A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category

Birthdays and growing up

Posted by Pepper on April 22, 2021

A few days ago, I turned 35. As a birthday gift, I got the first dose of the covid vaccination. Mint and I had an early morning appointment. The kids were still in school. So after our shot, we headed out for a child free brunch. And as I gorged on my skillet cooked potatoes, whipped butter with rye bread, salsa laced eggs, I kept trying to mentally asses my feelings about my new age. And then I pushed those thoughts aside.

I had no plans of having a cake, because the sugar high doesn’t excite me these days. However, Cotton and Candy were aghast that I was actually considering getting through a birthday with no cake. So for their sake, we got a tiny red-velvet bundt cake, which we let them cut anyway. In the evening, we went to the mall. This was the first time in over a year that we were entering a closed, indoor space. Just walking in that space made me feel happy. We were reclaiming our lives.

We ended the day by picking up dinner from of one of my favorite Burmese restaurants. I was so happy to be home, change into my PJs and put my legs up on the couch as I ate. Now is when I tried to evaluate my feelings. Did I feel any kind of remorse about my new age? Nope. Zilch.

I remember making a big deal about turning 25. In this post, I keep talking about how I can’t believe I am so old. LOL! Seriously, at one time I thought 25 was really old. I am so glad I have these sentiments recorded on my blog. They help me take stock and recognize how I have evolved.

A decade later, my perspectives have truly changed. I am grateful and content. There is very little room in life to agonize over how old you are. I am still not sure about what is expected of me at this age and how smart, successful and wise a 35 year old is supposed to be. But I care a damn about the expectation now. 35 and stupid is acceptable to me.

As I type this post, I am thinking of all the grief my country is going through. India is in terrible shape and the news all around has been so grim and depressing. I am trying to keep my anxiety in check and praying for all the families who are going through such trying times. It’s eye opening and helps you regain perspective, in case you seem to be losing it. The state of affairs at present is a constant reminder of what matters in the end and what doesn’t.

And today, I am so eternally grateful to have all that matters.

Posted in Celebrations | 20 Comments »

Year 10 & 11 – Happy Anniversary, Mint

Posted by Pepper on April 2, 2021

Dear Mint,

It’s been 11 years. *Gasp*. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe that I was a 16 year old baby when we become friends. I’ve spent almost half of my life with you, with you transitioning into different roles. Friend, boyfriend, beloved, husband, parenting partner, punching bag and I can’t be more grateful for who you are.

Throwback to the time we were child free, loan free and carefree

I’m resharing this amazing, candid picture from our Europe trip. I absolutely love how this is so real and *so* grateful we had friends to capture these moments without making us conscious.

For once, I really don’t have much to say. For once, I will overlook the fact that you take a million years in the shower even when we are running late, or surround the house with annoying cables, or take forever to strike things out of your task list. Today, I will celebrate you, our very awesome children and our awesome life. Thank you, God. Thank you, Universe.

All my love,

— Pepper

Posted in Celebrations, Splashes of Mint | 15 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 »

A new decade!

Posted by Pepper on April 20, 2016

I celebrated my birthday a few days ago. I turned, wait for it, 30! I expected myself to be overcome by that feeling of alarm and dread. Because, it is 30 we are talking about. 30 is big. 30 is so big. I have a handful of friends who are just under 30, and they wanted to know ‘how it felt to be 30’. I have a lot of friends who are over 30 and all of them brushed if off saying it is just a number. I waited all day for that feeling to hit me. Some amount of fear? Some regret? Some uncertainty? Surprisingly, other than excitement, I felt nothing else.

In fact, I remember being far more anxious on my 20th birthday. Entering a new decade felt a lot more scary back then. I couldn’t believe the teens were over. I wanted to hold on to them some more. I just liked the idea of being considered ‘young’. It let you get away with being stupid. And here I was, crossing the 30 mark already. Not really much wiser. Time does zoom by. This makes me think I will be 40 in the blink of an eye. And I wonder how that will feel.

I have to say, I have over indulged myself this month. I told myself turning 30 will justify all that extra shopping I do. It is after all a part of some mega celebration. I started with the basics. I needed lingerie. My existing collection was in tatters, quite literally. Very unglamorous. A 30 year old has to shine inwardly too. So I bought myself some decent stuff.

I then moved to night dresses. My tees and pajamas are again, to put it mildly, quite faded and worn out. So new night wear was purchased and the old ones have either been given away or been converted to tools used for dusting. I am 30 and I deserve all new things now.

I have also been experimenting with lip colour. It has been a long journey. Using lipsticks made me feel supremely conscious and overdone. In a wannabe sort of way. I thought they weren’t meant for me. One of my resolutions this year was to feel more confident with lip colour. I started out with such nude shades, Mint would not believe me when I said I had a lipstick on. But I loved the nudes. They added texture and a very subtle colour to my lips. They were just what I liked.

Over time, I started playing with bolder colours. I used a radiant peach of sorts and when I got a million compliments for that, I went and picked out a red! I must say, I have used the red a total of one time. It still makes me feel like I have stepped too far out of my comfort zone, but I am told it looks great. Hopefully, I will stop being conscious. For my birthday, I treated myself to two new lip colours. One a nude and the other a vivid pink. They were so expensive, I was full of doubt. What if I buy them and never use them? I decided to squish the doubt and buy them anyway. Because it was my birthday! And buying them would be good incentive to use them.

Another product that I had been wanting to buy for a long time was a dry shampoo. I had never in my life heard of one until a few months ago. I was told it was a substitute for a hair wash. All you had to do was spray it on your hair and the oiliness would disappear. I couldn’t believe it! If there is one thing I hate, it is having to wash my hair every two days. If a product could let me cut back on those washes, I had to get it! And what better time than turning 30?

There were a lot of expensive ones available online, but since I was going to be experimenting, I didn’t want to spend too much. I bought this one after some consideration. Unfortunately, I don’t think this substitutes for a hair wash. Well, not for me at least. However, it does reduce the oiliness and fluffs up your hair to a good extent. I am guessing I will use it before heading out for unplanned dinners, when I discover my hair looks fairly sticky (common story in my life), so I will still call it a useful buy. Next time, I may just try another brand.

I am also happy to note I have changed my dressing style. Finally. After all those years of wearing jeans and nothing else other than jeans, I am finally comfortable with dresses and skirts. I have also developed a fairly good color sense and when I look back at some of the clothes I wore earlier, I ask myself ‘Why?’. I know the answer though. I didn’t care enough about how I looked earlier. I find myself caring a little more and taking more interest in my appearance in the past year or two. I like how I dress and look now. I think at 30, I am in a happy spot. So of course, I had to buy myself some new clothes too. And oh, since we were at it, I bought myself a lovely new hand bag.

And as an icing on the cake, I had to buy myself some good books. A 30 year old has to always have something interesting to read and stimulate her ageing brain cells after all. I bought ‘Beside Myself’ by Ann Morgan and ‘The museum of extraordinary things’ by Alice Hoffman. Both the books seem pretty good and I am half way through Beside Myself. Maybe I should not be so reluctant to do book reviews on my blog. Considering how many books I read, it is strange that I have not posted a single review. Book reviews are something I find myself incapable of doing. Some day maybe..

The build up to my birthday was exciting and fun. On the actual day, I went out for lunch with Mint and a friend. This is one of the things we ordered. A platter with 14 dips. The place was on my list for a long time, so for a change I wasn’t very confused about where I wanted to go for my birthday lunch.

And here is a picture of me cutting my 30th birthday cake.



We headed out for a family dinner with my parents and sis after the cake cutting session in the evening. I had such a lovely day. It was all so different from my 29th birthday, where everything seemed to annoy me. I guess they are right when they say, “Attitude is everything”

Posted in Celebrations | 51 Comments »

And we’re done!

Posted by Pepper on January 31, 2016

It is finally the last day of the blogathon. While I don’t think blogathons are ever easy, I must say this one was particularly difficult for me. I huffed and puffed to get through each day. I put up a lot of posts that I would never have considered putting up otherwise. I saved my ass by typing in a few lines before the clock struck 12. I met almost each day’s deadline in the nick of time. It wasn’t a very comfortable experience. This blogathon has seen me blog not just from my office, home and in-laws home, but also from cabs, cars and restaurants. Phew!

Having said that, my blog recorded the highest hits it has received in a single month, ever. Higher than previous blogathons too. The stats made me feel a little puzzled, because really, I believe I have written far better posts in the past. This blogathon, I was struggling to get along and was unable to give it my best. But atleast a thousand people kept coming back every single day. For that, I say a very big thank you. For a vain girl like me, seeing such a big number on my stat counter is a big high. And oh, a bigger thank you to those of you who commented on almost every other post. You know who you are. Having comments is hugely encouraging, thank you so much for encouraging me. I hope to do a catch up session and reply to every comment that was sent.

Blogging every day or even every other day is a lot of work.  I highly respect people who seem to do it without being pushed by a yearly blogathon. But then, writing is strangely satisfying. So it has a reward tied to it. So like every other year, this year too I hope I don’t give up on regular blogging in the coming months. I already have several incomplete posts that I typed out in this month, but couldn’t complete in time, so ended up publishing shorter and easier posts. I aim to complete those drafts and put them up in the next month. So at least February should see my blogging frequently.

For now, are you relieved you won’t be seeing a post from me tomorrow? I am certainly relieved I don’t have to write one!

Posted in Celebrations | 10 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.



Posted in Celebrations, Er-rant-ic behaviour | 80 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.


Posted in Celebrations | 18 Comments »

With God’s grace..

Posted by Pepper on June 19, 2014

Before I proceed, I must tell you guys that the surgery went well and things are looking up. Read on to know more.

Oregano had been admitted to the hospital a day prior to his surgery. We tried spending as much time with him as we could, but with the hospital having exceedingly strict regulations regarding attendants and visitors, we weren’t allowed to hang around too much. We said our byes and left for home at night. My MIL would be spending the night with him.

The next morning, we were back in the hospital at 6 am. He was being readied for the surgery, so we weren’t allowed to see him. Finally, we saw him being wheeled into the OT around 7 am. I stopped by his stretcher for a minute and we spoke for a bit. He told me with a smile that he had used his phone to see and approve some of the comments that were left for him on his blog. After this, his phone was switched off and kept away. Thank you so much for wishing him well. Comments that came before he was wheeled into the OT have been approved. I am guessing he will approve the remaining comments once he is in a position to do so. Once again, thank you so much.

Our waiting game began the moment he was wheeled inside. It was 7:05 am to be precise. They said it was going to be a 4 hour surgery. In the lobby of the hospital, we found ourselves comfortable chairs to slump into. We had barely been sleeping and I was exhausted. Around me were a number of assorted relatives. They all spoke in a language I don’t understand. Although I manage to catch bits of Tamil, Mint’s family speaks a dialect that is very hard for me to grasp. It is sad because my lack of understanding and ability to converse makes me stick out like a sore thumb. I feel alienated and awkward. Unable to do much about it, I shrugged.

My mind raced to the day before. That was when I had deeply regretted not being able to talk in their language. After waiting for long, I had finally met their aunt who was going to be donating her kidney to Oregano. She smiled away as she greeted us. Without even knowing it, I could feel my eyes well up. I wanted to reach out to her. I wanted to tell her how thankful I felt to her for doing this for Oregano. He means a lot to me and she was saving his life. I wanted her to know that I understand it isn’t easy to part with a piece of your own body, to risk future complications and adhere to some restrictions for the rest of your life. And yet she was doing it for him so graciously. I wanted her to know the deep regard I held for her. But I couldn’t say any of it.

She doesn’t speak any of the languages I know and I don’t speak any of the languages she knows. I asked Mint to tell her how I felt, but he asked me to try saying it to her myself. I wondered. How would I convey the depth of my feelings to her? How would I find the right words? Also, I am shy. So I kept ignoring the swelling urge to talk to her. Until I found the perfect opportunity. We were alone in the room. I looked at her and I started to blabber. I told her how thankful I was. I told her I had no words to express it. I don’t even remember all that I said. In the midst of it, I held her hand. I struggled for the words that would express my gratitude. And when I found myself fumbling too much, I just shut up and gave her a hug. Not knowing how to speak to me, she continued to smile.

I have a feeling she managed to understand all that I tried to convey. Yet, I wished I had the support of words. I wished I knew Tamil, if not the dialect they spoke. I promised myself I would try harder to learn. And here I was again, in the midst of alien chatter. Too tired to focus. I knew I should try and absorb what they were saying as much as I could, but at that time the task seemed to demand more stamina than I currently possessed.

Also, the lobby was freezing. We had already been sitting there for hours, waiting for some news. My stomach felt twisted into anxious knots. Four hours were up. Where were the doctors? Why hadn’t we heard from them yet. Just as I was thinking of this, we saw an assistant of the surgeon pass by and my FIL ran up to him. He told us Oregano’s surgery was still going on and would take another hour to complete. I hoped the delay was not because of any sudden complication they had encountered.

I had all sorts of thoughts going through my head. The hour finally passed. And then yet another hour passed. Time seemed to be crawling. Finally, after waiting for more than six and a half hours, we heard from the doctors. The surgery was over. They said it went well. His new kidney was functioning. As is the norm, both Oregano and his aunt had been moved to the ICU, where nobody would be allowed to see them for four days. As of now, things were good and they were both doing well. I let out a deep sigh that released all my pent up anxieties and tensions.

He is still in the ICU ofcourse, and although he cannot see us, he is allowed to talk to us on phone. He has been given a very high dosage of steroids and immunosuppressants inorder to minimise the chances of his body rejecting the new kidney. We’re hoping his body is able to cope with that level of steroids without many side effects. The first day he was in too much pain, so he couldn’t talk. The second day, he spoke to us and said he was much better. His creatinine (indicator of kidney function) is slowly inching towards the normal range. I am ecstatic.

Ofcourse, this does not guarantee life long success. For the coming few weeks, his condition needs to be monitored strictly. Because of the very potent immunosuppressive drugs he has been administered, he is very susceptible to infections.  His disease could return anytime. His new kidney may give up suddenly. His body may reject the new organ in the coming days/months/years. We don’t know what may occur when. But until any of that happens, we will celebrate. After all, this is a start to a new life. And we will take it one day at a time. Today, we have reason to rejoice.

Posted in Celebrations | 84 Comments »

Birthdays and growing up

Posted by Pepper on April 14, 2014

Yesterday, I turned 28. I must say I had a terrific time. On the eve of my birthday, we went out for dinner to an extremely cheap place that happens to be one an old favourite. Anybody heard of Crystal in Charni Road? An average meal for 2 costs Rs. 150. Such prices are refreshing, aren’t they? Post our dinner we sauntered in to Taj at Gateway of India. Yes, we choose to dine at cheap places and then treat ourselves to coffee in a luxurious surrounding. On our way back, we even stopped at Marine Drive and sat there for a while facing the sea. Another favourite hangout.

We then prepared ourselves for the long drive back home. We were still not home when the clock struck 12. My phone started buzzing. The usual suspects. Only my close friends know and remember my birthday. And since I choose to not notify anybody of my birthday on Facebook, I don’t usually experience a barrage of calls and wishes the way most others do. But that is how I prefer it, I suppose.

I was in for a surprise the moment we entered the house. A ‘Happy Birthday’ banner. The living room done up with streamers and balloons. Candles lit on the table. A tempting chocolate cake. A bottle of wine. Another bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream. Little gifts surrounding the cake. My jaw dropped! The last time I had streamers and balloons on my birthday was probably 10 years ago. Or more. Walking in to our lovely home and seeing it so well decorated was such a wonderful surprise! I looked at Mint and asked him, ‘did you do this?’

I was so busy admiring the house, I had still not turned on the light. Before Mint could respond to me, I heard a little explosion that made me let out a loud scream! The explosion turned out be a big balloon that had been made to burst. It sent confetti and glitter flying all around us. And in the dark, out of nowhere a few figures sprang up, screaming, ‘Happpy Birthdayyy!’.

Whoa! So it was the friends. This had been planned! They had coordinated with Mint and the sister, entered the house while we were away, decorated the place, set out the cake and the candles. They then hid themselves under the dining table and behind the sofa. When they sprang up in the dark, I almost suffered a cardiac arrest. No, really. I have a weak heart and seeing people appearing out of nowhere in the dark scared the hell out of me.

It was ofcourse, an extremely sweet surprise. I was overjoyed. We cut the cake. Drank wine. Enjoyed the yummy as always Irish cream. Clicked pictures. Fiddled with my birthday gifts. Fooled around. And then played games till the wee hours of morning. I went to bed at 4 am, while the others continued playing Taboo and went to bed only after 5.

Cutting the cake, while a blurry Mint plays in the background..


Feeding the BFF


Opening the Bailey’s


We woke up late in the morning and headed out for some brunch since we were all starving. I tried not stuffing myself too much because I was supposed to go out for lunch with my family too! I did have a lovely lunch with my parents, sister and Mint shortly after the big brunch with my friends. As a result, I felt more stuffed than I had in a long time.

I slept in the afternoon and in the evening, I decided to do some shopping and bought myself a bag of new clothes. It is summer and I wanted to buy some loose cotton dresses and bright harem pants. I can’t wait to wear them. Yay!

Post my shopping spree. We headed out for dinner. After all the indulgence and bingeing, the plan was to eat something simple, but do things really go as per our plans? Not really. So we ended up having yet another elaborate meal in a garden restaurant. Fun times, so I won’t complain.

In the midst of all the celebration, I tried to remind myself of my new age. And I tried to not gasp. Because really, I am quite done with all the gasping I do. I’ve always been vocal about how hard I find it to cope with my age. Mentally, I still feel 15 and I am quite tired of being unable to really grow up.

I have no choice but to embrace adulthood. Yet, I struggle. I can’t help leading an ‘adult’ life. I go to work, I cook, I *try* to manage my finances, I deal with banks, but every time I do these tasks, I expect somebody to applaud and say, ‘Good job!’. I feel like a child who has managed to accomplish a very ‘grown up’ feat. So I expect people to clap and appreciate. What I need to do is realise that there will be no appreciation for doing these adult acts. Because I am expected to do them. They are meant to be a part of my everyday life. I am hoping this realisation and acceptance comes to me soon.

Posted in Celebrations | 68 Comments »

Happy happy

Posted by Pepper on March 5, 2014

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

Posted in Celebrations | 32 Comments »


Posted by Pepper on January 31, 2014

It is hard to believe that I truly managed to accomplish something like this. 31 posts in 31 days? That has never happened in the history of my blogging journey, which by the way, spans over a decade. The thought of writing everyday always seemed daunting, so I was too afraid to venture there.

Last year, my infrequent blogging disappointed me. I was too busy living life, to actually write about it. And then each time I did stop by here, I realised I had way too much to say. So almost every month, I would aggregate the happenings of my life and lay them out in the form of a congested post. Those updates were important. My blog is deeply personal and I want it to be a record of my life. Without those updates, the blog would have had a lot of broken links and my life would seem disconnected. So I wrote those ‘update’ posts to maintain continuity, but the truth is I hated them. They covered the breadth of my life, but didn’t succeed in covering the depth. And in order to write about my life in depth, I have to write often. It is the only way. This is something I have come to realise.

So last December, I promised myself that I would write more frequently. And I would choose one month in the year in which I would post every single day. Now here is a confession. I was thinking of writing everyday in the month of Feb. You know why, don’t you? Feb is the shortest month, with only 28 days. So that would make it the easiest. Just when I had made up my mind, I read about the blogathon that so many people seemed to be participating in. And I decided to go for it, because I didn’t want to be left out. And because I had similar plans for the next month anyway.

This blogathon has been good for me in so many ways. For one, it has taught me an important lesson. That it IS possible to live life to the fullest and still find time to write. IF you want to. Desire is all that matters. I hoped my daily blogging wouldn’t eat into my reading, my sleep time, my family time, TV time, or outings. And it didn’t. I made minor changes to my life to fit in my blogging. At times, I wrote a post while watching TV. Other times I wrote the first half of a post in office and completed writing the second half after dinner. And other times, I wrote an entire post, word to word in my head while I driving back home. So I could come home and type it out in a jiffy. In the end, it all worked out.

The discipline that came with this commitment was good for me. I am not a sincere person. I set targets, make goals and then I let go. This time, I was sincere to my goal. It is a first for me. And I guess I really needed to have something in my life that I could be true to. Blogging on weekends was tough, and I was scared I will slip. But I learnt to chasten all fleeting thoughts of slipping. I told myself letting go for even a day was not an option. I can tell you I have never exhibited such power of will in the past.

I know this is true for most of us who participated in this blogathon – we became more receptive of our surrounding. I observed more, I pondered more and I found myself more attentive and appreciative. I drew inspiration from a lady selling anklets on the road, from a little fire lit outside a hut, from the silly argument I had with my parents, from Mint’s stubble and so much more. Like I always believe, every little being, every object, every idea has a story behind it. So there are millions of stories fluttering around in this universe. A slight pause and some thought is all it takes to soak in them. And this month, I found myself doing that a lot. Thank you Maya, for initiating this.

Posted in Celebrations | 10 Comments »

Diwali 2013

Posted by Pepper on November 5, 2013

Diwali. Light. For me, the two words have always been synonymous. I remember one incident that happened years ago, when I was in 5th grade. Diwali was around the corner, and I made 4 paper lanterns out of all the craft paper I could gather at home. The lanterns were to be gifted to my friends in school. However, I had 5 close friends. One of them did not follow Hinduism. She was a Christian. In school, I remember being taught that Diwali was a Hindu festival. So I decided to omit the Christian friend from my list of friends to be gifted. There was a lot of joy and cheer when I handed out the lanterns to my friends. And then my Christian friend looked at me with hurt in her eyes, and asked me where her lantern was. The idiot that I was, I told her I did not make her one, because she would not be celebrating Diwali anyway, since she was a Christian. She did not say much to me then. But that hurt and silence of hers taught me some important lessons – I should never exclude people on the basis of religion. I should never assume they want the exclusion. Yes, a few people do, but most do not. By differentiating like that, I am only adding to the barriers.

And from that day, I make it a point to wish everybody around me, irrespective of their religious followings. Especially because I go ahead and celebrate festivals that are not originally a part of the religion I was born in. I feel especially offended if I am excluded from Christmas celebrations. And Eid too.

So there, having said all of that. I hope a Happy DIwali was had by all. And I hope the light continues to illuminate the path ahead for all of us. When I wrote my last post, I was fervently hoping the Diwali spirit makes me feel its presence soon. The mess in the house, the lack of preparation, the amount of everyday mundane jobs was pulling me down. I am happy to note though, most of that changed the moment I got home from work.  From family gatherings, to dressing up, to eating home made Diwali goodies like karanjis and ladoos, to lighting up the house, we did it all.

Here are some pictures of the house that we took. Most of these have been taken after a very last minute clean up session.

I picked up these strings of light on my way home from work. I foolishly picked up only 2 strings, thinking they would be adequate to light up the windows. Anyway, we managed with what we had, short power chord et al.


I wanted something, subtle, yet radiant for the centre table. This little lamp seemed perfect.


A close up of one of my favourite tea light holders.


This ceramic tea light holder is a gift from one of my most special blog friends. Thank you so much, babe!


The view with the lit lamps


Just a stained glass disc. I placed a tea light in the centre and it made the colours glow.


The crystals light up the Natarajan


Buddha. And light.


I bought these little glass lanterns from an exhibition ages ago. Have always wanted to hang them somewhere. Since we could not think of any appropriate place this time, we hung them on the clothesline, using clips. Next year, I think I will hang these on all the plants in my parents home.


Every year, we make sure we light up the bookshelf. Most of these candle holders and lamps have been around for a couple of years


Pink and yellow cracked glass tea light holders. I heart these. But what I absolutely love is the shadows they cast on the wall.


For a change, we decided to place the urli here. That is me arranging the flowers and lights, at around 2 am.


Close up of the urli


A very hasty. last minute rangoli. Done directly on the tiles outside the home.


Posted in Celebrations | 63 Comments »

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