A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for August, 2011

The unvoiced thoughts

Posted by Pepper on August 31, 2011

A long time ago, a friend of mine called me a ‘spineless wimp’. She said it casually at that time, but I could never really forget those words. I thought long and hard and a part of me could not help agreeing with her. The truth is, I do not stand up for myself. I do not speak up, I do not express my opinions in a crowd and I let others walk over me because I can’t say no. Most of the times, I am too scared of hurting the other person.

I remember when I was in college, I used to lend money to a friend every now and then because she would always forget to carry her wallet and would realise this only in the canteen when we were ordering some food. She would ask me to pay for her each time. By the end of each semester, she would owe me a big chunk of money.  She rarely bothered to pay me back and I could never really get myself to ask her for the money. The BFF would get mad at me for not asking and would finally ask her to repay me herself. She spoke on my behalf and I let her do it.

When I was in studying in UK, we had an arrangement with our flatmates. One of us was supposed to cook, the other was supposed to do the chopping, and the third was supposed to do the dishes. The guy who was supposed to do the dishes almost never did it. He always came up to me and told me he was tired, so could I do it please? I never had the heart to say no. This happened almost everyday and I would stay up after my assignments, washing dishes late into the night, doing his job and letting him get away with it.

Even during my Masters, I was always the quiet  boring girl in the background who never took the spotlight. I have been on Facebook for four years now, and I have never put up a status message. I think I just don’t speak in a crowd.

Other than that, I hate confrontations. That is why I usually try to please my in laws even if it means doing somethings out of character. I know so many people think that is stupid, but I find it easier than having an argument with them and then dealing with the tears and  hard feelings. Perhaps I will change someday. I don’t know.

A while ago, one of my friends told me she thinks I suffer from ‘low self esteem’ and that is what prevents me from voicing myself. I told her I didn’t think that way. I thought it was lack of desire to speak. I feel too tired by the thought of having an argument, so I let my opponent win. That does not mean I accept defeat. At least not mentally. It only means I find it easier to let them have the false belief of victory.

While talking, we discussed how I had never put up a status on Facebook. She related that to low confidence again and made me promise her I would put up a status message that day. I didn’t think that made sense, but agreed nevertheless. I remembered my promise only at night, when I was half asleep. I got out of bed and put up a status that said “The first one..” I should have thought of the possible interpretations, but to my sleepy brain, it seemed obvious I was talking about my status. The results were disastrous, but lets not get into that.

A few days ago, a friend who reads my blog said she thinks I am getting ‘too opinionated’. I told her I’ll take that as a good thing. Because I have hardly been able to express my opinions offline. I think one of the reasons I can talk so freely on my blog is because it is anonymous. Some of you who read me have connected with me personally and know who I am. A lot of you don’t. At times I feel bad not revealing my name to some of you who mail me, but I suppose it is best that way. Because the anonymity allows me to write without hesitation.

Blogging means a lot to me. It is perhaps the only medium that fills the gap between my mind and my voice. I treat this as a comfortable corner, where I stop by every now and then, speak my mind, be true to myself, unwind, converse, vent, think and relax. This is my very own cosy nook. I do not think twice before expressing my love, my disgust, my fears, my beliefs, my anger and other emotions here. The best part is nobody forces you to be here either. You drop by at your own will and I love sharing this place with you. 🙂

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I am looking to add some good blogs to my reader. So tell me, do you have a favourite blog? One that you are addicted to? One you can relate to? One you simply love? You can have more than one favourite of course. Do tell me about them.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 74 Comments »

It has been 19 years

Posted by Pepper on August 27, 2011

from the day I first saw her. I was 6 years old then. All my friends had brothers and sisters. I longed to have a sibling. Finally I was told there was a baby growing in momma’s tummy. The 9 months of wait seemed painful. Everyday I would cry and ask my parents when the baby would come out? And then, finally, the day came.

I was at home with my Grandmom when the phone rang. My dad was calling from the hospital to tell us the baby was out. It was a girl! We could now walk to the hospital to see the baby. I doubt I can ever forget that day. We left the house right away. I was trying to tug at my grandmom’s arm and run on the road. She kept holding me back because her arthritis ridden knees were unable to cope with my speed. All along the way, I pulled at her arm and sang, “Fire on the mountain, Run Run Run”. Does anybody else remember that song? It feels like it all happened just yesterday.

I think I fell in love with her the moment she opened her eyes and took a look at me. She had beautiful brown eyes, smooth fair skin and light brown hair. I wanted to name her ‘Sabrina’, but my evil parents would just not listen. Nor would they let me carry that gorgeous bundle wrapped in soft white fabric. I was mad at them for a very long time.

The advantage of having a big age gap is that I remember every bit of her childhood very very clearly. I spent hours playing with her, helping mom feed her, taking her around on the carrier of my bicycle and generally keeping an eye on the little brat. I think I had my first baby at the age of 6.

I don’t know at what point my baby turned into my grandmom. Before I knew it, I was being advised to dump my then boyfriend by a 12 year old because she thought he was a jerk. By the time she turned 13, she would give me advice on love, life and relationships. I don’t know where she got her wisdom from. She was the first one to ask me “What’s up between you and that guy?” when she saw me chatting with Mint for long hours every night.

Today she is an opinionated, crazy, shoe loving, chick-lit reading, guitar playing, gorgeous young girl and one of my bestest friends.

Happy Birthday baby. I know I’ve harassed you all your life by smacking your ass, making you write my journals, making you sing for me, making you watch movies because I want company, waking you up when you’re fast asleep because your annoyance gives me great pleasure, ordering you to make Maggi for me when I am hungry in the middle of the night, given you the worst nick names and done other stuff enough to make you hate me. But then its okay. Because I know you still love me! * Grins *

Posted in Meet the family | 61 Comments »

For my weirdo.

Posted by Pepper on August 24, 2011

Every time there is a big meeting in Mint’s office, they lay out a spread of assorted mini brownies and other such bite sized goodies for the employees. And each time Mint bites into the little brownies and then saves the remaining bite sized bit for me. He puts away the half eaten pieces of little assorted cakes in his lunch box to bring home to me. I find it incredibly sweet.

A lot of times he comes home and says “I got something for you baby”, and then hands me his lunch box. I open it to find a variety of tiny, half eaten pieces of cake lying in there. Sometimes the pieces are so tiny, its laughable. Yet, he thinks of saving those bites for me. It makes me melt. They’re a reminder of his thoughtfulness and the fact that he wants to share all his delights with me.

I happened to mention this to a friend I was chatting with, and she said, ‘What? He smuggles the tiny, half eaten brownies from his office in his lunch box and brings them home to you? Haha, that’s weird”

Weird? Perhaps it is. It instantly reminded me of this picture I had seen.

So this one is dedicated to my favourite weirdo.

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 82 Comments »

Because they will be here soon.

Posted by Pepper on August 22, 2011

My in laws just booked their tickets. They will be here by the end of next month and will stay for a month and a half. There are a million things I am worried about.

For starters, we live in a 1 BHK. I don’t know how we will accommodate each other with our very different life styles and yet maintain the peace. Mint and I plan to give them the bedroom and move out to the living room. But the in laws wake up at 5 am, every single day. Yes, even on holidays. No, I am not kidding. Which means, it will make me feel very awkward to continue sleeping if they are up and about. Especially because we have something like an open kitchen, which is almost a part of the living room. God save me. Please.

How am I even suppose to yell at Mint or order him around? I mean, I don’t do that exactly. It’s more like, “Do you mind chopping these onions, darling?”, which he knows translates to “Get your ass to the kitchen and chop these onions right now!”. He doesn’t always respond immediately, stating reasons like sudden eardrum failure, or sudden emergence of important work that needs his immediate attention. I deep breath and meditate to prevent myself from exploding or smashing his laptop. However, he has an in built sensor that warns him of the upcoming explosions that make him come running into the kitchen just in time. Point being, I certainly can’t make him chop onions while I sit with my feet up in front of his mum. Neither can I smash his laptop in protest. I mean, I can. Mint says I can. But then if you know me, you’ll know what a wuss I am. And oh, I even need to watch my words while talking to him. Damn. I don’t know how pleased his mom would be if she hears me calling her precious son “an asshole”. My mom was here the last time I showered Mint with some interesting abuses and she warned me against it. I should watch what I say, unless I want his parents to clutch their chests and pass out in shock.

And oh! I am that evil wife who doesn’t wake up in time to feed her husband some nutritious breakfast before he leaves for work. He leaves without eating a thing in the morning. I believe he is perfectly capable of fixing himself a sandwich or pouring some milk into a bowl of cereal on his own. He doesn’t do it due to lack of time in the mornings. But of course, I will be labelled as ‘uncaring’. Never mind the fact that I skip breakfast myself. Well, that’s another label to live with. The scenario might be a little different at that time though. Since I have taken up the internship offer, I will be rushed for time in the mornings myself. I have no idea how we will go about it with them around.

Did I tell you that I cook only once a day? I only cook dinner and then we eat the same thing for lunch the next day. With the in laws around, I don’t suppose I can do that. Also, they are used to a good heavy breakfast in the mornings. That means three different meals everyday? Dear God, how am I going to do it? No, no, I do not mean to say my mother in law is that wicked lady who expects me to serve her in hand. I know she will chip in and cook as much as she can. But that doesn’t change the fact that I have to cook so many meals a day too! Unless I let her take over completely and earn myself the reputation of ‘that evil daughter in law‘, or like I always say “The bahu from Baghbaan

And now, we have to hurriedly consume all the beer and vodka that we have at home. And also wipe out all the evidence that indicates any trace of alcohol in this house.  Isn’t it unfair? I am being denied alcohol at a time when I need it most. A couple of swigs a day would have helped me preserve my sanity. But I can’t even count on that. * Groan *

I didn’t even talk about my biggest concern yet. The damn ‘thali‘ or the ‘mangalsutra‘. The in laws expect me to wear it at all times. I do not believe in wearing it.  So far, I have never lived with them for more than two weeks at a go. During this period, I endure the thali, making them believe it is worn by me at all times. This time though, they are here for a longer duration. I can either a) Let them know I don’t wear it and deal with the confrontations and the bitterness and give them a chance to indulge in self pity that I know will give rise to thoughts of how all this is a consequence of them not choosing the girl for their son and basically ruining their trip  or b) Wear it for as long as they are here and get mad at myself for not having the courage to stand up for my beliefs and feeling restless and annoyed and agitated. Awesome choices, I know.

I am thinking of packing my bags and leaving to India for good. Sigh.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 125 Comments »

The need for financial independence..

Posted by Pepper on August 18, 2011

I just had another heated discussion with my friend, on one of our favourite topics – ‘Financial Independence’. Honestly, I am tired of listening to people comment on my financially dependent status. Hopefully though, I am not going to turn this post into a rant. I am going to talk about a statement she made that made me think. She said, “Financial Independence is so important because it is directly linked to power and respect in a marriage. You can never be considered an equal partner if you don’t earn your own money”.

I thought about this long and hard. And as much as I hate to admit it, I will say that is true in some marriages. In the end, it all depends on the kind of partner you have. I know a lot of partners, especially men, who always believe they have the upper hand in a marriage because they are the providers. And then I also know of a lot of men who do not subscribe to the “Money equals respect” theory.

In my case, I was aware of my visa restrictions right from the beginning. I knew by choosing to get married, I was letting go of my chances to work for sometime. I still went ahead with it because I was totally confident of Mint. I knew he would be supporting me for sometime, but I also knew he would never think twice about it. He would never play that card on me or make me feel less in any way. Had I felt threatened by his attitude, I would have chosen differently.

I’ll admit the fact that it didn’t come easily to me. In the first month of our marriage, I struggled to come to terms with the fact that he was paying for all my needs. I could not make financial decisions on my own without hesitating. And each time Mint would tell me how hurt he is by the fact that I do not truly consider it to be my own money. Would I expect him to hesitate if I were earning and he was depending on me? And each time the answer was a resounding ‘No’. I know he worked hard to get me to this stage and make me believe that it is always about us. It is always ‘our’ money, irrespective of who earns it. There is no ‘his’ and ‘mine’.

His efforts paid off and today, I don’t think before swiping my credit card and buying myself what I want to. Because I do believe it is my own money. I live in a warm, cosy house. I indulge on myself, buy myself those bath and body products, those shoes, those books. All my utility bills are paid for. I travel, eat out and make my own decsions. I realise this is a privilege.  And I am thankful to Mint for giving me this lifestyle.

With time, I have also come to realise that I cannot be fully financially independent, even when I am working and earning. Because in the end, I have to accept that Mint’s earning capacity is and will most probably continue to be higher than mine. My own income might offer me a basic lifestyle, but if I want to enjoy the luxuries, I still have to depend on him. Especially because I only want to take up slow paced, stress free jobs. Most of them come with a pay cut. So yes, he will continue to bring in the bread and butter and the jam and the brownies and the cakes and my income can only put the cherry on top.

Other than that, I do want to have kids at some point in life. And if I don’t want to use the day care as an option, then I have to either stay home, or look for jobs that let me work from home or offer me flexible work hours. For that, I will have to compromise on the pay. And I want to have that choice. I wouldn’t mind Mint staying home and raising the kids, but since he has a higher earning capacity, it is only logical that I stay home and he works.

So yes, once you have a family, I wonder how possible it is to be fully independent. Don’t we have to depend on each other to fulfill our needs? We divide and share the responsibilities. Bringing in the money, taking care of the kids, doing the household chores, offering emotional support, and everything else that comes with it.

How feasible is it to make solid divisions and say this is my money, I will only spend what I earn, and you can spend what you earn. Or say we can calculate and split our monthly expenses. Or keep into account that I took care of the kids for 2 hours, so the next 2 hours its your turn. I cooked yesterday, so today I won’t. If every single thing is accounted for, then doesn’t it sound like a very calculated relationship? So as long as we have our basic survival skills, why is it so wrong to depend on your partner for somethings and be depended on for some others?  I wonder..

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 58 Comments »

Yet another random post

Posted by Pepper on August 16, 2011

..because ‘random’ is the state of my mind these days.

~ At least four people have asked me if I call Mint, ‘Mint’ in person too. I find that very amusing. Why would I call him Mint? 😀 That is just for the blog. I use worse names in person.

~ Last weekend we decided to drive to some farms to do some ‘cherry picking’. Cherries were out of season, but we did end up picking some fresh peaches. We also bought strawberries, which were oh so sweet. The best part however was the big bunch of fresh basil I bought. I made some good pesto after I got home. Since the basil was picked up straight from the farm, it tasted divine. So far, we’ve been relishing the pesto on french baguettes, pasta and baked potatoes. It is disappearing fast. This week, I am going to try making some guacamole. Wish me luck.

~ I had to meet somebody and I was already running late for my appointment. While driving there, I realised my GPS had stopped giving me directions. I took a closer look, only to realise it had hung. I panicked.  I tried reviving it, but nothing would work. So I just stopped in a corner and prayed to the Gods above. It did start after a good 15 minutes, but in those 15 minutes I realised how lost and cut out I feel without it. Perhaps Mint is right. Depending on the GPS is a bad idea.

~ Mint takes the train to work and I drop him to the station every morning. Many times I carry his bag pack on my shoulder and walk to the car before him. I usually wait for him outside. While walking to the car the other day, an old man greeted me with a ‘Good Morning! Off to school?’. I giggled and told him I was off to drop my husband to work. I know I look tiny, and with the bag pack and my hair pulled back in a high ponytail, I must have looked really little. I wonder when people will stop asking me the  ‘What grade are you in?’ question that they keep asking me so often.

~ I have an internship offer from a big financial services company. I feel like turning it down because it so different from my field. I wonder if experience  here will count at all. But on the other hand, this is all I have at the moment. I have to either take it or leave it. Beggars after all can’t be choosers. I am so confused.

~ I have been reading mommy blogs for light years. The names of MM, Kiran, Rohini, Sue, Parul, Tharini, Poppin’s Mom, Moppet’s Mom and everybody else who is a part of the old mommy blog gang make me so nostalgic. Some of these people don’t blog anymore and I feel  sad when I think about it. Especially because I have only been a lurker on most of their blogs. I really wish I had delurked, at least at some point.

~ Speaking of moms, it was my mom’s birthday on the 15th. We sent her a cake, which we ordered online. I called home at the end of the day to ask them how the cake was and they told me it hadn’t reached at all. So I dug out the contact details of the company from their website and called them up to find out what was going on. The lady at the other end sounded so unapologetic and coolly told me that the cake had probably not been delivered on time because 15th August was a holiday in India. I was furious. If they couldn’t make the delivery on the specified date, they should have said it earlier. Because of them, the cake didn’t reach my mom on her birthday. Hmph.

~ We saw Mallika Sherawat at the Indian fest that was happening here this weekend. She was talking about her admiration for the ‘brains of Silicon Valley’. For some reason while she spoke, my mind kept playing ‘Bheege Hoth tere’ in the background. Weird, I know.

~ I need to buy some good jackets now that winter will be setting in. I am tired of wearing the same old hoodies and sweaters.

~ I feel so blah!

Posted in Slices of life | 34 Comments »

The end of an era..

Posted by Pepper on August 14, 2011

I am sad. It had been a good Saturday until now. We went for a movie and then for dinner. We were having fun, raving about the chocolate martini, chatting with each other, commenting on the other diners and generally having a good time. We got back home in good spirits. I was getting into my pajamas when I heard Mint call out to me from the living room. “Your favourite actor passed away”, he said.

I gulped. Not wanting to believe it was Shammi Kapoor, I asked him, “Who are you talking about”. He said it. I was horrified and I promptly logged on to read more. More headlines confirmed the news. I was heart broken.

Shammi Kapoor has been my most favourite actor. I love all the old movies he acted in. I could never like any other actor from that era the way I liked him. He was, rather is, a true legend. But that is not the only reason his death upset me so much. I had a personal connection with him.

My uncle,  who is my dad’s elder brother has been a kidney patient for a while. He needed dialysis three times a week. I would tag along with him when he would go to Breach Candy hospital on his appointed days, just so I could be around him during those painful times. That is where I met Shammi Kapoor for the first time. He was suffering from a kidney failure and was under the same doctor as my uncle, Dr. Gandhi. I would see him every time I went to the hospital for my uncle. He would be lying on the next bed. Once my uncle was pleading with me to get him a glass of water. I was refusing because kidney patients have to drastically cut down on their water intake. That is when Shammi Kapoor looked up to us from the next bed, smiled and asked me if my father troubles me all the time. I realised he was mistaking my uncle for my father, but since I do treat my uncle as another father, I didn’t bother correcting him. I was surprised by the casual way in which he initiated the conversation. He seemed so humble and down to earth. I grabbed that opportunity to talk to him. He asked me my name. We had a good conversation and I told him how crazy I was about all his movies.

The next week when he saw me, he called out to me by my name! To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. My dad was around this time and the look on his face was priceless! I spoke to him for just about a minute. But I have never forgotten the joy and the pride I felt at that time. I would see him every now and then, and each time he would wave out to me, calling out to me by name sometimes and stopping to talk to me if he could.

My uncle had a kidney transplant at one point. After that he no longer needed the dialysis. So we stopped going to the hospital, and that was it. I didn’t see Shammi Kapoor again. But each time I would see him on screen, I would smile. I think he was a fantastic actor and a wonderful human being.

There are a lot of songs of his that I love, but I am putting up the one that is closest to my heart. This one is a childhood favourite. Each time I troubled my parents and refused to sleep, they would pull out the video cassette and play this song. My dad would put me down and stroke my hair for a few minutes after the song would end and I would sleep without a sound. I don’t know what it was that did the trick. Perhaps it is the video of the song, in which all these adorable kids are being put to sleep? Or the soothing words maybe? Either ways, this one is an absolute favourite.

Posted in Blasts from the past | 27 Comments »

La Tomatina in India?

Posted by Pepper on August 11, 2011

Did you know Delhi is hosting a Tomatina festival?  For those of you who haven’t watched ZNMD and are too lazy to read the link; let me give you a quick review. The Tomatina festival is all about squashing and squeezing ripe tomatoes and playfully throwing them at each other, all in the name of fun. In other words, it’s a new kind of holi played with tomatoes. This festival is big in Spain. It was showcased in the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, thus giving rise to a new age fad.

At first when I heard of this, I was outraged. One movie is all it takes for us to replicate these trends? Can our country afford something like that? Tomatoes are pricey. People are dying due to hunger. How can people act so irresponsibly and waste so many tons of food?

I then realised that a lot of other people were thinking on similar lines. The festival was postponed. And now, a lot of people are trying their best to stop this festival from happening. When I discussed this with Mint, he made me look at this issue with a different perspective. Although I do not believe it is right to waste resources, especially food, do we have the right to stop people from doing what they want? For those who wish to participate and are willing to pay for it, do we have any right to play moral police and prevent them from doing what is perfectly legal?

Aren’t we all guilty of our own excesses? We misuse our purchasing power in every possible way. We take long showers during summer and waste gallons of water, when that water could have quenched the thirst of a poor man in a remote village. We go for long drives for the sake of pleasure, and use fuel that could have been used to light or heat a poor family’s home. In most offices, the computers are never turned off. They use obscene amounts of electricity while an entire village lives in the dark and another section of the society faces daily power cuts. We buy ourselves those expensive shoes, we dine in elite continental joints and live the way we want to. In some way or the other, every single one of us has contributed to the inflating prices and the uneven distribution of resources. We do it because we believe it is ‘our own money’ and that gives us all the right to do what we want to with it. So how are all these acts of ours forgivable? And if you do forgive yourself for all this, then what right do you have to point fingers at others who are wanting to pay for the tomatoes they purchase and engage in an activity that they think is fun.

Some might think what they do is more forgivable because none of their actions are directly resulting in wastage of food. Perhaps they should rethink. Take an Indian wedding for example and the massive amount of wastage that comes with it. We have 300 people on our guest list on average, and even that is a conservative estimate. We have 20 items on the menu. Most guests peck in and then leave their plates full of uneaten food for disposal. For the poor, your wedding celebrations are excessive. Just like the Tomatina fest seems excessive to us. Does this mean the poor have the right to march in and stop you from celebrating the way you want?

Other than that,  we all want to buy only fresh fruits and vegetables, forcing retailers to discard the old stock, thereby not only resulting in mass wastage, but also resulting in the increase in price of the existing stock. Doesn’t that count as wastage? Doesn’t it impact the economical environment?

People are forming groups to put joint pressure on the authorities to stop this event. And I find that very unfair and hypocritical on our parts. An article I read said a Facebook user, Kaushik Basu went to the extent of saying, “We are seeking punitive action against the irresponsible organizers of this event.”. How self righteous is that? How easy is it to forgive your own self and call others irresponsible? And how do you define irresponsible? Where do we draw the line and say this action of ours is acceptable and this one is not? Because every choice we make, even a simple one like browsing the internet, is denying the poor of  basic amenities and adversely affecting the lesser privileged section of our society in some way. So yes, considering how guilty we are of our own excesses, I don’t think we have a right to stop others from doing what they want just because this time, our values tell us it is wrong.

Irrespective of that, even if we believe we are not guilty of any excesses ourselves, I still think we have no right to stop others from participating. If we do, then we are no different from the Shiv Sena we abhor. Because we are doing the same, i.e. moral policing the crowd and stopping events because they do not confirm with our values and principles. We need to keep in mind that we live in a free society. And a free society is rarely ever perfect.

Just to make myself clear, I am not justifying this fest. I think it is ridiculous to waste food and call it fun. But I am justifying their right to hold it. What are your views on the La Tomatina fest happening in India? Do you believe you have a right to stop people from participating?

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 69 Comments »

The need to disconnect.

Posted by Pepper on August 10, 2011

Technology. I’ve never been in tune with it. Sure I use the basics, but all the advancements that come with the high end products we buy are wasted on me. I don’t even understand most of it. And I am not addicted to the basics I use either. Which is why, I find it really easy to disconnect at any given time.

Mint on the other hand can never disconnect unless he forced to. He is addicted to his laptop in a way that scares me. I don’t think any of us should depend on any external appliance to such an extent. I know my mom used to tell me I was addicted to the comp each time she saw me staying up nights, glued to my laptop. But that was only because I had endless assignments to complete, or I was chatting with Mint at that time. Now that I don’t have to do either of that, I willingly shut down by a particular time everyday. And then I spend my energy asking Mint to switch it all off too. Because for one, I can’t sleep until he does, but mainly because I think it is very unhealthy to stay connected all the time.

He just lacks the ability to ‘do nothing’. He needs something to fidget with all the time. If we’re waiting in a theatre for a movie to begin, he’ll pull out his cell phone and play solitaire in that time. It really irks me and I often ask him to let go of all that and just be! Me? I can sit in one place, in touch with my inner self, dreaming away for quite a long time. I understand not everybody can be that way. People get restless. So I tell Mint to do other things. Read a book, go for a walk, do something around the house, play a board game. Anything is better than browsing on the laptop, or messing around with the cell phone, or watching TV, or playing on the PS3, or medling with the camera settings.

Keeping him away from all these evils is hard work, but I don’t give up. He listens to me when I ask him to disconnect (most of the times), but the fact that he never wants to do it on his own bothers me. On weekdays, I can’t do much. On weekends, when the weather is bad, we stay indoors, watching a movie and then at the most, step out to eat. But on weekends when the weather is good, I absolutely insist on going somewhere, into the welcoming arms of nature. It gives us a chance to truly disconnect.

Some weeks ago, we went to Muir Woods. It is just about 30 mins from San Francisco. What a beautiful experience it was. It was a sprawling expanse, full of lush redwood trees. There were a lot trails and hikes to choose from. Considering our abysmal fitness levels, we chose a seemingly easy 2 mile hike. What we didn’t realise was the amount of climbing we’d have to do in order to complete the hike. It was as though the two miles were vertical. By the time we reached the top, we were exhausted and our calf muscles ached. But the whole experience was more than worth it. We were in the midst of beauty, away from all technology. We did use the camera, but I will overlook that.

Some glimpses.

Sunshine filtering through the trees.

An owl. I don’t remember seeing one before this.

Me walking into the greenery.

 

And then peeping under a fallen tree to smile for the camera

Mint lying on a log of wood above a running stream.

Deer!

 

 

Posted in Slices of life | 44 Comments »

On wounds, cuts and bruises.

Posted by Pepper on August 8, 2011

We’ve all had our fair share of those. I call them markings of childhood. Between 5 and 6 pm is when I would run down to play, hopping on the stairs with abandon. We lived on the 3rd floor in a building with no elevator. On most days, running down the flight of stairs would be an activity that involved a lot of play. Obviously, I’ve had plenty of falls before I even got down to the act of actually playing. I wore those bruises with pride. Exhibiting them gave me some kind of a strange thrill. Now when I think of it, I know what that ‘strange thrill’ really was. It was a demonstration of my love for attention. In my world, bruises and wounds have always been synonymous with attention, love and care.

The other kids and and I would play in the small compound we had between the two old buildings that were a part of our ‘Cooperative Housing Society’. I’ve had the maximum number of falls during those years of my life. And each time I incurred a bruise, a huge fuss would be made by all the kids around me. Somebody would run up the stairs to inform my mother, who in turn would rush down to look into the situation. I would be asked to get home and would then be treated by my Grandmother, who was the designated caretaker at such times. She had a homemade remedy for almost all ailments and injuries. Using turmeric for its antiseptic properties on raw, bleeding wounds, smearing a dollop of fresh homemade ghee on dry, peeling skin, she had a solution for everything. I’ve often gone up to her with skinned knees and she has always had a natural and easy cure for me at hand. When I think of those injuries, I think of the love with which the wounds were dressed, the attention and pampering it bestowed upon me by my parents, the curiousness and concern shown by everybody in school, sometimes even making way for tiny privileges like not having to stand during the assembly. When I think of bruises and wounds from my past, I think of good times.

Even as I grew up, the fussing around that came with a new cut or a wound continued to excite me. All it took was a tiny scratch that resulted in a small blotch of blood. It wouldn’t even hurt much, but it would give rise to mayhem. The sister would gasp, and yell, ‘Mammaaaaa, Pappaaaa, she got hurtttt’. My mom would come charging in. I would be whisked away and made to put my hand under running water. My mom would run to fetch some cotton and some ice cubes, my dad would bring out the Dettol and a small tube of the ointment we used. All along, I’d use the customary line saying ‘Oh, it’s nothing!’ while they pranced around in panic. It is still the same ritual that is followed in my house, even if the injury is nothing more than a lame scratch. I should probably blame them for getting me used to such excessive fussing.

I moved here and things changed. It also marked the beginning of my adventures in the kitchen. Obviously, I kept hurting myself, a lot. I know that happens to all of us who are used to working with the knife swiftly. But either I am too careless, or I am destined to injure myself every single day. At any given point, my hands are graced by at least 3-4 cuts/bruises/burns. I add to my collection every single day. And each time it happens, it makes me a little sad that there is nobody to even look at it, let alone fuss over me.  Because on most days, I would be all alone at home when I’d puncture my index finger with the knife, or burn my hand. And then I would think about my past bruises and the love with which they were treated. But in the end, I would tell myself to grow up. These are minor things that happen to everybody and I should stop expecting the same kind of fussing over that I have been used to.

Two days ago, I was putting away an empty can, with open sharp edges when I cut my finger. This time, the tin actually managed to pierce through my flesh and the cut was really deep. I winced. The bleeding would not stop. I tried all that I could, but streaks of blood would keep emerging each time I wiped it clean. I started using paper napkins and ended up leaving a whole heap of blood soaked napkins in a corner. Mint was travelling on work that day. He was out of town and that made me feel even more miserable. After a few hours, the bleeding did subside. I was waiting for Mint to get back and take a look. To show him how much I bled, I didn’t even discard the blood soaked napkins. I know, I am dramatic like that.

When he did get back and see it, he did not panic. He was very calm and didn’t even cringe when he saw all that blood of mine. He simply kissed my finger, bandaged it and told me it would be okay. And if it wasn’t, then we would go to the doctor. He seemed so unaffected and unruffled that it set me off again. I almost burst into tears and told him, ‘You don’t care about me at all, I want my parents right now. They would have brought the roof down had they seen this’.  I know what I said hit him and he kept saying sorry since his calmness made me feel uncared for.

And then I thought about it and realised I was being unfair. He did do all that he could for my wounded finger at that time. And just because he did not provide me with the fussing over I was used to, I had no reason to accuse him of not caring for me and guilt tripping him in the process. I still wish he wasn’t so unmoved when he saw my wound. It disturbs me that he does not react the way my parents do. But then I realise that my parents overdid it. So this is probably their fault. I have to stop having similar expectations from Mint. He might not fuss over me when I hurt myself, but he does fuss over me and indulge me all the time anyway. So really, I have nothing to complain about. Lesson learnt – Stop and think before accusing him of something.

Posted in Uncategorized | 44 Comments »

Reevaluating my life..

Posted by Pepper on August 3, 2011

I never laid out concrete plans for myself. I did things out of impulse mostly. I am okay as long as I have a vague idea of the direction I am heading in. But sometimes, I can’t see the road ahead from where I stand. And that is when I panic. Walking blindfolded into the unknown can scare anybody I suppose.

The people in my life matter the most to me, and as long as I have them close to me, the place I am in does not matter so much. For the most part, I let my instincts and my impulse guide me. When I was young, I was clear about one thing. I knew what I wanted to do in life. I wanted to become a Physical Therapist. I had seen my grand mom undergoing her physio therapy sessions, and I grew to love that profession. I loved the human body, I loved Biology as a subject. I was really good at it. I was topping my class most of the time. I had very little interest in Physics though, and Math scared me. But in order to secure a seat to study Physio therapy, I would have to clear (and top) the Physics and Math sections of the paper too. One fine day, I decided I didn’t want it. Al though I had filled out all the forms for my entrance test, I decided to not write it. Just because I didn’t want to deal with Physics and Math, not even momentarily. I had taken up Science, purely for my love for Biology, and in particular, Physio Therapy as a field. And now when the time had come to give it a shot, I backed out impulsively.

Most of my choices in life have been impulsive. I impulsively decided to switch to another very different field. I forayed into Media. Marketing and Advertising is what I majored in. Somewhere along the path of my life, I met my ex. As much as I would want to call the whole episode with him, a big mistake, I won’t. Because it taught me a lot of lessons in life. He did however rob me of all the faith I had. My faith in the male species. At another stage where I met Mint, I was terrified of the whole idea of falling in love, of being in a relationship, of trusting somebody again. At the same time, I felt like I was being carried away by the currents, being pushed towards him. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t.

At this point in life, I was very confused and messed up. I held a lot of fears because of my past with the monster boyfriend, at the same time, I could not wipe out the faint ray of hope of a future with Mint. I decided to clear my head, by getting a new life. I applied for my Masters in UK, impulsively. I switched my field yet again. From Advertising and Marketing to Human Resource Management. I had my reasons of course, but it was not something I gave a lot of thought to. I did it mainly because I felt like doing it. That is how I operate, by feeling.

By the time I moved to UK, I had made up my mind to give Mint a chance. We were inseparable. I also realised I missed my family a hell lot. I was living all alone, a cold and lonely existence. I lacked what was most important to me. The presence of my people. Mint and I decided to get married soon after I finish my Masters. I knew I didn’t have much time to live at home with my parents, so I moved back to India the moment I could. And just a few months after I completed my thesis, I got married. So many people asked me then, if at 23, I was sure I knew I was doing the right thing by getting married. I was sure I said. I had no answers or reasons to give, but it just felt right. Mint and I really wanted to live with each other and start a life together. And once we were really committed, marriage seemed like nothing more than a formality. So like everything else in my life, I didn’t give marriage too much thought.

I got married and moved to the US. For the first time in my life, I questioned myself. Now what? What am I supposed to do with my life hereon? I was on a H4 (Dependent visa) that does not permit me to work. Yes, I was aware of this clause even before I got married, but at that time, I thought I could switch to my own work visa (H1) or figure something out. Like I said, I hadn’t given it much thought. After moving here, I didn’t quite know what to do. But either way, I was okay with whatever came my way.

I always viewed this phase of my life as a temporary one. Once we get our EAD, I will be allowed to work. The EAD, which stands for Employment Authorization Document, is a part of the Green Card that gives you a work permit. Our EAD would take another year or so to come through. I thought that was fine. I didn’t mind not working during this period. I’ve always led a very fast paced life. College, deadlines, interns, the works. I thought this would be a good opportunity to pause and contemplate. Also, this phase would give me a chance to do things I wanted to do, for which I never found time earlier.

It all looked very easy in the beginning. But I soon realised, the world I lived in was destroying my sense of self worth because I was not working. I’ve been a mess. I’ve had to hear all sorts of people. Some girls would make sure they rubbed it in by telling me they can’t even imagine not earning their own money. Some others would tell me how fiercely independent they were, how they would never ever be able to stay home, ‘doing nothing’. I do understand the purpose of those remarks was not to take a dig at me, but it did just that. Most of us today like the idea of being able to fend for ourselves. I’ve had to swallow a bitter pill  in order to accept my situation, even if it is temporary. But hearing those statements is the last thing I want.

There were others who would express shock when they found out I was not working, especially because I had just finished my Masters. I was told I was wasting myself. I wish I was confident enough to tell them what I wanted to. Instead, I kept quiet and sobbed silently.

All that was okay, what I truly dreaded was meeting new people. Because the first question I would be asked would be ‘So what do you do?’. I don’t blame them for asking me that. That is the most common conversation starter. But I have not been able to figure out an answer for that one. Ask anybody that question and they’ll tell you about their job, and what they do for a living. Or else some of them say they are a homemaker. I can’t even say that, because honestly, I am not one. I don’t really make a home. Maintaining my home tires me out and I barely manage to keep it going.  It would have been a lot easier had I had some domestic help. But doing every little thing by yourself takes away all my energy, and I don’t really do it well. So when people want to know what I do, I don’t really know what to say.

It never ends there. The moment I say ‘I am not working’. I am subjected to another lousy question. One I abhor from the bottom of my heart. Every single person around me wants to know ‘So what do you do all day long?’. It appalls me and makes me cry . Is there no other life other than work? Have we reached a stage where we can’t even fathom an existence without a job? Surely life is more than just being a corporate slave. There’s a lot I do during my day. But when I have to answer people, it makes me feel so futile, like I have to justify the purpose of my life to them.

I think I’ve now reached my saturation point. I can’t deal with people anymore. I can continue facing them bravely and ask them to ‘F*ck Off’ if they bother me, or I can hide in my own private world where nobody questions me. Either ways, I am done with this crap.

I’ve spent some quality time by myself, I’ve done some good reading, I’ve explored the art of cooking, I’ve traveled, I’ve taken a break I am thankful for. I was content doing all this, and didn’t think of doing more. We had other other issues preventing us from viewing this place as a permanent home. Mint’s MBA for one. We didn’t know if and when we’d end up moving to another coast. It was unsettling to live like that, and so I never laid any focus on establishing and planting my life here. I didn’t want to uproot myself again. But now, we’ve made our decisions and we don’t intend moving anywhere anytime soon. So I want to think of what I will do. I have a year in  my hands, that I don’t want to let go of. After that, I’ll have our EAD and life will revolve just around work and home. I want to do something worthwhile before I go back to the rat race. A lot of people ask me to study some more. I am open to that, but it is not a preferable option. I feel like I just got done with my Masters. I don’t have the energy and the money to invest in another degree, all over again. I can consider volunteering for some organisation, if anything interests me. It is time to look into all of that and reevaluate my life.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 125 Comments »

What do you do for fun?

Posted by Pepper on August 2, 2011

I love playing around. So the other day, Mint and I decided to play hopscotch in our living room. And ‘langdi‘. And ‘catch catch’. Our living room is not big enough. And with my pathetic reflexes, he was able to get me out really fast. When it was my turn to chase him, I didn’t even manage to come close. I should have known! A cousin of mine saw us playing once and said we behave like kids, forgetting we are married. ‘Or what is it? A child marriage?’, she asked. We decided to ignore her. As long as we have fun, who cares?

A little while before that, I decided I was Ms. Hitler. Mint used one of my eye pencils to create this. I even tried getting the right ‘Hitlerish’ expression on my face, but I am not sure how much of that is seen here.

 

And today, I spent a while playing with this pet of mine.

It’s pretty isn’t it? *Grins* Did you guess it was fake? I bought it from China town. And although I know it is not real, I almost got a heart attack the first few times I saw it. Today I decided to conquer my fear and hold it in my hand. And then I spent some time playing with it. Of course, you see how mature I am.

In other news, we’ve been awarded. Richa presented me with this award. Thanks a lot Richa, I am truly honoured. Its funny though, that I accept an award like that while writing such an inane and senseless post. But then maybe my crazy behaviour is food for thought eh?

I pass on the award to Abi and Celestial Rays. Both of them are wonderful writers and make me think.

Posted in Slices of life | 52 Comments »

 
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