A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for November, 2015

F for Flight

Posted by Pepper on November 27, 2015

Considering how utterly exhausted I am, I can’t believe I am writing this post. Also, the WiFi in my hotel room is very unsteady, so I doubt I will be able to post this today. Anyway, I had a very early morning flight today. One that forced me to pull myself out of my cosy bed in the middle of the night. I believe waking up at 4 am is nothing short of a heinous crime.

Mint dropped me to the airport. I was beginning to get a slight headache. The thought of waking up at 4 am had not allowed me to sleep peacefully the previous night. I was going to Hyderabad on a work trip and I knew I would be having a long day. I thought probably I should try to sleep for a bit at the airport, since I was quite early as usual.

I got my boarding pass and walked through security check. Maybe I would get some shut eye on the chairs next to my boarding gate. Unfortunately, when I did reach there, I noticed several folks sleeping on the chairs, all heads tilted and mouths agape. I decided I didn’t want to sleep anymore. Yes, I was just worried I would present a similar sight. Or maybe I wouldn’t, but the thought of it wouldn’t let me sleep anyway, so why try?

So I walked around, observing random people. I know, people watching is a favourite pass time at the airport. Most people are so well dressed for flights, even domestic ones. At times the airport reminds me of a fashion parade. Anyway, I decided to come back to Mumbai and go shopping. I want to own trendy shoes and clothes too.

When we finally boarded, I realised my seat was in the middle row. Argh! I found myself sitting between two men. One bald and the other semi bald. By now, I had given up on the idea of getting some sleep. So I thought maybe I should read. I had remembered to carry a new book with me. While I was rummaging through my handbag, I remembered I had kept the book in the other bag. Which I had checked in. I wanted to kick myself. How brilliant am I? I carry a book for the flight and then I put it in my check in luggage. Okay, in my defense, I left it in that bag because I wasn’t planning on checking it in. I remembered on the very last minute that that bag contained a bottle of my body wash and face wash and that I had to check it in.

Since I was left without a book, I decided to pick up the newspaper tucked in the pocket of my front seat. The only thing, it was in Hindi. Oops. While I believe I speak fluent conversational Hindi, reading in classic Hindi doesn’t come to me easily. I agree, that is such a shame. I remembered a conversation I had had with my domestic help just the day before. She was suggesting we keep one of our spare mattresses on the bed in the guest bedroom. In response, I told her, ‘Nahi, woh bohut uncomfortable hoga’. And then I paused and wondered. What is ‘uncomfortable’ in Hindi? Mint who was around only needed one more chance to point out to me that my Hindi wasn’t up to the mark. Hmph. I went on to Google. The first result said it was ‘asuvidhajanak’ Really? I thought suvidha was facility and asuvidhajanak would mean lacking facilities. Not exactly close to ‘uncomfortable’.

Anyway, coming back to the Hindi newspaper in my hand, I decided to try reading it and see how much I could comprehend. Just as I began to read, the semi bald guy on my right let out a laugh and said something like, ‘You will find it difficult to read that. Give it to me. Here, take this English paper’. I smiled at him and exchanged newspapers. But HOW did he know I would have trouble comprehending that level of Hindi? Or is it something the older generation takes for granted? Do people in my segment really struggle to read in Hindi? If that is true, then it is sad. Mint says he has no such issues with reading and comprehending Tamil. I wonder then why I find it cumbersome to read and understand a language I studied in school for 10 years? Perhaps it is time to work on it!

So with those thoughts floating in my head, I landed in Hyderabad, in the wee hours of morning. It was the beginning of a long day.


PS – I wrote this post yesterday, but like I mentioned, the lack of connectivity didn’t allow me to post it. I know I am also lagging behind in my responses. I will get back to approving and replying to comments as soon as I get back home. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me in my last post..


Posted in Slices of life | 5 Comments »

E for Exercise

Posted by Pepper on November 25, 2015

I need to take this a lot more seriously than I do. And I know I have been saying this forever. I am in awe of people who are religious about their daily exercise. In fact, I’ll go to the extent of saying they are fanatical. And I really admire them. As for me, I just lack the discipline.

Different people feel motivated by different things. I know most of us should work out and exercise to maintain a certain level of fitness. But people around me have a different motive. They work out because they start disliking the fat that deposits on their body. Sure, the fitness that comes with the workout is a great add on. But that is not the primary reason that drives them. The primary reason they work out is to shed the fat. And I am talking only about my friend circle here, so it isn’t a generalised statement.

I have always been thin. So my objective was only to build muscle mass and get fit. I have never felt the need to lose fat. At some point in life, I went from being very thin to being not so thin. And then without realising it, I began to accumulate fat around my belly. I refused to accept it at first. I am genetically predisposed to be thin. It couldn’t possibly be happening to me. Unfortunately, it reached a point where I could no longer wear body hugging clothes without looking 3 months pregnant.

So I stopped wearing clothes that accentuated my belly. I stuck to jeans and shorts, and thankfully, the belly was not visible when I wore those. On days that I did wear a body hugging dress, the family would laugh at my protruding tummy. The sis would take pictures of my bulge. Mint would be nasty enough to say he will upload those pictures on Facebook and watch the congratulatory messages that would follow. I almost slapped him once.

The problem is that I am still thin and underweight. My arms and legs don’t have much fat. It is just the belly. And since my waist is so tiny, the bulge really makes me look pregnant. Probably if I was broader, the bulge would be less noticeable. Suddenly, I found myself turning into that girl. That girl who freaks out about her accumulating fat.

Then there is my diet. While it is not loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, my diet is not fattening either. I love desserts but I don’t really binge on them. On a daily basis, I hardly consume any sweets. No, not even chocolates. I don’t have fried food. I am even watchful of the cheese.  There is only one culprit. Rice. You see, that is a weakness. I absolutely love rice and have it atleast 3 to 4 times a week. Which, by my definition isn’t all that much, but in Mint’s opinion my consumption of rice is way more than what it should be. He says that is half the cause of my belly. But I can’t dream of giving it up. My traits are inherently South Indian, though I may not have been born one. As far as Mint goes, his aversion to rice makes him lose his South Indian status.

Coming back to my flabby tummy, I realised things had gotten out of hand when my mother-in-law commented on my paunch even while I was wearing jeans! I always thought I could successfully camouflage the flab in my jeans, but if it was evident even in jeans, then I knew it had all crossed a certain boundary.

This shallow reason motivates me to take on exercise far more seriously than my desire to get fit. I know, shallow, like I said. My only problem is that I don’t know how to work out. I have never worked out in a gym. And I prefer not joining a gym even now. I want to take on something that I can do at home fairly conveniently. For that, I am willing to purchase all that I need to. Weights for example. Joining a gym will only result in me finding excuses to not go. I know myself. So I prefer to start with something that I know is sustainable.

I am curious to know how you incorporate exercise into your daily life? Do you walk or go for runs? Do you workout at home? If yes, what kind of a workout? Do you spend time in the gym? Are you into yoga? What exactly do you do to lose fat and / or keep your body fit? And if anybody can direct me to some links or online tutorials that will enable me to have a fulfilling but not overly intense workout at home, it will be much appreciated. Thank you!

Posted in Uncategorized | 52 Comments »

D for Dream

Posted by Pepper on November 24, 2015

I’ve harboured this dream since I was in my teens. I don’t know what thought triggered it, but I decided I would grow up and adopt a baby girl. I was surprised by my own unwavering determination. I had a couple of friends who used to say the same thing when we were kids. Most of them happened to change their mind as they grew. It is after all common to outgrow such fantasies. For some reason, I stuck to my guns and only felt more convinced as time passed.

When I started dating Mint, I shared this thought with him and to my delight, he echoed my sentiments. At that point, even marriage was a mere dream, but we didn’t hesitate to add to our list of dreams. One day, we would get married and one day we would adopt a baby. We both preferred to NOT have our own baby. So we thought maybe we would even adopt two kids.

Eventually, we got married and since we absolutely weren’t thinking of having kids any time soon, we decided to not pursue the adoption topic till we were ready. All along though, I was very vocal about my preferences. I told all and sundry that we preferred to adopt instead of having our own kids. I was surrounded by the same question everywhere. WHY did we want to adopt if we were fully capable of having our own kids. This isn’t easy to answer.

I honestly don’t want to sound martyr like, because I am not. The simple answer to that is that the whole concept made sense to us. There are a million babies that need a home. Why create more? We didn’t really care about the concept of ‘my own blood’ For us, the purpose of having a child was just to have the experience of nurturing a life and expanding our family. So to adopt a baby seemed perfectly logical to us.

Nobody seemed to understand it though. Till date, people tell me the pregnancy journey is something that cannot be replicated and I may eventually regret not experiencing it. I understand and appreciate the fact that it is a marvelous journey. It does feel like a miracle and I am sure it is fascinating. It surely is to me. But honestly, my desire to adopt is far stronger than my desire to experience pregnancy and child birth. So if I were to weigh the two, I know what the winner would be.

And then there are people who tell us how magical it is to see the manifestation of your own genes. Now, this is something I am more convinced by. While I don’t really care about ‘my own’ genes, I do feel curious to see the amalgamation of our genes, Mint and mine. We come from such vastly different regions and spheres, our personalities, our ancestry and history, our lineage, these are all worlds apart.I trace my lineage to Balochistan and Karachi in Pakistan. My clan originated there and lived there for eons. We only moved to Mumbai a few decades ago. My mother tongue is part Punjabi, part Sindhi, part Multani. Our lives have strong influences of Sufi and Islamic traditions, although we are Hindus. Mint’s ancestors inhabited villages in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. He is part Tamil and part Telugu. He grew up under the strong influence of the Dravidian culture and way of life.

Like I said, we come from different worlds and yet through some strange stroke of luck, our paths collided and we ended up together. This does make me curious to know what our union can create. It is interesting to think of how or what our aggregate will be like. More than anything else, it is pure curiosity on my part. Again, I had to stop and question myself on several occasions. What is more important to me? Knowing what our creation will be like? Or adopting a baby ? And though both the options hold weight, my answer mostly tips in favour of adoption.

I really have no idea why, but my heart beats for adoption. That underlying desire overrides all other apprehensions and thoughts. I know I have not been successful in pointing out why I feel so strongly about it. Mint too is on the same page as me. So we have always been 90% in favour of adoption, versus having our own baby. Why the 10% doubt? Here are the reasons.

–  I know I am being really vain when I say this, but I don’t want people to think we are adopting kids because we aren’t capable of having kids of our own. Especially when that is so far from the truth. Mint has asked me several times why I care about what others think. I honestly don’t know. I agree with him when he says that if he have our own baby just to prove to the world that we can, then it will be the stupidest reason ever. I know I just need to get over this crap and care a hoot about what the world thinks. Since the idea of adoption (when you can have your own kids) is seen as bizarre in our country, people are bound to assume that we are adopting only because we can’t conceive. I need to accept this and move on. Also, I hope nobody judges me for this confession I made.

–  Breast feeding. Because of all the blogs I read and all the information that floods me, it has been hammered into my head that without the great benefits of breast milk, a child can suffer a big loss and have a compromised immune system and so on. I really don’t know how much of this is true and how much of it is mere propaganda, but I know it makes me worry about my future formula fed child suffering from a disadvantage.

–   Discrimination. I would say this is our most legitimate concern. While I know we will never discriminate against our child just because he/she is adopted, I worry about the world discriminating in cruel ways. I know it isn’t feasible to not be open about the fact that your baby is adopted and I don’t know what hurdles lie in store. Having said that, I know it largely depends on how self assured your child is, and that again is a task for the parents.

Having said all that, we were still all for adoption. Oh well, 90% like I said. That 10% doubt or fear of not being able to manage the difficulties that come with it always haunts me. It isn’t an easy decision and we have conveniently deferred it until now. We also toyed with the idea of having one baby of our own and adopting the other but that comes with its own set of challenges. We decided to not go this route and adopt two kids, IF we decided to have two kids that is.

After all this time, we thought maybe we should start thinking about planning a baby in some time. And then just when we were beginning to take a clear decision and consider adoption to be our final choice, a part of our circumstances changed. I am not getting into details, but it was beginning to appear that for certain reasons, adoption may not be an option for us, if we go with a certain other choice. That we just have to give up on the idea in that case. That has resulted in added confusion in our lives.

Sigh.. I don’t know anymore, if one day we will be able to adopt or not. Or even if we will plan our own child soon. We may not do either. Or we may force ourselves to pick a stand soon. I really don’t know what the future holds. All I know is that adoption has always been a very precious dream. It is something that will remain close to my heart, no matter what choice we make.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 57 Comments »

C for Cockroach

Posted by Pepper on November 23, 2015

Okay, I’m sorry. That really isn’t a very glamorous title. And I can’t believe my own choice of topic. But then, it really does fit the bill. The cockroach is quite the protagonist in this post. So let’s move on, shall we?

It so happened that I forgot to roll up the windows of my car one day. I must have rolled them down for some reason, and since I am not used to having to roll up the windows before getting out of the car (I hardly ever roll them down), I forgot about it. So looks like the windows remained open all night. I was quite alarmed when I noticed it the next morning. Thankfully, I couldn’t find anything amiss and I concluded that it had been an uneventful night.

Then it happened. I was driving back from work that day. All of a sudden, a creature whizzed past my vision and it resulted in me braking abruptly. It wasn’t funny in the least bit. I could have caused an accident and it would have been all my fault. I couldn’t help it though, I was so startled by that damn thing that appeared out of nowhere. I was horrified to note that it was a cockroach. And wait for it, a freaking flying cockroach! My guess is that it had entered the previous night when I had left the windows open.

I rolled down the windows immediately, praying to the Almighty to show the cockroach the right path and lead it out of the car. I had scary thoughts of it flying across my face and since I was driving, I knew that wouldn’t result in something nice. To make matters worse, I wasn’t getting the opportunity to pull up on the side. I was right in the midst of speeding cars, being forced to maintain a certain speed myself. The cockroach seemed to be enjoying it’s flight. I had no idea where or when it would land next. It was a few moments of acute tension and anxiety. I started to sob. Quite literally, I had tears streaming down my face.

Finally, I did get the opportunity to pull over. I waited for the damn thing to make a peaceful exit. But no, it seemed to love it’s new hang out. I got out of the car and prayed some more. When I peeped in, it was still there, cosy in it’s spot. Finally after waiting endlessly, I decided to be brave enough to use a piece of paper to flick off the roach. But every time I would attempt to do that, it would scurry into an unreachable crevice; that tiny gap between the door and window. Fine, I thought, as long as it stays there and doesn’t come out while I am driving. So I convinced myself to start driving, but like I suspected, the dude was out the moment the car was in motion.

I stopped again. Wiped my tears. I took a photograph. I wanted evidence of my sufferings. I called Mint and told him I was stuck on the highway, in the car with a cockroach that wasn’t letting me drive. I told him I had taken a picture of the monster. He asked me why I would I stand by and click, instead of driving it away. Hah, if only I knew how to do that. When I sent him the picture on WhatsApp, his only response was, ‘Don’t be ridiculous’. Don’t be ridiculous? What does that even mean? And how insensitive of him.



I swear it was much bigger than it looks in the picture. I really didn’t know what to do. I probably sound lame to some, but trust me, when you are trapped in a car and are forced to drive while a cockroach circles around the air and takes sadistic pleasure in arbitrarily zipping by you, the mystery of when and where it will land is torturous. I mean, I have never come in physical contact with a cockroach. I have never touched one. The last thing I wanted was for it to disembark on my nose or something. I would probably crash.

Sigh. If you are wondering how it ended, I convinced myself to ignore it and continue driving. I used the slowest lane and stuck to the sides, just so I could stop in an emergency. But that was probably the most painful drive ever. Ofcourse, I swapped cars with Mint for a week after that. I expected sympathy from my family, but all I got from them was hysterical bouts of laughing. Meanies. Now I know what to do for revenge. Someday I will lock them in a car with TWO flying cockroaches.


Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour | 26 Comments »

B for Blessed

Posted by Pepper on November 20, 2015

It was a weekend morning. Mint and I had some errands to run. After which, he dropped me home and left to complete some other chores. As I was walking into the gate of our apartment complex, I realised I was starving. I hadn’t had any breakfast. I could obviously go home and fix myself something. A sandwich maybe. Or a bowl of oats. But do I even consider doing things like that? The answer is a big resounding NO. Because whenever I am hungry, I choose to go to my parents home, where I know I will be loved, fed and taken care of. This is what ends up happening when your parents live in the next building. You get spoilt beyond belief.

So as usual, I entered the parents house with a ‘Mama, mujhe bhook lagi hai’. (Mama, I am hungry). This used to be my standard line after I got back from school. It amuses me to think of how little has changed. Except that now I am almost.. oh well, never mind my age. The mother smothered me with cuddles like she usually does and proceeded to the kitchen. I told her I felt like eating cheese quesadillas. We both stared at each other, knowing what I had asked for was not possible. I laughed and told her I would settle for a sandwich.

After a while, she placed this in front of me. Her own Indianised version of the quesadillas, made of whole wheat. Needless to say, I was delighted. I used my bottle of Sriracha to draw a flower on my plate.





Just as I was tucking in, my dad walked in asking me if I would like him to make me a cup of coffee. When my mom offered to make it instead, my dad seemed most offended and reminded my mom that I don’t like anybody else’s coffee other than his. True story. So my dad made and handed me the coffee just as I was finishing my meal. What bliss.

This is really how most of my days are. My parents baby us, stuff us with food and warmth. Their home is my haven, a place where I just know I will be taken care of. A place I go to everyday for the pampering and the love. Actually, I have come to realise most parents are the same. The only difference is that I am privileged to have access to their welcoming abode on a daily basis. When I think of how my life has been, I think I am nothing short of blessed.

Posted in Small joys | 24 Comments »

A for All

Posted by Pepper on November 19, 2015

I thought I’d start the challenge by encapsulating the recent events and writing a summary of all that has been going on in my life.

I already wrote about the decision that has been driving us absolutely insane. I do know we are over thinking and over complicating things for our own selves, but I have come to accept the fact that that’s just how we are wired. So the past several weeks have been about living in dilemma. Thinking about the said decision as I go about my work day, calling Mint to find out if there is any new development while he is at work, getting home and thinking some more, discussing it with Mint over dinner and then sleeping over it. The same events play out in a loop everyday. Ugh..

Work has been pretty draining. I am tired. Period. It is not the quantity, but the magnitude of it all that is wearing me out. I feel close to giving up on some days and then I push myself to go closer to the finish line. I have laid out some goals for myself and I am struggling to accomplish them. I really, really hope I succeed.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, in the midst of all the madness, we experienced something spectacular. We went for a Disney musical! We watched Beauty and the beast and it was magical. The auditorium felt like some faraway fantasy land. It wasn’t just the stage but the entire damn place. Mint had already seen a Broadway musical, but it was a first for me. We were awed by the sheer brilliance. The coordination, the direction, the cast, the costumes, the beautiful lighting, the ever changing and very real backdrops. I came back feeling very happy and dreamy.

The in-laws were visiting. They stayed with us for around ten days and we had a really good time. It was lovely to spend time chatting with my mother-in-law. The last time they came, she was too paranoid about Oregano and the stress passed on to me. This time, we were all relatively relaxed and it resulted in some good bonding.

We went on a road trip to Aurangabad and let me just say, the travel wasn’t fun. The roads are simply awful. I refused to drive and poor Mint was on the wheel through out. Anyway, the in-laws wanted to see the Ellora caves and I am glad we were able to take them. I must say, my relationship with my in-laws has improved drastically. It’s taken me five and a half years to say this, but I think we are finally in a good place. Touch wood.

Diwali came and Diwali went. We had chosen to keep it all low key this year. I didn’t want to go all out with the lights. But we still put up a single string of lights in our balcony and it looked very pretty. The neighbors made a lovely rangoli at our front door. Yes, we have nice neighbors. They were doing their own and then decided to do it for us as well when they found out we weren’t up for doing it ourselves. We lit some diyas around it. And of course, there were loads of sweets. We went for dinner with both sets of parents and it was a nice evening. My in-laws gifted me a very pretty sari. If only I knew how to drape a sari. Anyway, my pretty sari collection deserves to be aired out. It’s a cue for me to learn how to drape and not be so dependent on others.

So that’s some of the stuff that we’ve been up to. I am guessing more will find a way in the upcoming posts. Let’s see how this challenge goes..


Posted in Slices of life | 16 Comments »

‘I am back’ post..

Posted by Pepper on November 18, 2015

I typed out that title with great trepidation. You know, because what if saying ‘I am back’ is like a promise that I can’t keep? I am known to shy away from binding commitments. And at this point in time, I already have a truckload of commitments that I have to cater to, both professional and personal. Why then am I adding more to my already full plate?

Well, because this blog is very dear to me. And I have been noticing it’s decline. 2015 is probably my worst year in terms of blogging frequency. I don’t blame myself entirely. There have been too many distractions this year, other than general life to focus on. It has resulted in gross neglect of the blog. But now, I sorely miss the warmth I felt after a publishing a post. The chatter in the comment section. It was almost a part of my daily life. And while I know that things may not be the same anymore even if I do become more regular with my writing, I am still willing to try my best to restore that happy connection I had with this space.

And so, I am back. To ensure I post everyday often, I am signing myself up for the A-Z blogging challenge. This is an annual challenge that usually happens in the month of April. But ofcourse, I will bend the rules to suit myself. I hear this challenge is not easy, and I must be crazy to take it up at this time. But I have a penchant for all things crazy, and so here we are. Ofcourse, anybody else who wants to participate in this challenge and join in the craziness is most welcome to do so. All you have to do is choose a topic using each letter of the alphabet from A to Z.

Here’s to a new beginning. See you tomorrow.

Posted in The black hole | 19 Comments »

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