A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for March, 2014

Year 4 – Happy Anniversary, Mint

Posted by Pepper on March 27, 2014

Dear Mint,

We turned 4 years old two days ago! When the clock struck 12, you woke me up and gave me a card. I was taken aback, because you haven’t given me a card in a long time now. All the cards I have carefully saved have been given to me by you before we were married. Ofcourse, that gives me the opportunity to talk about ‘how you used to do such sweet things for me once upon a time’, and how you don’t do them anymore. Your gesture will now force me to shut up for some time. When I was trying to wake you up in the morning, you put in front of me your curled fist. When I opened it, I saw a lovely chain and a pendant. What had happened to you? This was more sweetness than I had been prepared for. All this time, I wasn’t feeling guilty for not having done anything special for you, because you know how very busy we’ve both been. Yet, you did manage to spring these surprises. I wondered what my excuse was. card

I look at our journey so far and I realise how we have remained unchanged. I still don’t know when we will turn into responsible adults. We are so tired of hearing people say we don’t behave like married people do, we just let go now. Marriage is meant for grown ups. And grown ups are responsible. We decided to get married one day even before we felt ‘grown up’. It would happen, we thought. We will learn. We never did. And I don’t know when we will. As of today, we still throw our clothes all around the house, order food every other day, wake up really late, live in a mess, spend money very irresponsibly, thrive on junk and more. I know we enjoy our untamed existence, but trust me, this is not conducive to healthy living. I hope we change sometime, for our own sake.

I feel tongue tied when I review the year that went by. We’ve argued and fought so much. We’ve hugged and kissed so much. We’ve blamed each other for ridiculous reasons. We’ve stood by each other in difficult times. We’ve screamed at one another. We’ve clung to one another. It makes me wonder what kind of a couple we make. We’re not the ‘ever loving’ type given how often we argue. We’re not the ‘always fighting’ type given how much we smile, cuddle and hug. I don’t know where we fit, but I guess it doesn’t matter at all. What matters is how awesome I think we are together. *grins*

I still hate how attached to your phone and laptop you are, I hate the fact that you don’t have much value for time, I hate some of your habits, but I also love the fact that you give me a hundred kisses on my forehead, that you put my wishes above your own, that you serve me dinner even when you are tired yourself, that you are always there for my family, that you smilingly bear with my sometimes unreasonable moods, that you stand up for me no matter what, that you take me on those lovely holidays, that you really want to carry me and walk every time I say I am tired, that you still don’t flinch while clearing the bathroom drain full of my hair. You are amazing. Stay the same.

I am putting up another favourite picture of mine. This one makes me feel all warm and reminds me of how often we embrace..

Europe61

Lots of love,

— Pepper

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Posted in Splashes of Mint | 67 Comments »

More Goa

Posted by Pepper on March 24, 2014

– We traveled to Goa by train. In RAC. And that too, in a non AC coach. To my surprise, the entire train was CROWDED! There were a million youngsters surrounding us – so many traveling without reservation. They crouched on dirty floors and chatted away to glory. You could hear sounds of the guitar blending with sounds of laughter. I guess Goa was a very popular choice for that long weekend.

– Since we were traveling in RAC, The BFF and I ended up sharing a berth. We’re both sort of petite, me more than her. We really thought we would be able to fit in and get some sleep, but we spent the entire night kicking each other’s faces and pushing one another so we could lay claim to some more space. In the end, we gave up. Ironically, we fell asleep in the last half an hour. Always happens, no?

– We were a group of 6 people, consisting of 3 couples. Out of the 3 couples, Mint and I were the only married couple. The other two always tell us ‘how cool’ we are considering we are married. We are just like them – we don’t seem ‘married’. I don’t know what to make of it, but this always leaves me feeling happy. Maybe because I don’t like being associated with the ‘typical Indian married couple’.

– We rented a villa with 3 bedrooms just a few minutes away from the beach. It was surprisingly cheap. I guess advance bookings do help. The beds were a little shaky, and we had fun cracking some jokes and teasing the unmarried folks. They don’t get a room to themselves often, and this time that they did, it came with shaky/noisy beds. Poor people. *Giggles*

– For a change, I was on the beach at about 6 am. Usually, I am not even up at that time on a holiday. This time, we reached Goa at about 5 am and we could check in to our villa only by 11. So the early morning was spent on the beach. It was quiet and empty. Totally worth it, I say.

– Hiring a 2 wheeler turned out to be quite a pain. Like I said, this was a very crowded weekend. We did get our bikes finally and had some fun times riding around and exploring new beaches. Did I tell you? I have a new favourite now.

– More than half of the world thinks Goa is wasted on me. I don’t eat fish and I don’t like beer. So I have neither. I am used to hearing people gasp, but hey, I love Goa to bits despite the lack of beer and fish. What can I do? I am equally happy without the ‘Kings’ and the ‘prawns’.

– Though I have been to Goa about a 100 times, this was the first time I actually went to the Saturday night flea market. I thought it was terrific. It made me wonder why I hadn’t been there before.

– I absolutely love Goan bread. It is called Poee. Warm, freshly baked poee slathered with butter is a favourite. I make sure to get some with almost every meal when I am in Goa.

– This psrticular trip was also special, because for the remaining two days of our stay, we rented a huge open jeep. What an experience it was! We drove to South Goa in our very awesome jeep. Just that the heat we had to endure in the two hour drive almost killed us. Most of us draped our heads and faces with all the possible towels, stoles and scarves we could lay our hands on. Despite that, by the time we reached we were dying due to dehydration. I may have gulped down atleast 4 glasses of fresh lime with ice the moment we stepped out.

– Every time we go to Goa, we make sure we make a trip to Palolem in South Goa. And every time we make a trip to Palolem, we make sure we eat at ‘Dropadi’. I hear their tandoori fish is to die for. But for me, I go there for the basil and cheese fritters that they serve with a sweet chili dip. It is AMAZING!

– Our drive back to north Goa was a very memorable one. We could see the full moon from our open jeep. It was a cool and pleasant night. Instead of sitting, we choose to stand in our jeep and that made all the difference. The breeze, the soft music, the full moon, the open jeep and the empty roads. It was all perfect. If you go to Goa in a group, I highly recommend renting an open jeep.

– The next morning, I was strolling on the beach with my slippers in my hands. It was scorching, but we had emerged out of the sea, all drenched, so the heat didn’t seem too unbearable. Suddenly, I stepped onto a broken beer bottle that had been thrown in the sand. Ofcourse, it gave me a deep cut and blood began to trickle. What made it worse is that I had just stepped out of the sea and my feet were still wet. Obviously, the water was salty. I had to walk on hot, burning sand. The open, bleeding wound, the salt and the hot sand made me go ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAHHH’. In my head, ofcourse. To others, I just said, ‘Oh no, it’s okay. Not a big deal. I will manage to walk on my own’. Sucks to be a grown up, did I tell you?

– I limped for a while. I have a neat little scar on my right foot now. I call it my memento. It gets me some attention. And I love attention from my loved ones. There were a few other glitches. Perhaps I will write about them sometime. Perhaps I won’t. But if you ask me in one word to describe our little vacation, I will say ‘fabulous’. After all, Goa always is.

Posted in Travel | 36 Comments »

Please have some

Posted by Pepper on March 19, 2014

So I had to go the bank today. Have I told you I end up going to the bank atleast once a week? We have a lot of big business transactions happening and I need to make atleast one trip a week to oversee the process. Sometimes, I have to go only to ensure they speed up the process, otherwise a lot of our projects get held up because of administrative delays.

Today, I needed some documents from the bank quite urgently, so I went and plonked my ass on the chair in the manager’s cabin. He told me he can’t hand me the documents today. I told him how important those documents were for us and that I would not leave the bank until he did. We negotiated for some time and finally I managed to convince him. He agreed to give me the documents, but said they would take about 30 minutes to be readied. Fine, I said. I will wait outside.

Once I stepped out of the cabin, I remembered there was a Cafe Coffee Day on the ground floor. I headed there and ordered a frappe. It was awfully hot. So I thought something cold would be good. I am not sure why, my frappe didn’t arrive for about 30 minutes. I panicked. What if they don’t give me the documents just because I took longer to get there? After all, they are full of excuses. Just when I was about to cancel my order, I saw the server coming to my table with a tall glass. The frappe seemed more like iced coffee – the one that is still in semi solid form. It was really cold! But since I had no time, I hurriedly gulped down the almost frozen coffee, all along biting pieces of ice.

When I got back to the cabin, the manager told me the documents were still not ready. He offered me a cup of coffee as consolation. I declined. Without checking with me again, he asked the peon to get me some coffee. Err, why? I had clearly declined! But what do you know? A steaming cup of coffee was placed right in front of me. Since I didn’t know what else to do, I quietly sipped the coffee that ended up burning my tongue. It was scalding! This, right after I had hurriedly gulped a big glass of very cold coffee. The extreme combination of hot and cold caffeine all at once was beginning to make me feel queasy. I ran out the moment I got hold of my documents. I was worried I would throw up, but thankfully I didn’t.

This incident made me think. It is really not the first time I have been forced to consume something after I have politely declined. I believe it is a very Indian thing. I know my mom constantly forces everybody to ‘eat some more’. I think I understand where this comes from. Indians operate with one belief – you mean ‘yes’ when you say ‘no’ for food. Because after all, you are too shy to accept it without fuss. Sigh. The sad truth is that this is actually true in my case. Many times I refuse food though I am dying to have it – just because it may inconvenience others, or I may seem like a glutton to them. I actually am shy, so I say no when I am offered. Many times. Unfortunately, the remaining times I mean it when I say ‘no’. How are people supposed to distinguish? I don’t know. All I know is that Indians really do go overboard and thrust things onto your plate without your consent.

I’ve had several arguments with Mint. One time we were at his friend’s place. They offered us tea. We said no. Yet, they decided to serve us some. Before we knew it, the tray was laid in front of us. Argh. I really didn’t want the tea, but there is no way I would say it after it had been made. So I smiled as I accepted my cup. Mint on the other hand told them, “Oh, you made it? I really didn’t want it”.

I was SO mad at him! What was the need to tell them you didn’t want it after it was made? They can do nothing about it now, so why would you make them feel bad? Ofcourse, he said nothing. The other time, we were at my aunt’s place. She was serving us. Mint told her he didn’t want the food she was putting on his plate. He said it twice. Yet, she went ahead and put some anyway. That got him annoyed and he almost shouted, “I really don’t want it. Please don’t keep putting food on my plate like that. I can’t eat and I don’t like wasting food”. There was silence. I was horrified. I am sorry, I know people don’t get it, but there is no way you can be rude like that. It was not his words. It was his tone. This caused our biggest fight in the year 2013. Our arguments or fights don’t usually last for more than an hour or two, but this time, I didn’t speak to him for a good week. Infact, this has been the biggest fight we’ve ever had. I still cringe when I think of how he spoke to my aunt and I am not sure I can ever forget that.

I think Mint has very poor EQ. I tell him his emotional quotient is almost zero. He doesn’t understand the need to not be blunt and direct at all times. He doesn’t understand how complicated human feelings can be. What a pity. But his stupidity apart, I do understand Indians can be quite difficult to deal with in matters concerning food. They believe coaxing you to eat is a way of expressing their love. The scary part is that I find myself following the same path. I’ve caught myself more than once, asking folks to eat some more. *Gulp*

Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour | 79 Comments »

VIP

Posted by Pepper on March 14, 2014

I feel much lighter today. The past few days have been stressful. Today, I feel more free and less anxious.

Today morning I walked into office and saw an email that made me feel a wee bit relieved. This is related to the stress I was under because of something going wrong at work. While this email I got was not necessarily an indicator of things being alright, it was a tiny step in that direction. We still have a long way to go, but atleast we are moving forward.

I strongly believe me getting into a business environment was very important for my growth. I have the ability to panic at the drop of a hat. I hate being pushed to the edge. I buckle too easily under pressure. I love stability. But my current work environment forces me to face all that I have so far tried to escape. In all this time, I have learnt a lot. Most importantly, I have learnt to remain unfazed in panic inducing situations. I work on finding solutions and solving problems and I am surprised by my own ability. And ofcourse, when things go well, the highs I experience are very sweet.

The other problems I wrote about in my earlier post continue. I have come to realise Oregano’s health will continue to remain shaky, until we do the transplant atleast. I should try and accept it. It is hard, but there is no other way.

And lastly, our personal crisis. Well, I do see the magnitude isn’t the same anymore. We’re in a better place, but we still have to deal with a big problem. I hate giving partial information like this – so I won’t say more. No point sounding secretive. I have about 1.5 months in total to solve this problem. One day I will write a long post detailing the dilemma we faced.

It is a lovely Friday evening and the prelude to a long weekend. In 2 hours, I am off to Goa, so yay! Though our bookings were made much in advance, our current situation made us wonder if we should really go for this holiday. Afterall, we had so much to think of, and so many things to fix. But then we realised that our offices and even the banks will remain shut for these 3 days, so we might as well abandon all our worries and go. Goa is always a good idea. See you soon.

PS – I am sorry for the very unrelated title. I am quite tired of racking my brains for one. Most of my titles are bland and obvious. Today, I just happened to look around and caught sight of a cardboard box that said said ‘VIP’. So this post is in honour of that unopened, mysterious box that has been placed in my cabin. Must find out what it is.

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments »

Worry

Posted by Pepper on March 11, 2014

It has been almost 48 hours now. I’ve been facing some severe tensions. And as it usually happens, they have all chosen to come to me together.

The first one is related to work. There is something I have been struggling with. It isn’t working out and that is very worrisome. Especially because of the kind of money it involves. It is big. The onus of finding a solution rests on me. I have been racking my brains. And worrying.

The second one is about Oregano. He is in the hospital. Again! (ETA: I wrote this post yesterday, and though he is back at home now, his situation is still worrisome). I really don’t know what I can do to help. His condition troubles me. Also, my FIL’s test results are out and he may not be accepted as a donor for the transplant. At the same time, the doctor hasn’t ruled him out completely. It is all very vague. My MIL will be tested now and then we will figure the next course of action. I don’t know what to make of all this. It is scary and distressing.

Lastly, we are in the midst of a personal crisis of high magnitude. We have never been put in a situation like this. We need a solution soon. A lot is at stake. Mint and I have been probing all possibilities to work something out. A roadblock as massive as this was never anticipated by us. So here we are, wondering how we can solve this giant sized problem.

Yesterday, I could feel my brain shutting down. So I walked out of office relatively early. Some time has passed and we still haven’t found the solutions we’ve been looking for. I went for a long walk last night. The one thought that made me feel light and euphoric was this – atleast my parents are not suffering from ill health! I can handle the worst of worries, but my parents being sick shakes me like nothing else. I am so thankful to God for keeping my parents safe. Everything else will be alright.

Posted in Chaos | 19 Comments »

Kabootar ja ja ja

Posted by Pepper on March 6, 2014

I have been terrified of pigeons since the time I can remember. Their eyes look evil. The noisy flapping of their wings gets me startled almost every time and I shriek when they come close. They also love stealthily entering your home when you aren’t looking. Sometime ago, the sister and I walked into our bedroom, only to find a pigeon sitting comfortably in the centre of the bed. Ofcourse, we let out a loud scream and ran helter skelter in panic. The confused pigeon too violently flapped its wings and flew around the room looking for an exit. Finally, we ran out and shut the bedroom door until we found help.

Even today, I watch the damn pigeons peck at the plants in my parents home. They break little twigs, pluck out the leaves and peck at our precious plants just because they are bored! Arey, if you folks are bored, go find something entertaining to do. Why damage our plants? Every time we see the pigeons attacking our plants in the balcony, we run towards it. All along screaming, ‘Go! Go! Go!’. The truth is we are too scared to go too close. So we just pretend to scare them away, all along being scared ourselves. Like I said, the noisy flapping of their wings is frightening.

Day before yesterday, we were busy with something and we got home home really late at night. It was around 2 am by the time we slept. The sister was staying at our place. The next day was a working day for us. We had overslept and were scurrying around in the usual morning rush, getting ready, packing our lunch boxes when the bell rang. The sister who had just woken up, walked up to open the door. The watchman stood outside. He asked her, “Aap log kabootar paal rahe hai kya”. The sister was still bleary eyed and her reaction was just a stumped, ‘Haan?’. I don’t blame her. You don’t usually open the door to random men asking you if you are raising pigeons.

She wasn’t sure she heard or understood what he was saying, so she just looked at me, confused. I walked to the door and he repeated, “Aap log kabootar paal rahe hain?”. Err..I said nothing either, because I was equally lost. Then he pointed up to a little nook above our main door and continued, “Yeh kabootar ek hafte se yahan hai. Neeche lobby se ud kar aata hai. Mujhe laga aap log isse paal rahe hai, isiliye kuch nahi kaha”. It translates to ‘This pigeon has been here since a week. It enters from the lobby and flies up here. I thought you were raising it, so I said nothing’. I looked up to see a white pigeon nestled there! And it had been there since a week? It did make sense though. We’re not home and the house is locked during the day. We usually return in the evening, by when the pigeon has retired for the day. So we don’t notice it.

pigeon

The crazy idea of us raising a pigeon in a nook above our main door would not stop tickling me. It made me feel very tribal. Once he  realised that we weren’t actually raising the pigeon, the watchman asked us to get the pigeon out of it’s cosy spot. For a moment, I felt bad displacing it. Where would it go? Yes, I was having those thoughts! Who would think I would actually consider not evicting it out of its current home? But before I could nurture the thought of actually raising it there, he warned us – if we allow it to lay eggs, we will be in big trouble. Also, the other residents will object. So we have to clear it out now. Before we could react, the watchman had done the job and the pigeon had gone. I couldn’t decide how I felt about it. A wee bit sad? Perhaps.

Only after the space had been cleared did I actually realise something. I said to Mint, “That space where the pigeon was was never empty. I think there was a small Ganesh idol there”. Mint in turn asked me, “You are saying the pigeon flew away carrying the Ganesh statue?”. Argh! “Why do you talk to me like I am stupid? I am saying there was a statue there, and I don’t know what happened to it”.  Stupid guy! Always talks nonsense. We’re still debating whether the Ganesh idol was there. And if it indeed was, what happened to it.

Posted in Slices of life, Uncategorized | 37 Comments »

Happy happy

Posted by Pepper on March 5, 2014

Today is a very happy day for me. It is my papa’s birthday. We will cut a rich chocolate cake and not worry about the sugar intake. We plan to go out for a sumptuous dinner and we will try and not think about the spicy, grease laden food we consume. I will plant a kiss on his bald head. We will watch him unwrap his gift. We will stuff ourselves with cake. We will enjoy our drive back home after dinner. We will laugh for no reason like we usually do. We will have a good time. It is my papa’s birthday. Yay! Yay! Yay!

Posted in Celebrations | 32 Comments »

The ongoing battle

Posted by Pepper on March 3, 2014

Some of you have been nice enough to send me emails asking about Oregano. I thought I owe you people this update about his health. I am not sure where I should begin though. The last time I wrote about him on this blog – I said he was diagnosed with a chronic kidney problem. We weren’t sure how fast his kidneys were deteriorating. But we knew the damage was irreversible and unstoppable. The doctors gave us a very rough window of between 1 to x years, before he needed a kidney transplant. The doctors said the approximate value of x was 5.

We were optimistic. We hoped we would be able to delay the inevitable by maintaining a very strict diet and a watchful lifestyle. It all seemed doable in the first three months, when his creatinine level (an indicator of kidney function) remained stable. Things however, started worsening soon after. His creatinine level started rising rapidly. His BP shot up. Also, his potassium level got alarmingly high at one point – putting him at risk for heart related problems. This was brought in control. Another time, he was dehydrated and had to be hospitalised and put on a saline drip. On most days, he feels exhausted and low on energy. The doctor decided to try steroids on him and it resulted in him having a constant headache throughout the day. The worst of all has been his creatinine – it seems to jump almost every time we check.

We hoped to have a few years in our hands before we were forced to think of a kidney transplant for him. However, in just about 8 months, his kidneys have undergone massive degeneration. Today, his creatinine level stands at 6.5! Some doctors recommend doing the transplant once the level touches 6. So as of now, we’re already in that position where we are seriously considering getting the transplant done.

My FIL and MIL are the top two choices for the donor. My FIL first, because he and Oregano have the same blood group. If for some reason his kidney is rejected by the doctors, then my MIL will be tested. The next few weeks will see my FIL getting a lot of tests done. I am worried.

I will talk about myself now, although I have refrained from doing that for a long time. Officially Oregano is simply my brother in law, but he is a piece of my heart. He is one of my best friends and somebody I care about deeply. To watch him go through so much makes me ache. Periodically, I find myself upset. I still haven’t gotten over the ‘why did this have to happen to him’ phase. Every time his condition worsens, my mood darkens and I begin to feel angry, distressed and scared. Plenty of times I have considered venting on my blog, but for certain reasons I have held myself back.

This realisation of him suffering from end stage renal failure tends to thwack me at the most inappropriate times. Whenever I am truly happy, having a good time in life, eating good food and being merry – I feel a jolt. I realise that Oregano can do none of this. And then my mental state begins to spiral downwards. My happiness begins to seem very hollow and fragile to me. One small thing going wrong in our body and it can snatch away all our joys. So what meaning do these joys have? They are too flimsy to be relied upon.

Mint, as always, has been my link to sanity. He pulls me out of my dark moods, assures me Oregano will be fine. He is not half as emotional as I am. He has a very practical outlook and that helps. Slowly, I have turned into a believer too. I truly believe Oregano will be fine. People often claim to be very ‘positive’, but only when they are truly tested do they understand the real magnitude of their claim. I can safely say I have fought my battles and though I falter at times, I have learnt to maintain a positive mindset. I firmly believe whatever is happening, is happening for the best.

My inlaws have been such bricks. And I can see how this trying period has made Oregano and them work as a team. I see my mom in law going out of her way to ensure Oregano has the right diet. She works very hard and leaves no stone unturned. My father in law too has put his life on hold to focus on his son’s problem. They are amazing people.

As for Oregano himself, he is such a warrior. Facing so many restrictions, being put on such heavy medication, having somebody to draw blood out of you every few days, dealing with the side effects of all those steroids, feeling uncertain about your future, seeing kidney failure statistic that force you to face thoughts of death can NEVER be easy. Yet, he smiles and moves on. He doesn’t mope or whine. He created a blog and has started documenting his battle against chronic kidney disease. His attitude towards it all is admirable, and I am so very proud of him.

Speaking of my pride for him, here is something else that makes me beam. Oregano is a brilliant artist. I decided to display some of his creations on my blog. Some of these were made when he was in school! Till date, his sketches make me gasp! Show him any image and he has the ability to create a replica of it on paper. Stunning work, isn’t it? I think his fingers have magic. When I think of it, almost everybody in my inlaws family is an artist. I ofcourse, bask in reflected glory.

art1

art2

art3

art4

Posted in Meet the family | 35 Comments »

 
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