A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for October, 2010

Thoughts of a balding me.

Posted by Pepper on October 29, 2010

Our carpets are getting fuzzier. The culprit? My falling hair! I am shedding hair like a cat. Everywhere I sit, I leave behind visible traces of myself in the form of hair. I am positive I see more hair in the drain than I do on my head. Its depressing.

I always had to deal with hair fall, but while I lived in India, it was negligible. From the moment I stepped out of the country, there has been an alarming increase in the amount of hair I lose per day. At times like this I wish we didn’t have carpeted floors. I’d be able to clean the place with one stroke of my jhaadu (broom). But with carpeted floors, I go about picking the remnants of my hair all day long and I have no option other than vacuuming the place.
‘Do you fancy having a bald wife?’, I ask Mint often, fearing the US will succeed in making me officially bald. He doesn’t seem to care too much on most days and is more concerned about his own hair fall. Bah, who cares about his hair loss. He’s a guy. He is scheduled to be bald some day. Who cares if it happens a few years ahead of time?
Me? when the misfortune does occur, I’ll just try playing the trend setting role of ‘that sexy bald woman‘..
On another note, this blog is 2.5 yrs old and it doesn’t even have 80 posts. What a shame! I can see my earlier blogs turning up their noses at this poor blog I have here. I’ve tried to be regular in the last two months, but it still doesn’t make up for all those months of inactivity. I am so tempted to sign up for the NaBloPoMo for November. But I am too chicken and don’t trust myself enough. So I shall let it pass and hope to blog with regularity.

Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour | 11 Comments »

The two extremes

Posted by Pepper on October 21, 2010

I was at the bookstore today, and there were two other desis standing within earshot. Going by their accents, I assume they were ABCDs (American Born Confused Desis). I caught a few bits of their conversation.

ABCD 1: Yes, I don’t know how Indians travel in those autos. Those auto rikshaws are nothing but metal boxes which are open on both ends. It is just so unsafe. And with their kinda erratic traffic… Gosh!
ABCD 2: And imagine, they don’t even use any seat belts while travelling in those open metal boxes. I’d be so scared all the time.
I looked around to see if the books around me were in place, because I was sure my inward cries of horror were loud enough to rock the entire book store and knock the books off their oscillating shelves. Auto rikhaws are metal boxes? They are unsafe? Need seat belts? Should I laugh or cry? Hey Bhagwaan, what kinda place do I live in? Why are people in this country so paranoid? I still cringe when I think of it.
This brings me to the topic of safety regulations in both the countries. It is something Mint and I often argue about. One of the reasons he does not want to move back to India is cos of the lack of safety regulations. He says they do not value human life in India. Heck, they don’t value any life, human or not. I do agree with him to an extent. Our country shows complete disregard to any kind of safety law, which is the cause of a lot of accidents. Bridges and buildings collapse because builders do not use adequate safety measures, citizens get run over, kids fall off faultily built ledges in restaurants, planes crash while landing on unsafe runways, the list can go on. To add to it, we also have to face the numerous terror attacks. But we’ve all learnt to live with the chaos and the insecurity. Mint does not think it is worth it. Anyway, I do wish India would implement some kind of safety laws, and most importantly, adhere to those laws and make the country a safer place to live in.
While I genuinely appreciate the safety measures taken in the US, I also think they go overboard and instill paranoia in you. For example, I appreciate the speed limits, the use of seat belts, etc. I am not too sure about the strict laws concerning the use of child booster seats that have separate parameters for height, weight and age of the child. I think that is going a little too far. Or perhaps I just grew up in a very different way. Or the fact that most houses do not have a gas stove and only use electric plates because they are so worried about fire hazards that come with the use of a flame. I think a lot of these ways take away the joy of living to an extent. How can I expect these ABCDs to be free spirited individuals who enjoy auto rides while feeling the rush of the wind when they are brought up in such an environment?
Do I have a point to make? Perhaps not. I just think both the countries are a little extreme and it would do them good to adopt a more balanced approach.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 14 Comments »

Weekend tales

Posted by Pepper on October 19, 2010

I’ve been feeling extremely lazy and disinclined to blog, but I keep pushing myself to do so. I do want to make a conscious effort and preserve these tiny bits of my life. So that when I am old, jaded and lack vigour, I have these pages to come back to and meet the youthful me, who was brimming with opinions and enthusiasm about life. And I also get to keep the memories alive by recording them here. I am not too sure about how long I’ll be able to actively blog, but I do hope I don’t run out of zest too soon.

Its Tuesday already and I am still reeling under the effects of the weekend. On Sunday, we decided to drive to Point Reyes. The three of us (Mint, his cousin and I) set off in the morning. As luck would have it, it turned out to be a very rainy and foggy day. Fog however, is not unusual for the city of San Francisco. We stopped by at the Golden Gate Bridge for a while, and boy, it was COLD.
We then proceeded to have brunch in this little town called Sausalito. After which we stopped by at the beach for sometime, and then started our drive up to the Light House at Point Reyes. We finally got there after driving through winding roads. Here are my two pennies :
  • The wind can really howl! I’ve lived in UK where the wind gets pretty nasty. But so far, I’d only read about the phrase ‘Howling Wind’ in books. That day was the first time I heard the loud, ongoing roar of the wind.
  • The wind is mighty powerful. I shivered, my nose leaked and my cheeks were flushed. One of the signs there said we were standing on what was the windiest point in America’s Pacific Coast. No wonder I kept getting swayed and found it hard to balance myself.
  • To get to the light house, we had to first climb uphill, and later go down the steps. The climb back up was over 300 steps, and since this was on a steep cliff, it was supposed to be tough. The sign board there said it was equivalent to climbing more than 30 storeys of a building.
  • My calf muscles are still hurting.
  • Standing amidst the ocean, the peninsula, the wind, can make any human feeling totally insignificant.
  • Enjoying a basket of sizzling fries and some hot coffee after trembling in the cold is one of the most comforting things ever.
  • It was a fun day!

Posted in Slices of life | 8 Comments »

It is a conspiracy!

Posted by Pepper on October 15, 2010

Dear Dad,

You know how I have hero worshiped you all my life, how I always bragged about ‘my father’ to my friends right from the time I was in school, how I treasure the bond we share. But you also know there are a few things we love arguing about, some traits of yours that I always disapproved and was very vocal about it. I remember telling you a lot of times, ‘I will make sure I do not let my husband be this way!’ and I also remember the way you laughed at my face each of those times.

Which is why I think it is a conspiracy. I now see the very same annoying traits in Mint and I can hear you laugh in my mind.

You were always shirtless at home and it never stopped getting on my nerves. No amount of arguing could get you to be any other way. Not much has changed. I continue the same arguments with Mint now. The moment he steps home, the tee is taken off. Why? Pardon me for being so crude, but just because you do not have boobs does not mean you roam around bare chested. Isn’t it more pleasant to wear clothes? I once asked Mint before going to bed, ‘why do you have to sleep like that?’ when he was wearing nothing but boxers. He gave me that ‘are you stupid?‘ look and said, ‘How else am I supposed to sleep? You wan’t me to wear a suit to bed?’. Ah, whatever!

Yes dad, I can see you beaming. You have always been well known in the family for your high intake of spice. All the food you eat, has to be spicy, and yes, unhealthy too. I am sure Mint’s level of spice makes you very proud of him. I should have known this was to come.
Both of you have the ability to crack jokes that can torment the listeners and make them go in search of pillars to bang their collective heads on. And just because I laugh, it doesn’t mean the jokes aren’t lame. It simply means I am lame as well.
You conspired with the universe and made sure you found a son-in-law who would carry forward your wonderful attributes, just so you can continue laughing, isn’t it dad? No wonder, you only refer to him as ‘superman’. He is your hero.
I love you guys to bits, but do try and be good, okay?
— Pepper

Posted in Meet the family | 11 Comments »

A balanced diet..

Posted by Pepper on October 12, 2010

I was having ideas of eating a generous amount of chocolate for breakfast. But then tiny little thoughts wondering about, ‘how healthy is it?’ and ‘hadn’t I resolved 87834659 times to eat balanced meals?’ started crawling in at the back of my mind. And then I got reminded of something that made me enthusiastically kick the thoughts out far enough for them to go flying into someone else’s head.
This is of the signs put up at Hard Rock Cafe in New York.

At least there are a few things right with the world!

Posted in Slices of life | 11 Comments »

Puff Master

Posted by Pepper on October 8, 2010

I not too sure about the kind of queer images the title conjures up. But this is what Mint calls himself when the chapatis/rotis he is making puff up in all their glory. Me? I just watch in glee! We’ve come a long way. I should probably start from the beginning.

I first tried my hand at making chapatis during my UK days. And that is when I learnt the truth. I. CANNOT. MAKE. CHAPATIS. I thought I couldn’t cook either, but well, I did manage. What I cook is mostly edible, and sometimes pretty good. But chapatis? I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong. As students with budget constraints, we experimented with unpopular brands of flour. The consistency of the dough I tried making would never be right. I just could not handle the rolling, or the flipping of the chapatis on the griddle. The chapatis would either turn out too thin and the dough would end up tearing, or the end product would be too thick, and as a result too hard, or uncooked, or crispy. I gave up.
When I was moving to the US, the nightmares returned. Mint, who had had his own adventures with chapati making suggested we buy a roti maker and carry it back with us. We left it for the last day of our stay in Mumbai, expecting it to be easily available everywhere. Imagine our horror when we moved from store to store, only to be told it wasn’t in stock or wasn’t sold by them. Just when we were about to give up, we found it at one of the sections in Inorbit. Phew.
I thought it was the end of our sorrows. But when we tried using the roti maker here, for some reason, it would not work. But this time, I tried kneading the dough again, and surprisingly it turned out to be very soft. However, I was unable to flatten it using the lid of the chapati maker. This required immense pressure. I happily let Mint take over. Fortunately, he was able to do it. But the chapatis cooked in the roti maker tasted like chewing gum. So we decided to use the normal tawa for cooking it. This was fine, since we were still getting perfectly round and even chapatis without the hassles of rolling. We finally started making decent rotis and all was good.
Until the chapati maker broke. I was horrified at first, and then depressed. Rolling chapatis seemed traumatic. Nor was I interested in surviving on store bought frozen chapatis. Around this time we moved to the Bay Area. And imagine my joy when one of the desis we visted asked us if we were interested in buying their unused chapati maker from them since they were moving out of the country?
Since then, life has been perfect. I knead the dough, roll it into balls and hand it to Mint. He flattens it with the chapati maker and tosses it onto the tawa for flipping. By now, he has a knack of making it puff up and often mutters to himself as he watches the rotis rise and turn into perfect spheres. ‘Look at the magnificence’, he’ll blabber. Or sometimes, ‘Am I not awesome?’.
Sometimes I fight for credit and tell him the secret lies in the way you knead the dough. Other times, I don’t care for the credit, I am just happy biting into the exceedingly soft, round chapatis.

Posted in Slices of life | 6 Comments »

What the….?

Posted by Pepper on October 4, 2010

A few days ago, Mint come home and told me he had lost his cell phone. I asked him where he thought he left it, and he said he may have forgotten it in one of his office restrooms. He did go and search the place later on, but he wasn’t able to spot it anywhere. We tried calling the number a couple of times, but the phone seemed to be switched off and our calls were going to voice mail. We left it at that for the time being. The next day when he was at work, he asked me to send a text to his number from my phone saying – ‘This phone has been lost by its owner. Please contact this number if found’.

He asked me the next day if there had been any response. I told him there hadn’t been any. The day after that, when he was at work, I got a text from his number. ‘R u da owner of dis phone?’ is what it said. Now this kinda language and way of spelling annoys the hell out of me, but of course I let it pass. Instead I sent a quick reply, saying, ‘Yes, this phone belongs to my husband and we’ve been looking for it since the time it was lost’.

I then went on to message Mint on gmail. I typed out everything that had happened and asked him what I should do now. But there was no response from him. I kept pinging him only to be met with complete silence from his end. I figured he must be either busy, or in a meeting, or not at his desk.

Meanwhile, the guy sent me another message saying, ‘So wat do i get 4 returning it?’.
Oops. What was I supposed to say now? I messaged back asking him to wait for a while, and that I will ask my husband to contact him soon. But the guy turned out to be a creep. Here is the frenzied text exchange between us.

Me: I will ask my husband to call you on this phone in sometime and you guys can work out a way.
The Creep: U n I ain’t playing no games..thr is very lil charge on da phone. Tell me fast or ditch it.
Now I didn’t know what reward I was supposed to offer. What If I said too much and ended up being stupid? Or what if I said too little and lost all chances of getting it back? Heck, I didn’t know what direction to think in since I didn’t even know the value of his phone. I was constantly buzzing Mint on gmail, but he wasn’t responding. So I did another stupid thing. I just asked the guy what he wanted.

Me: Ok, what do you want?
The Creep: Wat will u give honey?
Honey? This seemed to be getting creepier by the second. I pictured talking to some psycho American who seemed to be enjoying this game. I continued to message Mint on gmail. Cursing him for not replying, cursing myself for not having his office number, begging him to reply and getting hysterical. The texts continued.
Me: I can’t get in touch with my husband. Tell me what you want. And please save my number and get back in case the charge runs out.
The Creep: Tell me wat u will give.

By now, I was highly stressed out. I messaged other people who were online and asked for some guidance. The text exchange continued. The Creep kept reminding me of the low charge, making me panic all the more. He refused to give me any number I could contact him on, in case the charge ran out, saying he wasn’t stupid. I even gave him my email address and told him we could take this over email, if he preferred. But nothing seemed to work. I couldn’t think of anything to offer him. He wouldn’t decide for himself. And Mint wouldn’t reply online. I was very, very stressed out.

After a few minutes, I got a call from Mint’s number. I thought I would finally be talking to The Creep. I answer the phone with a shaky ‘Hello’, and what do I hear on the other end? Mint laughing, and then a ‘Hi baby’. I was confused. ‘How did you manage to get it back from that guy?’. And then it hit me. Hard. So I asked, ‘Oh, you were playing around all this while????’ And I hear him laughing again, confirming all that I needed to know.

I was too pissed off at that time to talk, so I just hung up on him. What did he think he was doing? Stressing me out so much and then calling it a game? a joke? a prank?
But despite my initial anger, I ended up laughing soon. When I did back track everything with a cool mind, it all made sense. His refusal to ask for something on his own, his stupid way of spelling to throw me off gear. He was now buzzing me constantly on gmail, asking me to let it go and to talk to him. I let him sweat it out a bit before I finally replied. And then made up my mind to write about this here. Just for the records..

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 14 Comments »

Sweet love

Posted by Pepper on October 1, 2010

I often get into my grumpy ‘I miss India’ moods. But sometimes, happiness visits me in unexpected ways. Today, it came to me in the form of chips. Spicy banana chips. The long, crunchy ones. Coated with spice. Bliss!

They arrived from the homeland in a big brown box which was full of other goodies. And along with the flavours in the chips and the barfi, I could also taste the love. My dad, despite being busy, made sure he got me the stuff from my favourite sweet shop, which is well out of his way. My mom ran around to get me some other knick knacks, which are either unavailable in this country, or way too overpriced. And when it arrived, I saw the multiple layers of packing it had, and that made me smile. I pictured my dad at it, packing and frowning in concentration the way he usually does.
As is typical of me, I preserved the plastic bags which had familiar names printed on them. They take me on memory trips every now and then and give me reasons to smile.

Posted in Meet the family | 2 Comments »

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