A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for January, 2014

Jubilation!

Posted by Pepper on January 31, 2014

It is hard to believe that I truly managed to accomplish something like this. 31 posts in 31 days? That has never happened in the history of my blogging journey, which by the way, spans over a decade. The thought of writing everyday always seemed daunting, so I was too afraid to venture there.

Last year, my infrequent blogging disappointed me. I was too busy living life, to actually write about it. And then each time I did stop by here, I realised I had way too much to say. So almost every month, I would aggregate the happenings of my life and lay them out in the form of a congested post. Those updates were important. My blog is deeply personal and I want it to be a record of my life. Without those updates, the blog would have had a lot of broken links and my life would seem disconnected. So I wrote those ‘update’ posts to maintain continuity, but the truth is I hated them. They covered the breadth of my life, but didn’t succeed in covering the depth. And in order to write about my life in depth, I have to write often. It is the only way. This is something I have come to realise.

So last December, I promised myself that I would write more frequently. And I would choose one month in the year in which I would post every single day. Now here is a confession. I was thinking of writing everyday in the month of Feb. You know why, don’t you? Feb is the shortest month, with only 28 days. So that would make it the easiest. Just when I had made up my mind, I read about the blogathon that so many people seemed to be participating in. And I decided to go for it, because I didn’t want to be left out. And because I had similar plans for the next month anyway.

This blogathon has been good for me in so many ways. For one, it has taught me an important lesson. That it IS possible to live life to the fullest and still find time to write. IF you want to. Desire is all that matters. I hoped my daily blogging wouldn’t eat into my reading, my sleep time, my family time, TV time, or outings. And it didn’t. I made minor changes to my life to fit in my blogging. At times, I wrote a post while watching TV. Other times I wrote the first half of a post in office and completed writing the second half after dinner. And other times, I wrote an entire post, word to word in my head while I driving back home. So I could come home and type it out in a jiffy. In the end, it all worked out.

The discipline that came with this commitment was good for me. I am not a sincere person. I set targets, make goals and then I let go. This time, I was sincere to my goal. It is a first for me. And I guess I really needed to have something in my life that I could be true to. Blogging on weekends was tough, and I was scared I will slip. But I learnt to chasten all fleeting thoughts of slipping. I told myself letting go for even a day was not an option. I can tell you I have never exhibited such power of will in the past.

I know this is true for most of us who participated in this blogathon – we became more receptive of our surrounding. I observed more, I pondered more and I found myself more attentive and appreciative. I drew inspiration from a lady selling anklets on the road, from a little fire lit outside a hut, from the silly argument I had with my parents, from Mint’s stubble and so much more. Like I always believe, every little being, every object, every idea has a story behind it. So there are millions of stories fluttering around in this universe. A slight pause and some thought is all it takes to soak in them. And this month, I found myself doing that a lot. Thank you Maya, for initiating this.

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Posted in Celebrations | 10 Comments »

Sometimes, lack of choice can be good

Posted by Pepper on January 30, 2014

It hasn’t even been two full years since we moved back to India. But to me, it seems like I’ve been living here for a lifetime. I do miss my old life in the US, I miss the home we had, I miss the people there, but I am happy here. More than happy. I remember writing this post one night after dinner, after I had just finished talking to my parents. I remember looking at our home in the Bay Area lovingly, and wondering how I would ever find the courage to take the plunge and move back home.

It all seemed so uncertain back then. Beside, life in India did not guarantee happiness. I wanted to move back here to live close to my parents – in the same city. I wasn’t sure we would have an opportunity to do that. I wasn’t sure if the work culture here would allow us quality time with the family. Thankfully, things fell in place for me in the most perfect way ever. I live close to my parents, in my city. Both Mint and I have very flexible and balanced jobs that give us more than enough time to pursue other things and enjoy some quality time together. I cling on to my life in this country.

The problem though, has always been the same. Mint does not want to live in India. He agreed to move back to homeland because I wanted to.I still consider that to be the biggest sacrifice he has made for me. We decided to try living in India for about 3 years. If he absolutely hated it, we would move back to the US. Does he hate it in India? No. He has a good life here. Does he still want to move back? Yes. Because he thinks this country is killing us. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat here, it is killing us. And if we are undergoing a slow death, the good and happy life we have here does not matter much.

The fact that Mint works in the same company now as he did in the US does not help. His managers are all based in California. They will be very happy if he agrees to move back there. They keep asking him every now and then, if he is interested in moving back. As a result, Mint keeps popping the question to me. “Shall we move back?”, he asks me this every few days. I pause for a minute, and then shake my head and say no. I love it here. Does not matter to me if I am dying. He does not get this. He tries reasoning with me in every possible way. When I argue, he pulls out his trump card. He reminds me of the fact that I want to have kids someday. “Do you want to subject them to this environment? Do you want them to breathe this air that is killing us?”

What am I supposed to say to that? Please tell me. I tell him there are a million people choosing to have kids in India, it does not mean they want to subject their kids to any harm. He tells me that majority of those million people do not have a choice. Whereas we do. So I will actually be choosing not just for my own self, but I will be choosing this deathly surrounding for them too. He knows how to trap me in my own guilt. He even goes on to the extent of saying he would never want to bring up his daughter in this patriarchal country. He will want to move out of here, especially if we have a girl.

What about all the love that our kids will miss out on if they aren’t living close to grandparents and family? What about our aging parents? Should we forget all of that. He says we can work out a solution for all of that. I don’t see how that is possible, but I let go. Because our arguments in this matter are unending. 

It is tough, living on opposite ends of the spectrum. Ofcourse, the corruption, pollution, attitude and apathy of this country is unnerving for me too. It makes it even harder for me to endure it, because I can’t vent to Mint. If if do, he has a ready response. Each time the traffic makes me snap, the pollution makes me choke, the outrageous attitude of our countrymen makes me see red, Mint tells me the same thing – “Well, you’ve chosen this, so don’t complain”. I have chosen this, yes. I hate this surrounding, but I still love my life with my people here. It would help if I had the opportunity to release my frustrations without being shut up with his standard remark. But then I have learnt to live with it.

The more I think about it, the more I realise how much happier I would have been without this choice. We would just be like the scores of Indians, complaining about the system, abusing it and then moving on. But this available choice, it forces me to pick a stand. It forces me to not complain, because well, I chose it. It forces me to choose responsibly. It forces me to face the consequences of my choice. It forces me to evaluate my choice.  None of which is pleasant. So I will deal with it all another day. For now, I will go back to my happy life and forget all about this burden of choice.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 34 Comments »

Food heaven..

Posted by Pepper on January 29, 2014

My mom, she is a strange woman. She feels guilty eating any food that happens to be loved by her kids if they are not present to enjoy it with her. So if the sister and I are not around, she will avoid preparing any food that features in our list of favourites.  And if at all she does prepare it for some reason, she will serve it to everybody, but will not feel comfortable eating it herself.

Is it guilt? Is it the need to share? I don’t know, but I know I always scoffed at mum. Until I started experiencing the same thing myself. No, I never stop myself from eating the said food. Just that I experience pangs of guilt. It is rather strange, because Mint and I have had several fights over food. We’ve fought over the last piece of chocolate brownie, over the last slize of pizza and more. My mom finds these fights petty, but I can tell you it is not funny when you glance at a shared plate and find it empty all of sudden. I accuse him of eating too fast, and therefore eating my share too. He accuses me of eating too slowly, making it hard for him to keep track of our individual consumption.

Considering that we actually fight over food, it is strange that I find myself wincing when I have the opportunity to eat something interesting all by myself. I think of saving some for him. I picture him eating it. I imagine his reactions. Finishing it all up alone just doesn’t sound appealing. So I end up being more generous to him by saving him a good piece when he is not around. I suppose it is the same with him, which is why he brings me half eaten bite sized goodies from work.

Yesterday, my mum made pani puri at home. The sister was supposed to come and stay with us at our place. She was supposed to bring the pani puri ingredients along with her, so we could have them too. Pani puri is much loved around here. I was waiting for the sister to arrive, so I could get my first taste of the tangy pani. But what do you know? She forget to bring it along with her. Can you even imagine how disappointed I was? 

My mom felt worse. She said she would come over and drop the pani puri at that time. Since she had had a long day and it was almost dinner time, I asked her to stay back. So we made our plans for today. We went to my parents place after work (Nothing new, I know) And there, I had my beloved pani puris, to my heart’s content. Princessbutter, I had a gazillion puris, enough to satiate the two of us.

panipuri

It was so easy to keep gorging on them, because my mom would actually do the needful in terms of readying the puris before handing them to me. So all I had to do was pop em in. I continued doing that till I was ready to burst. Only after I was through and had let out a contended sigh did I see mom sitting down to make some for herself. That is when I realised she had not had them until then. Sigh. Mothers!

 

Posted in Meet the family | 27 Comments »

The sound of music

Posted by Pepper on January 28, 2014

I read this post by LF today. It felt like a big punch in my gut. Because before I got married to Mint, I was confident I would pick up his language in about 2 years.  Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I realised today, in March, we will complete 4 years of marriage and there are no signs of me being able to speak in Tamil.

I was happy blaming Mint. He never makes any attempts to teach me, or even get me acquainted with regularly used words. There is almost no scope for my vocabulary to grow. Between the two of us, we comfortably lapse into Hindi and English. Even my inlaws speak very fluent English and communicating with them has never been a problem. When I have such little exposure, how am I to pick up the language, eh? Why can’t Mint take the initiative to speak to me in Tamil atleast sometimes? Even if it is just a line every now and then? How else will I learn it? It IS his fault. Knowing that relieved me.

And then I read LF’s post today and it resonated with me on so many levels. She managed to learn her husband’s language although they both communicate in English and Hindi. Just like us. Her abilities amaze me and make me realise I can’t use Mint’s uselessness as an excuse anymore.

Since Mint shows no interest in teaching me Tamil, I take the initiative to speak it in the way I can. It results in a mix of Tamil and Hindi, but he understands. Sometimes, the sentences I come up with would make any Tamil lover want to slaughter me. I ask for your forgiveness, people. But it is the only way I can learn. So a direct translation of “Tu abhi coffee peeyega?” is made and I ask him “Nee ippo coffee kudega?” Yes. Kudega! Or “Kab khaana hai?” becomes “Eppo saapdana hai?” Like I said, forgive me.

There is one thing I hold on to, though. Tamil music. No, I don’t understand the lyrics completely, but that doesn’t stop me from loving the sound of the music. I even sing the songs when no Tamil speaking person is around me. So today, I will put up some of my favourite songs. These songs were packed into my iPod. Those were the days in which Mint would stay up all night and translate each line for me! Yes, we made good use of skype during our US-UK days. I should have hung on to those times some more, because I am bloody sure he will think I have lost it if I ask him to spend even an hour translating for me now. Thankfully, I understand them a lot better now than I did earlier. Here we go! In no particular order..

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour | 33 Comments »

Mint’s shaving grace

Posted by Pepper on January 27, 2014

In every relationship, there comes a point beyond which you should not push. Where exactly that point lies is a question I ask myself everyday. I’ve written about it in the past. What is the right time to let go?

I am married to a man who does not believe in shaving regularly. Let alone shaving every day, he doesn’t even think it fit to shave every other day. The end result is a shabby, unkempt stubble. It angers me to see him like that. Not only does the stubble look bad, it also makes him come across as messy and disorderly. Which ofcourse, is not far from the truth. But if I can, I want to maintain a facade that safeguards our ‘image’. I never denied being shallow.

In a professional environment, a permanently shabby stubble is blasphemous, in my opinion. Who would want to see an employee in that overgrown and seemingly unclean state? Won’t people judge your personality and attitude? Unfortunately, Mint works in a very casual set up where most people walk in with crumpled tees and loose jeans. It is not the environment in which one would notice a stubble. Ofcourse, he loves his workplace.

On average, he shaves once in 10 days (No Mint, I am not exaggerating). If I ask him to shave before we go out, he agrees to do it. He doesn’t oppose or decline my request. But the problem is, most of our outings are unplanned. And when they are, we end up rushing out of the house in a big haste with little or no time for such luxuries. So again, the result is an unshaven Mint.

When we bump into people, or meet friends who end up seeing him in that state, I feel crushed. Few people will understand my anguish. I cringe. He is my husband and I want the world to recognise his good looks. An unshaven Mint with unkept hair and glasses looks completely different from a sweet smelling, clean shaven Mint with contacts on. The glasses, I don’t grudge ofcourse, but the grubby beard? That’s not done. I hate it that people see him in that terrible state, because I don’t want to be seen with a man who cares so little about personal grooming. It makes me feel embarrassed and I battle the demons, all alone.

How hard can it be to shave once in 3 days? Don’t you love me enough to do it? Is that how little you care about things that matter to me? His behavior is hurtful. Ofcourse, we’ve had these conversations several times. He promises me he will shave regularly. And then goes on to break his promise along with my heart the very next day. At times, I confront him and turn it into a battle, other times, I understand the crank quotient in me is here to stay and move on.

“Why is it that only you are so uncaring and lazy? Have you ever seen any of our male friends show up for dinner with an overgrown and shabby stubble? Why can’t you be neat and tidy like the rest of the men in this world?” I’ve asked him this several times. To which he says I should not compare him to the rest of the men in this world. Does he expect me to do what other women around him do? Does he ever ask me to follow any ‘standards’ that are set for women? And if he actually did behave like other men in this world, I may not necessarily be happy. Sigh. The man has irrefutable logic.

I do agree with him. So I try to fight my own shallow morals, to combat my deep rooted resistance to a messy stubble. I try and attack my own hidden insecurities. It causes a lot of internal dissonance, but I try. A while ago, Richa tagged me to write about this for a contest. It hit a raw nerve, so I let the surge of emotions pass before I decided to write about it. I know the contest is long over, but my views are here to stay.

Till date, if we are going to a place that I give adequate importance to, I insist Mint shaves. I refuse to leave the house until he does. Those times, he doesn’t argue. We leave the house only after he has emerged without the trace of a beard, complete with the scent of aftershave. But other times, I try and let go. I still wish he were different. But he isn’t. I can either take it as a personal loss and believe his beard is testimony to his lack of regard for me, or I can see it the way it is and attribute it to his laziness. The choice is mine. And I choose the latter. Because the truth is that he is an awesome person, who has done more for me than I can do for him in this life. I only hope I remember that when I have my next fit.

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 38 Comments »

The lesson you learn..

Posted by Pepper on January 26, 2014

when you see your sister and husband climbing a tree, dangling from its branches and finally settling back to pose for a picture..

tree

 

is to not wear leggings made of flimsy fabric that prevent you from roughing it up and joining the fun. After all, you never know what kind of temptations lie in store in form of inviting trees.

Posted in Slices of life | 5 Comments »

What a productive day is like

Posted by Pepper on January 25, 2014

This Saturday has been such a productive day. I woke up at 6 am today. Yes! I went for a run, soaking in the freshness of the morning and the sweet chirping of sparrows. Exercise works best in the morning, don’t you think?

Then I came back to a healthy breakfast of boiled eggs and natural, freshly squeezed juice. The next few minutes were spent in meditation, calming my mind and learning to breathe right.

I decided to not just clean, but organize the house today. A task I have been postponing forever. So the fridge was cleaned out first. Kitchen cabinets were emptied, the jars were labelled and put back in after lining the cleaned shelves with newspaper. Every visible particle of dust was wiped out. And in this sparkling kitchen, we cooked a wholesome and healthy lunch.

Then we moved to the bedroom. The wardrobes were upturned. Unused clothes were separated for donating. Dirty clothes were laundered. They were then stalked in piles according to their style and colour. So all sleeveless tops lay in one neat pile. The blacks tees went in together and so on. Now the wardrobes are structured and coherent.

We then sat down to our wholesome and healthy lunch. It was a treat. After lunch, we discussed out finances. This has been another pending chore. We allocated a budget to the month. We tracked our expenses and even paid our monthly bills. We made investment plans. And after this productive discussion, we cooked dinner.

After that, I spent some time pursuing an old hobby. I painted. I mixed those glorious colours in my palette and let my brush create magic with them. It was beautiful. Painting brings your inner creativity to the fore. It is therapeutic.

Early in the evening, we ran some errands. Groceries were done for the week. We made other pending purchases. We are back home now. After putting everything we bought in place, we will settle back to watch a movie as we have our dinner, in our clean and organised home. We’ll also open some beer to go with it..and..

OKAY. FINE. Fine. I will stop. But please tell me, what is the point in having an anonymous blog if I can’t make up stuff and lie even sometimes?

Posted in Slices of life | 29 Comments »

I am in a bad mood

Posted by Pepper on January 24, 2014

Because my laptop is acting up.

Because Mint made me wait for a long time today. As usual, I know. But this time, I was waiting for him on the road. It was cold. I am terribly pissed.

Because he isn’t with me right now. I want him.

Because I had a very busy day, and yet, I managed to accomplish very little. A classic case of going around in circles.

Because it is Friday, and I am not feeling the kind of excitement I would like to feel.

Because I had a hair cut today and paid for it through my bloody nose. And no, it doesn’t seem worth it.

Because the mad traffic on the road left me disgruntled.

Because I am craving a burrito bowl from Chipotle with extra guacamole. And I know there is no way I can have it.

Because this post is disappointing me. I am churning out complete trash in the name of a post. But then this blogathon is wearing me out. Not because we have to post everyday, but because we have to post everyday before midnight.

Because there isn’t much time left before the clock strikes 12. It was such a crappy day, I haven’t had a chance to have dinner yet. But I decided to get done with this post first. I deserve a salute. Food is usually my first priority.

Because I bought a lovely pink dress for Rs 2,000. And then I saw the same dress being sold on a road side shop for Rs. 600. This sucks.

Because I just realised I have too many reasons to sulk.  That knowledge is giving me an extra reason to sulk. Seriously, I should stop.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments »

Red. The colour of my cheeks is red.

Posted by Pepper on January 23, 2014

One of the reasons I love living in Mumbai is that it gives me an opportunity to introduce Mint to components of my childhood. Yes, even when we were living in the US, we did visit Mumbai every year. But it was never the same. It can’t be. There are somethings that can be seen and experienced only if you are living in a place, as opposed to just visiting it. Now that I am back to living in my city, I often take Mint around to tour my past.

The little playgrounds I ran around in, the corner on the road in which I waited for my school bus to arrive, my favourite restaurants, the building my grandmom once lived in, all of it. I let him absorb it, hoping it gives him a better understanding of where I come from.

Yesterday, I took Mint to the Jatra. The jatra is a 5 day folk fair that happens in January every year. When we were in school, the BFF and I would wait for January to come, especially because it brought the Jatra along with it. We never missed it. This year, I really wanted Mint to experience one of my childhood joys. So plans were made. The BFF, her BF, the sister, Mint and I. We would all meet after work and head there.

We did, and we had a whale of a time. The jatra is full of thrilling rides,giant wheels, games of skill (Shoot the balloons, ring the stuff toy), street food and the sale of delightful little knickknacks.The first ride we went for made our senses reel. The spinning and speed were dizzying and we were all screaming until we were hoarse. What fun!

DSC_0652

We did a couple of other fattu rides (I really don’t know how I can translate ‘fattu’, forgive me) after which we moved on to the giant wheel. There is something about the giant wheel that makes even adults squirm in childish glee. Each time we rose up in the air, I felt my heart whoop. I couldn’t get over the lack of safety measures in sight though. No belts, no bars, no protection! This would NEVER ever happen in the US. But here, we just sat in an open capsule. Finally when I did look down from that height, I couldn’t help but clutch on to the sides. Much joy, nevertheless.

Giantwheel

We bought a lot of pretty little things. Earrings, peacock feathers, a slate, hair clips, a toy gun with dart like bullets, and a handmade mesh resembling a cage with two little parrots dangling from a wire inside. I totally loved it and bought two of them. See? I plan to hang these near my window.

parrots

I haven’t come to the most embarrassing part of my evening yet. After the gala time we had at the fair, we decided to head out for dinner. Now this was a good restaurant. As we sat on our table, I decided to take a look at the goodies we had purchased. I examined the gun. For some reason, the bullets weren’t staying inside. They would fall out the moment I pushed them in. I was upset. I’ve been wanting a toy gun forever (Do not remind me of my age!). Now that I had finally bought one, I wanted to make sure it had no defect. Because if it did, I planned to go back there and exchange it. I pulled the trigger to test. Nothing happened. Sorely disappointed, I started pulling the trigger repeatedly, deriving some unknown joy out of the sheer act. And then it happened.

Without warning, a bullet flew out of the gun and landed on the next table. And to make matters worse – it landed right inside a plate. There was stunned silence. The people on that table had no idea what had come flying over their heads and landed in their midst. And then they saw the gun in my hand. I was HORRIFIED. I stood up, and said “I am sorry. I am really sorry. I am so sorry. I am sorry”, or something to that effect. How the f*ck was I supposed to explain that? I wished the gun in my hand was real, so I could shoot myself in the head and die. For a moment, I even considered hiding beneath the table. No kidding.

Mint and R, ofcourse, could not stop laughing. They were sitting across the rest of us and had been absorbed in deep conversation when it all happened. They had noticed nothing. So all they saw was me standing up all of a sudden, looking at the people on the adjacent table and vehemently apologizing. They were very confused, until it all dawned upon them. I feel mortified even as I write this. Here’s the bloody culprit.

gun

 

Posted in Life in India | 20 Comments »

Because a senseless post deserves no title..

Posted by Pepper on January 22, 2014

This is going to be another pointless, aimless and senseless post. In short, total bakwas.  Don’t blame me, okay? I have a hell lot to do at work. I never realised the true meaning of the word ‘responsibility’ while I was employed. But having to run something of my own? Now that, gives the word a whole new meaning. Because no, you are not simply responsible for one function. Especially if you are managing a set up with just 20 employees.

Fixing the balance sheet, making required purchases for the year to avoid tax, planning production to cope with a sudden rise in volume, creating a system to optimize delivery, playing with funds, bidding for tenders, figuring out how to train contractual factory workers, making sure client requirements are met and orders executed, I do all of that in a day. It is awfully difficult. But you know what is the toughest? Supervising my own self. If I screw up, there is nobody to fire me. But the repercussions are all mine.

Oh don’t dare to ask me why I do all of that myself. Why not hire people? Because if you do ask me that (like some people do), I will call you plain stupid. We already have what we can afford within our budget. And regarding the people who are on board, tell me, who will look into their work? Who will pass on directives? Who will manage them? And inorder to do all that, don’t I have to be involved too? Huh? HUH? Do you idiots realise that it is a small company with just 20 people, and not a big corporation in which I can afford to disconnect myself from all the lowly affairs?

Every day, I try to steal some time to write a post while I am still at work. It never happens. Because the amount of things I need to do just descend upon me without much mercy. But today, I realised I had to find time to put this up. Because I plan to head out after work (I know, I seem to say this almost every other day). And so, I am not sure how much of a position I will be in after I get back home late at night.

So you have this mini rant for a post today. Oh before I leave, I must share my source of amusement with you. There was some instrument I had to inspect today. When I opened the official mail, it asked me to use ‘Finger condoms’ before proceeding. We operate in a very technical field, dealing with X Ray sources and atomic shielding. Gloves are a common part of our lives. But finger condoms? REALLY?! That was a first. And to see those words in an official mail? I laughed for a long time.

Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour | 17 Comments »

You wonder..

Posted by Pepper on January 21, 2014

Sometimes you witness something that leaves you thinking for a long time. I witnessed something like that today. We were driving, dad and I. We saw a pedestrian jumping right in front of the car ahead of us. In order to save the pedestrian, the car ahead swerved to its left. Yet, it hit the pedestrian, who fell down with the impact, but was relatively unhurt and able to get back on his feet slowly. The car ahead slowed down after it hit the pedestrian, but instead of stopping and stepping out to make sure all was okay with the man who had collapsed, the driver sped away.

I was seething. How could any driver be that inhuman? How could he not stop? I was so angry, I felt my entire body tremble. My dad, who had witnessed the entire scene was able to gather his thoughts and gain composure more easily. He made me realise that the locality we were driving through was known to be aggressive and dangerous. Had he stepped out of the car, the crowd that had gathered would have thrashed the driver and left him severely injured. After all, no matter who is at fault, it is always the driver who is held responsible in India. So I had to keep that in mind, before sitting on my high horse, making a judgment and calling him inhuman.

Yes, the pedestrian was entirely at fault and the driver had no hand in this. We saw how the pedestrian recklessly appeared in front of a speeding car. He came out of nowhere, quite literally. The driver attempted to save him. I witnessed all of this. But yet, I couldn’t accept the way he fled. Shouldn’t he have checked to make sure the pedestrian wasn’t seriously injured, and maybe offered to take him to the hospital if need be? But again, if he did get out, he would have to face an unreasonable mob. Should he have risked his life for a mistake he didn’t commit?

I know I would have stepped out of the car to help the man, risking all that lay in store for me in the form of an angry crowd. But perhaps, perhaps I should judge the driver a little less. Sometimes, humanity collides with self preservation. It is not an easy choice.

Posted in Life in India | 14 Comments »

Counting the difference

Posted by Pepper on January 20, 2014

It was one of those days. There was a heated argument and I raised my voice to say what I strongly felt. The parents disagreed. Edgy as I was, I snapped when my attempts to reason with them failed. Then the sister spoke. She echoed my thoughts and said the same thing, word to word. That was dismissed with a, “Oh, you always support your sister blindly! You just agree with whatever she says. You have no mind of your own”.

Since I periodically face similar allegations, this infuriated me beyond words. Yes, each time the sister and I support each other, the parents attribute that to an imaginary vow we made to each other in which we pledged blind support. That is untrue! There was no such vow. We have brains! If either of us disagree with the other, we say it. But can it be helped that we rarely disagree?

I’ve said this before, nobody in this world gets me the way my sister does. Sometimes, I find something disturbing. I fumble for an explanation, but it eludes me. My parents and Mint look at me quizzically, “How can you have a problem with that?”, they ask. I don’t know. I wish I could explain. And then I go on to find out that my sister has a problem with exactly the same thing too. When questioned by the rest, she fumbles for an explanation too. Our eyes meet, and we grin. We might not be able to explain it to the rest, but atleast we know that the two of us completely get each other. I suspect our brains are wired in exactly the same way.

The sister and I are inseparable. Most people around us know it. So it comes to me as a surprise, when some people wonder if siblings with a big age difference can be close. Hell, yes! They can be. But will they necessarily be? Now, there is no one answer to this question. My sister is a good 6 years younger to me. We are still exceptionally close. Yet, I know siblings who are far apart from each other, with a mere 2 year age difference separating them. Some others say it is a gender thing. You know, same sex siblings tend to be more close. Again, I disagree. I’ve seen all kinds of cases and I will say it really depends on other factors..

There are a million advantages of siblings being close in age. These advantages are well spoken about. But, you know, surprisingly, a bigger age difference has a lot of advantages too. My sister’s entire childhood is etched in my memory. I remember her first words, her first steps, her first day in school, all of it. It is all recorded in my memory. Had we been too close in age, this may not have been possible. My mom would nap in the afternoon, leaving her 1 year old daughter to the care of her 7 year old. I felt big, I felt responsible. I taught the sister her rhymes and her ABCs. I was always on the lookout for her when we played with other kids in our complex. And this feeling of looking after made me feel very important and well, joyous.

Ofcourse, there was this age in between. An age in which she would still come up to me with her toys and expect me to play with her. But I had gone past playing with dolls, and playing ‘ghar ghar‘ under the dining table and was more interested in listening to Vengaboys and ogling at Leonardo DiCaprio. So I would strike a balance. I would play with her out of a sense of duty at times, and other times, I would simply sit beside her and tell her about this guy I thought was cute, his name was Mihir, and that he played basketball. Other times, I forced her to sit next to me when I studied, and I read aloud to her from my Biology textbooks.

For me, she was still a baby, at 7 or 8. I would spill out my secrets, my bizarre ideas, my life to her, as though I was talking to myself. After all, I was talking to a young child who I thought understood and retained nothing. To my horror! The brat remembers all those things I said to her. She embarrasses me with a, “You know, Pepper had a crush on this lanky guy called Mihir when she was just 13 *Giggle*”. And I have to rewind my memory first, after which I go “Oh My God! You remember that! Did you have to say it now?”

I’ve had her doling out sane advice to me from the time she was 13 or 14. We’ve had a shared childhood, a shared bedroom, and our share of aimless conversations that happened after the lights were turned off. Today, we’ve reached a stage where age doesn’t matter at all. I do not think our age difference prevented us from being close to each other. In the end, I will say, whether you are close to your sibling or not depends on a host of factors. Age is just one of them.

I am reposting this picture of ours. Me on her. A perfect representation of the nutcases we are..

Madness

This post is dedicated to that special someone, who is considering not having a second child ONLY because she is worried her two kids will be too far apart in age, and therefore not close to each other. That is not true, babe. The age difference matters, but so does the environment you bring them up in. So put aside those fears and do what your heart says..

Posted in Meet the family | 27 Comments »

Sunday evening

Posted by Pepper on January 19, 2014

When you’ve had a buzzing weekend, which included strolling out of bed and running to a movie theatre to just about make it in time for a movie you’ve been wanting to watch, having a lazy lunch at a well known eatery, allowing the SALES to lure you into the mall and spending hours there, going to your cousin’s place to play with their darling bacchas, heading out for dinner to yet another well known eatery for dinner, waking up late the next day, stepping out to run errands, following it with a big lunch at a famous little joint, yes, when you’ve done all of that, you want your Sunday evening to be relaxed.

So you head over to your parents’ place. Afterall,which other place can bring that kind of comfort?

You spend part of your evening reading. Yes, we are done with ‘The Zoya Factor’ and have moved on to ‘Nineteen Minutes’ by Jodi Picoult. You read, and are spoilt with a hot cup of chai.

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You also spend some time on your favourite rocking chair. Doing nothing but lying back and, well, rocking yourself comfortingly.

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You watch some news with your family. Oh, the debates. They’re amusing.

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Then you step into the kitchen, to see your mom sorting out fresh greens that have been bought today. Greens in winter are a true delight!

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And from there, those delicious greens make way to your plate. Lightly browned rice with a medley of greens, veggies and dal. The quintessential maa ka haath ka khana.

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You top that off with Mint cream cookies. With real Belgian chocolate! Mind blowing! That’s what they were.

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There, you have the perfect end to the perfect weekend. I may not be rich enough to afford too many luxuries, expensive cars, posh homes and the works, but I do have all that it takes to make my life perfect.

Posted in Small joys | 20 Comments »

A truly versatile taste

Posted by Pepper on January 18, 2014

While flipping through the kitchen..

Me: Oh My God! There are ants inside this chapati ka dabba. What do we do for dinner now?

Mint: So what. They are just ants. We will dust em off and use the chapatis.

Me: Eeks! I am not doing that. I’ll eat the two chapatis in the other box. You do what you want with these.

After 10 minutes

Me: Look, I am hungry. You are taking too long, so I will start eating. I’ve already heated my meal.

Mint: You heated yours, but didn’t heat mine? Why are you so mean?

Me: I am not mean, I was waiting for you to figure out what you wanted to do with your chapatis. I couldn’t heat them, na?

Mint: Why not?

Me: Huh? Would you not mind eating microwaved ants?

Mint: So what? They’re a good source of protein anyway.

Me: *Speechless*

I know he says all of this to gross me out and test my reactions. But I also know he would be totally unperturbed had he actually swallowed a couple of ants. When I say Mint is ready to eat just anything, I mean it.

 

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 13 Comments »

What makes it a ‘Happy Meal’..

Posted by Pepper on January 17, 2014

If there is one thing I hate, it is eating all by myself. I don’t know why, but I find the experience very disturbing. It makes me feel frightfully lonely. When I lived at home, meal time was family time. Infact, during my growing years, we didn’t even have a dining table in the small house we lived in. Yet, all meals were eaten together on the couch. And then my mom would tag the sister and I to my maternal grandmum’s place after school every week. There again, we would all sit down to eat a hearty meal that was spread out on a cane mat on the floor. I have lovely memories of those meals, they were replete with butter milk and my grandmother’s famous carrot pickle. And lots of joy.

After all those harmonious memories of happy meals, I moved to UK. I hadn’t anticipated this, but I ended up living all alone in a huge 3 bedroom house. I had expected to share the home with 2 other flatmates, and I did. But coincidentally, both of them moved out at around the same time. So I had to live all by myself for a few months. I remember feeling the despair each night as I would step into the kitchen. The truth is, I hardly ate in that period. Half a bowl of leftover salad, a cold sandwich or a pack of Maggi, taken from my precious stash. On most days, that is what my lonesome meal consisted of. Those meals were consumed without much interest.

And then I got married. Mint’s idea of enjoying a meal is very different. Not used to meal time chatter, he prefers eating in front of the TV. I know, this isn’t the ideal way to eat, but I’ve gotten used to it and it works for us now. The TV on, our legs stretched out, full plates on our laps and we have a happy, noisy meal. Noisy because of the loud guffaws that erupt. Most times, we watch the ‘Big Bang Theory’ while we eat. These days though, we’ve been watching ‘Lost’. There isn’t much conversation, but the companionship and camaraderie makes me feel complete.

I don’t know why I struggle so much to eat a meal in solitude. For me, a meal is meant to be eaten with people around you. Especially people you share a connection with. If I have to eat all alone, my brain flashes an ‘Error’ message. As though it is a signal, telling me, ‘this is not how it is supposed to be done’. Something must be wrong here. Mint says I over think everything and my head is full of unnecessary thoughts. I know he is right. I’ve tried to change, and I am better than what I used to be. But yet, I can never have too much interest in a meal that has to be eaten alone.

Today, I found myself in a situation in which I had to step out to eat lunch. Alone. I know how much I struggle to eat alone even at home, and to be able to do it in a restaurant! I was unsure. I wanted to skip the meal. But I held on. I told myself to not feel abandoned, just because I had to eat a solitary meal. It was okay. So I found myself a corner table for two and placed my order. Surprisingly, I was completely at ease. Yes, there was  a moment of guilt when I saw a couple waiting their turn for the table. Guilt, for occupying space. What right did a single person have to a table meant for two? What a waste of space. The guilt made me swallow my food hurriedly. Until I realised I was being ridiculous. I had chosen the smallest table they had. Beyond that, I couldn’t do much. And just because I didn’t have anybody to accompany me, did not mean I didn’t have the right to a peaceful meal. So I tossed aside the guilt and enjoyed my meal.

This has been a milestone of sorts. I am glad I pushed myself to do something that pulled me out of my comfort zone. And like all milestones, this one had to be recorded here.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 24 Comments »

 
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