A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for the ‘Slices of life’ Category

A little bit of everyday.

If we were having coffee

Posted by Pepper on February 11, 2021

  • I would first discuss with you what kind of coffee we should order. And then tell you about how my stash of filter coffee powder that I get from Chennai is almost over. Sobs. I’ve tried so many different brands available here but nothing comes close to the powder we get from Chennai. So every India trip, we stuff an entire suitcase with the most heavenly smelling, freshly ground coffee beans and carry it here. The filter coffee in our house is pretty famous among friends and everybody demands a cup when they come. I am trying to imagine my life with inferior coffee now and it’s making me sad.
  • I would also tell you that I have been stressing about this stupid phenomenon called Valentines’ Day. Every year, the kids’ school requests, no demands, that we send cards for all the kids in class along with some gift, namely, pencils, play dough, erasers or other dollar store junk. Planning the whole damn thing, making or buying cards,deciding what gift to buy, packing the said items and cards in heart shaped paper bags makes me lose my head. We aren’t artsy, crafty parents and events like these turn into an ordeal for us.
  • I would tell you that we mopped our house this weekend. This is a very big deal for us. We vacuum often but we rarely wet mop. The job had been outsourced to our cleaner, but ever since we discontinued those services, we have rarely mopped. So much so that my parents keep nagging us on phone and ask us to mop the house. When I told my dad during our video call that we actually mopped, he tried to suppress his eye roll. And then said he expects us to mop only during Diwali after this. Thanks for the vote of confidence, dad.
  • I would tell you that February is the month in which my mom has her follow up medical tests. And I am waiting for her to get done with them.
  • It’s 3.23 pm as I am typing this and it’s the beginning of the danger hours. 3.30 to 6 pm are dangerous hours in our house. It’s that time where I have the tendency to binge eat all kinds of chips or any fried snack that is available. I have tried my best to exhibit some self control but so far all my strategies have failed. Not getting or buying the said items isn’t an option since Mint and I are not able to reach on agreement there.
  • I would tell you how fed up I am of being perpetually burdened with all the personal work we have. We never seem to get on top of it. Even now, we have to renew Mint’s passport and consolidate all the hundred documents they need, we are in the process of refinancing our home, we have to clean out our garage, complete the process of installing cameras in the kids bedroom and so on. I don’t want to enlist all our tasks here but I am so done with this state of being neck deep in work. I know I have said this too many times, but I have to say it again, adulting sucks.

This was a good mini catch up session. I used to write these ‘If we were having coffee’ posts many years ago. And I have recently come across bloggers doing the same posts, except the chosen beverage is chai. Whatever rocks your boat. I am glad I thought of redoing this.

Posted in Slices of life | 20 Comments »

Weekend highlights

Posted by Pepper on February 2, 2021

On Friday, Mint and I drove to Santa Cruz. We did this in the first half of the day while the kids were in school. It turned out to be so refreshing. Time and again, I pause to admire the beauty of the place I live in. Bay Area is so gorgeous. We drove through the rolling mist amid the mountains and let our eyes take in all that beauty. Mint and I have our best conversations while driving so it was a great opportunity to revitalize together.

We also spent a large part of the weekend putting this 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle together. Okay fine, it was Mint who did the puzzle. I think it took about 8 to 10 hours cumulatively. But what delighted us more than completing the jigsaw was the new milestone we have reached in our parenting journey. We were able to leave the 1000 pieces lying around and the incomplete puzzle fully accessible to the brats. We were confident that they would not pull it apart or mess around with it. They are now mature enough to understand and respect the process of putting it together. It is such a far cry from our early days of parenting where we couldn’t play a simple board game without them knocking down or grabbing pieces.

We took Cotton and Candy on a hike and that too is a new high for us. So far, we have only been courageous enough to take them on small hikes or ones that don’t have a steep incline. But this time, we decided to test their limits and were surprised to see that their little legs did a remarkable job with all the climbing and walking.

It’s only Monday today and I am so not ready to face the week.

Posted in Slices of life | 23 Comments »

Packing up our life in Mumbai – Part 2

Posted by Pepper on January 19, 2017

After we cleared out our apartment and handed over the keys to our tenant, everything moved at a crazy speed. We had around 6 more days left before we were set out to fly. And in those 6 days, we were hoping to pack in a zillion things.

Because we like to add drama to our lives, Mint had a terrible fall around then and was declared unfit to move. There was no way I could cope with our million commitments all by myself, so he was forced to limp his way to glory.

We had a long list of pending tasks that we had to cater to. The priority was selling our car. Between Mint and I, we had two cars. We decided to leave behind one car with my parents and sell the other one. We realised at the very end moment that my parents would not be able to sell the car on our behalf in our absence, because the sale would need our signatures.

We had quite an awful experience when one prospective buyer seemed to love the car and promised to complete the transaction the next day. Mint and I considered taking some advance amount from him, but he seemed so sincere in his desire to purchase the car that we let go without insisting for an advance amount. After which, we stupidly declined offers from other buyers. Sadly, at the very last moment, the buyer who had committed to us backed out of the deal. We wanted to kick ourselves for trusting him so much and letting go of other offers too.

We decided to leave it to fate. We would sign the required form for sale and leave it with my parents. If the sale worked with those pre signed forms, great. Else we would figure out the next steps later. Because our car was in such great condition, we didn’t want to turn this into a distress sale. And then during Mint’s farewell party with his MBA batch mates, his friend found out that we were looking to sell our car. And just like that, he said he would buy it. He transferred the money to us the very next day, without even seeing the car once. I suppose Mint’s reputation of obsessively taking care of his possessions worked in our favour.

We had so much of documentation work to go over in the last minute. We had decided to give my parents the power of attorney for our apartment so that they would be in a position to rent it out for us, extend the lease or even sell it without us having to come down. Creating these documents took up some time. A limping Mint, a frenzied me and my overworked parents were looking for a notary who would complete the job for us. I wish getting these documents together was easier.

We also needed make a separate power of attorney for our home loan so that we had the option of prepaying a part of our loan if and when we wanted to. I still find it ridiculous that HDFC does not allow you to make online payments towards your loans. If we want to make a prepayment or even sign up for a rate change, we need to personally go to the office and hand over the cheque. I have no idea why HDFC still hasn’t awakened to technology. Anyway, so we made a separate power of attorney for my dad to enable him to make prepayments and loan changes on our behalf.

Because of all the uncertainty this move involved, we had kept it secret from most people. So when we finally announced to our friends that we were moving out of the country, most of them were taken aback. Of course, we had to set aside time for farewells, but our schedules were nothing short of crazy. When people asked us when we were leaving, our response would stump them even more. We were leaving in 3 days. Despite that, we spent all out last 3 days meeting people.

I kept bugging Mint and reminding him that we had to start packing. We only had 3 days left and we were moving out of the country, remember? He kept shutting me up saying we had all of the last night that we would dedicate to packing. I mean, seriously? *Rolls eyes*

In between trying to complete all our pending tasks, I decided to get on with my own packing. Mint be damned. I would be utterly exhausted on the last night and would rather catch some sleep. So I skipped the last few farewells so I could pack and Mint went ahead with them without me.

When it came to packing, I was blanking out completely. What do I carry with me other than the obvious clothes and essentials? What would we be needing to set up our life there? Due to my past experience of living in the US, I knew for a fact that we would we able to buy everything we need, including all Indian supplies. So I decided to carry nothing other than my personal items. I carefully packed some household accessories that I had collected over the years, and that was it. Everything else we would buy there. It was going to be a saga of building life afresh, from scratch.

Time was passing at jet speed and everything was such a blur, I don’t have much memory of how we got to the day we were supposed to leave. We had given strict instructions to my family to not come to the airport to drop us off. I wanted this departure to be as casual as possible. I was worried it would hit me like a ton of bricks and weaken my insides. Thankfully, I felt stoic and surprisingly indifferent.

As our cab sped towards the airport, I still couldn’t believe we were moving out of the place we loved so much. It felt like how it usually feels before we embark on a vacation or travel for a short duration. I could not connect with the idea of this being an indefinite exit. Had the feeling sunk in, I would have viewed the city, the roads, the dusty flyovers and even the traffic with a little more nostalgia.

I glanced down at my beloved city one final time as our flight took off. I felt oddly at peace knowing that my connection with this place will live forever, no matter where I am.

Posted in Slices of life, Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

A recap

Posted by Pepper on January 12, 2017

I remember entering 2016 with a high. I was full of hopes and dreams. There was so much to look forward to. My work life would no longer require me to gallop at a frenzied pace. I finally had the reigns in my hands and I believed I could trotter at an even and enjoyable pace. We were hoping to adopt a child. And most importantly, we had gained clarity and taken a stand when it came to this hugely complicated decision.

Should we move back to the US or not? The question had been presented to us in October 2015 and by January 2016 we had made our choice. We wanted to stay put in India. Choosing wasn’t an easy process and we were so glad to have that dilemma out of the way. If only I knew what was in store..

Early in 2016, shortly after we had made our choice to not move to the US, Mint’s company announced to us that they were dissolving his team in Mumbai. He had no choice but to move to the US, unless he was willing to give up this job. This announcement completely jolted us.

Mint tried hard to find another job that would let us stay in India. Sadly, there was nothing that met our requirements. I waded through all of 2016 not knowing where we were headed. It was quite a hellish experience for a person who hates loss of control. The year was full of perennial anxiety and the mere thought of it exhausts me.

I was always accompanied by bad health. It seemed to follow me. First it was the diagnosis of tachycardia. Just when I thought I could live with the high heart rate, I was attacked by other vicious ailments. Something that seemed as innocuous as an eye infection turned out to be a nasty disease. For the first time in my life, I was terrified of my failing health and the potential toxic treatments.

I was hospitalised not once but twice. Since I grew distant from the blog, I didn’t really talk about it here. But if you happened to message me on WhatsApp around that time, I’m sure I shared images of me lying in a hospital bed with numerous tubes running through me.

You see, these things were new to me. At one time, I couldn’t image being knocked out by general anesthesia. The idea used to make me extremely nervous. Again, it probably comes with the fear of being out of control. Heck, let’s forget GA, I couldn’t even imagine a simple IV line being inserted in my hand. It all sounded so painful.

And then I went through all of it, the anesthesia, losing consciousness, the IV line, oxygen tube being shoved down my throat, the tubes that reached my nose. Okay, I know I make it sound like I was dying but they were all part of very simple procedures and all that I described above are standard precautionary measures they adhere to when they put you out.

But who was to snatch away this attention seeking opportunity from me? I loved reactions like, ‘Oh My God! What happened? That looks bad’. So I not only made Mint take pictures of me in that condition, I even shared them with a handful of people. And then I was honest enough to tell them that it all appeared far worse than what it was. Of course, seeking attention for such things seems so immature and silly in hindsight, but when did I deny being all of that?

Simple procedures or not, the point is I had to go throw that crap. Twice. Did I already mention 2016 was not a favourable year? It was also the year in which I struggled to accept that I was no longer thin. Being thin has almost been a part of my identity since the time I can remember. People have often referred to me as the ‘thin girl’. And then came the steroids and the medication.

In a span of a few months, I had gained more weight than I imagined I ever would. I’m still getting used to my new body and I try to not react when people comment on the change.Since I was very thin to begin with, the sudden weight gain still hasn’t made me fat. I’m not sure how much more weight gain is in store for me. As long as I am healthy, I won’t complain.

After torturing ourselves with our indecisiveness all year, we finally chose to take up the offer to move to the US. Since Mint had not found a comparable job, we realised it would be too risky to stay without his income when we had such a big mortgage. Like I have mentioned before, my income doesn’t come close to his and would in no way be enough to tide us through. We started preparing for our move just 3 weeks before we were set out to fly. We finally moved in December 2016.

The eyes got better. I have been weaning off the steroids and have still remained flare free for the past 3 months. Touch wood. Those of you who have been checking on me, thank you so much.

That was 2016 in a nutshell. There were happy moments too. Plenty of them in fact. But the lingering sounds of chaos continued to echo in the background. What do I expect from 2017? I’m not sure. I don’t necessarily believe it will be a fabulous year that will bowl us over. It may be a very happy year, or it may be a year full of challenges. I am walking in to 2017 with no expectations. A blank slate it is. Let’s see what lies in store!


Posted in Slices of life, Uncategorized | 28 Comments »

So much has happened..

Posted by Pepper on December 19, 2016

It has been close to 2 months since I last posted. At one time, my blog used to be one of my closest companions. That sadly doesn’t hold true anymore. My blog and I seem to be friends who’ve drifted apart over time.

I’m not going to talk about why that has happened. Instead, let me talk about the biggest change that has taken place in our life. A lot of you know this already, but a lot of you don’t. So here we go. We have moved back to California. We knew it was coming for a whole year, but I barely spoke about all that was going on in our lives. I did write a password protected post that some of you had access to, but even that was only a partial capture of the events that have been rattling our lives. Like I said, this blog didn’t feel like a close friend anymore. One I didn’t care enough to share my sorrows and joys with. Let’s hope we can rekindle that friendship in the coming year? Because truth be told, I miss this space and the warmth and camaraderie I shared with it. So here is yet another attempt to get back to regular blogging.

Meanwhile, Bay Area peeps, say Hello!

Posted in Slices of life | 52 Comments »

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 »

N for Nerve

Posted by Pepper on July 11, 2016

Mint is dark skinned. I guess it is quite evident from the pictures I put up. What I haven’t mentioned is that I am absolutely crazy about his skin colour. I think it is delicious. I call him by various names and his colour has been the inspiration for many. Other than the rich colour, his skin also has a smooth, buttery texture. I used to call him my ‘Dark chocolate’. Then I switched to ‘Butter’. Since I thought Butter sounded incomplete, I began to suffix it with ‘Singh’. I addressed him as ‘Butter Singh’ for a very long time. I also had his number saved under that name in my phone. Yes, he is probably the first Tamilian ‘Singh’.

After a point, I thought Butter Singh didn’t have a good ring to it. I changed it to ‘Makkhan Singh’. That name has stayed. I have to give him credit for responding to my calls of ‘Makkhan Singh’ without batting an eyelid. Sometimes I rub my hands on his bare skin and ask him, ‘Are you chocolate or are you butter?’, only to answer the question myself and call him ‘butter chocolate’, or ‘chocolate butter’, depending on what I fancy at that point. I often ask him what his name is, just to make sure he remembers his basics. He says something to the effect of ‘Chocolate Butter Makkhan Singh’. He knows he cannot ever utter his real name in response to my question, unless he wants to repeat the names I have given him a hundred times.

So, the point is I am in love with his skin colour. Of course, there are days when I actually poke fun too. I am not sure how, but he got a lot darker after we moved back from the US. I guess it has a lot to do with playing for hours on the beach, under the harsh Indian sun. He also refuses to use sun screen each time he goes to the beach, which is atleast 3 to 4 times a week, each visit lasting a minimum of 2 and a half hours. He is extremely tanned and I often pick at that. But, only I hold those rights. And our family.

I was in the kitchen with our cook the other day. She was telling me about a marriage proposal they had received for their daughter. In the midst of her story, she looked up at me asked me, ‘Aapne aapke husband se shaadi kaise ki? Aap gori hai aur woh saavle hai. Kya aapko zabardasti shaadi karni padi?’. It translates to, ‘How did you agree to marry your husband? You are fair and he is dark. Were you forced to marry him?’

I was totally unprepared for something like that. In that one moment, I felt enraged, offended and shocked by her audacity. What nerve did she have to say that? I didn’t even know how to respond to that. So I continued to be speechless. Was I forced to marry him? If only she knew how much we fought the world to be together. If only she knew how crazy I was about his skin colour. At that time, I chose to not reply, because I really couldn’t think of a fitting response.

I should have probably just laughed. I knew Mint would. But for that fleeting moment I had the desire to protect him from all scorn. Anyway, I did mention the incident to Mint later that night, and as I had predicted, he had a good laugh. Given our nation’s obsession with fair skin, I am sure a lot of people think he isn’t ‘good enough’ because he is dark, but this was the first time somebody said it aloud to me. I am glad it happened though. It taught me to not care. Next time I’ll just laugh.

Posted in Slices of life | 42 Comments »

Trip to Fort Bassein

Posted by Pepper on April 15, 2016

Despite having grown up in Mumbai, there are still several places that I never had the opportunity to explore. I thought it was time we start savoring the true flavors of this city. Discovering new places is one of our favourite activities anyway, so it would be a joyous way to spend summer. I started by making a list of the places I wanted to visit. Most of them were just day trips. One such place was Fort Bassein.

We expected it to be an hour long drive. Our aim was to leave by 8 am, but as usual, we ended up starting much later. After a quick breakfast, we were off. I was excited. We were visiting a place that contained years of history. The actual Portuguese name of the place was ‘Fortaleza de São Sebastião de Baçaim’. Bacaim turned into Bassein which eventually turned into modern day Vasai. Who knew a random suburb of the city held such ancient stories?

These ruins were the headquarters of the Portuguese rule in the 16th and 17th centuries! Here are some very interesting excerpts from Wiki. “The Greek merchant Cosmas Indicopleustes is known to have visited the areas around Bassein in the 6th century, and the Chinese traveller Xuanzang later on June or July 640. According to Historian Joseph Gerson Da Cunha, during this time, Bassein and its surrounding areas appeared to have been ruled by the Chalukya dynasty of Karnataka.

The coast of Bassein was first visited by the Portuguese in 1509, when Francisco de Almeida on his way to Diu captured a Muslim ship in the harbour of Bombay, with 24 citizens of Gujarat aboard. 

The Treaty of Bassein was signed by Sultan Bahadur of Gujarat and the Kingdom of Portugal on 23 December 1534 while on board the galleon São Mateus. Based on the terms of the agreement, the Portuguese Empire gained control of the city of Bassein, as well as its territories, islands, and seas. 

In the 18th century, the fort was taken over by the Maratha army under Peshwa Baji Rao’s brother Chimaji Appa, and fell in 1739 after a three-year-long campaign. The British shortly attacked and took over the territory from the Marathas as the price for supporting one faction of the Marathas against another.

I am extremely fascinated by historic monuments. So I was looking forward to the first glimpse of the place. It turned out to be pretty much how I expected it to be. Quite lovely! It wasn’t very crowded on that particular day, and we walked around making our way through overgrown shrubs. I was transported back to an era that held battles between the Portuguese, the Marathas and the British.

Here is a random mix of pictures. Some of these structures were the royal mansions, administrative centers  and other establishments of the Portuguese.





And some pics of us…





After our little tour, I was very excited about having lunch at the Mahila Mandal restaurant. This is a part of an NGO run by a local teacher, Mrs Indumathy Barve. Mrs Barve is 93 years old and still runs this establishment, employing 250 women. You can read about her here. The food served here is hygienic and absolutely delicious.

We ordered this thali and this plateful of awesomeness cost us only Rs. 55.


Each item was freshly prepared and packed with bags of local flavour. I couldn’t get enough of the fresh pickle. The thali was a no frills, home cooked local meal. Just the kind of food I appreciate! Of course, as per the law that governs my life, I had to drop some dal on my white dress. It made me very cranky, but thankfully I was able to get the stain off. It miraculously disappeared and I could rescue my dress. On the whole, it was a day well spent!

If you live around Mumbai and are interested in history and heritage, I recommend a trip to Fort Bassein. And while you are there, don’t miss the lunch at Shramik Mahila Mandal.

Posted in Slices of life, Travel | 12 Comments »

Slices of life

Posted by Pepper on February 9, 2016

You are bored out of your mind and have this desperate urge to let out the artist trapped in you. You are unsuccessful in your attempt to find a paper and a pen to scrawl. What do you do?

Simple. You rummage through your drawer and find a tube of foundation with a nozzle. You pick it up instantly and use it to draw a heart on your hand. Pleased with yourself, you run to your husband to show him your pretty heart.

Unfortunately, your husband doesn’t appreciate your heart. You should have known he is heartless. Hmph. He yells at you for wasting the expensive foundation that you forced him to buy for you when he was in the US, which you seem to have preserved so far for the right occasion. No matter how hard you try, your husband remains unconvinced when you tell him this was the right occasion to use it. You then abandon the plans you had of drawing a star, a moon and a sun with the said foundation. What a pity!



You walk away and decide to self admire your creation. What a good foundation your heart has, you think to yourself. Hah! You decide to take a quick pic before you wash it away. What joy this was. Life should be all about dreamily drawing hearts on your hands, doesn’t matter what tools and instruments you use.


PS – This is an old post from the drafts.

Posted in Slices of life, Small joys | 4 Comments »

Thoughts on a Tuesday

Posted by Pepper on January 19, 2016

To start with, I am just thankful that Monday is done and over with. Tuesday really does bring with it new hope. We’re one step closer to the weekend after all. I’d like to mention the highs that added to my cheer today.

For starters, we finally bought a heater for our other bathroom. I have been wanting one forever, but each time I thought of buying one, I convinced myself it wasn’t a pressing requirement. In fact, it wasn’t a requirement at all. We have a heater in our other bathroom, and considering our home is inhabited by only two people, we seldom feel the need for an extra bathroom.

Having said that, I always fancied having a bathroom for my exclusive use. I want the shower area to be only mine. Finally, after many months of back and forth on whether or not I should spend money to indulge my fantasies, we finally decided to get one. I love my new bathroom now. I have put an aqua blue shower curtain, some pretty candles, a plant and some silver ferns in a vase. Mint has been instructed to never use my bathroom, but on some days I may be generous and may consider sharing it with him.

Then, I got myself a hair cut today. I have short hair already, but I like to keep trimming it to maintain that length. It makes all my hair washes easier and keeps my life simple on the whole. That much less hair ironing to do. Since I was at the salon, I even pushed myself to get my arms waxed. That is a lot of work out of the way. I don’t need to stick to full sleeves anymore. Yay!

And right now, we have a couple of Mint’s colleagues over. All playing board games. And although I am not playing the ongoing game, I am still quite engrossed in their play. They have been laughing and cheering for a while. It is infectious and it gets my attention every time somebody makes a smart move. Week day breaks are so much fun. I am feeling a little guilty for not offering them anything home cooked. We have ordered in. But you know, I think it’s okay. I am the only one who cares about such things. Mint thinks it is crazy to cook for so many, that too on a working day. So I’m going to let it be and just feel happy about the good vibes.

Oh before I end this post, I’d like to thank everybody for trying to guess the price of my anklets in this post. I got a variety of responses, a lot of them quite close to the right answer. The right answer by the way, is 45. That’s what it cost me. And the one person who got this number spot on is Moo. Moo, I am going to ignore your second guessing and just stick to your first response. You just won yourself a long email from me. I know, I know, I specialise in dishing out punishment and calling it reward. This little guessing game was so much fun though. I am thinking of playing more such games in the future and I will try and hand out some real prizes, ok?

Posted in Slices of life | 7 Comments »

Thoughts on a Sunday

Posted by Pepper on January 10, 2016

I’ve noticed this several times in the past. My dad and Mint end up with coinciding travel plans. It often makes me wonder. How is it that the two of them end up with intersecting schedules so often?

Anyway, this leaves us girls to do our own thing. I conveniently move in with the mother and the sister every time Mint travels. My dad is in Nashik right now and Mint is in Ahmedabad for a tournament. This time though, I haven’t really been very enthusiastic about doing any of our girlie outings, the way I usually am. Probably because I am still reeling under the effects of the BFF leaving.

Since I wasn’t really up to an outing, I used most part of my Sunday cleaning up our house. I was all alone at home and surprisingly, I actually enjoyed the quiet time I spent by myself. I put on some music and spent several hours tidying up the place. I wasn’t in any rush and that made all the difference. I went about folding clothes, reorganising drawers and humming alongside the songs I was playing. When I did realise the time, I was quite shocked. A good 3 hours had passed. Under usual circumstances, I push myself to go on for a little longer and finish tidying up at least the current section I am working on before I give up.

I also realised that Mint’s absence played a role in making me so productive. Mint and I usually tidy up together. He only does it under my explicit instructions. Since he considers tidying up and fixing the house a waste of precious time, I am usually left feeling guilty because I know at the back of my mind that I am forcing him to do something that he considers completely unimportant. Also, I am worried that if I stretch the process too much, at the end of the day he will accuse me of having wasted a day by doing nothing but cleaning up. So I rush the whole thing, cut corners and do more of an express clean up, rather than a comprehensive one. In his absence, I was at ease and I took my own sweet time and pace to complete all that I wanted to.

Post the elaborate clean up session, I went to my parents place for lunch. It was a quite a relaxed lunch, though I had had a stupid fight with my mom just a while ago. We forgot about it fairly quickly and all was well again. Also, we had these fried sabudana papads along with lunch that totally made my day. We almost never deep fry anything at home, and having this today along with some fabulous kadhi and rice was such a treat.

I met a friend for coffee early in the evening. A close friend who I chat with on whatsapp almost all day long. It is always good to see her and catch up in person. We end up discussing subjects like marriage, adulthood, money, human behavior, privileges that some people are born with and the sense of entitlement they have because of that and so on. A conversation with her is always a good way to clear my head and cheer me up.

I got back to my parents home later in the evening and spent some time reading my book. And now, it is time for dinner. We will probably follow it up with a movie. Or I might just go back to my book. On the whole, quite a good Sunday.

Posted in Slices of life | 2 Comments »

The knock

Posted by Pepper on January 5, 2016

I usually get home atleast an hour before Mint. I say ‘atleast’, because Mint has no fixed time of return. Moreover, he isn’t the kind to keep me informed about his expected time of arrival. It is nothing short of a guessing game for me. He might get home at 7 or he might arrive later than 9. I hate not knowing, so I turn into the typical wife who calls her husband every half hour to check when he is leaving from work. On most days, he is unable to answer my calls because he is stuck in some meeting. On days he does answer my call and gives me an estimated time of his return, he overshoots the time he has given me and I am back to waiting and not knowing. On the days he actually arrives at the promised time, I am pleasantly surprised.

Since I have come to accept (with a lot of struggle, I must add) that he doesn’t have any fixed working hours and that he isn’t the kind to call me before he leaves everyday, I have become accustomed to the suspenseful wait. He can basically turn up any time. This takes me to new heights of anticipation.

Mint has a signature ‘knock’ that distinguishes his arrival from the rest. He doesn’t ring the door bell and by now I have come to recognize his knocking style. I stay tuned in to every little sound that comes from outside the door. Every time I hear the elevator, I pray it is followed by a little knock. I count minutes. Every evening, I am so full of desperation to see that boy.

When I finally do hear the much awaited and highly treasured knock, my senses go into overdrive. I abandon whatever it is that I am doing at that time and charge towards the door. I then greet him with a million hugs and kisses. The poor guy gets smothered just as he sets his foot in. I know, I can pass on your sympathies to him. That is mostly how I have greeted my dad when he returned from work too. But with Mint, I take it to a new level.

Because on some days, I even jump and clamber into his arms. He carries me like you carry a 3 year old. Except my age is almost 10 times 3. I do pity him when I realise he has to bear the weight of my body when he hasn’t even set down his laptop bag or taken his shoes off. But that is how it is. Slices of our everyday life.

PS – In case you are wondering, that picture has been taken just as Mint got back from work. And yes, he goes to work everyday in jeans and tees. Lucky, I know.

Posted in Slices of life, Splashes of Mint | 21 Comments »

Picking up the pieces

Posted by Pepper on January 4, 2016

We decided to restructure our company sometime in early October. By restructuring, I mean bringing in some new management, reconstituting the share holdings and stakes and bringing in new investors. We (my dad and I) were still going to continue being a part of it for a while. We would still hold majority of the stakes, but we wanted to bring in new people in the board of directors for a variety of reasons.

My dad’s younger brother who lives in the Bay Area has been generous enough to help us in the reconstituting. He has worked in the Silicon Valley for over 30 years and has some good solid experience in this area. We have regular conference calls with him to discuss company matters and jointly make decisions.

Anyway, I had been wading through the usual hectic work life, waiting to get a break. Mint and I had planned to take a break in the last week of December. It made perfect sense. It was the holiday season. Work would be slow in most places. He had some leave he could use. All along, I was looking forward to a slower pace starting from mid December. And then one day in early November, my uncle emailed me saying he would be arriving in India around mid December. He would be there till the end of the month. The sole objective of his two week trip was to aid the reconstituting process. He requested me to keep myself fully available every day of his trip.

Of course, I should have been thankful to him for giving us his time, instead, the timing of his trip made me cringe and cry. The December break was something I was looking forward to so much. To have it all snatched away at the end moment was breaking my heart.

Anyway, I got busy making preparations for his upcoming trip. We wanted to ensure we utilized his time as effectively as possible. So prior to his arrival, I had a big list of things to organize, appointments to schedule, papers and company resolutions to keep handy and other miscellaneous arrangements to be made. All this over and above my regular work. It was highly exhausting but I kept reminding myself that it was a phase and it would pass soon.

Sometime around this time, I began to ignore the seemingly ‘less important’ things in my life. Work was too demanding. I told myself I would do a thorough clean up of the house later. It was okay to dump my used clothes in a corner for now. It was okay to postpone social engagements. It was okay to allow the leftovers in the fridge to pile and not plan any meals efficiently. Books couldn’t be read. Workouts couldn’t be aimed for. Blogging wasn’t even in the picture. Is it a surprise that my last post of the year was on December 5h? It was okay, I told myself. Let me get done with this highly intense phase at work. I would reclaim my life once this was over.

If I thought the time before my uncle’s visit was hectic, let me just say I was completely unprepared for what was in store after he arrived. Every single day was packed with meetings. And not meetings that permit you to zone out. But intense, grueling, tiresome meetings that lasted for hours on end. We were pitching, debating, discussing, analysing, brain storming, drawing new plans and constantly using up every bit of our energy. We met tax auditors, potential investors, company secretaries, planners and everyone else possible. Sometimes we would break for lunch only past 4 in the evening. Most of my meals consisted of crap available from the nearest fast food restaurant. We would get home only past 10 or 11 on most days. Saturdays included.

I was beginning to resent this mad pace. I understood my uncle had limited time and he was here to help. I knew we should try and complete as much as we can to make his visit as productive as possible. But what we were doing didn’t seem like a sane approach. I felt like I was using every ounce of my mental bandwidth. Being occupied with work was one thing. But being occupied with work that forced you to brain storm every minute of the day was something else. I began to get cranky about the timing of my uncle’s visit again. Did I have to lose out on all the Christmas cheer? Did I have to be so caught up in work as we neared the end of the year? Didn’t I deserve holidays at this time like the rest of the world?

And then as suddenly as it had begun, the madness came to an end. I couldn’t be happier that the madness ended just as the new year began. Of course, I still have a high volume of work and a long list of action items to complete. But having said that, I began to see a semblance of my old life as soon as my uncle left. No more back to back meetings. I could pick my own pace now.

It’s been a few days now. I’ve been giving my mind some rest. Very slowly, I am beginning to pick up the pieces  of my life that I had left far behind. I managed to meet my friends. And I am going to tidy up the house soon. Who would’ve thought tidying up the house could be therapeutic? I’ve taken a semi break today (yes, on a Monday), and I sat myself down with a big bag of peas to shell. And just when I was in the midst of it, I realised how wonderful it felt to be doing something as mind numbing as shelling peas. How good it is to not have to apply yourself, strategize and use your brain every minute. How good it is to just be!

Posted in Slices of life | 12 Comments »

On a Sunday..

Posted by Pepper on January 3, 2016

You can’t really expect a full post. Because most of your day is spent either lazing around, or reading, or watching TV, or tidying up your home,or doing grocery, or heading out to meet friends, or doing the laundry, or going for lunch or dinner, or napping, or getting ready to go to a wedding reception. Yes, that is what we are in the midst of right now. Heading out for a wedding reception that is.

And while I get ready, figuring out whether to wear a sari or a salwar kameez, deciding which clothes need to be ironed, trying to figure out if I have my sandals in place, I am swooning over this song. So here it is, for you to hear, inhale, absorb and revel in.

One of my favourites..

Hope you had a happy weekend! See you tomorrow..


Posted in Slices of life | 1 Comment »

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