A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for September, 2014

And we’re off!

Posted by Pepper on September 26, 2014

The bags are packed. Our holiday begins in a few hours. I’ve been doing a happy dance since morning.

We’re going to Kerala! For a good 9 days! I know the whole world and it’s cousins have been to Kerala, but for me this will be a first. There are so many destinations in India that we are yet to explore. Every time we see an opportunity to travel, we end up having an international holiday. The reason is quite simple. We find India too expensive. When we compare costs and realise we will be spending so much on domestic travel, and that an overseas vacation will only cost a little more, we end up choosing the overseas vacation while we can. Ofcourse, I am taking about foreign destinations that are not too far away. Otherwise the cost difference is significant.

We’re relatively young now and can endure long flights and adjust to changing time zones without too much of a struggle. Traveling within India will be easier in that sense and can be done when age makes our energy levels deplete. Or so I thought. It took my dumb brain a while to realise just how vast India is. And how much we are yet to see. It just hit me one fine day. Would it be wise to leave it all for later? Other than that, we could afford the international travel before we bought the house. Now we have enough debt to last us a life time. Might as well start exploring the country now (since it is cheaper) instead of spending more money on foreign holidays.

So plans for a domestic holiday were hatched. Kerala had been on the list for a long time. It was the perfect time. And in what seemed to be a happy coincidence, a group of friends decided to join the plan because of a baby shower that was going to be held in Cochin. Mint and I are going to be spending almost a week by ourselves in Munnar. Once the friends join, we will do Thekkady and the houseboat in Alleppey before we head back to Cochin.

This holiday brings with it another first. We’re going to Cochin by train. It takes a good 24 hours. Despite having done some amount of train travel, I have never spent 24 hours in a train. I am sure I will have a good time, though to be honest, the thought of using the toilets worries me a little. We chose to come back to Bombay by flight, so the train will be a one time experience for now.

So tada peeps. Have fun and enjoy the little line up of holidays (in India). See you soon.

 

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Posted in Travel | 19 Comments »

Proud to be an idiot?

Posted by Pepper on September 25, 2014

I am quite sick and tired of seeing women share this nonsense on my timeline. I feel like unfriending them. Have you seen it?

nonsense

 

I’ve been writing long comments dismissing this rubbish on Facebook. Perhaps they call me a spoilt sport. Never mind. I call them idiots. Pushing doors that say PULL is a human tendency. There is some research that proves it. Look it up. Are you really trying to imply that women do not have their brains wired the right way? Laughing harder when trying to explain why you are laughing is not gender specific. What are you trying to say? Counting on fingers in math really? Some people are good at calculations and some are not. What do women have anything to do with it? If you assume women in general are bad at math, I have no words for you.

Walking into a room and forgetting why you are there is being ‘absent minded’. It is not ‘being a woman’ Why assume women hide pain from their loved ones? Or do you expect them to be the ever sacrificing, ever smiling and silently suffering do gooders they are believed to be? Are you suggesting  no man does this? Exaggerating, caring unduly and being stupid and illogical in general is what you think women are about?

I am mighty offended. It would be bad enough if only men shared this, but to my dismay I see women sharing this all the time. Claiming to be PROUD of their gender. Will you give us a break and stop propagating such sexist stereotypes? None of these traits and flaws are exclusive to women, you assholes.

 

Posted in Gender | 24 Comments »

Understand? You better understand!

Posted by Pepper on September 24, 2014

Look what I found while clearing my drafts.

****

Dear Mint,

If we’re at a friend’s place and I look at you questioningly and raise my eyebrows, it translates to, ‘I think we should leave and I’d like to know when you’ll be willing to get your ass out of the door’. It does not mean, ‘How are you?’ like you thought it did the other day. In return, you don’t have to give me a sweet smile and mutter something like, ‘I’m great, baby’, and then continue to lounge on the couch, refill your beer and watch the match. I hope you understand.

Thank you very much,

Pepper

****

This post was written a few years ago, but things have largely remained unchanged. Perhaps I need to design a crash course on ‘How to interpret nudges and signs’ for the husband. Ufff..

PS – The title is a dialogue from a shady Hindi movie.

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 13 Comments »

Revenge 101

Posted by Pepper on September 23, 2014

If you know me well, you will certainly know how much pleasure I take in annoying the sister. I slap her ass 9346782491 times a day. I squeeze her fingers until she screams. I think of innovative ways to harass her. Why you ask? There is only one answer to that question. Her reactions are very entertaining. I love to watch her expressions, hear her scream and see her level of irritation. Believe me when I say it is entertaining.

But sometimes she takes revenge.

There was this guy called Rishab in my college. Other than his name, I really didn’t know much about him. For one, he barely attended class. And we did not really interact during the few times he did. I just remember our eyes meeting every time we passed one another. We didn’t even care enough to say ‘Hi’ to each other. It was just a cursory glance and a watery smile.

Just like the rest of my classmates from college, Rishab is on my friend list on Facebook. One day, I happened to leave my account open. The sister was around. The alarm bells rang when I saw her typing something. I ran towards my comp, hoping to stop her in time. Yes, I was positive she was upto something. I recognise that look on her face. Unfortunately, it was too late,

On deciding to message any person who caught her fancy, she opened my chat window. For reasons not known even to her, she chose Rishab. No, she did not say anything scandalising to him. She said something worse. Only two words. But one of them made my cheeks burn. She said, “Hi Rishu”.

I almost died when I read it. RISHU? I had never spoken to this guy in my life, and she was addressing him like that? What exactly must he be thinking about me? How could I undo it? I paced around for a moment and then decided to log out instead of facing him. Really, Rishu? Watching me panic and go red made her roll on the floor, quite literally. I am still thinking of ways to get even. Be scared, child. Be very scared.

Posted in Meet the family | 32 Comments »

Daddy

Posted by Pepper on September 22, 2014

No, I am not talking about my biological father. He is called papa. Daddy is my other father. Considering how prominent his role is in my life, I am surprised he doesn’t feature all that much on my blog.

I grew up in a joint family. We lived in a mid sized apartment (by Bombay standards) with my grandparents and my father’s elder brother. My dad’s brother does not have children of his own. I am told they were unable to conceive despite all the treatments that were available back then. I was the first grandchild in the family. When I was born, my grandparents suggested I refer to my dad’s brother and his wife as ‘daddy and S mummy’. My own parents would be referred to as mama and papa.

Irrespective of how hard I try, I know I will never be successful in describing the bond I have shared with daddy. I clung to him from the time I was born. Even as a baby, I only slept in the crook of his arm. If you flip through my childhood photographs, you will see the two of us together in almost every single picture. In most of my birthday pictures, you will see my wrapping myself around him as I cut the cake.

This is how you'd find us sleeping on most days

This is how you’d find us sleeping on most days

daddy13

Cutting the cake on my birthday. You will see my parents only on the side. I always wanted to be held only by daddy.

I realise now that he spoiled me a lot more than he should have. If my parents refused to buy me something, I knew I just had to open my mouth in front of daddy and I would have it. He got me ridiculously expensive battery operated toys. He got me my first bicycle. He got me my first computer when I was a mere child. He got me my first cell phone. I just had to ask and it would be there. My parents knew I always had this weapon in my hand.

I was also the only one who had the authority to question him and at times even reprimand him. I remember throwing away or hiding his cigarette packets. Anybody else who dared to do it had to face his wrath. But he and I, we shared the most wonderful relationship ever. I don’t think he or S mummy missed having children of their own because the sister and I practically grew up with them.

They had to move out of the house we lived in when I was 14, because S mummy was no longer able to climb the 3 flights of stairs everyday. But their moving out did not change our relationship in anyway. We continued to share that beautiful bond. He continued to spoil me. He along with my dad sponsored a part of my education in the UK. He was the one who gave me a dream wedding party in a sea facing five star hotel. My dad contributed to the costs as much as he could but it was daddy who bore the majority of the expenses. Because the whole do was his idea. He saw me getting a little wishful when we happened to be checking out the very upscale sea facing venue. And he decided to gift it to me for my wedding.

That wedding party of ours led a lot of people to believe we were filthy rich. Who else can afford to treat such a large crowd to such finesse and luxury? Unfortunately, that was far from the truth. We didn’t have that kind of wealth to play around with. We just used a humongous part of our savings. And all it took for daddy to do that was a wishful smile from me. I know he is willing to do anything for me. Anything other than taking care of himself.

Sigh. He is the most difficult person on this planet. His obstinate and unreasonable nature has put us all through living hell. He does not believe in the field of medicine. He suffered from high BP for 20 years but he refused to take any medication for it. It resulted in kidney failure. That journey was excruciatingly painful and all of us suffered alongside.

One day his hemoglobin dropped to an alarming level. It was only 3! We got a call from the lab and they asked us to take daddy to the hospital immediately. He needed a blood transfusion, else it could result in a brain stroke or a paralytic attack. Time was precious. But daddy? He refused to come to the hospital. He said he felt fine. We begged and pleaded but to no avail. The amount of stress I underwent at that time is hard to put in words.

Thankfully, his condition stabilized after his kidney transplant. Instead of valuing his new life, he continued to not take care and abuse his health. Last year, we noticed a very scary looking abscess on his chest. The doctor said it may have been triggered because of some infection. It needed immediate attention because he had a pace maker around that area! But daddy? He refused to show it to a specialist. It has been a year and that abscess still exists. We see puss around it and he keeps bandaging it on his own instead of getting it treated the right way. This gives us sleepless nights. Such gross neglect can lead to life threatening consequences. Why does he not understand?

He has been unwell for several weeks now. He’s suffering from severe stomach issues and the doctors have asked us to get a sonography done immediately. Since I am the only person he is even willing to hear in this regard, I have been pleading with him to do it. He refuses out rightly. He is beyond reason.

It all takes such a toll on me. I want to scream at times. Are you stupid? Do you want to die? Do you care about S mummy at all? Are you so selfish? Do you realise what you do to others? Do you really want to die? Are you plain stupid? Ofcourse, I say nothing to him. If I do, I can forget about him cooperating. To deal with him, I have to gather all my tact and diplomacy. But these mind games are tiring.

I feel helpless. The sister too spends nights worrying about him. And S mummy lives on the edge all the time. She is a cancer survivor herself. She does not need more trauma in her life. What he does to us is quite horrible. I have decided to free myself of the stress and the guilt now. Since I am the only person he otherwise listens to, I add a lot of pressure on myself to convince him to do the right thing. I blame myself for not succeeding. I am forever caught in the cycle of anxiety, guilt and fear. I love him very much and he is immensely dear to me, but I have to stop holding myself responsible for his well being. If he is choosing to do this to himself, there is little I can do. If only it were easy to watch your loved one go on a path of self destruction…

Please God, grant him some good sense.

Posted in Meet the family | 22 Comments »

Blessing in disguise

Posted by Pepper on September 18, 2014

I am quite pleased to announce that I’ve quit using the elevator since the past 3 months. Both our houses (my parents and ours) are situated on the 4th floor. When put together, I use the stairs a minimum of 4 times a day. God knows my knees really need the exercise. I wish I had abandoned the lift earlier. But better late than never, I suppose. The lazy bugger that I am, I would never have taken to the stairs until something pushed me to it. And here’s how the final push came.

During one of our initial interactions with the previous owners of our home, they told us they were ‘quite friendly’ with all the immediate neighbours. Mint and I smiled. That was a good thing. At that time however, we had no idea of what friendly really meant. We soon found out. There are 4 homes on the floor, and let’s just say, all the residents on the floor love each other. And that’s putting it a little mildly. Our previous owner’s children grew up in the neighbour’s homes. They ate their meals in one of 3 adjoining houses. They bathed and slept in one of the other homes too. Almost every other day.

Every house on the floor leaves their main door open through out the day. With all the doors open, the neighbours can go in and out of each other’s homes without the hassle of ringing the door bell. Facilitating easy access was the purpose. The open doors also allow good cross ventilation, so it suits them. This practice continues till date. Some evenings I see the women sitting in one home, helping each other chop veggies.

When we met the neighbours, they took great pride in telling us how closely knit they were. One of them also added, “Pata hai, aisa Mumbai main bohut kam hota hai” (You know, this doesn’t happen much in Mumbai). Sure, we agree. But Mint and I were a little unsure of how we would fit in this setup. We belonged to a very different age group. That apart, neither Mint nor I are very conventional in thought. Would they be shocked by our lifestyle and choices?

At that time, one of the neighbours suggested we leave our main door open at all times too. We shuddered. Now while we like the idea of friendly neighbours, I don’t think either of us are capable of living with them. I don’t even know how they do it. I am not a very social person. The idea of of having our door open at all times was downright frightening.

All of us need some privacy. At times I wear a pair of *very tiny* shorts at night and I am not sure how comfortable I would be being seen in them by all and sundry. Mint and I tend to share random, long hugs while passing. We also tend to get mad at each other for no reason. I love lying on his lap while watching TV. There are so many little things that are only meant for you and your family to revel in. The thought of displaying our life to outsiders makes me so uneasy. Don’t we all have our own private world behind closed doors?

I told the neighbours quite politely that we aren’t home all day anyway. So the door can’t be left open. That one wasn’t too hard. I thought it ended there and we wouldn’t be subjected to excessive familiarity. It wasn’t meant to be that easy, ofcourse. Since the doors of the other homes were open forever, they caught us getting in and out of our home all the time.

At first, I thought a smile and a hello each time we ran into one another would be good enough. But most of them wanted to engage in long conversation every time they saw us. And when I say long, I mean it. They stood in the passage, chatting with us forever. This works when you meet somebody after a while, but expecting an hour long conversation twice a day was a bit too much for us. We don’t have that kind of spare time. But more than that, I get plain nervous in front of people. I believe I suffer from some kind of a social anxiety disorder.

The adults apart, there are two little brats (aged 5 and 2) who live next door. I adore the brats and I know I am entirely responsible for spoiling them. Whenever time permits, I let them into our home and play with them for an extended duration. I shower them with attention. They’ve now come to expect that from me. So they want me to play with them each time they see me and unfortunately I don’t have the luxury to do that. Getting them to let go of me takes me quite a while.

For a while, I was actually scared of being seen by the neighbours. And I couldn’t help being seen if I stood outside waiting for the elevator. In order to avoid them, I started sneaking out of the house and dashing down the stairs before I could be spotted. At first, I used the elevator from a lower floor. In sometime, I actually started preferring the stairs all the way.

For the same reason, I had started using the stairs even to get to our home. It helped me remain unseen. Although I was compelled to do it for the reasons mentioned above, I actually started enjoying the little exercise. Soon I switched to taking the stairs even while going up and down my parents’ home. It’s been three months now. I trudge up the stairs even with my heavy laptop bag. No allowances, unless I am exceptionally tired. Like I said, I am glad my knees are getting the exercise. This was was truly a blessing in disguise.

Posted in Life in India | 26 Comments »

Sometimes I wonder..

Posted by Pepper on September 16, 2014

I wonder what happened to Mint. Each time I go back to old pictures, I feel a pang. Until we got married, he was in an extremely good shape, physically. Some people called him skinny, but I thought his body was very well toned. He had this youthful glow. And really, he looked like a complete baccha. I’m not exaggerating. You can see his pictures and I bet none of you will say he looked a day older than 20. I thought his boyish looks were irresistible.

And then we got married. And he got fat put on weight. I refuse to believe the food we cooked post marriage was fattening. Infact his diet before marriage was very unhealthy. He bought packs of ready to eat, frozen food for lunch everyday. Even when he cooked, he used packs of frozen, cut vegetables and canned food most of the time. I made sure we switched to using fresh ingredients after we started living together. We used limited oil. We didn’t eat very carb heavy food. Then how the hell did he keep getting fat? Was it because he quit exercising? But it isn’t like he exercised vigorously before we were married. And he was a skinny rat for the first 25 years of his life. Like I said, you have to see the pictures to believe just how skinny he was.

The fat also makes him look older now. Okay, fine. he isn’t exactly fat. He just has excessive stomach flab. And he doesn’t look old. He merely looks his age now (I think) , although he still believes he doesn’t. But me, I really miss the boyish looks.  The past 4.5 years of our marriage have been err, quite transformational for him. And I want to understand why. No, jokes about his ‘sufferings’ in our marriage will not be tolerated.

The other day when our friends were home, one of them picked up a photo frame that was lying around. It held a picture of ours from our just married days. ‘Oh look how young Mint looks in this one!’, the friend commented. ‘ But I was four and a half years younger back then!’ was Mint’s response. I chipped in, ‘Hello! I was too! Why does it only show on you?’. Mint said something like,’You look the same from the time you were 15. So it doesn’t say much’. Ofcourse, that was an exaggeration, but I let it go. The friends seemed to agree with him though, so he had an edge. I ended it back then, but I continue to wonder what happened. Oh well, he can’t look that young and child like forever. And what they say about our metabolism slowing with age must be really true. It’s such a scary truth.

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 22 Comments »

This weekend..

Posted by Pepper on September 15, 2014

I made sure I do not rise very early. I belong to that unfortunate category of people who always end up waking up late on weekdays but are unable to sleep in on weekends and holidays. Thankfully, I managed to silence that very annoying, inbuilt alarm that is programmed to buzz only on weekend mornings. With no alarms ringing in my head this time, I treated myself to some delicious sleep.

I met two of my college pals after a gap of five and two years respectively. I must say, I haven’t laughed that hard in ages. With their very entertaining stories of being peed on by a dog, being lost and finally driving at a snail’s pace to follow a cycle rickshaw in the middle of the night, other tales of their drunken escapades, I had a hard time putting an end to my gushing laughter. Since the two of you keep reminding me of the fact that you read my blog, I’ll say it here. I had a terrific time with you girls and I am so very glad we did this.

I finally found a place that sells real sambar! I believe I have turned into a sambar snob and the sweet sambar served in most South Indian joints in Mumbai just doesn’t cut it for me. It screams ‘fake’. Mint’s colleague spoke about this tiny little shop run by a man from Madurai. His colleague was even nice enough to pack some idli sambar for us. I tasted it and it was pure love at first bite. This is what authentic sambar is all about. We dunked the idlis in a bowlful of hot sambar and consumed them at the speed of light. I think they got over too soon. So I am bugging Mint to take me there again. I. Can’t. Wait.

We went to see Mint’s classmate’s just born baby. This baby was by far the tiniest baby I have seen in my life. I have seen a handful of newborns and while all of them are very small, this particular baby was unbelievably small! You can imagine my terror when they asked me to hold him. I had to first sit down, cross my legs and then have somebody else place him on my lap. And then he opened one eye and let out a yawn. I couldn’t get over the cuteness of it all. Babies are always such a source of delight.

We met friends and dined at The British Brewing Company, popularly known as BBC. I am saying it here so that I do the good deed of letting all of you know how absolutely yummy their pita bread is. Well, I love most of their food. But the soft, warm pita bread they serve with the hummus is out of this world. If you are craving authentic pita bread like I was, this is the place to go.

We played Settlers. After dinner our friends came over to our place so that we could play for a few hours. Love for board games is common in our parts. These games are highly engaging and fun. Anyway, the sister and I abandoned the game midway by 1 am because we were too sleepy. The others continued to play till 2 am. Mint along with most of our friends usually continue playing through out the night. The sister and I always hit the bed sooner despite being showered by endless ‘gaalis‘ by our friends. This time was no different. After all, we had a reputation to uphold.

I took this pic just as we were setting up the game..

settlers

We made some holiday plans! Yes. Mint and I kept telling each other we were too broke to plan any kind of travel for a while. Because we still have to furnish the house and we have so many expenses lined up. But then the BFF gave us her old sofa. We decided to use it for a year or so atleast. This saved us some money. Since we had already budgeted for a new sofa, we realised we had that little x amount spare. Ofcourse, any spare funds are always diverted to travel. Travel is one of the few common interests Mint and I share. It is what makes both of us immensely happy. So I am glad we’re going. But with our life long debt because of the home we bought and our passion for travel, I don’t think we will ever save ANY money in our life.

We finally cleared up and set up our living room. I know in my previous post I said we would use this weekend to set up the entire house with the help of the BFF. But then our social life took over. Never mind. It’s a start and I am happy we have atleast one room in place now.

How was your weekend?

Posted in Friends, Slices of life | 10 Comments »

The power of smell..

Posted by Pepper on September 11, 2014

As much as I hate to admit it, I am unable to bond with our new home. That not only disappoints, but also surprises me. Knowing what a sentimental idiot I am, I expected myself to instantly establish an emotional connection with the house we’ve struggled to get. The one that is truly ours. Our labour of love. I wondered what was amiss.

And then I realised. Our new home is still devoid of the right smells. Yes. Smell. Fragrance. Scent. Call it what you what. But this ‘smell’ plays a big role in creating the right atmosphere and ambiance. Infact, I believe each home has its own unique smell. I remember MM had even done a post on this years ago. Too bad I am unable to find it now. Perhaps it was on her old blog.

The kind of oil you use to cook. The type of incense sticks you light. The plants and flowers in your balcony. The smell that wafts out of the bubbling pots of dals and curries you churn out. The disinfectants you use to swab your floors. Air freshners. The perfumes and deodorants you favour. Scented candles. Each and everything little thing contributes to the way your home ‘smells’. And each home has a very distinctive smell.

What does our new home smell of? Sigh. Just dried paint. No, not fresh paint that most of us love to smell. But cold, dried paint. We finished painting the place 2 months ago. But that smell persists. No wonder the aura is not inviting. The truth is we still haven’t started living there. We’ve never cooked a meal in that kitchen. We haven’t left all the windows open for a while to air out the rooms. We haven’t lit candles like we usually do. We haven’t celebrated the home. No wonder I feel this lack of connection.

The BFF who got quite fed up of us not moving in, said she was coming over this weekend to help us fix things. So we plan to clear out the junk. Put up some colourful curtains. Air out the rooms. Burn some scented oil. Get some bright fabric for the upholstery. And get a truckload of jasmine (my favourite scent!) to disperse around the house. I can’t wait for our home to smell nice and new!

Posted in Slices of life | 24 Comments »

The sadya saga

Posted by Pepper on September 10, 2014

This year, I had all intentions of celebrating Onam. By celebrating, I mean treating myself to a full blown sadya over the weekend. Yes, my idea of celebration always begins with good food. Anyway, there were two reasons I really wanted the sadya. One is obviously a craving for an authentic Keralite meal (Is Keralite even a word?). Two is because I thought it would be a good idea to focus on celebrating festivals that are not native to either of our communities.

I know that does sound a little crazy. Given the very diverse backgrounds Mint and I come from, it is hard enough to keep track of all festivals celebrated by our respective communities. Let alone focus on others. We tried in the first year to actually observe and celebrate every little festival from both our sides, but then neither Mint nor I seemed motivated enough to keep track, so we gave up.

The only two festivals we celebrate are Diwali and Christmas. And that too because I insist we do. Mint is most unenthusiastic when it comes to festivals. He started taking an active interest in lighting up the house for Diwali and setting up a Christmas tree only after I came into his life. Prior to that, he cared about nothing other than all the food the festivals made him privy to.

If I had to be honest, I’ll admit that neither of us care too much about ‘tradition’. We don’t set up corners and do any kind of pujas. We don’t care to make any kind of sweets on auspicious occasions. We only focus on eating sweets prepared by others. We don’t garland our main doors on festivals. We do nothing. Instead, we just pick stuff that we find fun. I love doing the rangoli on Diwali because I think playing with powdered colours is fun. Drawing patterns is fun. Lighting up your home is fun. The Christmas tree and all the gifts are fun. Everything that we find tiresome is conveniently skipped.

This year, I wanted to make Onam fun for us as well. I wanted to have a good pookalam but unfortunately I didn’t prepare well enough. On the last minute, I didn’t know where to get the flowers from. So I thought we should atleast enjoy a good sadya. When I spoke to the sister about it, I was surprised she had no idea of what I was talking about. A conversation with the BFF went the same way. They had never heard of the word ‘sadya‘. Sigh.. As Indians, how ignorant we are of each other’s culture..

So for those of you who do not know what I am talking about, here is a small explanation. Sadya is basically a big vegetarian meal traditionally served on a banana leaf. It is native to the state of Kerala. This feast is prepared on all special occasions. And Onam celebrations will obviously be considered incomplete without the traditional sadya.

Since I didn’t believe any of us were qualified enough to prepare the sadya at home, we decided to look for restaurants that served one. But the only one Mint found was ridiculously expensive. Now, reckless spending is a thing of our past. Ever since we’ve bought the house, we have to be very cautious about the way we spend. So both Mint and I thought the meal wasn’t worth the price.

But then I kept getting haunted by the thought of missing the sadya. So I told Mint we should forget about the money and just go for it. The sister seemed quite eager too. But Mint sounded so disinclined, it got me mad. “What? I thought we both agreed it was too expensive. Fine. We’ll go for it if you really want to, but I don’t think it is worth it”.

That was all it took for me to throw a fit. I sulked. I blamed him for killing my joy. For making me feel all deflated. For ruining my weekend. For not understanding how much I looked forward to it. For being too calculative. It went on. Obviously, he couldn’t understand how or why I was blaming him. “But you said to me yourself that it wasn’t worth it. How would I know you changed your mind so suddenly. And I didn’t say we won’t go. I only said I don’t think it is worth it”

“I know I said we shouldn’t go at first but then I told you later that I think it makes sense to go, but you sounded so blah. How do you think I will enjoy my meal now? I won’t be able to eat in a guilt free way because you don’t think it is worth it. What is the point in going if you feel that way”. I knew I was unreasonable, but who is to stop me at such times? So Mint softened his stand and said we should forget about all that happened and just leave. But no. I was adamant. I refused to go. And I refused to absolve him of the blame.

So we continued getting mad at each other. It went on for a while. Until good sense prevailed and we made up and decided to finally go. But we had only 30 minutes to reach the place before it shut. Our ridiculous argument had taken away all our time. So as usual, we rushed. None of us bothered to change our clothes. We ran to the car. We drove as fast as we could. As luck would have it, the GPS took us through a ‘No Entry’ and we had to drive some more to take a U turn. Then when we finally got there, we couldn’t find a parking spot. There was chaos but we managed to reach in the nick of time. Phew. So much for sadya.

And here it is. The very wonderful meal that we had after all the drama. And yes, that little chubby hand belongs to the sister. It is her using the spoon. Blasphemous, I know. But what to do, the sister has never learnt to eat with her hand.

sadya

Posted in Celebrations | 18 Comments »

Yeh mausam ka jaadoo hai mitwa..

Posted by Pepper on September 9, 2014

I feel very sorry for people who dislike the rains in Mumbai. I really do. Because those poor folk have no means to escape them. The rains in this city are relentless. They offer no respite. Couple this unstoppable rain with high tide and the city is a mess. The tracks get flooded and trains either slow down or come to a complete halt. The roads begin to overflow. There is pandemonium and the rain haters are busy cursing the weather and feeling sorry for their very difficult lives.

But the rain? It goes on. Thunder booms. Crackling bolts of lightning rip apart the skies. It pours. On and on. I LOVE it. I see magic in the rains. And despite the mayhem, I see that the enthusiasm level of the people in this city remains unaffected.

One monsoon, many years ago, I was passing through Linking Road with my California bred cousin in tow. It had been raining endlessly for 24 hours. The two of us had stepped out to enjoy some street food in Bandra. It was our last chance before she flew back to the US the next day. Given the weather conditions, she thought the streets would be deserted and we would be the only two nutcases out on the roads.

To say she was surprised by what she say would be an understatement. People in Bandra were busy shopping despite the flooded streets. They were walking around, examining the clothes on sale, bargaining with the vendors and all this while being completely unaffected by the stream of water that was running by their feet. It was like walking through a gushing river. And nobody seemed to care.

How do they do it, she asked me. I just laughed. Rains never deterred the people in this city. Life goes on. And no, I am not talking about mandatory things like going to work, running important errands and the likes. We have no choice but to comply at such times. I am talking about the times we the choice of staying in the safe confines of our homes, but choose to venture out and  live our life instead. So people shop while it pours, they make dinner plans and travel to the other end of the city to meet their friends despite the pelting rain. I love the enthusiasm.

So while the rain haters are busy cursing everything around them because of their disrupted schedules, the slow traffic, the muck stains that are hard to scrub off, the clothes that never seem to dry, the rain lovers are occupied with only one thing – keeping their spirits high. You obviously know which category I belong to. I love the rains. The sudden burst of freshness and the vibrant greenery after each shower only add to my joy. I believe we’ve reached almost the end of the season now. That makes me a little sad. But never mind. Let me just say a thank you to the Lord for a happy and bountiful monsoon.

Here are some pictures I took with my rickety cell phone camera. They obviously do not do justice to the actual images, but nevertheless..

It continued to pour one Saturday afternoon. After feeling a little listless at home, I stepped down for a breath of fresh air. My plan was to sit in our lobby area and watch the rain. Instead, I had the added fortune of watching kids play. They ran in the rain with such abandon and glee! Just watching them made my day.

Rain1

And this time.. I was just happy to see big, fat rain drops fall on the windshield of my car.  I was waiting at a red light, so I used the opportunity to take a quick pic before I was forced to use the wipers.

Rain2

I took this pic from the corner seat of a McDonald’s outlet. I was sipping on my coffee as I waited for Mint to arrive. We were both meeting after work to make a few purchases for our new home. Mint was running late, as usual. So I used the extra time to grab a coffee. When I looked up from my table, I saw an uneven layer of mist covering the glass. I paused for a second to think of how beautiful that moment was. A good cup of coffee in solitude. Mad, pounding rain outside. Misty glass walls. How lovely!

Rain8

I was driving back from work early one evening when I noticed how dark it was at 5 pm. Traffic was slow and it looked like the sky would burst any minute. It happened, quite predictably. Thunder rolled and the rain began to descend in torrents just as I was clicking this picture.

Rain6

And this one time when the sister and I ran downstairs to play on the swings just after the rains stopped. The air smelt sweet. We took crazy pictures of each other. We played some of our favourite childhood games. Such happiness!

Rain4

PS – The title of the post is a Hindi song which actually means, ‘This is the magic of the season’

Posted in Small joys | 43 Comments »

Liebster, again!

Posted by Pepper on September 6, 2014

The very awesome TP has nominated me for the Liebster award. Yes! This award comes once again. Thank you very much! I am honoured. Since I have already accepted this one before, I am going to skip copying the image and going through other formalities. Instead, I’ll jump straight to the questions.

1. What made you start blogging?How is blogging different than keeping a diary for you or is it the same?

I’ve answered this one question multiple times in the past I think. Anyway, here we go again. Mint’s blog and him persuading me to start my own inspired me to do it. Back then, I blogged on this site called http://www.blogdrive.com. I wonder if that site even exists now. Must check. That was in the year 2003!   And oh, that little fact reinstates the euphoria. I’ve been blogging for 11 grand years now.

Moving on to the second question. I think a diary is a more private medium as compared to a blog. When I wrote in a diary, I didn’t bother about factors like maintaining my anonymity.  I used real names. I wrote without much restriction. Obviously, I have chosen to not be as carefree on my blog.

2. Do you have a pet? If yes, which one? And if not, why?

I don’t have a pet, but I think I mentioned Mint’s strong desire to have a dog in an earlier post. While I love the idea of having one too, I doubt I am devoted enough to care for one. This is one subject I am really confused about. And ofcourse, my mother who swears to never enter our home if we choose to have a dog only makes matters more complicated.

3. Which city do you think is the best to settle down in India? And why?

While I have lived in 3 cities around the world, when it comes to India, I have only lived in Bombay. So I am not sure I am qualified enough to pick the best city to settle in India. But ofcourse, my heart beats for Bombay. Despite the crammed spaces, the crowd and the chaos, everything and everybody that is precious to me is held by this city.

4. What is the one thing that you ordered in a restaurant and it turned out to be totally yuck and expensive?

I remember craving for good Indian food when we lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. This was ofcourse, before we moved to California, which is nothing short of an Indian food haven. Good Indian restaurants in Cincinnati are rare. We made sure we totally avoided Indian food when we ate out. But this one time, I absolutely insisted and forced Mint to take me for a full blown Indian buffet. I believe the restaurant was called ‘Akash India’. I cannot even describe how awful the food was. The gravies were full of tasteless cream. The memory of that godawful meal has never left me.

5. If you see your enemy (or simply somebody you dislike) in a helpless situation, will you go forward and help them? Or leave them and enjoy mercilessly?

Knowing myself, I will go ahead and help them. And then spend time rethinking and analysing my actions and wondering if they were worthy enough of my help at all. Only to follow it up with a repeat episode of helping them again. And then questioning myself some more. You see, I am certain I will help people in distress, but I am not certain I do it because I am truly altruistic.

6. Have you ever been caught by your parents doing something totally inappropriate for your age?

You want to hear that story again? I am sure it is there on the blog. Anyway, here we go.

Mint and I had been in a very happy relationship for a while when we decided to take it to the next level. We knew my parents would be supportive, while his wouldn’t. We decided to formally tell my parents first, so that we would atleast have them backing us when we had to face his parents. The timing was right because I was visiting India during my Easter break. (Some background: I lived in UK whereas Mint lived in the US back then). So I came to India and told my parents all details about my relationship with Mint and how we were considering getting married. They knew Mint and I were very obviously into each other, but before this I had been very noncommittal. They were just taking in the details of all that I said to them then.

That’s exactly when Mint decided to come down to India for a day to surprise me on my birthday. If you haven’t read that story yet, you absolutely must. Anyway, he was in India only for one night. Since Mint and I didn’t want to stay apart even for a minute of the time he was there, I convinced my parents to allow Mint to stay in our house for the night. They were a little unsure but eventually agreed. We had no spare bedroom and it was mutually agreed that he would sleep in the living room.

The day of my birthday, the two of us got back to my place really late in the night. My were happy, exhausted and highly sleep deprived. My mom set up Mint’s make shift bed in the hall and asked me to go to my bedroom and sleep. And then she went away and the lights were turned off for the night.

Obviously, not wanting to stay apart, I crept back to the living room where Mint was waiting for me. Who planned to sleep when we had just one night together? The lights were out so we would remain unseen. In the darkness, we snuggled next to each other. After some intimate nuzzling, we drew in close for a good kiss. And then, in the midst of it, with our lips seemingly locked, with our heads tilting towards each other.. WE FELL ASLEEP!

Ofcourse, you can guess where this goes. My mom woke up in the middle of the night to fetch some water. She was absolutely unprepared to see our faces almost glued together. I can’t tell you how much I squirm even as I type this. The lights flew on. I had an out of body experience for that one second when I realised my mother had seen us in that position. I jumped to the other side and offered the most lame explanation on this planet. My words were, ‘We were just chatting’. To add to my horror, Mint let out an audible laugh when I said that. My mom was silent.

I could see she was quite shaken. She told me in a very stern voice to go and sleep in my room immediately. I was so embarrassed, I considered jumping out of my balcony. Suddenly I was very thankful I was returning to UK in two days. Mint pulled over the covers and slept. The next morning, my parents were up quite early and since Mint was sleeping in the hall, he was very unsure of how to face them. After all, they had just met him for the first time the previous day. And had just been made aware of our relationship officially. What would they think? So he made sure his face was covered with the blanket and he didn’t have to meet their gaze.

The moment he could, he ran to my room to wake me up. I will never forget his words. “Can you please wake up right away? I am feeling just too awkward being with them on my own”. Well, I was so conscious myself, I didn’t know how to face my mother either. Anyway, I have to give my mom some credit for never bringing up this incident with us. I don’t even know if she spoke to my dad about it. I never want to find out. We were both so very flustered back then. But when we think about it now, we can’t stop laughing at all. Being caught in such situations is the worst thing to happen if you have an Indian parent, I suppose. Doesn’t matter how cool and unconventional they are. It just is awkward.

From then on for us, the word ‘chatting’ has gone on to become synonymous with something very different from its original meaning. Whenever Mint looks at me and asks, ‘do you want to chat?’, it makes me break into fits of giggles. He never got over how incredibly lame my response was at that time.

7. What is that one thing that you criticize publicly, but do the same in private?

I don’t think I do this.

8. Do you like water sports? Which one?

I can’t swim and a near drowning experience has filled me with deep fright. Despite that, I have so far had the opportunity to jet ski, para sail and go for an ‘easy to medium’ grade of white water rafting. If I had to pick one, I’ll pick rafting. I am waiting to experience more. I have promised myself I will learn swimming one day and combat my deep rooted fear of water.

9. Have you ever thought (or actually did ) of harming somebody very badly in order to get back at them? How?

I have murdered a thousand people in my head, a thousand times altleast. If you believe it is possible to murder a person only once, you are obviously wrong.

10. Do you fart and behave like the other person is guilty of the crime?

I barely ever fart. Honest. I don’t seem to have too much of a gas build up in my tummy. But if I were to fart in front of people, I’d have no reservations owning up.

11. Have you ever been caught by the police ( or worst locked up)? For what reason?

Locked up? No. Only Mint has such interesting experiences. I have only been caught by the traffic cops, either because I unintentionally ran a red light or because I was talking on my cell phone while driving. Boring, I know.

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