A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for December, 2012

What 2012 was all about..

Posted by Pepper on December 31, 2012

2012 is steadily racing towards its end. Oh wait, the finish line for 2012 is right here. I feel like time is sprinting past me. There is so much I wanted to write and record. But the days galloped at a dizzying speed. And here I am, at the end of the year, scrambling to write this post before we enter the new year.

Okay, that should tell you how action packed this year has been. So much happened! 2011 was such a slow year, it made me more sluggish than ever. 2012 shook me out of my reverie. The action thwacked my senses awake. Let us do a recap of the year.

We made one of the toughest decisions. After deliberating for months, we decided to move back to India. It didn’t come easy. There was a lot we gave up. A lot we left behind. But there was a lot we came back to as well. Most importantly, this taught me a fundamental lesson – I can’t have it all. I wanted to live close to my parents, not oceans apart. Yet, I wanted the comforts and easy life USA offered me. I was forced to make a choice. Prioritizing your wants is a significant part of life, and I am glad I learnt that.

Once we made the decision, we had to live the process of relocating to the homeland. Oh, that was hard. It took up every ounce of our physical, mental and emotional energy. I know what it is to feel drained out and lie limp, with no stamina to move a muscle. The last few days before we moved were particularly crazy.

We also had to part with out beloved car. In hindsight, I feel a little silly when I think of the way I sobbed while letting it go. But that car is special. I say is and not was, despite it not belonging to us anymore. Because I still feel connected to it, in some remote way. Handing over the keys to another girl was a significant part of this year, it certainly deserves a mention.

We experienced, what can perhaps be termed as the biggest thrill of our lives. We jumped from an aircraft, from 18,000 feet. I will always remember 2012, as the year in which we took the plunge. I doubt any other experience will give us an equivalent adrenaline rush.

We moved back to India, and I rediscovered the beauty of this country, all over again. Yes, I crib, I whine, I seethe each time I talk about this place. But yet, I can’t deny the fact that it does hold some unknown charm.

Mint began his MBA, and thereby began my own struggles. With the distance, his never ending classes, his overfilled schedules. But, we managed. And for this, I am very proud of myself. Yes, I had days when I wept, accused him unfairly, but I will let those go past. Being away from him for almost a year was something I couldn’t have imagined a while ago. Yet, I did it. I think I emerged stronger and less dependent. On the whole, we managed to spend some time with each other, despite all odds. I visited him frequently. He came to Bombay more often than I thought he would Also, because of him, I got to experience campus life, parties, fests and all the fun that is a part of student life.  And oh, here’s the unbelievable part. I walked the ramp!

This was also the year my parents faced a lot of health scares. It shook my very foundation. I was terrified of the possibilities. I know I am paranoid when it comes to my family. I had to confront my fears, accept life and its uncertainty. I had to force myself to learn the laws. I think I spent some time trying to teach myself to live in the moment, instead of spending time worrying about tomorrow. The health stabalized, and my fears abated. I do think I built my inner strength this year, but I believe I have a long way to go.

We did Europe this year. I can strike that off my bucket list. Enough said.

After playing around with freelancing, I took up a full time job. The experience has been bitter sweet. I have tried to uncover my wants. Do I want a corporate job that pays? Do I need a job? Do I do it for passion, or money? Do I need the money? How much money is enough money? Would I rather spend my time dabbling with unconventional roles that don’t pay the way corporate crap does? I am yet to figure this out. Or maybe I will stumble onto a corporate job that I actually love and am passionate about. I can dream, yes?

2012 was also the year in which my social life took on a new high. I’ve spent some wonderful time with friends, chatting, catching up over coffee, dinners, casual meetings and the likes.

Today is the last day of this year. I think this was a happy year. Campus placements are just about starting for Mint. I know 2013 is going to be full of changes and new beginnings for us, again! But I have a feeling it will all be good. So bring it on, I say! Happy New Year!

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Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 17 Comments »

‘Tis the season to be jolly..

Posted by Pepper on December 20, 2012

We are so close to Christmas now. I can’t seem to contain my excitement.

December has always been a happy month for me. Each passing date of the month carries a stronger flavour of the Christmas spirit. The days are infused with merriment. After years, I will be experiencing the joy of spending Christmas with my family and loved ones. What more can I ask for?

December mornings mean clinging to your comforter and not wanting to get out. Reluctant showers. Cups of hot chocolate. And the ticking of the countdown. What fun it is to watch homes getting dressed for the season.

Some nights ago, the sister and I spent some time putting up the tree. Adorning each branch with stars and ornaments. We worked in the company of sweet Christmas carols. The gifts have been bought. The wrapping is done. The house has been graced with candles, bells and other Christmassy goodies.

Here is a picture of our humble tree. This is the first picture we took after it was ready. We did add on and redo it a few times, but I do not have a picture of it in it’s renewed glory.  So this will have to work for now. It is not as big or well done as I would have liked. But this trusted tree has been with us for years. Our home is not big enough to accommodate a bigger tree. Perhaps Christmas 2013 will bring a new tree with it.

Christmasishere

And now, it is time to talk to Santa..

Dear Santa,

I know you read my blog. For Christmas this year, I want a new camera. I know I am wee bit late, and I should have made this known earlier. But I also know this was an easy guess for you. You were expecting to hear it from me. So I hope you have already made the necessary preparations. If not, you still have a few days to go.

Thank you,

Pepper

Posted in Small joys | 35 Comments »

Why living in India scares me..

Posted by Pepper on December 18, 2012

This happened a few days ago, while Mint was here. We were to meet BFF#1 in a pub in Bandra. She happened to be there with a set of friends we didn’t know. We reached, and after the customary round of introductions and handshakes, we settled down. There was abundant food and beer on the table. I touched neither. I am not a beer person, and I wasn’t even remotely hungry. So for me, it was all about conversation. The group of people present on the table were stunned when they found out Mint and I were married. Why? We don’t know. We didn’t ‘look’ married. We looked just like them. And we weren’t ‘fighting’ like married couples do. Eh? What? This is what happens when you are the only one married in your social circle. Other youngsters around you have ridiculous notions of married life. Did they expect a married couple to fight every minute of their lives? I give up. Anyway, I digress..

After making optimum use of the ‘Happy Hours’ there, we headed out. Mint had to meet a school friend of his. I decided to not tag along and let the two guys catch up. The BFF, her friends and I were to hang out somewhere for a while and then head to the BFF’s place for a stay over. The sister joined us in Bandra. Mint was to come to the BFF’s  place directly after spending some time with his friend.

After a couple of hours, we packed ourselves in BFF’s friend’s car. Now, this guy was one of the most reckless drivers I have come across. He was speeding on narrow streets, that were lined with hawkers and pedestrians. I asked him to slow down, twice. He just laughed it off, and called me timid. The sister was clutching my hand, nervously. I realised he wasn’t going to slow down. So I just held my breath, and watched the roads zoom by.

Our car was racing towards a bike. The car changed lanes and sped past the bike. We went ahead and stopped at a signal. Within a few seconds, the biker who we passed was banging at the car window and asking us to get out. He seemed like a thug of the first order. Since the car had not even touched the bike, the BFF’s friend decided to not get out, saying he wasn’t at fault and there was nothing to argue about. Soon the banging on the window turned violent. Before we knew it, there were 5 other bikes surrounding our car. An aggressive crowd was encircling us, striking at doors and windows with different objects to create loud, spine chilling thuds.

We were terrified. The girl in the front seat began to sob. We were sure had we stepped out of the car, we’d be thrashed by the crowd. I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. At the same time, we couldn’t stay inside for too long. The crowd was turning more aggressive by the minute. I considered rolling down the window and having a sane conversation, but the rest of the folks wouldn’t let me do it. I could hear cries emerging from outside. We were called sluts and whores. Rather, it was the Hindi version, which sounded so much more crude. And then, it began. The pelting. We were trembling. Random people took out their helmet and began striking our windshield. And the side view mirrors. In no time, they had successfully smashed the windshield. We felt the shower of glass splinters. There was some bit of blood. The two people in the front hurt their hands, but thankfully, we didn’t injure ourselves too much. We heard cries of ‘Tum sab ko maar dalunga’. It translates to ‘I will kill all of you’.

I was preparing to die. This would be written off as another incident of ‘road rage’. What I couldn’t bear was the idea of my little sister being harmed. My instinct was to protect her, somehow. I couldn’t think of what to do. Just when I had begun to give up, the crowd started clearing out. Just like that. We were left in the middle of the road, with bleeding hands, a smashed car, quivering bodies and a terror filled mind.

What really happened? Why did it happen? Yes, the fault was the driver’s. He was speeding, but technically, he didn’t hit any vehicle. Didn’t even come close to it. So why were we made to go through this trauma? And most importantly, the question that keeps coming up is, who were those people? They came out of nowhere! They had no clue of why one guy was asking us to get out of the car. Why did they want to participate in this act of terrorizing and harming us? Heck, they said they wanted to kill us. This could have gotten so much more ugly, and I am only thankful it didn’t. But really, why?

Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour | 54 Comments »

Putting an end..

Posted by Pepper on December 16, 2012

I think my life right now is in a very warm, happy phase. Until a few months ago, there were too many varying factors that kept me on the edge. Right now, I see things are in place. More or less. And I can’t not be grateful.

My parents health is stable. * Touchwood a million times *. The recent spate of illnesses in my family was robbing my peace of mind. I was perpetually distressed. My parents had to undergo periodic blood tests, and along with that, I underwent periodic bouts of tension. Worrying about the results and waiting for tests reports is one of my worst nightmares. My dad still has to get biweekly tests done, but thankfully the results are showing a stable pattern now.

My job was killing me, for multiple reasons. I never ended up writing about it. Anyway, I was able to work a way out, albeit temporarily. For now though, I am happy. There is no discord in my professional life. I face no strife or turmoil. This relaxed work environment is priceless.

Dealing with the physical distance from Mint was tiring me. I consumed all my energy in convincing myself that I could do it. It is strange, the amount of energy feeling different emotions can extract out of you. But really, missing him continuously, and resisting the urge to talk to him when he was busy in class would make me feel utterly exhausted by the end of the day. Thankfully, a few months ago, I noticed our situation improve drastically. Mint was more available. He spent a good 8 days with me during Diwali. 3 weeks later, he was back in Bombay again. He spent another week with me and left only two days ago. In less than 10 days, we’ll be together again. For a good week or so. So you get the picture, his prolonged presence in my life has made a world of a difference to my mental state. Also, we’ve almost reached the end of his course. A little less than 3 more months and we’ll be done. I feel relief.

So now that all those aspects of my life are taken care of, I see no reason to feel any kind of emotional upheaval. So why then, are my reactions so turbulent? It is inexplicable. I realise I need to take control right now, instead of being a slave to my emotions. Earlier, I gave myself some leeway because I believed there were some tribulations in my life. Now I don’t have any excuse that can justify my reactions.

Incident # 1: My job demands I be very well versed with Excel. Excel has scared me for the longest time, but I realised I had no option but to conquer my fear. I also had to make use of my biggest resource – Mint. Mint is a genius when it comes to Excel. So while he was here, he spent some time teaching me. At one point, I realised he was teaching me the more advanced stuff before really strengthening my basic concepts. The whole exercise of learning Excel was beginning to intimidate me. I was lost and overwhelmed by the speed at which he was teaching me. So I snapped and told him this was no way to teach. He had to be more structured. I didn’t want to learn from him anymore, I’d use online tutorials. My dad who was around, told me I was being too unreasonable. That’s it. That statement from my dad combined with Mint’s way of teaching me made me lose it. I screamed, and fell into a pile on the floor, sobbing. Bawling. Telling everybody to leave me alone. Nobody understands me. The tears, cries and jagged breathing wouldn’t stop. Now I wonder, what the hell happened that caused me to breakdown like that?

Incident # 2: My dad is going to be flying to Manila for a wedding in February. He asked me to book his air tickets. I in turn, outsourced it to Mint. So in total, we had to book 6 air tickets, including stop overs. This would take a minimum of half an hour, especially since he wanted to travel in the same flights as his friends. We had to ensure we make no mistake in our bookings. This was the day we had to go to my aunt’s place for lunch. My dad asked me by when we could leave. I told him we would take another 30 minutes atleast, if he wanted the tickets to be booked now. That’s too much time, he exclaimed. He then went on to tell me we were delaying it too much. I snapped. I told him we were delaying it because we had to book HIS tickets. Not because we had other commitments. Mint casually asked me to calm down. He then committed the grave blunder of reminding me of Incident # 1 and said I had to really learn to be more calm. That was it. I hated him for bringing that up. I lay sobbing into my pillow, telling him I don’t want to talk to him. I don’t want to go for lunch. That incident was a very vulnerable spot, and I sobbed because it felt like he hit where it hurt. There is no denying that my reaction was excessive though.

So, really, what causes such melt downs? Why would each episode result in me crying? My life is pretty much on track and I am in a happy place right now. I suppose I need to stop searching for excuses that justify my behaviour. Let me just accept, it happens because I allow it to happen. It will stop when I command it to stop. The reigns to my exterior lie in my hands.

Yesterday, I resolved to stay calm. It wasn’t hard at all, because nothing unusual happened. My real test will be when I find myself stretching my patience beyond a point. I aim to hold back unnecessary tears and keep my voice low at all times. Let’s see how this goes.

Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour | 20 Comments »

The unexpected email and my thoughts on networking

Posted by Pepper on December 14, 2012

I got an email from a friend today. In hindsight, R and I were never friends. We were simply classmates in junior college. Our limited interactions were restricted to watery ‘Hi’s every time we bumped into each other in the corridors. Seeing this email from her surprised me, considering we’ve barely been in touch. And then it put me in some thought. I am copying the mail here, with her consent ofcourse.

Hi.. Surprised to hear from me? I was very surprised when I landed on your blog. Actually, I didn’t know it was your blog at first. I found it very interesting. As I read further, I was shocked and surprised to discover it is you.

I don’t know where to start from. I never tried talking to you when we were in college. Now I realised what I missed. You are such an interesting person. You have so many opinions. You think in such unique ways. You have such a good life. Your husband is a dream come true. Nobody would ever guess all these things about you.

I really wish I hung out with you at a time when I could. At that time, you seemed like just any other girl. Now I know you are unique and very interesting. Let us meet for coffee if you are free sometime

I am a little amused when people who have chosen to ignore my existence suddenly express interest in me after reading my blog. It only reverberates the one fact that I have always known about myself – I do not come across as a very interesting person in a crowd.

If you want to catch up with me over a cup of coffee, we might have some stimulating and intellectual dialogue, but put me in a crowd, and I will be searching for dark corners to scurry into. I am pretty sure I’ve been labelled the ‘quiet, dumb girl’ several times in the past.

It goes without saying, if there is one word that I abhor from the bottom of my heart, it is ‘networking’. The mere idea of conversing with strangers makes me queasy. I might be able to sustain a conversation. What I absolutely cannot do is introduce myself and initiate a conversation, especially when it carries an ulterior motive like ‘building contacts’, ‘getting referrals’ and the likes.

Such formal conversations are punctuated with awkward gaps that I try too hard to fill. I don’t know the best codes of conduct and my demeanor seems too clumsy.  It is relatively easier to initiate conversation in an informal setting. But even then, I can’t really execute myself well in a crowd. I lack the skills. My speech is always tense. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by the email I received from R. Thanks R, for calling me ‘unique’ and ‘interesting’ now. I don’t really think I am. Just that you never really met the real me in college. I know I never opened up outside the small group of friends I hung out with.

Sometime ago, a friend and I were having a discussion. She told me she believed that I enjoyed networking. Needless to say, I was stumped. I don’t even dare to use the words ‘like’ and ‘networking’ in the same breath. How could anybody believe that about me? She said she felt so because she sees me respond to every comment on my blog. I visit other blogs. I even meet some bloggers. I basically ‘network’ in the blog world.

I thought about this long and hard. Could this  be termed as ‘networking’? Maybe, to a small extent. The dictionary defines networking as ‘communicating with or within a group’. So yes, by that logic, we ‘network’ here. What makes it so easy is that there is no pressure to say the right thing. In fact, there is no pressure to say anything at all. I’ve been blogging for so many years and I have only met a handful of bloggers, who I call friends today. There were hardly any awkward pauses because they knew more about my life than what most others did.With them, the transition from virtual to real happened effortlessly. I haven’t attended a single group blog meet because the idea makes me nervous. I reply to comments because I feel guilty if I don’t. There has never been an ulterior motive underlining these actions. I am sure strangers who meet me in a group will still write me off, for I won’t hold their interest. Like always, I call myself the boring girl in the background. And this doesn’t seem to bother me at all.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 24 Comments »

Being home alone

Posted by Pepper on December 1, 2012

I am home alone after a long time. The sister has gone to Vrindavan to gather data for a project titled ‘Marginalisation of women’. She is going to research and document the lives of widows living there.

This is what Wiki says about the town – “Vrindavan is also known as the City of Widows due to the large number of widows who move into the town and surrounding area after losing their husbands. According to some Hindu traditions, upper-caste widows may not remarry, so many of those abandoned by their families on the death of their husband make their way here. There are an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 widows living on the streets, many of whom have spent over 30 years there. In exchange for singing bhajan hymns for 7–8 hours in bhajanashrams, women are given a cup of rice and a pittance of money (around Rs.10),which they try to supplement by begging on the streets”

I am sure this is worth exploring and I am throughly impressed by the kind of project she is going. Conducting secondary research using online tools is one thing. Traveling without much supervision to an unknown town to gather first hand data through personal interactions is another. She has been interviewed by 2 local newspapers for the kind of work she is doing there. And ofcourse, I am beaming with pride. I can’t wait for  her to document her findings. If I get a chance, I will post and discuss the issue on the blog.

My dad is in Delhi to attend a wedding. My mom was to go with him, but then she realised his trip was intersecting with the sister’s trip. Which meant, I would be all alone at home for about 8 days. Now I know I dislike living all alone, and being by myself in an empty house for 8 days wouldn’t be easy, but I still wanted my mom to go and have fun. Well, she just wouldn’t hear of it. She didn’t want me to be alone at home. Sigh.

Anyway, so the sister and dad are out of town. My mom is out for the evening, and here I am, all alone. Work has been highly stressful. And I am fatigued and mentally exhausted. I feel like writing about it, but I am not sure I should. Perhaps I will do a password protected post. If you wish to read it, do drop me a mail. The only reason I am password protecting it is because I fear my employer chancing upon it. Yes, paranoia is my middle name.

Anyway, I had a rejuvinating shower today, bathing in soft, aromatic candle light. I think the combination of candle light and a warm bath is highly invigorating. My energy revived, I came to my desk and opened my work email. As usual, there were a heap of resumes from job seekers in my inbox. One of the mails said, “I can start work after I finishing pursuing my master’. I laughed for a long time.

Posted in Uncategorized | 31 Comments »

 
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