A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for the ‘Euphoria’ Category

A big leap

Posted by Pepper on November 13, 2013

There is this big news that I have been wanting to share on the blog for the past few months, but the fear of faltering in the initial stage held me back. Now that I believe I have found my place, I am ready to talk about it here.

This is about a career change for me. 3 months ago, after a lot of deliberation, I hesitantly quit my previous job. That place was toxic, and detaching myself from that hell gave me a new lease of life. After that, I had two options lined up. Option A was to take up another job. Option B was to get on board with my dad, join his business, and eventually take over.

My dad and his brother, replete with their metallurgy knowledge, set up an engineering plant about 20 years ago. They started a factory, and along with it a manufacturing unit, and have been evolving, adding new divisions ever since. Each time they would ask me to take over, I would flatly refuse. Because I believed there is no entrepreneur in me. So Option B was not an option.

And then I realised with a jolt, that if I do not take this forward, what they have built from scratch will eventually crash. In all these years, they have managed to establish the business reasonably well. My uncle has no kids he can hand this to. My sister is too young to make a call right now. So other than me, there is nobody. All that blood and sweat that has gone into it will prove futile if they have to eventually sell it. Each time I declined their requests to step in, I felt heavyhearted.

So, this time I decided to give it some serious thought. Mint was all for it. His logic was this – between the two of us, he has a steady income. I can afford to explore my options at this point. Also, if dealt with the right way, this has the potential to turn into something big. When I discussed my fears with my dad and uncle, they were quick to put them at rest. What if I take this on now, and eventually have to move out of Bombay? Then we will figure out a way to work remote, and couple it with regular travel to the city. What if I am unable to handle it? They said I will learn. What if by some chance I dislike it? Then I can try this out for a year and then probably step out of it.

The timing was right. They had recently acquired a new plant, and wanted to get it functioning soon. The new plant has a lot of prospects, if only the right strategy is used. They wanted me to manage and run that business unit. I was terrified of the responsibility. But I fearfully agreed. Just when I did, I got offered another (reasonably good) job. I felt as though my intentions were put to test, but I stuck to my original resolve and went ahead with my new role in the company that I can today call my very own.

Thankfully, so far I have only had a ton of positive experiences. The immeasurable learning gives me a high, but it also overwhelms me at times. Some days, I am pouring over balance sheets and trying to understand company accounts, some days it is all about streamlining internal processes, or planning finances for the quarter, controlling and allocating budgets, devising a good marketing strategy, dealing with complex bank transactions, understanding foreign policies for exports, managing the supply chain, interacting within our sales network, managing employees and all the labour laws, understanding the industry we operate in, engaging with our dealers and vendors, creating pitches, dealing with the Indian Government, or simply trying to stay on top of all the administration work. It is a lot of hard work, but I am loving it.

I have to do a fair amount of commuting everyday, from my home to office. But when I sit at my desk and get some good work done, it gives me a high. This feels like my own baby. The commute to our factory is even worse. I do not have to travel there everyday, but whenever I do, I spend a minimum 3 hours on the road. But when I see our company name on the factory gate, when I see our factory workers sporting our company name on their uniforms, working sincerely, it gives me a high. This truly feels like my own.

I am glad I took the leap. No other job would have facilitated this kind of diverse learning. It is massive. This also gives me the flexibility I have always longed for. I choose my hours, I can work from home on the days I really want to. I can plan vacations with more ease. It has been 3 months and so far it has been good. Will I be able to run the whole show on my own at some point? When I think of the future, I feel the apprehensions capturing me. But right now, I am focusing on the learning and the everyday tasks. And trying to not let fears or the negativity get the better of me. This has been a big leap. Please wish me luck.

Posted in Euphoria | 64 Comments »

New beginnings.. continued..

Posted by Pepper on May 4, 2013

So, where were we? Yes, house hunting. The process was a little too chaotic, and since I do not remember the events sequentially, I will go ahead with random bullets points  for this post.

– We started by getting numbers of a few brokers/agents that operated in the areas we were looking to rent in. My dad connected us to some of his friends, who in turn passed on some numbers. Mint’s batch mates from his MBA program who have recently moved to Mumbai also referred a few agents. Other than that, we looked up a few agents online.

– We were confused. Should we rent a 1 bhk? Or should we go ahead with a 2 bhk? Considering it is just the two of us, we didn’t really need more than 1 bedroom. Also, my family lives in the same city and they have a house of their own. Mint’s parents wont be visiting us that often. But, my friends kept saying they wanted us to get a home with 2 bedrooms, so they could stay back. Also, I thought an extra bedroom would be nice. My parents could stay back often. Anyway, since we were so confused, we decided to take a look at both the options.

– We decided to commence the hunt on a Saturday morning, starting with the agent we had found online. It was scorching hot. He connected us to another agent, who had the keys of the house to be shown. That was the first house we saw. It wasn’t bad as such. But boy, it was loud and gaudy. It had mirrors on the ceilings. Loud interiors. Fans with multi colour streaks. My mind screamed a ‘No’ the moment we saw it, but the agents were all praise. They said this was the only  furnished house available in that price.

– That was only the start. Post that, we went on to see about a hundred houses. It was a very tiring experience. We saw homes with a single bedroom, and two bedrooms both. The homes I seemed to really like crossed our budget by a huge margin. Some homes we saw were ugly. Some houses were in bad locations. Some homes were perfect, other than possessing that one wrong thing we couldn’t ignore. Like a fluorescent green kitchen counter.

– We were beginning to lose hope. We contacted other agents. What I didn’t realise was that this was a well connected network. Each agent having the same list of properties to show. Also, the agents seemed somewhat.. err.. like thugs to me. Their talks were on the lines of ‘Party ko apun ne B wing ka flat dikhayla hai’

– We had strange encounters along the way, with society owners eyeing us suspiciously. A particular manager from one of the housing committees even went to the extent of telling us they do not rent homes to couples who are living in together. We’re married, we told him. He said the society will want to see our marriage certificate. That is not a problem, we said. But his tone seemed so full of accusation, it amused me. As usual, with my sleeveless tee and casual jeans and no visible signs of marriage, we didn’t look married to him.

– We finally met an agent who spoke fluent English, was understanding and didn’t chew paan. Just talking to him made me regain that lost hope. I could see a remarkable difference in the kind of houses he was showing us. All the same, I was tired and wanted to end the process soon. Mint, as usual, was in no mood to make a decision until he had seen every single place there was to see. I couldn’t afford to take any leave. So I would drag my tired self after work and we would see apartments late in the evening. I was getting impatient and cranky.

– Since we realised finding an apartment we loved was not realistic, we decided to shortlist apartments, in order of our preference. These were apartments we could merely tolerate. I am glad we didn’t go ahead and finalise one of those.

– And then, one evening, we walked into a place that I knew would be our home. Just like that. It had wonderful vibes and I knew this was it. It also met most of our criteria. It was walking distance from Mint’s office. It wasn’t too far from the station. It had plenty of sun light. It was fully furnished, with 2 bedrooms, and an AC fitted in all the rooms. My favourite part – it had big windows and lovely seating around it. As expected, it seriously exceeded our budget, but never mind.

– The sister had seen the house when we saw it. We took my mum and dad to see the place, and they gave us their approval within minutes of seeing it. My dad and Mint scheduled a meeting with the owner. They were lovely people and we felt at ease interacting with them. We signed the agreement almost immediately.We’re yet to get the keys, since the home is getting painted, but knowing we have our new home in place makes me so relieved and happy..

– And now, we officially move on to the next task. Selecting and buying a car. Reviews and recommendations are welcome.


Posted in Euphoria | 51 Comments »

New beginnings..

Posted by Pepper on May 1, 2013

A lot of you in the comments section asked me this one question that I kept dodging – ‘Which city are we moving to, now that Mint’s MBA is over?’ I didn’t have an answer to that question for a long time. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you will know how much I wanted to live in Bombay. Unfortunately, the offer that Mint had through his campus placements was not based in Bombay. Also, due to a sudden change in their placement rules, he was allowed to hold only a single offer. Which meant, he was pulled out of the placement process and was not permitted to apply to other jobs anymore. We kept applying for  jobs externally, but almost everything that came our way was based in Bangalore.

The jobs were not bad. At one point, we had quite a few job offers in hand, all of which were based in Bangalore and Pune. Just when I was about to lose hope and resign to living elsewhere, things worked out. And how! This happened a few weeks ago, and I was dying to put up this happy news on the blog, but severe shortage of time made it impossible for me to open this page.

A job in Bombay happened. It was the industry we were eyeing. The role was of Mint’s choice. The money was pretty damn good. It all seemed too good to be true. Ever since, I’ve been living in a happy bubble. Moving back to India now makes complete sense to me. I will be living the life I had envisioned for myself. With my family in the same city – visiting each other every few days and sharing life’s joys with each other. Let me say a little thank you to God for making it work for me, just the way I wanted it.

Anyway, since the time we finalised our stay in this city, we’ve been furiously hunting for an apartment to rent. This was our criteria:

– We wanted the house to be within our budget. Spending too much on rent does not make much sense to us. If we want to buy a home eventually, we’d rather save for it now. But alas, the words ‘budget’ and ‘Mumbai’ do not go together.

– I wanted the house to be close to Mint’s office. If one of us has to spend time commuting, I’d rather it be me. I want this to be as easy for Mint as possible. This will be Mint’s very first job in India. He isn’t used to the work hours in India. He isn’t used to the crazy Mumbai travel. In order to cushion the impact of the upheaval, I thought we should get a home from which he can walk to his office. Again, that didn’t go too well with our ‘budget’.

– We wanted the house to come with a parking spot. I thought this was a given. Turned out it wasn’t. Many homes came with no parking. We had to eliminate them. Spending hours finding a spot on the road every day was definitely not how we’d like to live.

– We wanted a furnished or a semi furnished house. Since we’re only just starting our life in this country, we own no furniture. Renting an unfurnished home would mean buying everything from scratch. We thought we’d rather do this after we own a home, so we can buy furniture that will fit the home and its style.

– I wanted there to be adequate sunlight in the house. Dim and dingy homes are not conducive to my mental well being. For me, home is a place that is bright and airy. Ofcourse, I might want to draw the curtains and dim the lights on certain days and enjoy the cool darkness, but living in that environment should be a choice, not a compulsion.

Other than the basics, I would have liked a few other things – a building that is not too old, a big enough kitchen sink, good pressure in the shower, no gaudy interiors, etc. Thankfully, we were brought back to earth on day 1 of our house hunt.

To be continued..

Posted in Euphoria | 45 Comments »

Another year passed by.. how?

Posted by Pepper on April 14, 2012

I turned a year older yesterday. *Gasp*. Didn’t my birthday just go by? No really, it couldn’t have been a year already. I feel like I just wrote this post. I don’t care about the number attached to my age. I care about the social pressure that comes with it.  The pressure to be responsible, pressure to show maturity, pressure to sound wise. A 16 year old sounding stupid is acceptable, expected almost. A 26 year old, not so much.

So I am back in Bombay, and the thought of not having Mint around on my birthday was making me sulk. I expected him to be the first one to call me. Instead, he called me 22 minutes late. I had some of my friends racing each other, just because they wanted to be the first to call. And there I was, disappointed each time I saw a different name flashing on my mobile screen. To add salt to my wounds, every friend of mine assumed I was already talking to Mint, so they hung up in a minute, saying they didn’t want to eat into my time with him. I didn’t have the heart to tell anybody that he hadn’t called me yet, so I played along.  By 12:15 am, almost everybody had finished wishing me. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard from Mint yet. So guess what I did? I burst into tears.

He called me at 12:22 and wished me. I was so upset by then, I didn’t even want to talk to him. He said he had been really caught up with stuff and he lost track of time. That made him 22 minutes late. Of course I couldn’t forgive him that easily. So I cried and sulked some more, and felt incredibly stupid after that. I know I was justified in being upset, but why would I break down and weep like the world had fallen apart? I guess I really felt let down by him. How could he be the last one to call me? If you want to sympathize with me, go ahead and do it. If you want to tell me I over reacted, then shhh..

Other than that, I had a fun day. My parents and sis handed me my gift a little after midnight the previous day. Along with a very appropriate card and a long hand written note, that I am too embarrassed to display. I met friends for lunch,  we cut the cake in the evening and I went out for dinner with the family. And through out the day, I jumped a little in excitement, telling everybody around me, “It’s my birthday! It’s my birthday”.

Now if only they could come up with a self cleaning room, my life would be perfect.

Posted in Euphoria | 73 Comments »

I believe I can fly..

Posted by Pepper on February 20, 2012

I believe I can touch the sky. And I did. With my bare hands. We went sky diving! And it has been one of the *most* remarkable experiences of my life.

Let me start from the beginning. I have always wanted to do it, but I kept waiting for the right moment to magically land on my lap. Until I realised, the right moment will not come to me, unless I call out to it.  This was one of those things I wanted to cross out before I turned 30. Well, I knew I had another 4-5 years to get to it, but since we decided to move back to India, I decided, the ‘right moment’ should be created now. The time was ideal. And so the plan was conceived, a month ago.

I told my parents about it. My dad asked me, “Are you crazy? You want to fly thousands of miles in the air and then jump out of a plane? Why would anybody want to do that?” My sister gasped and asked me if I was serious. My mom, well, she told me she won’t let me do it. She said these were ‘cheap thrills’, and I must value my life. She sounded extremely worried. So I did the next best thing, I decided to keep the plan a secret from her. I would tell her only after it was done and over with. I convinced dad and sis to keep it away from mom too.

The next thing we needed to decide was the height at which we wanted to dive from. We could do the lowest one, that started at 8,000 ft. We could do 10,000 ft, we could do 15,000, or we could do the highest one, 18,000. Both Mint and I decided to dive from the highest point. That would give us the maximum amount of time to free fall. We made up our mind and made our bookings a few weeks ago.

From then on, I could feel the excitement, underlined with some nervousness. I kept imaging how it would be to just drop from the skies. To just fall. To hold on to nothing. To keep falling. We would be free falling for 1.5 minute. That seemed like a very long  ‘dropping down’ time, after which, the parachute would open. I started watching different sky diving videos everyday and the excitement went on building up. Some days ago, I told Mint to come and watch the videos with me. Instead, the guy decided he wants to see videos of different accidents, fatalities and deaths caused by sky diving. And so he did. Since I was around, I ended up watching all of that too. It was really not something I wanted to watch or think about a few days before I jumped. What can I say, that guy is an idiot. His explanation? “I like knowing about the different possibilities”. Whatever.

The big day arrived. We had been warned of bad weather. If the weather didn’t permit it, we wouldn’t be able to do our dive. The next available appointment was after a month and a half. We wouldn’t be here at that time. This was really our only chance. So I prayed to the weather Gods fervently. They had asked us to call in the morning and check before we left. I woke up in the morning with a horrid stomach ache. I didn’t want to be dealing with stomach cramps on that day! It would ruin the experience. Mint told me we would call it off, but I stood my ground. I told him I would take a pill and deal with the ache, but if we could, we were going. We called them up and the lady at the other end didn’t sound positive. She said the weather wasn’t very reliable. Flights weren’t taking off yet. We could come over and take a chance if we wanted to, but she couldn’t guarantee us anything.

We decided to take the chance. The drive was a little over an hour. As we pulled in, the nervous excitement returned. We were told to expect a few hour wait once we got there. So I was very unprepared to go right away. We hadn’t eaten a thing since morning. I had packed some idlis for us, which we thought we would eat while waiting there. But what do you know? They said we were in luck. They rushed us in the moment we got there.

We were asked to sign a bunch of papers and watch some video. I knew what the papers were all about. We basically had to sign away our life. I didn’t want to be reading the detailed clauses, so I chose to sign without reading it. Who wants to read about the morbid possibilities moments before you jump? I signed every section blindly, until I came to the last bit, in which I had to copy a statement in my own handwriting and sign it. It said the the same thing , that I was aware that sky diving is an inherently dangerous sport and that accidents, injuries and deaths are not uncommon. And that this action may result in my death and I take full responsibility for it. Writing it down on my own did make my hands shake for a moment, but we got done with it anyway.

Before we knew it, it was time to be strapped. It was going to be a tandem jump. My ‘flying partner’ came up to me and introduced himself. The video girl was shoving the camera in my face, asking me how it felt, was I excited, nervous, etc. I am extremely conscious in front of the camera, so I kept shifting my gaze, fidgeting with my hands, and answering her questions awkwardly. No wonder I look stupid in the video.

As we walked to the airplane, another wave of nervousness hit me. Was this really happening? Was I going to be boarding a plane that I would jump from? I realised all of a sudden that we hadn’t eaten a thing. Would jumping on an empty stomach be a good idea? I didn’t have time to rethink. We were whisked away into the aircraft. I saw Mint enter after me, and I made it clear to him that I was jumping first.

We took off. I could see the buildings becoming tinier, the people disappearing, the landscape blurring. Each time I thought, we are going to go higher than even this! Those folks told me to make sure I am breathing while we jump out. The oxygen levels are already  low on that altitude. A lot of people forget to breathe because of the adrenaline rush. That can be dangerous. I made a mental note to keep breathing.

And then, the door of the airplane opened. I looked out of the window. We seemed to be at a very big height. I looked out of the open door. I could see nothing but the vast sky. And then those folks tell me, ‘Only people who’ve taken the 10,000 ft dive will jump out now. You guys have to go a lot higher, so stay here and watch them jump’. I gulped. If this height was only 10,000 ft, what would 18,000 ft feel like?

Once those guys jumped out, they closed the aircraft door and we continued to go higher. After a few more minutes, it was time for us to be ready. I was going first. My diving instructor told me to give Mint a quick kiss before I jumped, and so I did just that. The three of us – my diving instructor, the photographer who would be going down with us to capture my feat and I, positioned ourselves at the door. They slid it open and I looked down.  All I saw was the vastness of the sky. There was no time to question my decision.

We stood there, dangling from the door of the aircraft for a minute. ‘Ready’, he asked me. I gave a slight nod. He counted to 3, and said ‘GO’. And there! We were tumbling out of the plane. We did a few somersaults in the air. Looked at my photographer and gave her a ‘thumbs up’, and continued to fall. There is no way I can describe that, so I won’t even make an attempt to do it. It was pure magic – just falling from the sky, in the sky.

The speed at which you are plummeting down to earth is crazy. And yet, it doesn’t feel like that. It felt like we were floating in the sky. It went on for a little while, and then I saw my photographer drop down and wave a good bye. That is the only time I realised how fast we were going. After a bit, he opened up the parachute. That is when we slowed down.

Once the parachute was opened, we had the power to steer in the direction we wanted to. That made it a lot more fun. He let me handle the parachute for a while. It was extremely thrilling. He asked me if I was up for some crazy flips in the air. I said ‘Yes!’. And so we did those, I don’t know how or what we did, but it was like the most exhilarating roller coaster ride you could go on. Only that this was real stuff! We were mid air, doing crazy things like rotations, sharp turns, flips.

He told me how to position my legs before we landed. I did exactly that, so our landing was very smooth and totally bump free. I ran out in the open field after landing, unable to believe I had experienced something like that. And there, I saw Mint landing a few minutes after me, with the same indescribable smile on his face. I ran up to him. We hugged. We kissed. We grinned. We jumped.

That’s me saying Hi, before entering the flight. Or was it bye? Just in case I never saw anybody again.

On my way in.

Before we jumped out. He asked me to leap out the moment I saw 3 fingers. That’s him saying ‘one’!

And we’re out.


And falling. Upside down this time.

And after a long time of falling, a tiny parachute opens.

And we’re a speck in the horizon.

And finally, after all that adrenaline rush, we come back to earth.

And he congratulates me for having done it!

And there, I see my darling boy coming back to earth too. We finally unite with a ‘Yay! We did it!’ kiss.

Posted in Euphoria | 81 Comments »

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