A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for April, 2012

Life in bullets

Posted by Pepper on April 29, 2012

– It’s been a little over a month since we got back to India. We spent the first few weeks getting things in order, opening bank accounts, getting ourselves a cell phone and a connection, transferring funds, etc. And if you are familiar with India and the way things work here, you would know how demanding and time consuming these seemingly simple tasks were. All this was accompanied by hectic travel, which did not allow me to really ‘sett’e down’. It’s been a little while since I am back in Bombay, but it still feels like pieces of my life are scattered in different directions. I hope I gain a foothold soon.

– The hardest part of this change is being away from Mint. Physical distance is something I can cope with, especially because I have my family around. What has been hard to deal with is his non availability. His course is tremendously hectic. At all times, he is either in class, or busy in a group meeting, or chasing a deadline, trying to complete a submission, or working on an assignment, or battling a quiz, or catching up on sleep if he has a few spare hours. On an average, I talk to him for about 10 minutes in a day and a hour or two during the weekend. The old me would be whining away to glory. The new me is thankful for this experience. I probably needed to learn how to live life without being too dependent on him. I know I leaned on him a little too much. He was my emotional anchor, and now I am able to actually wade through comfortably without his presence.

– A lot of people around me are unable to digest the fact that I have actually chosen to live away from Mint for this one year. They don’t understand why I can’t live with him on campus. They are inquisitive, and view me with a lot of suspicion. The fact that I am living with my parents  and not my inlaws adds to their curiosity. I can imagine the kind of thoughts that hover in their heads. Ha!

– It feels so good to be back ‘home’. Sharing the room with my sis, hearing her abuse me when I stay up late talking to Mint and disturb her sleep, is a lot of fun. I usually refuse to step out to the hall cos I am too lazy. Oh well, serves her right for hogging away all the wardrobe space and taking over the entire room in my absence. She probably never anticipated my return. Now that I am back with all my belongings, we are insanely short of space. We keep claiming every inch of space and I fear we will soon start throwing each other’s stuff out of the window.

– The watchmen and the security guys do not recognise me, understandably, considering they change every year. I have tried telling them a few times that I live here now, but each time I enter our lobby, the security guard views me with suspicion, asks me to sign the register and intercoms my parents, asking them if he can let me in. He asks me to stand in front of the security camera so that my family can take a good look and make sure it is me indeed. Eh? He did that a few times and I tolerated it. How can he do it every single time though? What rubs salt into my wounds is that he lets other random folks like delivery guys, come up to our home without checking with us. I am highly offended. My family is highly amused.  My dad keeps telling me I resemble thieves, burglars and goons and I am probably on the police suspect list.

– Another big change in life right now is that I have switched from coffee to tea, much to my dad’s dismay. He took great pride in telling the whole world that I enjoyed only his coffee. That nobody else was allowed to make coffee for me. Now, I have turned to tea, which is my mum’s forte. I usually find my dad’s tea too strong for my liking. He keeps trying to alter his ways so that his tea suits my taste, and so that he can beat my mom to it. Today morning, I was given two cups of tea, one made by mom, one made by dad. They asked me to taste both and give them my verdict, so that the winner could be declared. Oh such competition between them to win me over. Did I already say I love being home?

Posted in Slices of life | 52 Comments »

Being able to live in the moment..

Posted by Pepper on April 24, 2012

Disclaimer: I usually avoid disclaimers, because I believe they aren’t too essential. If you like what you read, if you have the patience to deal with endless banter, you will carry on. If not, you will exit the page on your own. It isn’t something I need to tell you. This time though, I think the disclaimer is important. This post, in all probability will be classified as ‘boring’, ‘philosophic’, ‘anxiety ridden’  and not something too many people can relate to. I know, I never enjoyed reading posts that revolved around such heavy hearted thinking, let alone writing them. So if you belong to that category of people who can digest only a breezy read, please go ahead and skip this one.

I talk about being able to live in the moment. It’s something that came naturally to me until a while ago. Like most others, I went about living my life, being busy with everyday tasks, meeting friends, going for movies, eating out, seeking thrill in the new shoes I bought, and generally being too caught up with life to really think much about it.

There were others around me who encountered sorrow and grief. Some of my friends lost one of their parents. I know some parents who lost their child. Every now and then I would hear about death. Either within the family or within our social circle. It hurt me deeply. It bothered me for nights. A lot of times it made me sob for days. And then, like most others, I would get over it after an initial round of hurt and tears. The people battling the loss would always be in my prayers. I would always feel for them, but I could go about living my life with a smile again. I hurt for them, but the parting thought in my head was, ‘Life is sad for some, but thank God I have everybody around me safe and sound and I am not undergoing such anguish’

A few months ago, I could sense some change within myself. I can call it an awakening of sorts. Call me stupid, but the unpredictability of  life hit me all of a sudden. Yes, we all die. All our loved ones die. That is the biggest truth and it has been drilled into our heads. But I had never really realised or accepted it. Like most others, I was stupid enough to believe such horrifying things happened only to others. Also, I worked under the assumption that young people rarely die. Elder folks die. Surely, the chances of us, in our twenties and thirties, or other children or teens won’t just die all of a sudden? Why would they? We are relatively healthy and fit. How wrong could I be?  I am glad I awakened to the realities of life. You don’t have to be old to die. Any of can die tomorrow.

This awakening has turned out to be a double edged sword in my life. All of a sudden, I feel the need to be prepared for the worst. My definition of ‘worst’ is all my loved ones being dead. My family, my partner, all my associates, everybody being taken away. Me living my life all alone. Nothing terrifies me more than that.  I know I sound neurotic, although I am not. I believe if I prepare myself for that kind of an existence, I will never fear anything. Leading a fearless life sounds liberating. I know right now I carry a  million fears in my heart, due to all the heavy strings of attachment that tie me to my loved ones.

I call this awakening a double edged sword, because on one hard, it teaches me how to live life.  I believe it makes me more compassionate. Now I give more importance to things that matter, and I avoid thinking of things that don’t carry too much meaning. On the other hand, this realisation has changed my perspective to such an extent, that I am unable to live life in the moment. It’s like knowing that the house you live in, the one you love to death, is going to be burned down sooner or later. That a fire is inevitable. What do you think it will do to you?

I now live with a fire extinguisher strapped to my back. Even a tiny spark somewhere and I panic.  For example, when my parents health becomes shaky, it fills me with deep fear. For others, it might just be a passing illness. For me, I wonder if it is that final spark that will ultimately burn my beloved abode.  Probably the others don’t fear it as much cos they have not  fully realised the fact that a fire is inevitable. Or maybe they have, but they are certain they have a long time to go before the fire swallows them. I on the other hand, live with the fear of the fire occurring any minute.

Instead of being happy that my loved ones are alive, the realisation that they might not be alive tomorrow saddens me. I put too much pressure on myself to be in the moment, because I know for sure that it will not be there tomorrow. As a result, the stress does not let me enjoy my present. It’s like knowing your favourite pair of shoes are going to be charred in a week. You decide to make the most of them in the one week you have. You wear them everywhere, admire them, give them some extra love, feel happy that you own such an awesome pair, but at the end of the day, all those thoughts are also accompanied by a lingering sadness. Sadness from knowing that you are losing them soon. This awakening of the ultimate has been a mixed bag of emotions for me. I am happy to have what I have, but I am also sad cos I know I won’t have it for too long.

It was easy to live in the present when I did not entertain thoughts of the impending fire. Now, I want to be able to live in the present, despite being aware of the fire’s sudden emergence. I am so grateful I am getting a chance to live with my family. The four of us spend time laughing in the living room every evening. My papa turns on old Hindi music, which we all savour, along with the tea that mama has prepared. We exchange hugs and kisses. The sister and I are thoroughly pampered on most days.  We do live it up and I feel calm and peaceful, when I notice the soft music, the smell of ginger tea, the sound of laughter and love in the air. I pray to God to give me strength to be able to live in the moment forever, with no fear attacking my mind. Because sometimes, enduring the constant weight of the fire extinguisher on your back is not easy.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 53 Comments »

Another year passed by.. how?

Posted by Pepper on April 14, 2012

I turned a year older yesterday. *Gasp*. Didn’t my birthday just go by? No really, it couldn’t have been a year already. I feel like I just wrote this post. I don’t care about the number attached to my age. I care about the social pressure that comes with it.  The pressure to be responsible, pressure to show maturity, pressure to sound wise. A 16 year old sounding stupid is acceptable, expected almost. A 26 year old, not so much.

So I am back in Bombay, and the thought of not having Mint around on my birthday was making me sulk. I expected him to be the first one to call me. Instead, he called me 22 minutes late. I had some of my friends racing each other, just because they wanted to be the first to call. And there I was, disappointed each time I saw a different name flashing on my mobile screen. To add salt to my wounds, every friend of mine assumed I was already talking to Mint, so they hung up in a minute, saying they didn’t want to eat into my time with him. I didn’t have the heart to tell anybody that he hadn’t called me yet, so I played along.  By 12:15 am, almost everybody had finished wishing me. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard from Mint yet. So guess what I did? I burst into tears.

He called me at 12:22 and wished me. I was so upset by then, I didn’t even want to talk to him. He said he had been really caught up with stuff and he lost track of time. That made him 22 minutes late. Of course I couldn’t forgive him that easily. So I cried and sulked some more, and felt incredibly stupid after that. I know I was justified in being upset, but why would I break down and weep like the world had fallen apart? I guess I really felt let down by him. How could he be the last one to call me? If you want to sympathize with me, go ahead and do it. If you want to tell me I over reacted, then shhh..

Other than that, I had a fun day. My parents and sis handed me my gift a little after midnight the previous day. Along with a very appropriate card and a long hand written note, that I am too embarrassed to display. I met friends for lunch,  we cut the cake in the evening and I went out for dinner with the family. And through out the day, I jumped a little in excitement, telling everybody around me, “It’s my birthday! It’s my birthday”.

Now if only they could come up with a self cleaning room, my life would be perfect.

Posted in Euphoria | 73 Comments »

How it has been..

Posted by Pepper on April 9, 2012

It has been quite a while, hasn’t it?  I thought I would drop by here and talk about how life has been since we landed in India.

India! What can I say? She is that captivating entity, that overwhelming power that leaves you breathless. There has been so much of action in our lives, we’ve hardly had any time to sit back and soak it in.

We landed in Bombay a few weeks ago.  It was 2 am, my harrowed parents and sister had been walking around listlessly, waiting for us to come out of the terminal. As usual, we had to encounter a few things that delayed us, and we came out an hour late.

The first thing that hit us the moment we stepped out, was the heat. I found myself sweating, and this was in the middle of the night, when the heat is supposed to be minimal. Since when did heat start disturbing me, I wondered. All along in the US, I whined about the cold. I told people around me how much I yearned for the Indian heat. And here I was, wiping my brow in discomfort, a few minutes after landing. Oh well, I think by now I am used to it.

The next few days were all about meeting people and catching up. The maids were the first ones to greet me the next morning. They couldn’t get over how thin I was. Well, I have always been thin, just that the world expected me to pile on the kilos the moment I got married. So what I keep hearing now is, “You haven’t gained weight at all after marriage”. Umm, why is weight gain related to marriage?

I went to the salon to fix myself, and the women who were waxing my arms were thoroughly amused by how tiny my arms were. And when they found out I was married, their amusement turned into shock.  They asked me if I had a love marriage, I said yes. And then they concluded saying, “that’s why you got married so soon”. So soon? I told them I didn’t marry *that soon*, lest they had the image of some teenager eloping. In all honesty, I am flattered when I see the shock on people’s faces when they find out I am married, but the other part of me keeps wondering, how married people are supposed to look? This really isn’t about wearing the ‘symbols’ of marriage. This is more about your general appearance. Anyway..

Since my entire extended family resides in Bombay, we had a very hectic social life. In the midst of all the family gatherings, I had to squeeze in time for my friends. The 2 BFFs had been beyond excited to catch up. We spent a night with friends, drinking some vodka, playing taboo, chatting, laughing, fun times!

After a joyful week in Bombay, we flew to Chennai. I share a ‘love-hate’ relationship with that city. The first two days were fun, after which I fell ill and spent my time feeling sorry for myself in bed. It was extremely boring. My cough wouldn’t let me sleep. My abs hurt, my lungs ached, my fever would leave me cranky, I felt uncomfortable, and to add to my woes, I spent all my time swatting off mosquitoes, unsuccessfully. By the end, I had a million tiny, red spots all over my arms. Never have I been faced with so many mosquitoes!

We flew out of Chennai after a relatively dull week there. I’ve been on campus with Mint since then. Our days are filled with dinner events, induction programs, social events, etc. It has been fun, but stressful all the same. Probably because socialising isn’t my cup of tea. I can’t be myself in a room full of 200 new people, offering corporate handshakes, making small talk, sipping out of a glass with sophistication. I did meet a lot of interesting people though, and this one year should be fun. I hope to get back to Bombay in a few days.

And to answer the one question that almost everybody keeps asking us, ‘How does it feel to be back?” I say it hasn’t really hit us yet. It just feels like we’re in India for our annual vacation. Maybe it will hit us eventually. Right now, I don’t feel any different. Other than the periodic reminders I get when I plug in an electronic device and forget to ‘turn on’ the power switch.

Posted in Slices of life | 52 Comments »

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