A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for November, 2013

Annoying Mint and waiting for Christmas!

Posted by Pepper on November 30, 2013

At times, I feel like I am married to somebody who is the modern adaption of Lord Buddha. Nothing else explains his calm demeanor and zen charisma. Try as you might, it is hard to annoy him. Since I have grown up troubling my little sister and being manically yelled at by her, I miss those reactions when she is not around.

A few days ago, Mint was busy watching something on TV. Since I was bored, I went and placed a folded napkin on top of his head. He let it stay there, without blinking an eyelid, and continued to watch TV. Hoping to elicit a more entertaining reaction, I decided to carry this game forward. I then filled a cup of water and poured it on his left shoulder. He looked up at me for a second when he felt the water trickling down his arm, and then continued to watch TV without saying a word. Since that didn’t give me the reaction I was looking for, I chose to carry on. I brought another cup and poured water on his right arm. He didn’t blink and continued to watch TV. I poured water on his back, and yet, there was no reaction. The next time, I filled a large mug with water and poured that on the front of his tee. This time, he looked up at me, gave me a big smile and exclaimed, ‘Main geela hogaya’. (I got wet). And then picked up the napkin from his head and proceeded to wipe himself. That’s it.

Huh? What about calling me an annoying pest? Sounding harassed and troubled? Or even screaming a little? My sister would have brought the roof down had a drop of water touched her. No wonder, I prefer annoying her over Mint. What is the point in taking the trouble to trouble him if I get to see no reaction? I know this sounds hard to believe, but I swear I am not making this up. You can ask him about this if you see him. He was soaked because of me, and he didn’t even choose to question my motive, let alone be mad at me. All I got from him was a smiling declaration of the truth. That he was now wet.

Sigh. I just realised how much I miss that crazy guy already. Mint is traveling. He left yesterday. And I fly out elsewhere tomorrow. I will be gone for a couple of days. And I leave just a few hours before he arrives. So I will not be seeing him for about a week. 😦 I know I sound lame, but let me just admit that I can’t live without him.

For some reason, the thought of Christmas is really cheering me up. We officially enter December in a few hours. And December is all about waiting for Christmas. I was going through pictures of earlier Christmas celebrations and I found one that I thought I should put up on the blog.

That is Mint and I, during Christmas 2008. He was visiting me in UK while I was studying for my Masters. That was the time when my parents *kind of* knew about him and his parents had no clue about me. That was the time when he turned into the best Santa ever and gave me about 20 Christmas gifts. That was the time when he had no trace of a paunch. That was the time when the future seemed like a mystery. So much has changed, and yet, I remember this picture being taken like it happened yesterday. I remember insisting we stand in front of the tree, so I could show off the size of the Christmas tree, since I have not had the fortune of owning a tree of this size earlier. I remember asking him to not stand too close to me, so I could pass him off as ‘just a friend’. I remember smiling for this picture and the click of the camera. Just like that, so many years have passed. And here I am, writing this post, and smiling at the past.

xmas

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 17 Comments »

To November

Posted by Pepper on November 26, 2013

Dear November,

I can’t wait for you to end. No, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. You’ve been very generous to me. I’ve packed in so many value adding experiences and fun moments in this month. It is just that, you’ve been the busiest month I’ve experienced in a long time. Right in the beginning, we had  the inlaws visiting. That left me very tied up. My evenings were full of chores. Then, we had Diwali. We geared up for the upcoming celebrations, enjoyed ourselves and stuffed our days with family gatherings and the works.

And then I caught a nasty bug that refused to leave me alone for over 2 weeks. The cough would not allow me to sleep at night. The voice was hoarse. The nose was perennially blocked. My body ached.  Yet, I didn’t have the luxury to lie limp. The demands of work forced me to keep going. And so, I kept going. Exhausted.

While I was sick, a dear friend decided to spring a surprise by arriving announced from London. There was much jubilation. Since she was here only for a limited duration, we tried to pack in a couple of outings with her. And so, after spending our day at work, we met for dinner. On a weekday. I remember feeling tired, but happy, as I snifled, and spluttered and coughed in the air conditioned surroundings of the restaurant.

Since she was to fly back soon, we also had to make sure she sees our new home before she leaves. So we planned yet another evening at home. The gang of friends arrived at night. The food was ordered. Alcohol did the rounds. There was music. Late night, or more appropriately, early morning chatter. And ofcourse, the Xbox kinect. Again, it was a fun, but tiring night for me.

I am not sure why, but post that, we saw a burst of social activity in our lives. Almost every other day, we were either hosting or visiting friends for dinner. Not just on weekends, but weekdays too! The preparations, the menu planning, the organizing, the urgent tidying of the house,  the excitement, the mild tensions, all left me overwhelmed. The weekend meets were a lot of fun. But the obligatory weekday plans made me feel too stretched.

And then, as though all of this was not enough, I was extremely busy at work because of a week long conference. The networking dinners, the handshakes, the forced wearing of heels, the never ending business talks got to me after a point. I would return home with aching heels, sore feet, a heavy head and eyes glazing with exhaustion. Only to repeat the same process the next day.

It’s been such an eventful month. I am tired, and yet, I know the next month will probably be bursting with plans too. What with some work related travel, my cousins visiting from California, the BFF’s birthday, Christmas and New Year, it can’t be any other way. Oh well, we’ll make the most of what we have.

I long for silent evenings spent by my window, with a steaming cup of filter coffee in hand. I long for a set routine, where in I come back from work, do laundry, finish dinner, unwind and go to bed. I long for sameness. Instead I live life in which each day is different, buzzing with new plans and a million social commitments. Perhaps I am going to step into a self imposed anti social cell soon.

So dear November, while you’ve been very good, I still can’t wait for you to end. Just so I can breathe. And rest. Yes, December will be busy too, but I am going to do my best to walk at a comfortable pace, instead of sprinting and falling short of breath. Oh, there is another reason I can’t wait for you to end. You see, Mint will finally, finally shave and I will breathe a sigh of relief. I dislike the frenchie. Movember, please get over soon. I’ve had enough of you. Give me my clean shaven boy back.

Thank you,

A very exhausted Pepper

Posted in Slices of life | 23 Comments »

A big leap

Posted by Pepper on November 13, 2013

There is this big news that I have been wanting to share on the blog for the past few months, but the fear of faltering in the initial stage held me back. Now that I believe I have found my place, I am ready to talk about it here.

This is about a career change for me. 3 months ago, after a lot of deliberation, I hesitantly quit my previous job. That place was toxic, and detaching myself from that hell gave me a new lease of life. After that, I had two options lined up. Option A was to take up another job. Option B was to get on board with my dad, join his business, and eventually take over.

My dad and his brother, replete with their metallurgy knowledge, set up an engineering plant about 20 years ago. They started a factory, and along with it a manufacturing unit, and have been evolving, adding new divisions ever since. Each time they would ask me to take over, I would flatly refuse. Because I believed there is no entrepreneur in me. So Option B was not an option.

And then I realised with a jolt, that if I do not take this forward, what they have built from scratch will eventually crash. In all these years, they have managed to establish the business reasonably well. My uncle has no kids he can hand this to. My sister is too young to make a call right now. So other than me, there is nobody. All that blood and sweat that has gone into it will prove futile if they have to eventually sell it. Each time I declined their requests to step in, I felt heavyhearted.

So, this time I decided to give it some serious thought. Mint was all for it. His logic was this – between the two of us, he has a steady income. I can afford to explore my options at this point. Also, if dealt with the right way, this has the potential to turn into something big. When I discussed my fears with my dad and uncle, they were quick to put them at rest. What if I take this on now, and eventually have to move out of Bombay? Then we will figure out a way to work remote, and couple it with regular travel to the city. What if I am unable to handle it? They said I will learn. What if by some chance I dislike it? Then I can try this out for a year and then probably step out of it.

The timing was right. They had recently acquired a new plant, and wanted to get it functioning soon. The new plant has a lot of prospects, if only the right strategy is used. They wanted me to manage and run that business unit. I was terrified of the responsibility. But I fearfully agreed. Just when I did, I got offered another (reasonably good) job. I felt as though my intentions were put to test, but I stuck to my original resolve and went ahead with my new role in the company that I can today call my very own.

Thankfully, so far I have only had a ton of positive experiences. The immeasurable learning gives me a high, but it also overwhelms me at times. Some days, I am pouring over balance sheets and trying to understand company accounts, some days it is all about streamlining internal processes, or planning finances for the quarter, controlling and allocating budgets, devising a good marketing strategy, dealing with complex bank transactions, understanding foreign policies for exports, managing the supply chain, interacting within our sales network, managing employees and all the labour laws, understanding the industry we operate in, engaging with our dealers and vendors, creating pitches, dealing with the Indian Government, or simply trying to stay on top of all the administration work. It is a lot of hard work, but I am loving it.

I have to do a fair amount of commuting everyday, from my home to office. But when I sit at my desk and get some good work done, it gives me a high. This feels like my own baby. The commute to our factory is even worse. I do not have to travel there everyday, but whenever I do, I spend a minimum 3 hours on the road. But when I see our company name on the factory gate, when I see our factory workers sporting our company name on their uniforms, working sincerely, it gives me a high. This truly feels like my own.

I am glad I took the leap. No other job would have facilitated this kind of diverse learning. It is massive. This also gives me the flexibility I have always longed for. I choose my hours, I can work from home on the days I really want to. I can plan vacations with more ease. It has been 3 months and so far it has been good. Will I be able to run the whole show on my own at some point? When I think of the future, I feel the apprehensions capturing me. But right now, I am focusing on the learning and the everyday tasks. And trying to not let fears or the negativity get the better of me. This has been a big leap. Please wish me luck.

Posted in Euphoria | 64 Comments »

Rush

Posted by Pepper on November 11, 2013

Yesterday I hardly got any traffic on the road. Hmm, just a lucky day I guess. That doesn’t mean I can leave late today. Oh, I wonder if I should change the cushion covers, it’s been a while. Dammit, I can’t believe S’s wife is pregnant. They got married less than 6 months ago.And she is just 21! What a bachha! Okay, okay, why should I judge. Each to his own. What should we have for dinner tonight? If I ask Mint, he will say “anything”. How convenient. Why should I be the only one planning the menu all the time? I will tell him I refuse to do it tonight. Oh wait, has the car been fueled up or not? I don’t want to waste time doing that. The weather is changing. I think the evenings are slightly cooler now. And it gets dark pretty early. The pseudo Mumbai winter is on its way. And then, it will be time for Christmas. Christmas! Yay! This time, I will visit the Mount Mary church after it has been dressed for the season. We have so much of mithai in the fridge. The remnants of Diwali. I should pass some on to the maids. Why do some people keep saying ‘Awww’, for everything. Is it supposed to be cute? I find it mildly annoying. Okay, I admit, I find it very annoying. But then these days I think I find everything annoying. Ouch, my knee hurts. I am growing old. I should wear full sleeves today. Shucks I forgot, the purple shirt needs ironing. Chal forget it, I will wear it just like that. I don’t think it is very creased. Manage ho jayega. I am tired of this cough. It just doesn’t go. Been suffering from congestion, fever, body ache for more than 10 days yaar. Kab jayega. God knows. I hope it is nothing major. Will check it out. Raghupati Raghav Rajaram, Raghupati Raghav Rajaram, nonstop party, aaj ki party, celebrations tere naam. Sheesh, why am I singing such a crappy song from such a bakwas movie. Oops. anyway, time up. Must run out now.

My train of thoughts while taking a shower.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 35 Comments »

Diwali 2013

Posted by Pepper on November 5, 2013

Diwali. Light. For me, the two words have always been synonymous. I remember one incident that happened years ago, when I was in 5th grade. Diwali was around the corner, and I made 4 paper lanterns out of all the craft paper I could gather at home. The lanterns were to be gifted to my friends in school. However, I had 5 close friends. One of them did not follow Hinduism. She was a Christian. In school, I remember being taught that Diwali was a Hindu festival. So I decided to omit the Christian friend from my list of friends to be gifted. There was a lot of joy and cheer when I handed out the lanterns to my friends. And then my Christian friend looked at me with hurt in her eyes, and asked me where her lantern was. The idiot that I was, I told her I did not make her one, because she would not be celebrating Diwali anyway, since she was a Christian. She did not say much to me then. But that hurt and silence of hers taught me some important lessons – I should never exclude people on the basis of religion. I should never assume they want the exclusion. Yes, a few people do, but most do not. By differentiating like that, I am only adding to the barriers.

And from that day, I make it a point to wish everybody around me, irrespective of their religious followings. Especially because I go ahead and celebrate festivals that are not originally a part of the religion I was born in. I feel especially offended if I am excluded from Christmas celebrations. And Eid too.

So there, having said all of that. I hope a Happy DIwali was had by all. And I hope the light continues to illuminate the path ahead for all of us. When I wrote my last post, I was fervently hoping the Diwali spirit makes me feel its presence soon. The mess in the house, the lack of preparation, the amount of everyday mundane jobs was pulling me down. I am happy to note though, most of that changed the moment I got home from work.  From family gatherings, to dressing up, to eating home made Diwali goodies like karanjis and ladoos, to lighting up the house, we did it all.

Here are some pictures of the house that we took. Most of these have been taken after a very last minute clean up session.

I picked up these strings of light on my way home from work. I foolishly picked up only 2 strings, thinking they would be adequate to light up the windows. Anyway, we managed with what we had, short power chord et al.

Diw1

I wanted something, subtle, yet radiant for the centre table. This little lamp seemed perfect.

Diw3

A close up of one of my favourite tea light holders.

Div15

This ceramic tea light holder is a gift from one of my most special blog friends. Thank you so much, babe!

Diw7

The view with the lit lamps

IMG_5211

Just a stained glass disc. I placed a tea light in the centre and it made the colours glow.

Diw8

The crystals light up the Natarajan

Diw10

Buddha. And light.

Diw11

I bought these little glass lanterns from an exhibition ages ago. Have always wanted to hang them somewhere. Since we could not think of any appropriate place this time, we hung them on the clothesline, using clips. Next year, I think I will hang these on all the plants in my parents home.

Diw12

Every year, we make sure we light up the bookshelf. Most of these candle holders and lamps have been around for a couple of years

Diw13

Pink and yellow cracked glass tea light holders. I heart these. But what I absolutely love is the shadows they cast on the wall.

Diw14

For a change, we decided to place the urli here. That is me arranging the flowers and lights, at around 2 am.

Diw18

Close up of the urli

Diw20

A very hasty. last minute rangoli. Done directly on the tiles outside the home.

Diw15

Posted in Celebrations | 63 Comments »

The inlaws, Mint and the beginning of Diwali

Posted by Pepper on November 1, 2013

Each time I thought of my inlaws in the past, I felt anxiety and fear. Perhaps, I won’t be saying that anymore. This trip of theirs has made me feel more warmth than anxiety. I spent the first few days with the inlaws and Oregano, without Mint, and without the presence of entertainment and media. That means – no cable or television and almost no internet. Because of Oregano’s special diet, we were also forced to be home during meal times, which meant, we could not venture too far away from home. As a result, there was a lot of conversation, mostly uninhibited. It was a welcome change, to openly speak our minds. I told my MIL about my way of working around the home, that I am not solely responsible for running the home, that feminism was an integral part of my life, that gender equality was most important to me. She spoke about her concerns, her fears and her way of reasoning. The mutual openness and honesty in our discussions helped us both a great deal.

For a change, our home is bustling with people. And food. The inlaws are used to eating a hearty breakfast. They are also used to eating 3-4 different things for lunch. Which means, there is always a curry/ kozhambu/ dal + two different kinds of vegetables + rice + yogurt. Mint and I are not accustomed to this variety and most of it seems extravagant to us. However, the feeling that comes with abundant availability of food at all times is heart warming.

The flipside is the amount of work most of this entails. Our cook is feeling the burden of whipping up elaborate breakfast, lunch and dinner for 5 people, everyday.  I see her struggling and feel really bad for her, but other than paying her well for this, I can’t do much. Other than cooking, there are many jobs to be completed at all times by us. Most of the time, I find my MIL and I either putting away the washed dishes, or making coffee, or cutting fruits, or doing laundry, or laying the table, or clearing it, or sorting out the fridge. It is exhausting.

My MIL has been a surprise. She has not commented on our undisciplined and unorganised life. She hasn’t held me accountable for any undone or shabbily done job at home. Instead, she has completely left me to my devices and I cannot help but appreciate it. They have even accepted my way of dressing and infact, gone to the extent of encouraging me to purchase clothes of my choice – like sleeveless tees and skirts. We went shopping because they wanted to buy us new clothes for Diwali, and their new attitude towards my dressing left me truly surprised. This is big!

I have been having a lot of tiffs with Mint though. The fact that he has barely done his share of work at home has left me very annoyed. I hate it that he doesn’t think of completing the tasks on his own. When I ask him to do it, he never refuses. He only says he will do it later. Unfortunately, this ‘later’ only works when it is just the two of us. When there are other people present, he has no choice but to abide by common timelines. For example, the inlaws need dinner by a particular time, so he really cannot afford to say ‘later’ when asked to lay the table. I see my poor MIL slogging most of the time, and I am the only one who runs to her rescue. As a result, I find the two of us working constantly. Because Mint only does work that can be done ‘later’. And most things have to be done by a particular time.

I sincerely wish Mint would understand that in a group, he cannot afford to procrastinate. Not when others have to bear the consequences. So he conveniently assigns himself tasks that are not time sensitive. But in my opinion, majority of the tasks are. So in that regard, I do not think he is being an equal contributor. I am done arguing with him though. We don’t see eye to eye. So it is best to end it. Sigh..

Today is Dhanteras. It officially kickstarts the Diwali season. Our home, unlike most homes is not spruced up and clean. Nor is it lit up. It is messy and crowded. I am oscillating between tidying it up myself in the evening, putting strings of lights and letting it be the way it is. Not sure if I am the only one who has enthusiasm to tidy it. Mint would be most happy to celebrate in the midst of mess. That troubles me. Either I will let go, or I might do an express clean up once I get home. Let me see. Either way, I hope the holiday spirit takes over soon. Happy Diwali!

Posted in A penny for my thoughts, Meet the family | 22 Comments »

 
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