think that’s the choice I have made. They turned two, two months ago. And now we are living with two, two year olds. Life is colourful and entertaining, to say the least.

– I think my favourite part about having kids is that I am finally given a chance to be in my element. I am living the life that I relate to the most. I love attending kiddie birthday parties and feasting on cake and playing games. I can finally go to a park and blow bubbles. I can get in and jump in a bouncy house (on the pretext of taking care of my kids), without seeming like a lone, lunatic adult engaging in the above activities.

– I noticed I was spending a lot of time on Instagram following a lot of food bloggers, which was only resulting in me being unnecessarily preoccupied by thoughts of food. I believe we as a generation our fairly obsessed with food anyway. And to have my feed bombarded with pictures of other people’s lunches and dinners was very unhelpful.

I originally started following these accounts to gain inspiration to cook all those wonderful looking things, to learn new recipes and to be aware of the current food trends. But I got fed up of every plate of food being called a ‘simple meal’. Well, most of those meals aren’t considered simple in my world.

I was spending time thinking of the food others were eating and not really feeling motivated enough to cook it. Because what they termed simple was labour intensive for me. This visual information was redundant. So I unfollowed a lot of those accounts to free up some headspace.

– A friend of mine has recently gotten me hooked to lipsticks. For the record, I have never been into lip colour. Eye lines and kajal has always been my thing. But I have started noticing and admiring that pop of colour that lipsticks add to your face. And my lipstick addict friend took it upon herself to push me into that colourful world.

All these years, I didn’t use lipsticks regularly because I have set ideas about it in my head. Idea 1 – lipstick only looks good on you when you are not looking like crap with oily hair tied up in a knot. And since I don’t have freshly washed, bouncy and styled hair often, I don’t wear lipstick often.

Idea 2 – Lipsticks do not look good with a casual, zip up, sporty hoodie (that I use everyday in California winters). In my head, lipsticks warrant pretty feminine clothes and jackets.

Idea 3 – You can only wear lipstick when you are going somewhere. You needn’t wear lipstick on an average work day or just to pick up and drop off kids from school, or worse, when you are simply home.

Turns out, I have all these trashy self created ideas in my head that are not doing me any good. Under the guidance of my friend, I bought myself some pretty lip shades and I am resolving to use them on an everyday basis. Even if my hair is pulled back, even if I am only going to the grocery store, even if I am not wearing the perfect attire, even if I have a zit on my face, I think the added dash of colour will only brighten things up.

– The year has almost come to an end. I can safely say I have had a good, happy year. I have some goals for next year but I am still working on drafting them in my head. For now, all of us are gearing up for our upcoming vacation. We are all set for our little holiday in Singapore and then we go onwards to India from there. I can’t wait for the excitement our holiday in S’pore will bring, but more than that, I just can’t wait to hug my mama, papa and my little sister. I know right now that they care more about getting to hold Cotton and Candy in their arms. Oh well..

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Year 8 & 9 – Happy Anniversary, Mint

Posted by Pepper on July 2, 2019

Dear Mint,

I missed writing to you last year. Not that this year’s letter comes in good time. We are already late by 3 months. But I figured writing now is better than skipping it completely. After all, I have a letter for you for every year of our married life, right from year 1 to year 7. Let me keep up the tradition, atleast until we reach the big 10? That, by the way, is only a year away. Can you even believe that?

Since this letter is going to cover the past 2 years of our married life, let me start with a recap. Year 8. The crappiest year of our relationship so far. I went through an excruciating pregnancy, got cut open, gave birth to TWO very tiny, premature beings, we lost ourselves in caring for these terrifyingly delicate humans, started coping with the effects of zero sleep, were forced to abuse our bodies in every step of the way. My mother was diagnosed with cancer, pushing me deeper into a deep, dark hole.

In the midst of all this, I hated you. I don’t know if it was my PPD that didn’t allow me to see clearly. But all I remember is hating you. Nothing you did was good enough. I wanted you to comfort me. When your attempts to comfort me failed, I hated you more for being so inadequate. You were supposed to rescue me from what I was feeling. You were not allowed to fail. I hated you for failing.

You started cold shouldering me in those days because you couldn’t handle my tantrums. You were too physically exhausted to deal with a screaming monster. I thought of you as utterly insensitive for not being there for me. I genuinely think you could have been more forgiving to me in those days. I needed copious amounts of kindness from you.

But I remember you breaking down one day. I remember you sobbing and telling me you don’t know what is happening to you and you don’t know how to handle it. We were in the brink of exhaustion. I know you were deeply affected and overwhelmed because it is very rare to see you cry. The burden of two very fragile newborns, my postpartum depression, lack of sleep, physical exhaustion, the load of our day time jobs, the complete lack of support in this country had burnt us out and we lost each other in those few months.

I’m not sure when, but slowly, we began to see light again. I think it was when Cotton and Candy began to sleep through the night. Getting a few good hours of sleep ourselves made us see things more clearly. We began turning to each other for comfort again. Most importantly, we regained our lost friendship. We were able to go more than 2 hours without feeding the babies. This gave us some freedom to step out of the house. Normalcy was seeping back into our lives and our relationship.

Year 9 has been infinitely better. Cotton and Candy are more grown up, and though that comes with its own sets of crazy challenges, nothing compares to the first few months of managing twins. Nevertheless, we have begun to see each other as parents, not just partners. Most of our attempts to spend child free time with each other after kids go to bed seem to fail, because I fall asleep almost as soon as they do. We do take the time out to go on lunch dates while the kids are in daycare and those moments are precious to me. This past year, I have really come to value the love, warmth and most importantly our rock like friendship.

Since this is year 9, I am compiling a list of 9 things I love that you do in our present life

1) We have a set of chores that each of us is responsible for. We have this clearly divided and charted. But, you often take over things from my assigned list. Loading the dishwasher at night is my job. Yet, I don’t remember the last time I did it. After tackling your list of things to do, you ask me to go and sit back while you go and tackle a full kitchen sink.

2) I always imagined having a partner who would make my morning coffee. I’ve seen my dad make my mom’s tea and hand it to her before their day begins. This was part of my expectations. Sadly, this never happened. I am always forced to wake up before you and practically drag you out of bed.

However, you do show me your love in little ways before I go to bed. I have come to love our night time routine where you tuck me in bed, adjust the temperature of the house and make sure it is to my liking, get me a water bottle for my bedside, refill the humidifier and set it beside me, massage my head with Vicks or my back with Bengay and kiss me for the night. You do all this without me saying a word.

3) Candy’s hair is something I am still not sure I know how to deal with. I find you chasing her around the house with a comb in your hand, patiently detangling and parting her hair while coming up with ways to pull her down for 3 seconds. You are amazing.

4) Night time brushing! You’ve taken on the task of brushing Cotton and Candy before bed and I am so relieved that isn’t part of my to do list. Thank you.

5) You push me to go out with my friends. I have a fabulous group of friends and we do a girls night out every month. But every time I have plans, lethargy strikes me a few hours before I am set to leave and I start saying words like ‘tired’, ‘not up to it tonight’ and you step in to remind me that this will be fun and I need to go. You know I need a cheerleeder.

6) You love exploring different cuisines and restaurants as much as I do. Eating out is one of our favourite things to do together and I am so glad we live in a place that has so much to offer in terms of food!

7) I know I always turn to you when I am in doubt and can’t decide whether I should buy it or not. Because I know you always convince me to buy it. And then I feel better about buying it because I had no choice, I was forced, right?

8) You are my in house therapist. When I worry about my parents health and feel the onset of an anxiety attack, I know it is time to talk to you and clear my head. You ask me hard hitting questions, throw different statistics and numbers my way, give me a clearer perspective. In the end, I always feel stronger. And lighter.

9) You are the most amazing father ever. I have a new found respect for you when I see you with the kids.

Thank you for being so awesome! I can’t wait to see how year 10 turns out.

Lots of love,

— Pepper


PS – This picture was taken on the day the twins turned 6 months old and we had a small half birthday celebration for them

PPS – Since this is year Nine, I am also going to use this post for the letter N. N for Nine? Yes, I am still trying to complete the A – Z writing challenge.



Posted in Splashes of Mint | 19 Comments »


Posted by Pepper on June 18, 2019

Just when I was getting the hang of writing regularly, my laptop died on me. I’m extremely uncomfortable typing lengthy paragraphs on my phone. So I did what I could in the moment. I let go of my blog.

I still don’t have my laptop, but I hope to get back to blogging. I’m not sure how. I should probably buy myself a new laptop. But then I need a new phone before that. And I’m not sure I can afford to buy myself a laptop and a phone in close quarters.

I have so many errands to run. I wish for the nth time that groceries would magically appear in my pantry. Or that laundry would self fold. I’m going to leave all of those chores for another day. As usual.

I’m craving a coffee from Philz. Like the description in their menu says, their Rose iced coffee is sweet, floral and creamy, with the right notes of caffeine. I will probably get to it tomorrow.

And hopefully, my Tuesday will be less blah than my Monday.

Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments »

M for Mess

Posted by Pepper on May 9, 2019

That is the one word that describes my Gmail inbox. It is such a dreadful mess that I find myself clueless – how am I supposed to clean this up, ever?

I got my Gmail ID when Google had just launched their email service. Back then, not everybody was privy to it. The Blogspot users got 3 invites and I bagged an invite from Mint because at that time in 2004, I used to blog on this platform called ‘blogdrive’. Mint was a Blogspot user and I insisted he save a Gmail invite for me. I was ecstatic and I can safely say I was one of the very early users of Gmail. This email Id has stayed with me for the longest time.

I’m not sure what went wrong and at what point, but slowly, I started noticing a ton of spam. Over time, my email has turned into a junk factory. The sheer volume of unsolicited, undesirable and sometimes illegal emails I get is unmanageable. Clicking on ‘unsubscribe’ doesn’t help. Blocking those email IDs also doesn’t help. And I am not going to even get into how I never subscribed to that crap in the first place. Okay fine, I know this happens to most of us.

But here is what doesn’t happen to most, but seems to be happening with me. My email ID has a dot in it. Now I know there is another ID, which is essentially the same ID that doesn’t have the dot. I am actually confused about how this can even happen, because by Google’s own admission, dots don’t matter in Gmail addresses. BUT there are 2 IDs owned by 2 different people, only differentiating factor is the dot. How?

Let’s call this other person Pepper2. I have no clue who she is. But I know Pepper2 has one son, 8 years old. She lives in Delhi. Her son has been getting a mix of A and B grades, but mostly As. She recently took a vacation to Greece. I’m fully aware of her itinerary and flight ticket costs. She is moving to Bangalore and trying to sell most of her furniture in Delhi. I know all this because all of her email comes to me. And all the emails show my email address, without the dot.

This makes me hugely concerned. Is someone else also having access to all of my email? My inbox is a junkyard, but it is also a treasure trove. It contains mails and chat histories that are very dear to me. And it is linked to my bank accounts and a lot of other services I have signed up for.

Sometimes, I entertain the thought of starting over with a new email ID. Just to kind of purge my past and start clean. But the thought is kicked out almost instantly.  I am not the kind to break ties with my past that easily. After all, like I said, the inbox contains some gold. So I go back to where I began. What do I do?

Posted in A-Z Writing Challenge, Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

L for Learn

Posted by Pepper on May 1, 2019

I have fallen off the radar completely when it comes to this A-Z writing. So much so that I am wondering if and how I am going to work my way up. Cotton has been so awfully sick in the last few days and that has really consumed me fully. It has been extremely exhausting around here.

Cotton and Candy had Spring break a while ago and Mint and I found ourselves wondering how on earth we were going to keep them occupied enough. How will we find time for anything else?

On one such clueless day, we took the kids to the beach. The weather in Bay Area has turned around and it is actually fairly hot. Thank God for that. We thought the beach would be a good idea. But I should know that the weather Gods are rarely on my side.

On that particular day, it was cold and windy. We were with a friend and her son. The moment we stepped on the sand, I felt a cold wave hit me and I was instantly unsure of this decision of ours. Maybe the beach is too cold. It certainly is too windy. Will the kids be okay?

When I voiced my concern to the rest of the group, everybody seemed to think otherwise and asked me to shut up. Unfortunately, my reputation precedes me. I am always cold, when nobody else is. So when I say it is too cold for the kids, nobody takes me seriously. They probably think I am imposing my pathetic standards on them.

Mint often says he doesn’t want the kids to turn out like me. I actually start to wonder if letting them move around in a single layer on a relatively cold evening will let them build more resistance to cold? Of course, I don’t want them to develop a low tolerance and threshold to cold too. So I suck up and go against my instincts most of the time. I don’t bundle them up as much as I would like to.

But sometimes, I wish I listened to the voices in my head. Everybody that day decided to take a dip in the cold sea. I was aghast, but since nobody else seemed to think this was a problem, I allowed it to happen. The kids splashed around in the waves. At one point they decided to sit down and allow the waves to wash over. Needless to say, they were drenched.

By this point, this voices in my head were screaming. Hello, this is ridiculously chilly. They are drenched, it is windy. Let’s run out of here NOW! Again, when I voiced myself, I was asked to ‘calm down’. The kids were having fun, why would I want to spoil the party?

I wish, I WISH I had insisted on leaving. Sadly, I was more concerned about repairing my reputation. I wanted to come across as laid back and non obsessive. That is so much cooler than coming across as a paranoid mom who doesn’t have fun. So I let the kids stay wet for another few minutes, while they built sand castles on the windy beach.

That was what it really took. The next day, Cotton fell sick and this is the sickest my baby has been. His lungs have been affected, his fever keeps spiking, he is heavily congested and he has the worst cough ever. It makes him gag and splutter and gasp all day long. It has been a week of pure hell.

I am furious with myself. Why did I allow it to happen when I just knew what it could result in? We have all been suffering along with him. We are sleep deprived, holding on to a crying, clingy kid who is so uncomfortable. A tiny being who doesn’t know simple things like spitting out the phelgm or blowing his nose.

To add to my woes, Candy seems to be on her way to getting it now. Sigh. I have sworn to myself. When it comes to my kids, I have to trust myself and learn to speak up. I don’t care if I come across as a wimp. I need to learn to be firm. I need to learn to say no. This is one thing I have struggled with all my life, but I shouldn’t let my inabilities impact my kids. For them, I will learn.

Posted in A-Z Writing Challenge | 26 Comments »

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