A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for April, 2015

Conflict

Posted by Pepper on April 25, 2015

Every time I walked in and out of office, I noticed B eyeing me hesitantly. Sometimes he would even come up to me, seemingly wanting to talk. But then an apparent flicker of uncertainty would make him change his mind and turn away. When it went on for a few days and I was reasonably sure something was up, I asked him if he wanted to talk to me about something. His gaze was unsure and he looked anxious.

This was unusual. B is one of our oldest employees. He has worked in our office as a peon for over 35 years. He takes pride in telling the world that he has been in our company much before I was even born. He has a reputation for being bold and outspoken. So I was curious. What was causing him to be so anxious and unsure? It was very unlike him. I was concerned. He has been extremely loyal to us and I wanted to make sure we do everything we can to make sure he is alright.

Finally he told me. He wanted the company to loan him a massive sum of money as an advance payment. The number made my jaw drop. What do you need so much money for? My daughter is getting married, he said. Here is the list of things I am supposed to buy for the boy. Saying that, he placed a sheet of paper on the table. I glanced at it. Washing machine. Microwave. Mixer grinder. Pressure cooker. Silver tumblers. It went on.

Shocked, I asked him what this was. I told him he shouldn’t be forced to buy all of this. It is dowry. And dowry is a criminal offence. Did the boy demand these things? In which case, I could help him report the matter to the police. He looked at me as though I was an alien. He said the boy hadn’t made those demands, but they were unspoken rules. The bride had to come with these ‘gifts’. There were no two ways about it. It was the way of the world. We couldn’t go against it.

I sat him down and had a long conversation with him. I tried very hard to make him believe that it needn’t be like that. He could indeed get his daughter married without having to buy these ‘gifts’ for the groom. He countered my arguments with a lot of examples from his family and village. He told me I came from a different world and I was unaware of the ground realities. He told me I would never understand his lack of choice. If he didn’t do this, nobody from his community or social circle would marry his daughter. And if she remained unmarried, his younger daughter wouldn’t find a suitable groom either. Both his daughters would continue to be a burden on him. And his community would also make life hell for him.

We talked and talked that day. My reasoning would just not appeal to him. It was all too unrealistic in his opinion. Fed up, I decided to let go. I also refused to sanction his advance. I told him I refused to support such ideas and I would not help him out in this. Over the next few days, we grew distant from each other.

I could see B getting more distraught by the day. I knew he was in dire need of money. The stress was showing on him. I had several conversations and debates with myself. Was not giving him the money solving the real problem? No. Was giving him the money encouraging and supporting such behaviour? Maybe. Since I didn’t know what to do, I ignored the conflicting voices in my head and sat over it.

Weeks passed. I found out that B had tried to get personal loans from several other sources. He had been unsuccessful in all his attempts. The worry was beginning to make him physically ill. At any time, he always looked bogged down and distressed. Despite all my inner voices, I tried to overlook his condition. I must say though, this was very hard for me. I felt torn.

At one point, his desperation peaked and he came to me with tears in his eyes. He begged me to sanction the advance. This time, he told me he wasn’t planning to buy the ‘gifts’. He would only use the money for partial wedding expenses. We both knew how obvious his lie was. I remained silent for some time. The pressure to make the right decision was weighing me down. I realised then that I would never really be able to determine what was  truly right. 

I shut my eyes for a second, took a deep breath and give him my nod of approval. He gave me a big smile and told me I had taken away a lot of his struggles. I told him I was glad. As for me, my struggle to ascertain the rightness of my decision continues..

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Posted in Gender | 39 Comments »

Celebrations. Not.

Posted by Pepper on April 16, 2015

And so I celebrated my birthday. Quite a strange day it was. For the first half of it, I was clearly suffering from an acute case of birthday blues. Yes, they exist. For one, I had put a ton of pressure on myself to ‘do something very special’. What that something was, I couldn’t quite figure out. I wanted the celebration to be fun, and not include only run of the mill dinner plans. I wanted to feel super happy and excited. Yet, I couldn’t zero in on any activity that would make me feel that way. To add to my woes, the preceding few days were full of being daunted by the ‘What are your birthday plans’ question. That led to an even higher build up of inner expectations. No plan seemed good enough anymore. In the end, this whole mountain of unmet expectations made me fall flat on my face.

The final plan was to go out for lunch with my family and dinner with a friend. No, it didn’t make me feel super excited the way I hoped, but we picked good places and it was the best we could come up with. It was a weekday. I had decided to skip work that day. Unfortunately, I found myself looking into some unavoidable work in the morning. That took up some time. It got me cranky. I felt very loser like for working on my birthday. How pathetic it was to be surrounded by work on my special day? Wasn’t I supposed to be out, painting the town red, glowing with happiness and feeling all perked up? But here I was, working and feeling pathetic about it. The fact that I was feeling pathetic on my birthday made me feel even more pathetic.

And then, I was under the impression that Mint had also taken an off from work. I found out in the morning that he hadn’t taken an ‘off’, he was only working from home. So I got more cranky and asked him to go to hell. Weren’t we supposed to be out, ‘having fun’ all day? Why did he have to go ahead with work from home? I was inconsolable. The fact that he had important work to complete but had still chosen to work from home in the hope that he could be around me was totally lost on me. He said we could go out for lunch and even be out ‘having fun’, because he had already completed most of his work at night. He would only be looking into it intermittently during the day. That annoyed me further and I told him I would rather have him in his office instead of watching him work ‘intermittently’ around me and spoil my celebratory mood. Everything was making me miserable. Did I already say that?

And then there was my birthday gift. Or lack of it. I expected to be presented with boxes, packed in shiny wrappers and ribbons. It was my birthday, after all. And so it was Mint’s moral responsibility to present me with atleast one birthday gift. But there was no birthday gift awaiting me. And so, I screamed and cried some more. He told me he wanted to take me to the mall during the day and buy me something of my choice, but I was inconsolable again. Gifts are supposed to be surprises. They are shiny and exciting and fun packages. Buying something of my choice was just not the same. I was miserable.

We were supposed to cut my birthday cake at my parents’ place before we left for lunch. I walked in to their home, sulking quite evidently. No amount of hugs and ‘happy birthdays’ cheered me up. I wanted to feel ‘extra special’ and I wasn’t feeling it and everything was going wrong and I was letting myself down by feeling miserable.What a mess.

Mint wanted to wash his face, so he stepped into the washroom just as my parents laid out the cake. We waited for him to come out so we could proceed with the cake cutting. He took longer than we expected and I threw a fit. I yelled at him the moment he was out. I told him it was his fault that I was feeling so miserable. By now, Mint was quite exasperated with me and he said, “Fine. Everything is my fault”. He sounded rude and stern and so I wailed. Why was he shouting at me on my birthday? This isn’t how it was supposed to go. So I wailed some more and decided I didn’t want to cut the cake at all. I threw another tantrum when my parents requested me do it. Since I was obstinate, the cake was put away.

We left for lunch. I was sulking and feeling sorry for myself. On the way we encountered traffic, that got me even more grumpy and I went through the ‘Why is everything going wrong today’ phase again. My sister joined us for lunch and was most taken aback to see me in such a foul mood. My parents didn’t know what to make of my behaviour. Neither did I. Our lunch was good in parts. I would seemingly recover, only to start sulking again when I would remember that Mint didn’t give me a birthday gift.

I don’t know what on earth had come over me. No, it wasn’t PMS. I went through the day in that ridiculous state. I recovered completely only by evening. Finally, when I met my friend and sat in front of a tall pitcher of sangria, I actually decompressed and started having some fun. I had a wonderful dinner, thankfully. On the way back, I felt really guilty for throwing tantrums and spoiling the day for my family. They had all been eager to celebrate and I had successfully ruined it all for them. So I got home, spent some good time with my family and finally ate my neglected birthday cake.

Like I said, strange day. To add to it was the disconnect I felt with my new age. I turned 29, and I really cannot relate to such a ‘big age’. I just cannot. I say the same thing every year. I sound like a stuck record even to myself, but it is truly hard to associate myself with these numbers. And considering the kind of tantrums I threw the entire day, I do not think my maturity level matches up to my age either.

While I was still trying to mentally cope with my new age the next day after my birthday, I experienced what I call my saving grace. My sister asked me to collect some notes from her classmate. The first question her classmate asked me when I met her was ‘which school’ I was in. Quite stunned, I just told her I wasn’t in school. She asked me later how many years younger I was to my sis. To that I giggled and said I was older to her, by 6 years infact. We continued talking and at one point, she mentioned something about how it was important to consider a particular factor before I thought of getting married. Again, I looked at her and told her that I had been married for 5 years. At this point, she almost fainted. She held her hand to her mouth and continued to gasp, literally. Me? I was giggling and doing a mental bhangra.

My sister looks *very* young and I have never in my life been mistaken as her younger sister before this. I was so excited, I wished I had an audience to witness the conversation. Since I didn’t, I kept telling my sis to go and ask her classmate all that she said and thought about me. I was floating in the clouds, but I knew in my heart that this was just a one off. While I may look young in relation to my true age, I know I don’t look like I am in school. It was my hair cut, and the loose fitting dress I wore that that looked more like a frock.  Anyway, I was one happy girl. The fact that I got asked asked which school I was in right after I turned 29 was the true icing on my birthday cake.

Edited To Add: I thought I might as well share the picture that was taken on that day right after I came home. You can see I am still holding the notes in my hand. I told you, it is my haircut and that outfit.

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Posted in Celebrations, Er-rant-ic behaviour | 80 Comments »

Happy Week – Day 7

Posted by Pepper on April 8, 2015

Okay, looks like my happy week that started on March 19th has stretched up to April 7th. This was supposed to be 7 days of continuous posting. I feel like such a fraud. On second thoughts, I haven’t consciously been insincere to my beloved blog. It’s just that I’ve been really occupied with work. Sigh.. Anyway, a few more weeks and this critical project I am working on will be ready for delivery. I expect my work life to be calmer after that. *Fingers crossed*.

Let me get to the happy bit now. Yesterday, we went sailing with a bunch of friends. It was a lazy Sunday, and this seemed like a fitting way to spend the evening. I was quite apprehensive and scared at first, as I usually am in the beginning of any new activity. Especially if the said activity involves water. But ofcourse, that is why I have Mint in my life. He is committed to making me do things that I would never consider doing myself. So with some amount of coaxing from him, I agreed to go ahead with it.

It turned out to be such a good idea. We spent a fun and relaxed evening on the sail boat. Here is a picture I took before we set off. These boats in the surrounding looked so zen and calm. I had to click.

sailing

And once we set sail, I managed to muster up the courage to go and sit on the edge of the boat. It had no railing or fence. Just a flimsy little rope to mark the boundary. Obviously, I was scared, but once I settled down, I was lost. The sea and its endless ripples was making all the thoughts in my head bobble up and down too. I thought of so many things, all at once. What is the meaning of life? Why do humans (and most other creatures) have to pee so often in a day? Who lives in the top most floor of that building, far far away?

Sailing1

We made sure we sat with our legs around the pole. It was the only way to prevent ourselves from sliding down into the water. There were times when the wind would make the boat tilt to one side with such intensity, I was almost certain the boat would topple. Sure, we would have been down within seconds had it not been for the poles we sat around and held on to. But the poles apart, what I loved about sitting like this was the fact that my feet glided through the water as we sailed. So calming. So blissful.

Sailing2

I changed my position after some time. I love this pic, it shows how each of us is doing our own thing. The sun was setting. We were mostly quiet, watching our surrounding and listening to the music that drifted out of an iPod. If you notice carefully, you’ll see this guy precariously leaning out of the boat, while another guy casually holds on to his leg to keep him in place without even looking in his direction. I thought it was funny and cute.

Sailing3

After 2 hours of sailing, we were nearing the jetty. The sun had set and the light was low. All I had was my cell phone. I still couldn’t resist clicking a grainy picture of the Taj. Mumbai meri jaan, I love you.

Sailing4

Posted in Happy Week | 15 Comments »

 
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