A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for October, 2011

Diwali and other things

Posted by Pepper on October 27, 2011

It’s been a while since I wrote a random post. I feel like doing it today because I feel the urge to write, at the same time I have nothing significant to say. On second thoughts, I do. The increasing number of half written posts in my drafts are proof. I just don’t seem to find the time to complete them. I can’t possibly blog, or blog hop at work. All the content is monitored. At home, time just slips by without me being able to get a  hold of it. I’ve still managed to blog, but I miss reading other blogs. I think that can happen only after the in laws leave.

Other than that, every time I think of going back to my incomplete posts, I am hindered by some kind of a resistance. Should I be writing all this? I went ahead and password protected my earlier post in which I wrote a letter to my mother in law. It was getting way too many hits and that was putting me under stress. I guess the link was being passed on. I don’t want my mom in law to be judged by a crowd of strangers on the internet. It just doesn’t feel right. I was okay sharing my thoughts and feelings with people who regularly read my blog, but when the crowd gets unknown and uncontrollable, I retract. I said this to Mint and he thought I didn’t make sense. Every time I write a post on my blog, I am sharing it with an unknown and uncontrollable crowd. He thinks that shouldn’t matter to me. But most bloggers I know are too private. Certain subjects are off limits for them. The good is shared. The bad, rarely.  It makes me wonder, am I being an idiot? Is it like washing dirty linen in public? I didn’t want to be conscious of what I write here, or else it beats the purpose of this blog.  I don’t like password protecting or writing too many private posts either. So I am confused. For now, I am going to go on the way I do, until I think I can.

Diwali is here. Diwali and Christmas are my favourite festivals. I love the feel of Christmas outside India, but Diwali makes me yearn for home. The whole city flares up with sparkling lights, like somebody just waved a magic wand. It reminds me of fairy tales. The spirit of the season excites me. I have never felt the same way about Diwali outside India. Despite that, the festivity still brings a smile to my face, wherever I am. This Diwali though, I don’t feel the same. It’s probably got to do with my state of mind. One moment the joy has propelled me up in the air, the next instant I find myself swimming in the muck on the ground. To add to it, my work has been very stressful and I’ve been at my dramatic best, hating my life and all that.

We didn’t do too much for Diwali this year. The in laws were here so we had a small puja at home, the mom in law made some gaajar halwa and dal vadas and we lit up random corners of the house.

Hope all of you are having a fabulous Diwali!

Posted in Slices of life | 69 Comments »

What women should have and know

Posted by Pepper on October 20, 2011

Revs passed this tag to me a while ago.  It’s time I do it.

This one talks about what every women should have and know. My response is in line after each point. Let’s get to it!


enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own, even if she never wants to or needs to.
I think I have rambled enough about this. I don’t exactly have a job today. I might have one tomorrow. Irrespective of that, we’ve had and will always have joint bank accounts. So I don’t know how to answer this question really. Yes, I do have enough money “within my control”. But no, right now that money is not earned by me. Does it matter? I wonder.

something perfect to wear if the employer, or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour 
If my employer asked me out, I would politely decline. I don’t think I like the idea of dating my employer. If there is no dating involved and he wants to see me for another reason, I would stick to something basic. Something like a crisp, semi casual white shirt and blue jeans maybe? Part two has me sighing. I am dreaming of Brad Pitt wanting to see me in an hour. Or John Abraham. I have a very healthy passion for clothes and know I will have more than a few options to choose from. And that would be a problem. Multiple options confuse me. But yeah, I think I have an interesting collection to pick from.

a youth she’s content to leave behind 
Oh yeah. So far my life has been exciting and interesting. As well as smooth and hassle free. Touch wood.

– a past juicy enough that she’s looking forward to retelling it in her old age
I already have an endless supply of juicy stories for my grandkids. Like the one in which my mom caught Mint and I kissing, when he was nothing more than my boyfriend. Or the one in which I was accused of being drunk and was thrown out of a nightclub. Or the one in which I nearly drowned in a sea in Thailand. Oh, I can go on…

– a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra
Yes for all. But Mint and I bought the tool box together. So I jointly own the screwdrivers and drill with him. That still counts right?

– one friend who always makes her laugh… and one who lets her cry 
Yes. Thankfully I have a few of both.

– a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family
Yep, the furniture we bought hasn’t been owned by anybody else in my family, but I suppose it has been owned by somebody else’s. We’ve bought a lot of good stuff from Craigslist. So does this count or not?

– eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems 
Nah. I wouldn’t want to own those now. I will make sure I have those when I own a home. That is when I will have expensive dinner ware, fresh orchids in crystal vases, soft rolls of hand napkins in the bathrooms and other such things. Right now, we enjoy a low maintenance life. Convenience is all that matters. Seriously,  right now, I don’t think Mint or I would care if we had to sip exotic wine out of steel tumblers.

– a recipe for a meal, that will make her guests feel honored
How am I supposed to decide that? I believe I am an average cook. Sometimes somethings I cook turn out great. Other times they turn out not so great. If I had people coming for dinner at short notice, I would have a hurried date with Mr. Google in which I would zero in on what I think would be the winning recipies.

– a feeling of control over her destiny
I haven’t fully understood the concept of “destiny”.  But, I don’t feel like I have too much control over the direction of my life, especially in the coming few years. At times its scary and at times its thrilling, with all its unpredictable turns.


– how to fall in love without losing herself 
I know, now. Unfortunately, I think I lost a little bit of myself when I was with the ex. But, lesson learnt!

– how to quit a job 

– break up with a lover
I did it. So I can safely say I know how to. But I believe it took me too long to do it.

– confront a friend without ruining the friendship 
This doesn’t sound hard at all.

– when to try harder
I need to learn this. I give up too easily, mostly because the achievement in question doesn’t seem important enough to me. I am too laid back a person. Other than my people, few things matter to me. But when it matters, I give it my all.

– when to walk away
I learnt this the hard way. I truly regret not walking away from MB earlier. An abusive relationship can rarely be repaired. I lived on false hope for too long. The sooner you learn to deal with reality, the better it is for you. Well, at least I know now.

– that she can’t change the length of her calves, the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents
Nah, I wouldn’t want to change either of those.

– that her childhood may not have been perfect….but its over
I think I have had the perfectest childhood ever. Even today when I space out, I see random flashes of my happy childhood that make me smile. For this I always thank my parents. Their efforts and attitude have shaped me as a person.

– what she would and wouldn’t do for love 

– how to live alone… even if she doesn’t like it 
I did it, and yes, I really disliked it. The silence in the house each time I turned the key in while walking in would remind me of the emptiness. The dark home would make me a little sad. I’ve been so used to a warm and excited welcome each time I rang the bell after getting home while living with my parents. But then, living all alone was a learning experience and now I know can do it if I have to.

– whom she can trust
I know, quite well.

whom she can’t 
Not so sure about this.

– why she shouldn’t take it personally 
I need to learn this one.

– where to go, be it to her best friend’s kitchen table or a charming inn in the woods when her soul needs soothing 
Oh I know where to go. Neither of the 2 BBFs live close to me. So going to their kitchen tables isn’t an option. Neither do I have easy access to charming inns in woods. To sooth my soul, I visit book stores, coffee shops and take long walks all alone.

– what she can and can’t accomplish in a day, a month and a year
Oh yes. I don’t set my targets too high. I know myself and my laid back attitude. Like I said, I don’t care to be too much of an achiever.

Go ahead and take this one up if it interests you.

Posted in Tags | 38 Comments »

The story of the iPod

Posted by Pepper on October 17, 2011

Another one from my drafts..


I am not too fond of new age technology. High tech cameras, cellphones, kindles, ipads all seem like such a waste to me. My iPod is much loved though. In fact, I am emotionally attached to it. Let me tell you the story behind it.

I had set my heart on an iPod touch when I was doing my Masters. That was the time when I used to chat with Mint day and night. We were in a long distance relationship, with me being in UK and he in the US. Chatting seemed like the most convenient way to talk. So we’d both be glued to our laptops, with our web cameras on. In fact, we would even sleep with our web cams on. I know, that sounds pathetic now. But it seemed “sweet” at that time, to watch the other person lie in bed and drift off to sleep. Being able to see each other all the time made us feel close, when the thought of the physical distance would haunt. Oh anyway, I digress.

So during one of our marathon chat sessions, I told Mint I was thinking of buying the newly released iPod touch. He told me that was a bad idea. I was a student, I shouldn’t be so indulgent and basically talked me out of it. I gave up the idea of buying it, but kept wishing I had one all the time.

It was the 2nd week of February. Valentines Day was around the corner, making sure I was in a grumpy mood. What? All around me there were couples holding hands, cuddling, taking walks, gifting each other flowers. Every such sight would depress me. It would remind me of what our relationship lacked – physical presence. Each day I would whine to Mint about it, and blame him for the distance and hear him apologize. For what, I still don’t know.

On the eve of Valentines Day, when the clock struck 12, I heard a knock on my bedroom door. BFF#2, who I was sharing an apartment with peeped in, saw me chatting with Mint with our cam on, giggled and walked away. Confused, I walked to her room to ask her what was going on. This is the conversation that followed:

BFF: You here? Tune kuch dekha nahi? (Did you not see anything?)

Me: Kya nahi dekha? (What did I not see?)

BFF: *Giggling* Forget it. You are just blind.

Me: Huh?

BFF: Nothing, go back to your room.

So I walked back and told Mint that P was acting weird and talking in riddles, and that she called me blind. He laughed and told me he thinks I am blind too. He said maybe I should go back to her room and see  if I could spot anything. Eh? So I did that, and yet again, I saw nothing unusual. By now, the BFF and Mint, both were having a good laugh and talking about how blind I was. I was puzzled and mad at them because they refused to tell me what was going on. Instead they kept asking me to go back and forth. I must have made about 20 trips, from my room to hers, and then back. I think I saw it the 21st time. A little bag hung on the knob of my bedroom door.

The BFF and Mint heaved a sigh of relief when I saw it finally. Neither of them could believe I hadn’t seen it, despite me walking into my bedroom and turning the same knob the bag was hung on! What can I say? I hope they know now that I don’t exaggerate when I talk about my defects.

So there it was, a little blue and silver paper bag in my hands. I was “awwing” at the hand written cards and asking Mint how he managed to have it deposited to my bedroom door at the right time when he told me to go through the contents of the bag carefully. That is when it tumbled out. The iPod. I kept staring at the little black and silver instrument, unable to believe it. I opened the last card, and it asked me to power up the iPod. When I did, I saw a big bunch of blooming red roses on the screen. The message said I would have to make do with those roses until he can give me the real deal. Sweet no? I think I was on cloud 9 that day. I was hesitant though. I wasn’t sure if I should accept such gifts from my boyfriend, but I was asked by everybody to not over think.

I then insisted on knowing the logistics. Mint bought the iPod and handed it to the BFF, when he visited me in December the previous year. The BFF was given the task of hiding it and delivering it to me at the right time. He then mailed out the cards and sent them to another’s friends address. After that, all the items were put together and the pack was assembled and hung on my bedroom door at midnight.

I had asked him if I should buy an iPod myself in January, when he had already bought this one for me. No wonder he got worked up and talked me out of it.

He had loaded the iPod with my favourite Hindi songs, some of his favourite Tamil songs, some English classics and a few episodes of Tom & Jerry. I absolutely love it. It has been my companion during walks, on flights, in buses and trains, at home, in my bed and practically every other place. I am fiercely protective of it.

I seemed to have misplaced it the other day and was on the verge of a panic attack. Mint kept asking me to calm down. I finally found it and was beyond relieved. His response to my question, “What if I had lost it?” was, “So what? I would buy you another one”.  He indulges me so much, should that make me happy? Or should I be mad because he doesn’t understand how special *this* one is to me? I don’t know.


Posted in Splashes of Mint | 56 Comments »

Hope is all we have

Posted by Pepper on October 11, 2011

Dear Mother in law,

I am writing a letter to you that you will never read. I hope I am able to translate all my emotions and feelings for you in words.

You are a nice person. I’ve said that before and I will say that again. When I hear other girls talk about the wretched things their moms in law have said or done, I realise how trivial my problems are. You are not evil or wicked, you are simply too self righteous and rigid. It makes it harder for me to deal with it because I know you have good intentions. But this attitude of yours is destroying the peace, both yours and mine. Maybe you should try and stop viewing things as right and wrong. No, you are not always right. Neither am I. We are just different. Please respect that difference instead of trying to change me? That will only be possible if you step down from your throne of self righteousness.

I want to reach out to you. I promise I do. You just make it very hard for me to do that. Because you are constantly judging me. Every word, every thought, every action of mine is assessed and evaluated by you and then marked as either “Right” or “Wrong”. I feel like I am constantly put to test. That makes me stress over my performance and worry about my scores. I can’t ever be myself because I constantly try to give you my best performance. Sometimes I actually think you’ve come here just to test me, not to spend time with us. It’s tiring. I wish you would be open enough to accept me the way I am.

Everybody keeps telling me to not bother. They tell me not to try so hard to please you. But you know what? My heart goes out to you when I see you unhappy. I want you to be a happy person. But the key is in your hands, not mine. I can do my best to please you and you can still feel sorry for yourself because of the choice your son made. Or you can join us in our celebration, realise how happy we are and participate in our joy.

Let’s try to fix the barriers that stand tall between us? To start with, please understand that a home can be run by both a man and a woman. I know I am your daughter in law and you can’t view me any other way. I carry the burden of your expectations . But I cannot be responsible for every single task at home. I get tired. And at times I just don’t want to do it. Please accept that. Your son is a terrific partner. Instead of appreciating that, you consider your son to be “too nice”, you think he is someone who indulges me all the time. Well, that might be true to an extent. But you think I am someone who takes advantage of his niceness. Please trust me some more? He is most precious to me and I ensure nothing causes him harm. If he is tired, I don’t expect him to move a finger. If I am tired, he takes over. We’ve a great partnership going. If you can’t get yourself to trust me, maybe you should try trusting him? Trust him to have some brains. Trust him to not be a puppet in my hands.

You are of course welcome to express your opinions, even if they don’t sound too pleasant to me. But that is where you should stop. Do not question me. Say what you have to and then let go instead of demanding explanations for choices that we make. I see you are particularly disturbed by our spending pattern and believe we blow a lot of money. Perhaps we do. I know you mean well and want us to save more at this stage, but please understand that what we do is ultimately our choice. Your son is an adult. I know he will always be your child, but do not forget he is an adult. Have more faith in his choices. Trust him, even if you can’t trust me. You never force us to do what you want, you only demand a million explanations. That bothers me. You know we have different priorities? Having a few thousand dollars in your account might be yours. Having fun at this stage in life might be ours. Again, there is no right or wrong here. It is all “different”. The word is “different”. Stop believing we are in the wrong. Stop expecting us to change.

I can see how unhappy and miserable you are. You consider yourself to be an unsuccessful mother. You believe your sons don’t have the right values and are not close to their roots. Why? Because one of them chose his own partner? Because one doesn’t wake up in good time every morning? Because they do things you don’t approve of? Going to a club to dance and party is marked as “wrong” in your book of records. Alcohol is a very “wrong” word, underlined in red ink. You refuse to see the other point of view. As a result, your children choose to keep their lives secret from you. They don’t want to battle it out with you all the time.

Don’t you want to be close to them? That can happen only if you let go of your rigid views. I know how hard it is for you. I know the background you come from, and the way you are conditioned to think. But just try. It’s not impossible. Maybe you can use logic to judge our actions instead of using self created morals. For example,  alcohol might be harmful, but it is not morally wrong. Trust your son enough to know he won’t exceed his limits or abuse his body. Allow him to make his own decisions. You cannot control their lives forever. Just trust people around you.

Why do you have so many trust issues? Nobody has broken your trust so far. Both your sons are amazing people. Believe me. Why do you distrust them so much then? You impose so many restrictions on them because you always fear their actions. You give them no freedom because you are worried they will do “wrong” things. You don’t trust me an inch. You don’t think I care enough about your son. What is all this leading to? Just more distance between you and your children. And more sadness and anxiety for you.

I really hope one day you stop bothering about the society, and all these socially constructed norms that rule your life. I hope one day you stop labeling everything as right and wrong and learn to respect differences. I hope one day you let go of all your doubts and fears. They are termites. They are eating you up. Learn to trust people. Build your faith. Free yourself!

Love and hope,

Your daughter in law

Posted in Uncategorized | 95 Comments »

New York diary

Posted by Pepper on October 6, 2011

* I was supposed to meet Mint in the city on Friday afternoon. We had to take the train to the airport. Our flight was early in the evening. I left work early, got home, picked up our bags and started walking to the station.  Of course, things have to get a little crazy at such times. I was walking in a hurry, wheeling our suitcase, carrying my hand bag and also carrying Mint’s suit with me. It was a twenty minute walk, and as usual, I took a few wrong turns that delayed me. By the time I reached the station, I had precisely 2 minutes to purchase my ticket, take the escalator to get onto the right platform and enter the train before the doors closed. When I was going up on the escalator, I lost the grip I had on the suitcase and it went rolling down. When I rushed down to pick the suitcase up, I felt my ticket slip from my hands and it entered the crevice between the two steps of the escalator. A tiny blue speck told me where it was. I managed to pull it out and that is when my hand bag went rolling down. To add to the fun, I was trying to walk down on an escalator that was going up. With all this going on, I was quite sure I wouldn’t make it, but I managed to run into the train a nano second before the doors closed. Only then did I breathe. Dear God, why can’t life be more peaceful for me?

* I met Mint at the station I got off at. We had to hop onto another train that would take us to the airport. The moment I saw him, I felt the excitement that I had been waiting to feel. We were going to NY! It would be a 3 day break! There would be no in laws around! The minute we entered the flight, I collapsed, exhausted and excited.

* We landed in NY at 1 am, after a 5.5 hour flight. Just the previous day, I had gone to the salon and pampered myself with the new hair glossing cellophane treatment. It included a deep conditioning session and ended with a blow dry. I was feeling great, with my perfectly shiny, smooth and well styled hair. NY welcomed us with heavy showers. My hair was drenched the moment I stepped out of the airport. I saw the rain water entering the drains along with the money I had spent on my hair. Now instead of the bouncy, shiny and sweet smelling hair I had walked in with, I was left with damp, wild and frizzy hair. Why me God? I wish I had good hair naturally. I don’t, and that is fine. But at least allow me to keep the hair I have worked so hard for? Despite the rain ruining my hair, I decided to not have a hair wash and actually lived with that unruly hair for a good 3 days. Sigh.

* I *heart* NYC. I feel the same way every time I am there. The rush, the  buzz, the madness,the awesome subway system, it reminds me of Mumbai all the time. We went to the city for lunch on our first day there, and I kept staring at the pretty corners, the lovely little lights that hung on trees, people enjoying their meals on the streets, the live bands playing at stations. NYC is such a charming city.

* How can the street food there be so cheap? You get some amazing stuff for a dollar. At one place, we bought a pack of 15 mini cakes, just for a dollar. I think I am willing to move there. No, I really would. If only I could brave the winter there.

* We had lunch in an upscale Italian restaurant. I was very fascinated by something I saw on their menu. It was called “Batata Hara”. Batata is potato in Marathi. Could this swanky Italian joint serve regular potatoes, Indian style? I ordered, to find out. And there it was! A regular Indian delicacy – cubed, fried potatoes, marketed and labelled as ‘exotic’ food.

* I met former blogger N that day. She is so much fun! It is so easy to talk to people from the blog world. I am glad I met her.

* My cousin insisted I spend one day with her at her place in Edison. I wasn’t too enthusiastic about that, but since I didn’t know how to convey that to her, I agreed. Why do we have so many social obligations? More importantly, why can’t I learn to say No? Anyway, despite the reluctance, I did have a good time with my cousin and her kids.

* We were in the train, on our way to Mint’s cousin’s place in Long Island. I was bored and had time to kill. That is when I happened to check my blog and noticed a comment from Pixie. She said she was in NY for a while and asked if we could meet. I buzzed her on Gmail as soon as I had the chance. We planned to meet for lunch the next day, and ended up spending a good 4 hours together! Pix is exactly the way she sounds on her blog, simple, uncomplicated and wonderful company. The pasta she ordered for lunch ended up making the poor girl sick. She was uneasy for a while, until she threw up. I am sure she will never forget meeting me because of that. You can read her awesome account here.

* The 3 days there just flew by. Since we’ve already seen the place earlier, we didn’t want to do the touristy stuff this time. Instead we spent time going to the little joints that the locals recommended. I met another friend from my UK days and spent some quality time with him. It was raining intermittently. The streets looked fresh and cheerful to me and just walking around give me such a high. There was a lot more that we wanted to do but didn’t have time for. Next trip, will hopefully be longer. Until then, I will let these sweet and scented memories of NYC occupy my head.

Let me end the post with a pic taken at Times Square.

Posted in Travel | 76 Comments »

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