A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for July, 2011

Little surprises.

Posted by Pepper on July 26, 2011

The house we live in has a little backyard of its own and that is one of the reasons I fell in love with this place the moment I saw it. When we first moved here, I had a lot of big plans. I planned to beautify the place and create my own little garden, I planned to put up some outdoor furniture, including a coffee table and surround it with artistic knik knacks that make the place aesthetically pleasing.

With time however, my enthusiasm evaporated. I attribute it to the one factor fundamental in strangling all my goals – my laziness. Of course, I had plenty of excuses to conceal the guilt. I blamed the weather for not being good enough to be outdoor, I blamed the rain for dampening my spirits, I blamed the uncertainty of our stay in this house, I blamed my lack of knowledge in gardening, I blamed the expensive tools I would need, I blamed the world for snatching away the motivation I once had. And then I just accepted the fact that I was not going to work on the backyard.

I do love flowers. Not so much in bouquets, but on plants. And each time I saw somebody’s blooming backyard, I felt a twinge. But I would simply shrug and wait for that feeling of remorse to pass.

One bright evening, I walked into the backyard, only to be greeted by a little surprise. I saw this flower, flourishing in a corner, swaying in the gentle breeze.

It made me beam with happiness. I realised I had done nothing to deserve this. It was simply gifted to me by nature. For me to see, smell and bask in. After that day, I went on to see a number of wild flowers blooming unexpectedly. And each time, I thought of how bountiful nature is. It gives us with all its generosity, sometimes without even expecting any kind of nurture or care from us.

I think I’ve now learnt to appreciate beauty in all forms. Be it nature, art, music, or anything else. I now notice the pretty embroidery bordering the pillow case, I notice the intricate chandelier adorning the ceiling, I notice the scent in the air, I notice the coordinated colours in the painting, I notice the art in your living room, I notice the rising and falling of that faint beat in that song, I notice the glow brought on by the street lights, I notice it all. And it is fascinating. I think as babies, we all had this child like fascination for this world. I don’t know why we unlearn that trait.

Posted in Slices of life | 60 Comments »

So where did you guys meet?

Posted by Pepper on July 23, 2011

Ask any couple and they’ll tell you that that is one question that comes up again and again. I guess it is natural for people to be curious, especially if you’ve not had an arranged marriage. From what I’ve seen, there are a few standard replies to this question.

In the first scenario, the girl and guy meet in school or college, and then fall in love. This is one of the most common scenarios. Probably because the environment is so conducive to dating.  The other scenario is where the girl and guy meet at their work place. Dating colleagues is not a very uncommon phenomenon either. In the third scenario, it is a mutual friend who introduces the said girl and guy. Other than that, there are couples who meet because they lived in the same neighborhood, or at a family wedding or event, or through extended family. All of these are very acceptable responses to the much dreaded question of where the couple met.

In our case, Mint and I have such diverse backgrounds that it makes it very easy for anyone to guess that our match was not arranged. So we often find ourselves facing this question, where the audience is waiting to hear the beginning of our story with coy smiles. And this is where I find myself stuck. These are times when I wish I could say we met in college, or through a common friend or whatever. How cool would that sound? Speaking the truth makes me feel like some weird freak. I suppose most of you know that Mint and I ‘met’ each other on the blog. His blog to be specific. And most of the time, saying this to others makes me feel really awkward. It is worse when the question is being asked by an elderly relative. Either they’ve never heard of the word ‘blog’, or they are vaguely familiar with the word but do not really understand the concept behind it. If you do try explaining it to them, they just dismiss it and say ‘Oh, so say that no, you met on the internet‘. This usually gets me quite mad. Chatting with random strangers on the internet or being part of these dating sites online is very different from being friends with a person whose blog you’ve been reading for a while. Blogs are sacred. You get to know so much about the person authoring them. It tells you about their attitudes, their perspectives, their way of life, and so much more. If you’ve been reading a blog for some time, then you do feel that you actually know  the person behind it. So when people look at me and say ‘you met on the internet’ and put me in the same category as those losers who talk to random unknown people online, it galls me.

During my last trip to India, I was talking to a lady who happened to be a family friend of my in laws. She looked at me and said, ‘So you two met during a college fest right?’. I was going to deny it and correct it, when it struck me that that could have been the version the in laws have given her. So I just smiled, said a yes and changed the subject. But it made me think. If I find it so hard to answer this question, it must be so much harder for the parents to give the true explanation to people who ask. Poor things. Sigh!

Last night we were having dinner with her (and H and Paapu). Now is when I tell you what a terrific time we had. There was an event going on in downtown where we met up. They had a live band, the farmers market and other activities going on. We met, chatted, enjoyed the band, sipped some free wine and made our way to the Greek restaurant where our booking had been made. The whole evening was filled with laughter and lively conversation. And of course, Paapu, like always stole the show.  Oh well, back to what I was saying. During the course of the conversation, it came up again. H looked up to us and asked us how we met. For some strange reason, I didn’t really feel awkward this time and I told him we met on the blog. Of course, that sparked off another discussion on blogging in general where H and Mint took turns in making fun of blogging and the whole concept. Yes, Mint, who once used to blog himself now makes fun of it all. He said it used to interest him at that time because blogging was relatively new then. Now it is stale. Ah, whatever.

Today morning, I went and opened Mint’s blog and reread all his posts again. And it brought a big, big smile to my face. Reading about his college and hostel life, his rants during exam time, his take on life and all that left me grinning from ear to ear. I wish I could give out his blog url here, but he was not an anonymous blogger so that prevents me from directing anybody there. Anyway, reading his blog now gave me yet another opportunity to meet the guy that he used to be at that time. I realised yet again, how wonderful blogging really is. Had I met him in any other way, I wouldn’t have been able to go back in time like that and relive those moments of his life. The next time somebody asks me how we met, I am going to answer them with pride.

So where did you guys meet?

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 80 Comments »

To live in this beautiful world..

Posted by Pepper on July 20, 2011

Few things make your heart swell the way nature does. I love living in this place because it is set right in the midst of nature. Even while driving on the roads here, you are fortunate enough to get a peak of the mountains every now and then. And I talk about city roads here. If you really want to escape the city life, you have so many scenic places to choose from. All within driving distance.

A few days ago we decided to go to Lake Tahoe. The plan was to leave early in the morning. It was going to be four of us. Mint, his cousin, my mom and I. The trip was planned mainly to take my mom around. We had taken her to Napa Valley just a few days ago. But none of us are members of the wine culture, so that wasn’t a very thrilling experience for us. But Tahoe was something else.

We were surrounded by gorgeousness all along. The sea, the lake, the trees, it was a picture of true beauty. I feel bad the camera was not powerful enough to capture those colours. Or maybe that is a good thing after all. Because it would be an insult to view those images on a computer screen. Now, I carry those images in my mind, in my eyes. Those were landscapes studded with sapphire and emerald. Even the memory takes my breath away.

I think it is very important to stay in touch with nature. We lead such crazy lives, we tend to forget how beautiful this world is. I suppose every few weeks we need a fix and I hope we are able to continue travelling like that.

Balancing on one foot and being laughed at. I was trying to get the sand out of my shoe and clean my foot. Instead of giving me a hand and helping me balance, they chose to laugh and click pics.

Testing the water to know how cold it is.
Question: What kind of an idiot wears jeans to a beach?
Answer: An idiot like me.
Question: What kind of an idiot refuses to roll up the jeans while stepping into the water?
Answer: A vain idiot like me who goes unprepared and is worried about the little, unseen hair on her legs and believes the world is out there, carrying their binoculars, because scrutinizing my legs is a lot more interesting than watching the sea. Of course, the world revolves around me.

We decide to stay out of the water and just watch.

And then we went to a ramp. I just knew I had to lie there and watch the world. The water was so clear, I could see the corals beneath. There was another old couple at the end of the ramp. They seemed to be having a good time watching this beautiful blue world too. I lay there for a bit, not wanting to get up, not caring about a thing.

And then I told Mint to come and take a look at the waterbed too. I didn’t want him to miss the experience of lying there. My mom was as busy sitting on the ramp and taking it all in. These pictures were taken by Mint’s cousin.

And now I can’t wait for our next little break..

Posted in Travel | 60 Comments »

My people..

Posted by Pepper on July 18, 2011

I was introduced to him online. On Gtalk. I was excited. It was the very first time I would be speaking to somebody from Mint’s family. From what Mint had told me, his brother wasn’t exactly an extrovert. That made me a tad conscious and I told myself to not blabber too much. I didn’t want to overwhelm him the first time we spoke. That was also the first time Mint told him about me. And shortly after telling him about ‘this girl’ he was dating, he asked him to join a ‘conference’ on Gmail, so that the three of us could have a conversation together.

We started talking. I spoke with caution, trying too hard to create the right ‘first impression’. And just when I thought it was all going well, Mint dropped the bomb. While describing me to him, he said, ‘She was thrown out of a club once, because she was too drunk’ I was furious. This was NOT a good introductory line. How can he be so wicked? For starters, the above incident had pissed me off immensely. I was not drunk at that time, and yet the club guards had insisted I was. They physically hauled me out, without listening to a word I had to say. Mint, who was present at that time, had made it all worse for me by laughing. Being thrown out of a club was a big blow to my monstrous ego. I was trying to push past this incident. Dealing with Mint’s annoying laughter was hard enough. I had still not entirely forgiven him for laughing at such a time. And what had he done now? Told his brother about this the first time we spoke? What would his brother think really? That I was some loose, psychotic drunkard who gets thrown out of clubs? Mint is evil. That’s all.

Fortunately for me, his brother just laughed it off. And from then on, he has been one of my best friends. People get a little surprised when I tell them that we can talk about anything, right from R rated talk, to sex talk, to just about anything. He is also my own little spy. Since he lives with my in laws (who also happen to be his parents), I get all the inside scoop and know all that is going on because of him. I rant to him even when I am mad at something the in laws have done and he is the only person I wholeheartedly trust in Mint’s family.

He calls himself Oregano. A name he chose because ‘Oregano’ is related to the Mint family. I thought it was pretty cool. He is 3 years younger to me so I get to boss over him quite a bit. I am going to write a few posts that will all be a part of a series called ‘My people’, and he is the first one to be featured.

Happy Birthday Oregano! I am not sure how well I would have dealt with everything had it not been for your constant support. I owe a lot to you. You are just getting out of college and starting your first job. I hope you have a fun filled and fulfilling year ahead.

Posted in Meet the family | 58 Comments »

Someday..

Posted by Pepper on July 11, 2011

I stare at the screen of my cell phone that tells me the call I was on has ended. It takes me a while to disconnect my thoughts and move on with life though. ‘Take care of yourself and I hope to see you soon’. Those are the words my dad repeats at the end of every phone conversation I have with him. I hear the hope in his voice. The hope of seeing me soon. It breaks my heart. I ache for my family. Every single day. And they ache for me. Then what the hell am I doing here, living in another world?

I got married to Mint on one condition – we would not live in the US forever. He always told me I could decide when I wanted to move back to India. I lived here with the conviction that ‘we’d move back someday’. But the idea of ‘someday’ seems to be blurring with each passing day. We’ve built our own world here. At times, I feel like vacating the castles we’ve built, watching them fall apart and just running away to the homeland. But it is hard. Really, really hard.

For one, I no longer feel very patriotic towards India. The Indian mindsets, the sexist and patriarchal society, the deep rooted corruption, the pollution, all of those seem like irreparable issues. I know I sound like a selfish snob, but I am simply being honest about how I feel. The thought of leaving behind this smooth and easy life, clean air and unlimited freedom fills me with hesitation. However, India is my country and there are no two ways about that. That is where I belong. So I might as well accept the nation with all its flaws. What I find hard to tolerate is the Indian work culture. It is exploitative. Most people work late hours, earn a pittance and travel back home exhausted. So many companies even consider Saturdays to be full working days. Where is the time for family? Or to have a life other than work? I really don’t know how happy Mint and I will be in such a setup.

But then I think of my family. And to me, they’re more important than anything else. Talking to them on phone once a day, seeing them once a year just doesn’t cut it for me. And the idea of them growing old without me around fills me with anguish. We’ve spoken about this issue with other people who’ve made the choice of living here all their life. Some of them said that they might consider getting their parents to come here and live with them for about 6 months once they’re too old to live alone, and then go back for 6 months to escape the winter in this country. In my opinion, that is unbelievably selfish. You either let them grow old alone, fend for themselves in their old age, or force them to endure a long, stressful journey just so that they can see you? And then even unsettle them every few months? What are they going to do here for such a long duration anyway? They have their whole life back in India. How can we carelessly toss them back and forth like that? That is something I will never ever subject my parents to. No matter what. And what about the time when we have kids? I know how grandparents dote on their grandchildren. I have sworn to not deprive our parents of such pleasures. And no, skype and phone are never the same. Never.

I think of what ultimately matters to me in life and each time my answer is the same. My people matter the most to me. Spending quality time with them, grabbing precious moments that life offers and living close to my loved ones. I feel this void without them around. I want to be there close to my sister as she goes through her college years, I want to hear every little detail about her day, just like how I used to when we lived together. I want to continue having those masala chai sessions with mama, complete with old melodies playing in the background, the way we used to when she was here. I want to listen to my dad’s pathetic jokes, I want to argue with him and then sulk. I want to see him come up to me, extend a hand and say ‘Friends?’ just like how he used to, after every argument of ours. I want to give him big bear hugs every now and then. And I don’t want to wait an entire year, just to be able to experience it for a few weeks. I want that to be a part of my everyday life.

And then I think, if I know so clearly what I really want, then why am I still here? Why don’t I just leave? For one, Mint is very unlike me in this regard. He is not half as attached to his family as I am. I know he prefers this life to life in India. Fortunately for me, he is willing to give it all up if going back is what makes me happy. But it does leave me feeling guilty. The biggest problem however is that for me, going back to India equals to going back to Mumbai, where my family lives. I really doubt I will experience that sense of fulfillment if I have to live in another city, where I can’t see my family on an everyday basis. So it does leave us in fix. Mint’s family lives in Chennai. It would be unfair to be close to one set of parents and away from the other. So going back to India, does not guarantee going back to Mumbai. It could be anywhere in the country. Yes, it could be Chennai, and that comes with an added loss of freedom. I don’t know how happy I will be there. I know this issue can be resolved if we try and work it out. And we can live in Mumbai..

But each time I think of moving back, some sort of fear holds me back. I go back to saying, ‘someday’ we will move back. A while ago, MM wrote this post, and I agreed with every word she had to say. In my comment on her post, I said it helps to give yourself a deadline if you’re considering moving back. What I didn’t mention was how hard it is to set that deadline for yourself. For today, to put an end to the unrest I feel, I will go back to saying what I always do. Someday we will move back.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 53 Comments »

Why?

Posted by Pepper on July 10, 2011

Pepper: No, I don’t feel like going to Portland for a holiday.
Mint: Why?
Pepper: Just because I don’t feel like it.
Mint: Why?

****

Pepper: Stand there. Let me take a picture of you.
Mint: Why?
Pepper: I think it will be a good picture
Mint: Why?

****

Pepper: I think the blue one looks better than the white one
Mint: Why?
Pepper: Huh? Just because I think so.
Mint: Why?

****

Pepper: You are so sweet!
Mint: Why?
Pepper: Because you are.
Mint: Why?

****

Pepper: I am bored.
Mint: Why?
Pepper: I have nothing to do.
Mint: Why?

****

Pepper: Maybe we should sleep now.
Mint: Why?
Pepper: Because it is late and we should!
Mint: Why?

****

Pepper: I don’t like this flavour. I don’t think it tastes good.
Mint: Why?
Pepper: I am not answering you.
Mint: Why?

And so on and so forth. Why, why, why? That question floats in the air all the time. I hear it after almost every line I speak. I either ignore him, snap at him or answer him patiently. Sometimes I actually like the way his brain works. He simply has to get to the very bottom of every thought of mine. And each ‘Why’ is used to step lower, until he gets to the crux of the issue. Only then he is satisfied. So telling him I don’t like something is not a good enough answer, I have to even tell him why I don’t like it and/or why I feel that way. He wants to see sense and logic in everything. The problem is that on most days, I have none to offer. If I don’t feel like it, it is because I don’t feel like it. My feelings are not meant to be reasoned out. Period.

So I feel quite surprised at times. When it comes to everyday little things, I am subjected to these incessant ‘Why’s hammering my brain every minute. And when it comes to the bigger decisions of life, he lets me pull the reigns without a word of questioning. For things that matter, he lets me operate by feeling, lets me choose the destination I want to take us both to, even when it is completely devoid of logic. Aren’t these the times when he should be questioning me and wanting to find out why I chose that particular direction for us?

Strange.

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 37 Comments »

Back with a bang. Not.

Posted by Pepper on July 6, 2011

– I got back a few days ago, but I’ve been so reluctant to write. The thought of logging in to WP and typing out a post seems painful. For that matter, everything seems painful these days. Being back at home, doing the dishes, doing the usual work, the thought of unpacking., just about anything. I want to do nothing at all. I got too spoilt while mom was here. Damn, I miss her already. And the house is too chaotic even by my standards now. I have laundry to do, mess to clear up and a routine to get back to. I feel so disoriented right now, it isn’t funny. I wish there was a way I could get rid of the clutter crowding my home and my mind. I suppose I need a little while to get back in tune with my surrounding.

– My trip was great. We had tons of fun. I realised my aunt’s house is bigger than a mansion. I’ve seen a lot of big houses in the US, but this one beats them all. And not only is it big, it is also so tastefully done. For a moment, I was envious and wanted to own a place like that, full of luxuries. Her bathrooms are bigger than my bedroom, she has a Jacuzzi and a TV right next to her bathtub, her basement has a very big and upscale bar, with high stools, stocked with at least 30 different kinds of alcohol, her party room has a capacity of 200 people. The house is so huge, they use the intercom to make announcements and ask everybody to come and gather at the dining table. At first I was envious, but soon I began to find it all a little crazy. I am not sure I would want to be a part of such excessive lavishness. Maybe it is my Mumbai mentality speaking, but if the house is so huge, so palatial, it doesn’t feel like home to me. I am too used to small to mid sized flats and apartment. Perhaps that is why I love my cosy 1 bhk with our own little backyard. I think it is perfect for the two of us.

– The wedding was wonderful. My mom’s sister married out of caste herself. She is married into a Sindhi family. Her daughter who got married, married a guy whose father is Gujrati and mother is American. So the wedding was a medley of cultures and rituals. The Sindhis sang their own wedding songs, the Gujratis played Garba, and the Amerians added their own flavour. The wedding was a traditional Indian one, but it had western concepts like bridesmaids, flower girls, etc. I would say it was a beautiful blend of beliefs. We ate, drank, danced and had a terrific time.

– I got to spend some time with my cousins this time, and we had some lengthy conversations. One thing we discussed was the confusion American born children of Indian origin go through. They told me they felt like they lived with one leg in the Indian culture and the other leg in the Western/ American culture. A lot of times their values clashed. Their parents wouldn’t be too pleased with the thought of their kids dating or getting married to a Non Indian, which my cousins thought was very unfair. The parents made the choice to move to the US, raise kids in this environment, wherein they interact mainly with Americans, and then they’re expected to marry only Indians when the time comes. It made me think. All of you living in the US, would you be okay with your children marrying Americans?

– The weather in Chicago was hot, bright and sunny. I realised how deprived I am of such weather. It allows me to wear whatever I want. I was planning to wear a red and black, one piece dress I had carried with me. For the record, I rarely wear shorts, skirts and dresses. I am too conscious of exposing my legs, even if they are barely seen. I think I look too thin. This time I had convinced myself I would wear that dress, but on the last minute, I chickened out and wore my same old pair of jeans. I don’t know when I will be comfortable enough to wear a dress. Sigh.

– I came back with quite a few goodies. For starters, I bought myself a pair of shoes. They look more like boots and I love them. Other than that, my mom and aunt who are travelling back to India weighed their luggage and realised they had exceeded their allowance limit. So all the stuff they had bought but couldn’t carry back was given to me. I also robbed a bottle of homemade carrot pickle from my other aunt. It’s my absolute favourite. I feel rich.

Pictures, of course.

My outfits first.

I took pics of myself in the mirror. I don’t think I have any other full length pics. And yeah, do not ask me why I’ve used the flash here. I really don’t know.

I wore this for the Sangeet. It was a semi casual evening, full of music and dance.

And this one I wore for the puja at home. I realised I didn’t have the churidar or dupatta to go with this one. So I just pulled out a pale gold stole and wore my black leggings. Not sure if I look weird.

The sari for the ceremony. It was a plain blue georgette sari and I spiced it up by wearing it with a silver halter blouse.

The back of the blouse. I like this the most. Isn’t it neat?

Fresh mehendi on my palm

People dancing. Good times.

Glimpses of the ceremony.

Posted in Travel | 58 Comments »

 
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