A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for June, 2011

Time for a short little break

Posted by Pepper on June 27, 2011

I am off to Chicago. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, two of my mom’s sisters live there. My cousin is getting married. It is celebration time and I am excited. It is going to be a mini family reunion for us there, and the wedding festivities only add to the fun. Living here, I rarely get to dress up in all my Indian finery. So I am looking forward to the dressing up this time. I will come back with tons of stories from Chicago land, snippets from the wedding, tales of my crazy mom and her equally crazy sisters, my random banter and lots of pictures.

My reader has been overflowing and I plan to attack it with a vengeance once I am back. So there will soon be a lot of reading and writing from my end. Till then, take care and have fun!

Posted in Travel | 21 Comments »

Role reversal

Posted by Pepper on June 23, 2011

My mom. I realised she was a little unlike other moms at a young age. For one, she isn’t a very domesticated woman. When I was in school, I used to be mad at her for not making the kind of pickles my friends’ moms made. She, unlike most mothers isn’t a fantastic cook. There are some things she cooks exceptionally well of course. But on the whole, she isn’t the kind who’s cooking is legendary. She never did any kind of embriodery work on my clothes either. I looked at my friends with envy when they would display their pretty embriodered handkerchiefs. I used to even wonder why my mom would wear jeans when she would come to pick me up at the bus stop, when all other moms were clad in traditional Indian wear. Her attire made me the odd one out.And at that time, I didn’t like it.

But then I started growing up and I realised that none of that mattered. What mattered was who she was, not the way she was. Mama was there for me. Always. She became my ‘go to’ person for almost everything. I suppose that is how all moms are. Hungry and need a quick snack? Go to mom. In a rush and need to iron your shirt? Go to mom. Tired and need a head massage? Go to mom. Moms are universal problem solvers.

My dependence on her grew as I grew in age. I startded depending on her for most of my emotional needs too. When I screwed up in a test, I went to her for consolation. When I was scared and nervous as I awaited my results, I went to her for some assurance. When I was in the midst of an abusive relationship, I went to her for advice. When I was going through an angsty breakup, I went to her for solace. When I needed company, I went to her for some lively conversation.

She was always there. Waiting for me. In my eyes, she has always been the perfect caregiver. Which is why I find it a little strange when the roles are reversed. Since the time she is here, I find myself worrying about her. Perhaps it is because she is in an alien land. And one that I am familiar with. It makes me feel responsible for her well being. She wanted to go for a walk by herself, but I was worried she’d be lost. Another time, I was out and she was frying some okra at home and I wanted to rush back to make sure she is okay. And to make sure she could handle the electric plates without a flame. Othertimes I worry that she is eating too little. I treat her like my child and she finds it very amusing.

I suppose life does go on in circles. We end up taking care of the people who raised us and made us who we are.

Some glimpses.

Here I am walking in front of mom. Fed up of my little girl because she refused ice cream, saying she is too full when she hardly ate anything..

We asked her to pose for a snap standing next to some pole. I was terrified of her falling as she climbed up. Here I am, making sure she gets on top safely.

And this one. We’re reading something together. I realise I am so much like her when I see her spending almost 5 minutes fishing out her reading glasses from her bag. I do that for my keys. I feel happy being like her, even if it is not the best thing.

And of course, all credit to Mint for capturing these moments at the right time.

Posted in Meet the family | 62 Comments »

When the guilt weighs you down.

Posted by Pepper on June 20, 2011

I’ve been feeling awful the past few days. It is because of something I did. The burden of guilt is weighing me down. A part of me wants to forget about it. But the other part of me wants me to remember it forever, so that I never repeat something like that.

I have a temper. I think most of us do. But some of us are able to exercise some amount of control. These days, if I get mad, I scream. I’ve told myself to take a deep breath and talk calmly, however angry I am. It doesn’t seem to work. I don’t even know when the cool is lost, when I start shouting and when it turns into unbearable screaming. The more angry I am, the louder I scream. A few days ago I went a step beyond that and did something unforgivable.

We had gone shopping and were on our way back from some store. Like always, I knew nothing about the way back home. Mint wanted me to take note of the way and started insisting on me driving back. I was tired and cranky. I only wanted to sit back, but he was pressurizing me too much to drive. He probably thought it would be a better way for me to learn that particular route. I reluctantly agreed.

Once I started driving, he asked me to guess where we had to turn from. I really was in no mood to play guessing games and only wanted explicit directions from him. So I started screaming. We stopped at a signal and he asked me to guess the next turn again. I lost it. I was stressed out already and had agreed to drive for his sake. Now the light turned green, I had to go, and I wasn’t sure of what direction to proceed in because he asked me to ‘guess’. That made me explode. In his defence, he had only asked me to guess because we were waiting at a red light. And if he gave me no directions, that only meant we had to go straight. But at that time, I was stressed, tensed and angry. Nothing made sense to me. We fought, shouted and screamed as I drove. At one point, I realised I had no clue of where we were heading, and I couldn’t just stop on the road. So I stared following some random car as we continued our screaming match.

Now when I think of it, I don’t understand what it was that got me that mad. But at that time, angry tears threatened to spill. I finally stopped following the car and stopped in some dark lane. I was supremely angry with him at that time. Just because he wasn’t giving me clear directions when I was driving. And he was angry because I was shouting at him like a maniac, only because he asked me to guess a few times. We continued arguing. By now I was a complete mess. Screaming, crying, with a pounding headache. I asked him to take over and drive home from that point. He refused. I kept telling him I was not in a fit enough state to drive, but he was obstinate. He said he would not drive, even though he had no reason not to. That got me more mad. I was hysterical. I told him I wanted to slap him. He said, ‘okay, then slap me’. That tone sounded almost challenging to me. It was the last bit of provocation I needed. In a fit of rage, I lifted my hand and gave him one tight slap on his face.

He was quiet for a few seconds. He said nothing for a while. I was still screaming and crying. Don’t ask me why. I kept commanding him and alternately pleading with him to drive. But he simply refused. I called him names. He said we could spend the night in the car, in that lane. But he would not drive back. I didn’t wanna drive back either. Both of us were on our own trip. I was still furious. My mom was with us in the car, witnessing the entire scene. She was rather shocked by the way we fought. What can I say? Our worst fights happen only when we have an audience. I finally agreed to drive back home for my mom’s sake. But Mint said he refused to tell me the way. He said I was the one who brought us in that random, obscure lane and I should be the one leading us back. I was so furious, that brought another round of screaming. After a while, he agreed to tell me the way, and I drove back home.

We continued avoiding each other that day. But I could see my vision clearing as the veil of fury clogging my senses was lifted. I thought about it calmly and concluded – this was my doing. I overreacted to the ‘can you guess’ part. All of that was okay, but what I couldn’t digest was the slap I gave him. I couldn’t believe I had done it. This was unacceptable by all means. Nothing justifies it. You cannot, ever, raise your hand on your partner. That is nothing but abuse. I would not tolerate it. I don’t know why he did. I wish he had slapped me back. He didn’t even deserve to be yelled at, let alone be slapped. My mom was very mad at me too. She said she couldn’t imagine slapping her husband or vice versa. It is just not done. I couldn’t help agreeing with her. It made me feel terrible.

I haven’t been at peace since the time it happened. I apologised to him, but I know it does not make up for what I did in any way. I cannot take my darling boy for granted. I cannot turn into an abusive partner. I cannot. I need to get a grip. I need to keep my temper on a tight leash. I say it a lot of times, but each time the moment comes, I see my resolve flying out of the window. So far, I haven’t done anything drastic. This slap to him hit me the most. The guilt has made me more clingy. I wait to see him and then curl up in his arms. He’s a sweetheart, and his embrace is welcoming and warm like always.

I still feel jolted. I hope this was the very last time I face such overwhelming guilt..

Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour | 100 Comments »

More momma tales..

Posted by Pepper on June 19, 2011

Life has been quite colourful with her around. I seem to be finding it hard to find time to blog, but I thought I should drop by to mention a few things about her.

– Flowers. They’re everywhere. I see her admiring the pretty manicured lawns and exotic colours of flowers all the time. Each time she bends over to take a look with keen interst showing on her face, I smile. It is like watching my little girl observing a new world.

– I am a coffee person. But with her around,  I’ve switched to masala chai. Every morning, I am greeting by the fresh aroma of ginger and cardamom brewing and in that one instant, I am transported to my home in Bombay. That is the smell I’ve grown up with. For me, that is how home smells.

– Mom and I were going somewhere. Suddenly she looked in some direction and asked me to stop the car. We were in the middle of the road and the urgency in her tone almost made me panic. When I asked her what the matter was, she gleefully told me she had spotted an Indian on the other side of the road and wanted to see clearly. What do I even say to her? I’ve already told her the US is full of Indians. And saying she spotted an Indian in the Bay Area is like saying she spotted a leaf on a tree.

– She goes to the drivers seat by mistake every single time. She just can’t get used to the left hand drive here and we always find it very amusing.

– We’ve been taking her to different restaurants to try different cuisines. We made her have authentic Chinese, Ehopian, Mexican food and each time we were appalled by her tiny appetite. She does no justice to the food and taking her to a buffet is such a waste. Every time I cajole her into eating, I feel like her mom.

– She is here for just another week. We’ve been asking her to extend her stay, but she insists on going back as per her original schedule. She says she has her other baby to go back to. I know she’s right, but I still sulk.

I wish I could freeze time.

Posted in Meet the family | 45 Comments »

How ‘lucky’ am I?

Posted by Pepper on June 16, 2011

I was talking to somebody I know and I happened to mention to her that my mom was around. I went on to tell her all that we’ve been doing and the kind of fun we’ve been having. She told me I was really ‘lucky’ because Mint was okay with my mom staying with us. I was stumped! I am supposed to feel lucky for something like that? Why should I feel thankful when something is the way it is supposed to be? My maternal grandmom would live in our house for months, and both my mom and my dad would be happy to have her. I don’t think my mom ever felt ‘lucky’ because my dad was ‘okay with it’. We wouldn’t have married men who are as chauvinistic as that.

So that statement about me being lucky baffled me. I am a little surprised such kind of thoughts come from people belonginng to our generation, who are seemingly modern. Patriarchy seems to be raising its ugle head everywhere. My in laws plan to visit us in a few months and I bet nobody would ever tell Mint how ‘lucky’ he is because I am okay with his parents staying with us. That is just expected of me.

It was dinner time and I was just saying to myself for the millionth time, what a stupid, sexist society this is. And then I paused and I looked around me. My mom and I were seated on the dining table, chatting and eating. Mint was standing, sweating it out in the kitchen, making dosas and serving them to us, hot and straight of the pan. I smiled as I felt a deep sense of satisfaction. Maybe there is some hope, afterall.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 64 Comments »

Tag time returns..

Posted by Pepper on June 14, 2011

This one has been passed on by Darkcomedy. I saw this doing the rounds a while ago, but at that time you had to complete the phrase with a single answer. This one requires three answers and I spent a reasonable amount of time thinking. In her comment section I told her I would read her answers only after I did the tag myself. Because I know how I operate and I know reading it would mean allowing that subtle subconscious influence to take place. My answers would then be tainted by her thoughts. But I needn’t have worried. There is no way I can be as articulate and insightful as her. So here, I present the tag, with inanity underlying every answer of mine, as usual.

“Every phrase needs to be completed with three answers about yourself”

I am

  • Forever confused.
  • Very fascinated by aliens.
  • Imaginative.

I want

  • To know what I really want.
  • To be able to speak Tamil fluently. Soon.
  • To have my family close to me at alll times.

I have

  • Empty mugs of coffee lying on my side table almost all the time.
  • Strange urges that make me want to thwack random people on the road for no reason sometimes.
  • The best family in the world, or so I think.

I wish

  • Dinner would self cook.
  • I had a better sense of direction.
  • Good chocolate wasn’t so expensive.

I hate

  • Having to decide.
  • The smell of the fruit Chikoo/Sapota. It makes me nauseous.
  • Wet bathroom floors.

I fear

  • Trigonometry.
  • Strange shadows cast on the wall.
  • Old age and everything that comes with it.

I hear

  • Voices in my head all the time.
  • The same song on loop and rarely get sick of it.
  • Imaginary sounds if I am alone at home at night.

I search

  • For the house keys in my hand bag for at least 3 minutes before I can open the damn door.
  • For my size of jeans in every store I go to. Nothing ever fits a person with a 24 inch waist.
  • For people I can call friends.

I wonder

  • Why dogs feel threatened by passing cars and why they chase them like their life depends on it.
  • What a piece of the sky would taste like.
  • What the purpose of life really is..?

I regret

  • Tolerating so much abuse and not ending it with MB (the ex) earlier than I did.
  • Choosing to do my Masters in UK instead of USA.
  • Not calling my elderly relatives enough.

I love

  • Very intensely.
  • Unexpected surprises like finding a pack of spicy aloo bhujiyas next to my bed when I am hungry (Yes I eat in bed, ok?) , a sudden unplanned drive to Khandala in the rains (oh the days), finding my missing earring somewhere and finally putting the pair together, and stuff like that..
  • Annoying my sister.

I always

  • Wait for the very last minute.
  • Hold the mug with two hands. I have been trying to use only one hand forever, but i don’t succeed. Mint finds this habit cute.
  • See both the points of view and confuse myself.

I ache

  • When I see old people living alone, longing for their kids who are far away.
  • For Bombay rains.
  • When I see homeless children on the road, selling something, taking on responsibility and having lost a childhood.

I usually

  • Forget to put the left over food in the fridge, and thus end up wasting it.
  • Suck at saying ‘No’ to anyone for anything.
  • Sleep quite late at night.

I am not

  • Creative.
  • Easily accessible on phone. I am trying to change that.
  • Courageous enough to undertake new challenging tasks. I am too afraid of failure and always prefer security to excitement..

I dance

  • Only when I manage to let go of my inhibitions. Usually happens with some alcohol in me.
  • Mostly while jumping down the stairs if I am all alone.
  • To any kind of music if it has a fast beat.

I sing

  • In the background when I am happy.
  • Songs in my head during stressful situations, like writing exams.
  • Some songs even though I don’t like them at all.

I never

  • Say no to chocolate.
  • Am able to use force with my left hand to do anything. I guess I have no muscle strength. I only use my right hand at all times
  • Voice my judgments. (Excluding the blog of course)

I rarely

  • Forget.
  • Try as hard as I should.
  • Eat a proper breakfast.

I cry

  • When I get too angry for words.
  • In front of very few people.
  • Rarely but endlessly when I do. I always give myself a headache after that.

I am not always

  • Rational.
  • Insane. At times I can be quite solemn and sane really.
  • Agreeing to disagree.

I lose

  • Mostly because I don’t care to win.
  • My cool more often than I would like.
  • My hair clips and bands all the time. I suspect it is the ghost again..

I’m confused

  • About where life is heading right now.
  • Whenever I am asked to make a choice.
  • About which confusion of mine I should mention here. Oh I am confused a lot..

I need

  • To talk to my family at least once a day.
  • A good amount of sleep everyday. Lack of sleep for me is fatal for people around me.
  • To check my mail every few hours, or I get restless.

I should

  • Try and wind up with dinner by 9 pm.
  • Spend less time online.
  • Excercise.

I dream

  • Of a time where I get to be with Mint and my family, together in one city. I dream of living in Bombay with Mint, close to my parents and sister.
  • Of finding a job I love that also pays me enough to live a very indulgent life.
  • Of living happily in my own big, elegantly done up house with a private terrace.

And we’re done! How about some of you taking this one up? In particular, Chiquita, Ajay, R’s Mom, Sig and Scorpria. And of course, anybody else who is willing to contemplate and share their thoughts. Leave behind the link.

Posted in Tags | 41 Comments »

Her arrival..

Posted by Pepper on June 10, 2011

It was evening. I was waiting at the airport. It had been a crazy day for me, with last minute plans thrown in. My cousin had said he would come home that night and stay back for dinner. I had to cook in a rush, wrap things up, get ready and leave for the airport. All I had was an hour at hand. Thankfully, I managed to finish everything and leave on time.

I realised I was tired as I stood there, but more than anything, I was quite anxious about my mom’s arrival.. My mom is not used to travelling alone. And she is like I always say, a little duh like me. Would she be able to figure everything out? Would she come out of the right exit? She had no phone, so if she got lost, we’d find it very hard to trace her. I was waiting right next to the escalator she was supposed to come down from, so that she could see me the moment she got on to it. Everybody from her flight seemed to be coming but her. I don’t wear a watch, so I peeped into the screen of my cell phone to see the time every 2 minutes, hoping all was well with her.

There were two kids standing with their mom next to me. They held a banner that read, ‘Welcome home Titi, we love you’. I couldn’t stop smiling. I am sure Titi would feel the love, whoever she was. I love being at airports and watching the world around me. This time though, I was too busy scanning the area with the hope of spotting mom somewhere.!

I saw her finally. She was wearing a green top and fitted jeans. I thought to myself, my mom looks so amazing! Well okay, I am biased. She got on to the escalator, I waved. As expected, she didn’t see me. I think I almost leaped in the air the second time. She was here, and I couldn’t  believe it! After a little bit of frantic waving and jumping right in front of her, she saw me. We hugged the moment she came. It is so hard to describe that moment.

We walked to the baggage claim area, collected her bags and walked out. Mint was outside in the car, waiting for us. It was a happy time for us.

We drove back home. The moment she stepped in, she exclaimed, ‘Oh God, this place is so messy’. And this, after I had taken the effort to tidy up a little bit. The only ‘mess’ I could see were a couple of DVDs lying on the living room floor. I wonder what she’d have said had she seen the place in its original state. She then saw the kitchen and said the counters weren’t clean enough. *Groan*. We moved to the bedroom and she let out another big sigh on seeing the open wardrobe and how unorganised it was. Again, I think the closet is in a decent state. By my standards, not hers.

She wanted to start cleaning up the place the moment she came. We had to shout at her and ask her to sit back. She kept asking us when we will learn to be responsible and we kept asking her what is so wrong about the house? She then saw Mint sitting on the floor and playing on the PS3, I sat back on the couch. “You guys are such kids”, she said. Well, aren’t we going to be kids all our life, especially for moms?

It has been a happy time since she came. We’ve been laughing, chatting and having a good time. She is still unpacking and the goodies seem to be popping out, one after another, like magic. I wait and watch excitedly to see what she will pull out next.

So yes, mama is here. The good times begin, even if they include some amount of rigorous cleaning.

Posted in Meet the family | 73 Comments »

The joy of rain..

Posted by Pepper on June 7, 2011

It has been raining in Mumbai. And every time I talk to the sister, she makes sure she rubs it in. To add to that, I see so many people on Facebook putting up a status talking about the rains. I am jealous.

I’ve had a different relationship with the rains during each stage of my life. When I was little, there was some special joy in playing in the building compound during the monsoon season. Because we’d be out looking for earthworms in the mud. If the downpour happened to be too heavy, I wouldn’t be allowed to go down to play. My mom would lay out an old rug on the floor, and give me a few jigsaw puzzles to play with. I remember sitting on the living room floor during dark evenings, hearing the thunder as I tried to fit each piece of the puzzle.

When I was old enough to travel to school alone, rains took on another meaning. I associated the rains with damp, soggy socks and smudged labels on text books. My dad would drive me to school in the mornings, but I used to come back by myself in the bus. Every time I walked back home from the bus stop in the rain, my aim would be to prevent my school bag from getting wet. My dad always told me to wear a rain coat, but I thought that was too uncool and childish. I preferred carrying an umbrella. As a result though, the school bag dangling from my shoulders on my back would be exposed to rain and the labels would get smudged. The bags only claimed to be water proof, they never really were. So during rains, I started carrying the school bag in the front instead of the back.

Once in college, I started associating heavy rains with holidays. Most of the time, I used the renowned Mumbai local train to get to college. If the rain got too heavy, the tracks would flood and the trains would stop operating for a while. The college would mostly declare a holiday to prevent people from getting stranded.

The 26/7 floods in Mumbai did drill some fear in my mind, especially because I had some first had experience and struggled to get back home. But despite that, my deep rooted love for Mumbai rains remains unshaken.

Here are some of my favourite rain songs..

This particular one is a childhood favourite.

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And this one. I think my love for dancing in the rain grew immensely after seeing this song. I love Kajol’s shorts.

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And this one. What a wonderful melody!

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This one is another good meldoy. We would mostly listen to this song while walking in the rain on Marine Drive. Sigh! Those days.

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And another one.

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And this one, if you want to dance.

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Which are your favourite rain songs?

Posted in Blasts from the past | 64 Comments »

On love marriages and my story..

Posted by Pepper on June 6, 2011

IHM’s recent post on love marriages spoiling the family system of our nation brought out this rant.

I have to admit, I’ve led quite an ignorant life and did not realise how terribly messed up the society we live in is. I come from a very liberal and open minded family. My cousins, especially from my mom’s side have all married people from different regions and backgrounds. I was hardly ever exposed to the rigidity that is so deeply woven into the core of our society. Until it was time for me to get married. I guess I should share my story, though I’ve always been too hesitant to display the dirt on this blog.

Mint’s family is the opposite of mine. They blindly follow customs and traditions and have rigidity seeped into their bones. Nobody in his family, has ever had a love marriage. Not even a distant relative. The whole concept of falling in love is frowned upon. Because, if you’ve been brought up with good values, then you will quietly obey your parents and marry the girl or guy they choose for you. After all, parents know best. No questioning. And oh of course, they believe they are a very close knit family and operate as a single unit. All decisions are taken by the eldest member of the family. In their case, it is Mint’s dad’s elder brother. Most of their family members live in a small town in Tamil Nadu. The eldest member is supposedly highly respected and treated as an authoritarian figure.

When we were dating and started talking about marriage, Mint warned me and told me to be prepared for the obstacles we would face because of the rigid nature of his family. But he also told me, despite everything, we would make it work. I asked him what if his family doesn’t agree? He said, we would wait until they did. And if that never happened? He said if they are too unreasonable and we’ve waited long enough and see no change, then he would walk out of his family.

For a long time, I lived in fear of the day he would tell his parents about me. I was in UK, drowning in the midst of assignments and worrying about his parents reaction. One day, he buzzed me on Gmail and told me he did it. He told his parents during a phone conversation he had with them. He told them there was a girl in his life, he wanted to marry her, she was from Bombay, belonging to a very different caste and community. They were stunned and silenced. They couldn’t believe their son actually had the audacity to fall in love with a girl, that too, from such a different caste. The first few days they lived in denial.

And then it actually hit them. His mom broke down and wept. She wondered what she had done to deserve this from her son? How could he betray her like that? Because of him, she’d have to live in perpetual shame. How would she face the world? What if people boycotted them? Do you note, how most of the fears stem from a common concern – what will the society say?

We decided to give them some time to come to terms with it. Every few days Mint would call home and talk to them about it. Each time they showed signs of protest, he’d tell them he had made up his mind. The following months were quite a blur for his family – full of tears, self pity and fear of the extended family’s reaction. They only spent time worrying, without taking any action.

After months of persuasion from Mint, and months of procrastination from their end, they agreed to talk to my parents on phone. All his dad told my dad during their conversation was that this kind of stuff was not done in their family. They needed time to think it over. I remember feeling quite mad at that time. Why should my dad be made to hear all that? They’ll think it over? Do they think I am not good enough for their son? Of course when I think from their point of view, it is a whole new ball game.

More time passed, and his parents were under high pressure to take action. They finally mustered up the courage to break the news to the extended family. As expected, more drama ensued. Each time our parents spoke on phone, his dad would tell us he is ‘trying to convince’ his family members. Finally, after what felt like ages, they said they were coming to Bombay to meet us. I happened to be in Bombay at that time too. We rejoiced and thought we were finally moving in the right direction. But there was more to follow..

They came in a big group. Mint’s parents, his dad’s elder brother and his wife, another elderly relative from their family, and they brought along another couple who they said were family friends. We welcomed them home, expecting everyone to be cordial and things to go well. I was extremely nervous. Not only was I meeting Mint’s parents, I was also meeting his extended family, all alone. Mint was in the US. I hated facing it by myself. But that is how it was.

Right after they came home, they asked me to sit down and answer some questions of theirs. I obliged. I was sitting on a chair, all alone, facing 3 men who were shooting questions one after another. That incident left such a bitter taste in my mouth. The worst part is, they seemed to have a lot of questions for Mint, but were asking me those. I am sure a lot of my teeth eroded with all the grinding I did. How am I supposed to answer these questions without snapping or being rude?

“These things are not done in our family. What do you think? You can fall in love like that and just inform parents?”
“Why couldn’t Mint tell parents earlier”
“We choose the girl or boy for our kids, because parents know best. Who gives you the right to make such decisions?”
“People like Mint are spoiling our family culture. Now what if tomorrow other children from our family come and say they want to marry somebody of their choice?”
“If we allow one person, others will use him as an example. We don’t want others getting spoilt because of him”
“I am the one who makes all the decisions of this family. If I say no, there is no way you will ever get to marry him. What are you going to do then?”
“These things happen in your Bombay. But we are a very close knit and cultured family. We don’t allow all this. We can’t accept it. This is not about you and him. This is about us and our family.”
“You are young blood. You think you know what you want. But you are only being carried away. You don’t knwo what is right for you.”
“Tomorrow if you have trouble in your marriage, nobody will support you because you had a love marriage. Then what will you do?”
“Even if we take just our family members, there are about 200 people. We have to convince all of them. If they don’t agree, they will boycott our family. If they don’t agree, you can’t get married.”

It went on. I was fuming. But I bore it all. I smiled and tried to answer every question they put my way. But what the hell was this? They come all the way to my city, to my home, only to create a scene like that in front of my parents and family? They attack me when Mint is not around? Had he been there, he would have asked them to shut the f*ck up. Who the hell are they anyway? Some random man comes and ascertains his authority on my life? Whether I marry the person of my choice will be decided by 200 idiots I don’t know or care about? I wanted to scoff right then and there and tell them that unlike what they believed, they had no say in my life. They’d only have a family member walk out on them. But I shut up. The interesting thing is, all these questions were asked by the other men, not a single one came from Mint’s parents. I don’t think they’d have wanted to put me through this, but they were too meek to protest.

After all that, the women took me to another room and cornered me. Here is what they told me.

“If you do get married. You have to learn Tamil. You don’t have a choice”
“Because this a love marriage. Nobody from the family will want to talk to you. You have to keep trying to talk to them even if they don’t respond. If you keep trying, somebody they will like you hopefully”
“You have to adjust to our customs and rituals. Our style of cooking, our way of living, everything”
“Will you be able to do all this?”

I was exhausted.And I don’t know how to argue or back answer.So I said a ‘Yes’ to everything. For one, I knew they were talking bullshit. I know the kind of person Mint is, and I knew he’d never let me be affected by this crap. I knew I could live the way I want. There’s a lot more that wen’t on, but if I were to write all about it, it would never end.

All of that is a part of the past, but like I said, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I hardly interact with Mint’s extended family. His parents are very good to me and we get along quite well at the surface level, but there are some invisible walls between us that prevent us from being too close. Till date, they feel disappointed by Mint and ‘what he did to them’. Mint’s cousins who talk to me occasionally are too timid to let the elders know that. A part of his family always wants me to be the ‘outsider’. Some members of his family are cold to me, to the extent of being rude.

This has been a very long post, so I don’t want to speak further. This is so wrong, in so many different levels. But I will analyse it another day. For now, I only wonder. How much more shit will two people who fall in love have to tolerate? For how long will they be treated as criminals who bring shame to the family? For how long will they be denied the most basic right of choosing who they want to live with? Sigh. This is such a stupid world.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 131 Comments »

When different is good..

Posted by Pepper on June 2, 2011

My friend’s parents are on a serious mission to find a suitable groom for their daughter. She is a Maharashtrian, belonging to the CKP (Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu) caste. Their biggest criteria is the caste. The boy shouldn’t only be a Maharashtrian, but should be a CKP Maharashtrian. I find something fundamentally wrong with this kind of thinking.

I am not against arranged marriages, IF they are dealt with the right way. If the girl and guy are given sufficient time to interact and know each other, are given enough time to make a decision, are given the option to decline the proposal without repercussions, then yes, I think they can work. However, I am quite against the whole concept of using caste as a filter. Aren’t you letting go of good matches by having this as your top most criteria?

Why are people so insistently holding on to past norms? They want the same religion, same caste, same community, same region and want everything else to be the  same. They’re asking for a replica of their own selves. Perhaps this worked earlier, because two people put together from diverse backgrounds would find it hard to adapt to each others ways and lifestyles. But today, the scenario is very different. Somebody living in Pune is working in Chennai. Somebody from Kerala is being sent on a project to Haryana. A Gujrati and a Bengali guy are living together as room mates in Delhi. Moreover, the internet is connecting us to every corner of the world. We’re all being shuffled, displaced and connected, and we’re all blending in to our surrounding, adapting to new cultures and deriving one common culture – a culture of diversity. That is how ‘Metros’ evolve.

Isn’t diversity a good thing? Two people with diverse backgrounds will be able to learn more from each other, compared to two people who have had identical lives. Isn’t that why so many companies hire diversity management specialists? It is because they all strive to create a diverse workforce. So why should we shun away diversity where marriages are concerned? I know my in laws are the kinds who will be very rigid about caste and would not want their family members to marry ‘out of caste’. During one such conversation with my mother in law, I asked her why they are so particular about wanting people from the same caste and community. She said because it is important for them that they ‘preserve their culture’. So does that mean when you marry a person from a different caste, you let go of your own culture? Are we really that insecure? I always thought it was the other way. You pass on a bit of your culture to your partner, and you get to take a bit of his.

I come from a very small community, which is barely recognised. When I was little, my parents used to joke and ask me to marry a South Indian because of my undying love for Idlis. Little did they know that I would take them so seriously. But even at that age they were never against the idea of marrying out of caste..Nobody even knew much about ‘South Indians’ then. For us, they were just people who spoke strange languages we didn’t understand in the least bit, most of their Hindi accents were amusing, and they ate idlis and dosas. Yes, we were ignorant, but the ignorance started to shed away as the years passed.

Today I look at Mint and think of how different our backgrounds are. We belong to different castes, communities and regions. We grew up speaking different languages. Dig a little deeper and you’ll see we don’t even come from a common race. He is a Dravidian, and me an Aryan. All of this does reflect on us, only in a positive way though. Put the two of us together and we can speak English, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu and smatterings of Gujrati, Konkani and Sindhi. The food is a blend of pongal and sabudana khichdi, of idlis and vada pavs, of kozhambu and paneer masala,  of sambar and dal makhani, of dosas and parathas. The music we listen to and the movies we watch are a blend of English, Tamil and Hindi. We learn from each others thoughts and experiences. We live in sync with the differences and we now embrace and love the diversity. Our children will be a rich mix of our combined heritage. And I think that is a wonderful thing.

So I don’t see why we are so averse to people who are different from us. Why caste and sub castes are the highest criteria for a marriage. That is just sad.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 57 Comments »

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas..

Posted by Pepper on June 1, 2011

but a little bit does make its way to the blog. A tiny bit perhaps.

Mint and I are last minute people. We had been talking about where to go during the long weekend for a while, but we never got around to finalizing anything. While eating dinner on Friday night, we started discussing it again. ‘Should we just go somewhere?’. It was quite late in the day to start planning a trip. If we decided to go, we’d have to leave early in the morning. And we’d have to drive to the destination. Getting air tickets in the last hour that did not cost the world didn’t seem like a possibility. So we had to make a choice accordingly. Vegas had been on our minds. But it is quite far. Google maps said it would involve more than 9 hours of driving.

Should we or should we not? After dithering for a while, we decided to just go ahead with the idea. This is what I love about us – the fact that we can just take off without any prior planning. We have no real responsibility and are willing to rough it out if need arises. Once decided, everything moved at high speed. Mint said we should go in a rented car, and off we went to collect it. It was past mid night by the time we got back. He logged on the minute we stepped in and started looking for hotels for us to stay in, we called up his cousin and even convinced her to join us though it was such a last minute plan. I moved about trying to pack a few things.

We were to leave by 7 am. I knew that was being a little too ambitious, considering we’d had such a late night. I was right. By the time we hit the road, it was almost 10 am. Fortunately, the drive didn’t seem all that bad and we were checking into our hotel in Vegas by evening.

Vegas. Both Mint and his cousin have been there a few times. But it was my first time and I took it all in. I kept thinking of the numerous movies I’ve seen that were shot in Vegas. The place was windy, which is not surprising, considering it is a desert. But I was still unprepared for the gusty gales that were making it difficult for us to walk. Honestly, at times I think such forceful winds might blow me away. We could feel the mighty shoves that were pushing us backward as we tried to make our way.

We had a good time there. It was all about glittering streets, casinos with beautiful interiors and themes, brilliant artwork, skillfully carved statues, paintings, murals, flowers, lights, the works. And that is about all I am willing to put down here. * Grin *

Posted in Travel | 52 Comments »

 
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