A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for September, 2016

If We Were Having Coffee..

Posted by Pepper on September 26, 2016

–  I’d first tell you that I am stealing this idea from TGND, who seems to have picked it up from elsewhere.

–  I’d tell you that I’ve been suffering from a series of eye infections. The infection started with my left eye, got cured, only to attack my right eye. I breathed a sigh of relief when my right eye was cured. Unfortunately, the relief was short lived because the infection was back in my left eye in a few days. The infection causes me excruciating pain and any exposure to light makes me want to die. The pain is debilitating and it makes me shut myself in a dark room all day. Looking at any screen is akin to being shot in the eye.

I was terrified when I found myself facing round 3 of this infection. Would I keep passing it on from eye to eye? The pain is so unbearable and my inability to tolerate light brings my life to a standstill. I’ve seen two ophthalmologists and gotten two very different diagnoses. Both of them agreed that my infection recurs the moment I stop my eye drops. Doctor 1 thinks it is a severe viral attack. Doctor 2 thinks it is a more serious condition called Acute Anterior Uveitis caused by an auto immune disorder. We’ll have to investigate more and move on with some blood work if the infection reoccurs. But for now, I have been asked to stay on the eye drops for the next 1 month. My eyes are good as long as I use the drops, so as of now I am alright. Unfortunately, I know I can’t stay on the eye drops for the rest of my life, so I pray with all my might that I’m not hit by the infection after a month when I finally stop the drops. Pray for me, will you?

– I’d also tell you that my dad has been slightly unwell this week. He’s been having bouts of dizziness and his BP has been fluctuating. The doctor thinks it is most likely a case of vertigo, but has asked us to get a few tests done nevertheless. I know none of this is cause for concern, but I can’t put in words how much I hate it when my parents are sick.

– I’d tell you that I often feel inefficient when I see some people around me. This weekend, we went to a friend’s place for brunch. We were a total of 15 people and it was more like a last minute plan. In the short notice that she had, the host managed to whip up some terrific food. Home made humus (which she had previously made), pita bread, salsa, lavash sticks, cheese stuffed mushrooms, pizzas, tacos, couscous salad and cheese balls! How do some people do it? I feel awestruck and so inept. To make it worse, I know Mint wouldn’t even allow me to attempt such a feat. He’d say he doesn’t have the motivation to do so much and neither does he want me to kill myself in the kitchen. It is simpler to order in a large group. I often wonder if he understands the joy of doing things by your own hand from scratch. I know I love the idea but I am also aware of my tendency to get frazzled and overwhelmed when faced with such a task. I wish I could be one of those people who did it and topped it with a ‘Oh it’s no big deal, it wasn’t much work’

– I’d tell you that people in our apartment complex have formed a WhatsApp group to discuss admin and developmental issues. As usual, I am ever silent. Most people wouldn’t have even realised I am a part of the group. I rarely express an opinion. I’ve never done so on any forum, other than this blog. In fact, I see a steep decline in the opinion themed posts even on the blog. This is definitely not because I don’t have opinions any more. Oh they’re pouring out of my ears. I’ve just been feeling too jaded to structure, shape and put down my thoughts. I hope I am able to change that though. I want to continue sharing my opinions in this space. It’s the only social media platform that is dear to me.

– I’d tell you that we are leaving for Chennai the day after. We’ll be spending a week with the in laws. I must add here, that in the past few months, our relationship with them has been strained. A lot has happened and I totally understand why they call some relationships ‘rocky’. We’ve been literally rocking back and forth. I’ve been meaning to write a post on that for a long time. Maybe some day I will. If you are smart and have read this blog for a while, you should be able to figure out the cause. I’m not sure how this trip will turn out. Let’s see! I’m not looking forward to it if I am to be honest. The only thing that picks up my spirits is the thought of food and all the chettinad restaurants we’ll visit.

– I’d tell you that this virtual coffee session has been therapeutic for me. I have such disjointed thoughts these days, it is far easier to spill them in post like this. I have a lot more to share, but I am short of time now. So I’ll have to wrap this up here and thank you for listening to me. I’d also want you to know that I will be very happy to hear from you. How’s life been? You can either share bits of your life with me in the comment space or shoot me an email. I love listening!

Posted in Slices of life | 21 Comments »


Posted by Pepper on September 18, 2016

Sundays are meant to be lazy. In fact, the very mention of Sunday conjures up images of me lounging around in bed, aimlessly flipping through channels on TV, going for a lazy dinner, you get it? It’s all justified in the name of ‘Sunday’! I am embarrassed to say, that’s how the past few weekdays have been for me. Lazy! I’ve had a lot of work, but for some reason, I decided to go on a strike. I refused to even look at work.

My office work has started to get to me. Maybe it is because we are on the verge of wrapping up and shutting down the company. Maybe because we are in the process of liquidating all our assets. (Sad, I know, but I am not going over the details right now) My nature of work has changed. From actively managing operations, I am now having to manage sales. And if you know me even a little, you’ll know just how dreadful I find that word. The very idea of sales makes me panic.

I think there are two kinds of people in this world. You are either a sales person or you are not. I am clearly not. And yet, I’ve had to feign a certain level of confidence and go out there and sell. I must say, I have been surprised by my abilities. I feel stumped by the positive responses. I feel amazed I did it. And yet, in my heart I know that it has taken a phenomenal amount of effort to get there. I’ve had to drag myself far, far out of my comfort zone and don a personality that is completely alien to me. I’ve had to overcome anxiety, palpitations and an unknown sense of alarm.

As a result, I think I became insincere to my work. It’s because it felt so unnatural. I found myself distracted every time I tried to work. So I let go and barely looked at work in the past few days. And though I was lazing around, there was a certain guilt that followed me. I felt like I was on an undeserved break. I hadn’t earned it.

Falling slack when you are in my position is scary. I’m aware I am shouldering a lot of responsibility. I can’t afford to screw up. So I pulled up my socks today and I have been working all day. I know it is ironical that I chose a Sunday to throw myself into work. You know that feeling? When you were in school and would open your textbook just a day prior to your exam and be totally overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information you had to absorb? Yeah. That feeling. I experienced something like that today when I went through my work.

I started bright and early and ploughed through the day. I took almost no breaks. I got a lot of work out of the way and I’m fairly pleased by the amount I managed to finish in just one day. I think my productivity levels peak at such times.  And now I think it is time to wrap up and put away my laptop. Thankfully, my evening off today won’t feel like an undeserved break. Happy Sunday to you!

Posted in Slices of life | 6 Comments »

One and done

Posted by Pepper on September 12, 2016

I’ve never been much of a drinker. I did however, drink in social settings. Quite safe to say that my alcohol consumption has never crossed the ‘occasional’ mark. A while ago, I decided to go on a self imposed ban and chose to completely restrict all alcohol intake. Well, not just alcohol. I also eliminated tea and coffee from my life. This was a huge step for me, given my addiction to coffee. I *tried* to cut out sugar too. Let’s just say that mission was an epic fail. Because, desserts. And chocolate.

This Saturday evening, Mint and I found ourselves home with no real plans. This is quite a rarity for us, so I was happy to spend the evening relaxing at home. The sister was meeting a friend of hers at a food court and we asked her to pack some food for us. I requested her to drop it off at our place on her way back. I’m not sure what got into me, but I told Mint we should get a few drinks. We found a big bottle of Black Label in our cabinet. I’m not a whisky person, but since I was drinking as a one off, I decided to go all out.

It started out rather innocently. And I don’t even know at what point I got that high. I don’t think I’ve been that buzzed in a long, long time. In fact, I don’t remember being that buzzed ever. It was funny because I have a clear memory of all that I was saying and doing, just that I was unable to stop myself from saying it. I punched Mint’s arm every 2.5 minutes and then dissolved into fits of laughter. I also spoke a truckload of rubbish. I know I was talking non stop and I couldn’t get myself to shut up. I even made some smart suggestions to Mint and told him we should sleep under the sofa that night. Yes, under. Not on.

All of a sudden, I could feel the effervescence welling up inside, threatening to spill out anytime. Clutching my head and babbling things like ‘ Chakkar is coming. Ulti is also coming. Spin ho raha hai’, I ran inside the bedroom. I also forced Mint to follow me. Once in the bedroom, I insisted I wanted the lights off immediately. I told him I hated the lights. They were evil.

I really have little memory of what happened after the lights were turned off. I don’t even know how much time passed. All I remember is racing to the washroom suddenly when I realised I had to throw up. Yuck! I then went on to clean up the mess in my drunken state. I crawled back to bed, thinking I’d feel better after the puke fest. But no sir! I wasn’t done. I went on to throw up 4 more times. I quit cleaning up after the first 2 times since I figured there would be more to come, and we might as well do it all at one go. After the 5th session, I was confident I had nothing left to spew out. I told Mint I was done and he could proceed to clean up now. I must say, the poor guy did a good job of cleaning up all my puke.

I slept finally, after being forced by Mint to drink a lot of water. He said it would help with my hang over in the morning. Thankfully, other than a mild headache, I didn’t suffer too much the next morning. In all of this, did I have fun? Hell yes. It was good to shed all my inhibitions. The puking was gross and a complete spoiler, of course. But all in all, I did have a lot of fun! Would I do it again? Nope! I think I’m done.


Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour | 12 Comments »

It’s hard to escape the cheer

Posted by Pepper on September 9, 2016

when the atmosphere around you is so festive. When I look around, the pulsating vibes find a way to reach me and I succumb to the excitement. All day, I watch the passing crowds and hear cries of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’.

The scent of incense hangs heavily in the air. Our apartment complex is lit up. Every evening, I watch people assembling around the idol when it is time for the aarti. The sarees add a riot of colour. The kids have been rehearsing for days for the cultural programs that follows the evening aarti. As I take my walk, I am stopped by a visibly happy man. He offers me a piece of modak. There is excitement all around.

On the day of immersion, I watch the processions from my window. People dance to the beat of the drums. I can tell this is one moment they have looked forward to for a long time, and now that they are living the moment, they are relishing every bit of it.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to you! I know there is just so much wrong with the way we celebrate the festival. But today, I am only going to focus on what is right.

Posted in Celebrations | 6 Comments »

My mom’s birthday celebrations

Posted by Pepper on September 7, 2016

A few weeks ago, my mom celebrated her 60th birthday. We thought the milestone called for big celebrations. While I was still struggling to accept the fact that my mama would now be categorized as a ‘senior citizen’, my mom was very excited about her change of status. Well, let’s just say she was really excited about her upcoming birthday.  I haven’t seen such childlike excitement in many adults. Definitely not for a birthday. But then, my mom is more child like than most adults..

We decided to celebrate all year round. In the beginning of the year, I told her that her 60th birthday gift from me would be a year long shopping spree. Clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, books, just about any personal item she wanted. The only condition was that it should be for her personal use and not a general item for the house. Because I know my mom and how easily the idea of a gift is lost on her. She thinks of everybody’s collective benefit and chooses what is most required by all. This time, I wanted to ensure it was about her.

It turned out to be a great idea. I told her she had to shop worth at least x amount by the end of the year. If she hadn’t exhausted the limit, I would keep persuading her to buy more. It’s a very consumerist approach, but the only way to get my mom to indulge. Through out the year, we had multiple shopping sprees. We’ve bought her bags full of clothes and other interesting bits. Most times, the sister’s hatred for shopping made her skip the outing. The end result was just me and mom spending many evenings browsing through different stores. We would then take the opportunity to head out to a new place for dinner and coffee every time.

The chatting and giggling over coffee or dinner has been the best part. I can’t ask for a better friend than her. Our conversations range from deep, philosophical stuff about life to lame gossip about people we know to debates about controversial issues to silly banter. The two of us have had so much fun this year. I think the idea of a year long shopping spree was a great one. It was an experience that we both got to take in and savor bit by bit.


Here is a pic of my mom posing in some of her new clothes. I know I have blurred her face, but to me, my mom is gorgeous. I’d never guess she is 60 if I were to meet her somewhere. I keep hoping I have inherited her genes and that I can manage to look half as good as her by the time I turn 60. But the recent changes in me don’t make me hold on to much hope. Also, although I am such a fan of my mom and think she looks remarkable for her age, I know she isn’t exactly the healthiest. I always worry about her osteoporosis and her very brittle bones. All I can do it pray she never has a fall!


My gorgeous mama

Our original plan for her birthday was to do nothing more than a family dinner. But slowly, questions about how we were celebrating began trickling in. My mom has 5 sisters, 3 of who live in Mumbai. They’re all so close, we joke about Madhur Bhandarkar making a new movie based on their bond, titled something like ‘Behne’.

Anyway, I digress. So my mom’s family starting hinting at wanting a small party. My mom is the youngest sister and has always been babied by her elder sisters. My mom turning 60 was a milestone even for them. We decided the occasion did indeed call for a small party. We booked a place in our clubhouse. Soon though, the number of guests quadrupled. My mom’s sisters, their husbands, my cousins, their kids, my mom’s cousin. We decided to go all out and make it a big lunch party with cocktails and drinks thrown in.

My mom got a new dress made for the occasion. I could see the excitement building. Unfortunately, it so happened that none of us were available to go and book the cake on the day we had planned to. I was sick, Mint and my dad were traveling and the sister wouldn’t be back home till really late that day. We feared the cake wouldn’t be ready in time if we waited for the sister to order it after getting back. So what did we do? I told my mom to go and book her own birthday cake! She thought it was hilarious to be telling the guys there to write her own name on the cake. Anyway, she is such a sport, she laughed it off and went on to do it.

The party turned out to be a lot of fun. While we did have a lot of people, it was still intimate with only family. We also went out for a dinner later that day, just the parents, sister, Mint and I. It was a day well spent and I’m glad my mom had fun. Here’s hoping the coming year is as exciting for her.

Posted in Celebrations | 14 Comments »

The act of moving on

Posted by Pepper on September 6, 2016

When I was little, I mean two ponytails and teddy bears little, I was conditioned into believing my life would follow a typical progression and I would be the mother of two kids by the time I hit 30. I would have a high paying job I love and look forward to everyday. I would also have a dog. And a fun and happening life. I admit, my conjured image of an ideal life was more driven by social conditioning than my own desires. Plus, I was young and stupid.

Having said that, I still didn’t imagine myself not having a single child by the time I turned 30. I suppose I got older a lot sooner than I expected to. I mean, I always wanted to have kids from the time I can remember. I just didn’t know when. When I got married, Mint told me in no uncertain terms that he never wanted to have kids. The word was ‘never’. While such statements did worry me at times, I knew in my heart that he was merely freaked out by the idea of raising a child. He would overcome his fear when the time was right. Also, we did have a lot of time on our hands. We married young.

Time as we all know is a slippery factor. It passes before you know it. All of a sudden, I found myself anxious about my age. I decided it was time to push Mint to think. After a lot of debates and discussions, he ‘agreed’ to have a child. This would worry me at times. Because he only agreed. He still didn’t seem to want it enough himself. But he told me this was the best he could give me. He wasn’t sure he would ever want kids desperately. He would only agree and maybe feel happy about his decision at a later point. But right now, agreement and an assurance that he would give parenting his best shot was all I would get. After more debates and discussions, we decided the time was right. After some more thought, we decided our first choice was to adopt a baby girl. When we signed up for adoption at the beginning of the year, I was ecstatic to get the ball rolling.

Little did I know then that our ride was going to be tumultuous, to say the least. Things changed rapidly. Our personal situation became so precarious that we could no longer be sure about adoption. But until we are sure we can’t adopt, we don’t want to give it up. And unfortunately, it is taking us some time to be sure of that. Our circumstances are making us dangle on the edge. And I find myself wondering everyday. How long should we hold on to this dream? Is it meant to be? Should we start thinking about having a biological baby if adoption isn’t working out? In the end, we decide to wait a little bit longer for adoption to work out before we think of embarking on the journey to have a biological child. This waiting however is wearing me out.

Mint often asks me, why I am so sure I am ready to have a baby. I think my desire to have a child right now is still mild. It hasn’t peaked, but I sense it is there. I think I want a child because I am bored of the monotony. I want to experience something intensely challenging and there are few things as challenging as parenthood. I know having a child will be exceptionally demanding. It will shake us and make us refocus. I like the sound of that. Plus watching a child grow is fascinating. That, and the truth that I can’t deny. I want a child because most people around me have one. And the world has led me to believe that I should have a child by now.

Sadly, since our personal situation is so wobbly and we don’t yet know what path we will take to have a child (and that we shouldn’t even be thinking of having a child until things settle down for us), I know waiting is imminent. A baby will most likely not be on the cards for us for a long time. A year? Maybe. More than that? Perhaps. I have no answers. The thought of my passing age makes me panic but there is little I can do other than convincing myself that though I may be 30, I am not that old. A delay worth a year or two might hurt me a little but it will not kill me.

The social pressure is momentous. Either it has escalated all of sudden, or I am falling prey to it now more than ever. At first, people would ask me when we planned to have a baby. It would anger me and I would respond based on the circumstances and who the questioning authority was. I would either find a polite way of asking them to f*ck off or I would brush it off and laugh. Things seem to have worsened now. From asking me when we plan to have a baby, people have now graduated to asking me if I am pregnant. This has made me cry twice. I’ve thrown a fit, wondering if I look that fat or have such a protruding belly.

People are ruthless and insensitive. I was asking a friend to drop by since she hasn’t yet been to our home, and she kept saying she would come only when I gave her a reason to come. It took me a while to understand her implication. She then went on to say her son would want some company and there was no child in our home. I really couldn’t think of how to respond. It’s just that much harder when people your age do it to you. You can’t even blame it on the mindset of a past generation.

And then there was my yoga instructor. Or rather my ex yoga instructor. She lives in our apartment complex and has known my family for ages. She conducts classes in the community hall. While I was trying to get some inputs on some muscle strengthening exercises, she told me she would rather show me some exercises that will help me conceive. She went on to add that the said exercises have worked for many women and that I would surely benefit. Boundaries anyone? I guess that concept is unheard of in India. I’m sorry, but if I ever need your help in conceiving, I will let you know, thank you. To say that I was enraged would be an understatement. It explains why the said teacher turned into an ex teacher.

Wherever I go, I am hounded by the baby question. The badgering is incessant and merciless. Even if I respond politely, I am subjected to more intense grilling. The fact that we’ve been married for six years makes us undergo constant scrutiny and interrogation. It has reached a point where I have begun to avoid social interaction.

Every move of mine is examined, inspected and dissected. If I am at a party and I refuse alcohol, people ask me if I am pregnant. God forbid I have a stomach upset or some unexplained nausea. People will move on to congratulating me. I feel so suffocated, I am scared to even let out a sigh, least it is interpreted the wrong way. I feel vulnerable wherever I go. I guess I didn’t find the questioning and the investigation half as grueling earlier because at that point I genuinely didn’t want to have kids. Now I think I am ready to have kids and the same questions sting me a lot more.

It’s easy to ask people to ‘not care’ about what others say. I am guilty of telling my unmarried friends to not care about the so called well meaning relatives’ nudges and jabs, asking them to get married. At times it is easy to ignore, but other times it is not. And it is especially hard when you struggling to achieve the same thing you are expected to have.

As for me, I think a lot about time lines. How important are they? What do you do when the time you take to achieve some goals overshoots the time limit you set out for yourself. Sometimes I wonder if our society is devised in such a way that it requires your life path to be constantly aligned with your peers. We usually do find it easier to connect with folks who are in the same phase as us. Whether it is the phase of choosing a partner and getting married, or experiencing parenthood, or the same level of seniority in professions, etc. The moment your lives stop running in parallel, you are made to feel a sense of alienation. Is this why we are pressured into following what is a typical trajectory?

If you’ve chosen differently or life didn’t happen to you at the same time, you’re going to be made to feel like a misfit or a social outcast, depending on how different your choice is and where you are placed at that time. I know we’ve chosen differently. And since adoption is still our first choice for having a baby, I think I have to prepare myself for a lifetime of being under the glare. I know I have to stand up and face the invasive spotlight that will always follow me. Much as I’d like, our unconventional choice doesn’t let me scurry into the shadows and live in oblivion.

Whether it is getting married, or reaching a certain milestone in your career, or having a baby, or buying a house when the world thinks it is time you should own one, or having baby no. 2, the probing never ends. I am actively working on desensitizing myself. One day, I know I will reach that zen emotional state. Hopefully, my posts will map the path I took to get there. Until then, I will continue to silently cringe at the comments and push myself to move on..

Posted in A penny for my thoughts, Er-rant-ic behaviour | 52 Comments »

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