A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for the ‘Small joys’ Category

Sunshine for my soul

Posted by Pepper on March 26, 2021

Yesterday was the first day of spring break for Cotton and Candy. It’s just a week off from school, but holidays are always special. I remember that feeling of excitement I felt at the start of every summer, Diwali or Christmas break. So of course, I had to do something special for my kids to mark the day and build up the excitement.

While the sole intent was to give them a dose of joy, it turned out to be as nourishing for me. I guess we all need a dose of happy sunshine. The weather was on my side. I texted my friend P and asked her if we could plan a day in the park with our kids. She jumped to it.

We carried our lunch. Spinach pesto pasta for the kids. We also picked up some subs. After a good hour of playing on the structures, we moved on to the picnic table for lunch. Unsurprisingly, the kids were very cooperative and finished their meal so quickly. Why does this not happen at home?

Then P and I sat munching on our sandwiches while we let the kids run around on the vast green lawn. The kids enjoyed the freedom of being able to run. P and I enjoyed some good conversations. We kept talking about how wonderful it was to be out in the sun, to not have to worry about chores and pending work, to just let yourself unwind and watch our beautiful kids laugh and play.

We then moved on to getting the bubble wand out. Bubbles are of my favorite things ever. Blowing and chasing bubbles in the park along with my kids was what my soul seemed to need. Did I already mention I was having fun? I still haven’t mentioned our favorite part of the day.

The park has a *giant* slide. So what do you think us adults did? We promptly jumped on to the slide. Seriously, why should kids have all the fun? The kids were partly amused to see their moms gleefully sliding down. We laughed endlessly and let our kids loose. I have no idea of the number of times they went on that slide. We left for home after *many* happy hours in the park. This day will stay etched in my memory for a long time. It really was what my soul needed.

Let’s be tree huggers
Chasing bubbles is fun!
My son watches his crazy mom slide down
Sliding down for probably the 75th time

Posted in Small joys | 12 Comments »

Magnolia

Posted by Pepper on March 2, 2021

When we moved into this house in August last year, this tree on our front porch was bare. It stood on the left side of our main door. We had no idea what tree it was. A few weeks ago, it started to bloom. Gorgeous pink magnolia.

I usually enter the house through our garage but this tree has motivated me enough to actually use our front door. So often I find myself standing and staring at this beauty. CottonCandy love picking up the petals that have fallen on the lawn. The fragrance in them is very faint, but it is there. They say they love the khushkoo (refers to khushboo, which means ‘fragrance’ in Hindi). I adore these mispronounced words of theirs and hold on to them dearly.

I am grateful for these reminders to stop and smell the flowers.

Posted in Small joys | 17 Comments »

Driving little friendships

Posted by Pepper on February 19, 2021

Cotton and Candy have always been in awe of garbage trucks, more appropriately called waste collection vehicles. They watch in admiration as the trucks come, stick out their robotic arms, lift up our bins, tip them in and place them back on the curb. On the days of our weekly pick up, watching this process is probably the most exciting part of their day.

They are regulars who run out to the curb the moment they hear the whirring of the truck. Cotton and Candy then wave excitedly and say hi to the driver, all along jumping in the air and waving their arms wildly. By now, we recognize the driver and he recognizes them. He gives them a big grin and waves back. I can’t put in words how happy this makes them and they go about telling everybody that they are friends with the garbage truck driver. Really, a warm smile and a wave is all it takes for the driver to be marked as a friend in their little heads.

Yesterday, I saw Candy drawing something on paper. She said it was a flower pot. Err, that drawing looked nothing like a pot, but okay. She then told me she was drawing it fast so that she could show it to the driver and wanted to finish it before he arrived. That warmed my heart. She truly considers that driver to be her friend and it was her way of letting him know.

As usual, I couldn’t capture the moments on camera clearly, but this time I did manage to take some rickety pictures. The first one is Candy running to show her drawing to the driver. The second one is Cotton and Candy watching the truck as it rolls by. They wait until every bin on our street has been emptied.

I can’t help but ponder over how easy it is for kids to label somebody as their ‘friend’. I don’t know at what stage we unlearn this. For now, I am glad I get to witness this friendship between my kids and a kind driver who waves at them as he goes about his job of emptying our bins of trash.

Posted in Small joys | 20 Comments »

Love, cheese and corn

Posted by Pepper on February 3, 2017

I’m taking a little break from chronicling the move. To talk about, you guessed it. Good ol’ love. One evening, the BFF and I were walking around downtown San Francisco. We had no agenda. We were just strolling along the streets, because the city has such a happy vibe. It was lovely, except that it was a typical December evening. Chilly. Very chilly.

And as we passed by Union Square, we noticed an ice skating rink and decided to watch from the sidelines for a bit. And that’s where I saw them. A young couple. And as I focussed on them, I noticed they were dancing. Ball dancing on the rink. Their strides were effortless and they seeemed to share a remarkable rhythm. They were gliding on ice, holding on to each other, swirling and twirling in each other’s arms. It was simply perfect. That’s a picture for you.

icerink

They weren’t the least bit conscious of the world around them. All they did was smile at each other and dance. I couldn’t stop grinning. What a charming display of love. I noticed the BFF also staring at the same couple. Sure, they seemed to be garnering a lot of attention.

And then I thought to myself. People love watching such exhibits. It is a common trate in most humans. Of course, there are a lot of people out there who would think of such acts as nothing more than cheesy or corny. They probably are, to an extent. But my theory still holds. I think majority of us enjoy our share of cheese and corn, atleast when we get to watch it for free.

Talking about love, cheese and corn, I must also mention the most popular post on my blog. And it falls in line with my theory of people enjoying cheese. I wrote this post during the blogathon last January and the stats almost made me dizzy that day. It received thousands of hits.

The post has a picture of me leaping into Mint’s arm as he enters home. To date, that particular post is what gets me the maximum number of hits. It looks like people keep going back there to read it. Or maybe new people find a way to it. I’m not sure, but that post has given my stats a high.

So does the idea of love make you happy?

 

Posted in Small joys | 5 Comments »

Making it count

Posted by Pepper on October 26, 2016

After all the gloom and doom of my last few posts, I must write about all that has been making me happy. And truth be told, there is so much of joy around me, it’s hard to not let it soak and consume you.

I feel it every night as Mint and I walk back after dinner from my parents building to our own.  The air is infused with the sweetest scent of Raat Rani, also known as blooming jasmine, night blooming cestrum, lady of the night and so on. I take deep breaths, so I can take some more of that sweet, woody scent with me as I pass by. I feel so grateful our apartment complex has such beautiful and heady blooms.

I can smell Diwali in the air. The weather is cool and pleasant, making my spirits soar. Taking a walk in the evening is such a pleasure. The cool breeze is like a soft balm. People have begun to drape strings of lights around their windows. The atmosphere is festive. I’m so excited. Every year we have a huge family get together during Diwali. It has been a tradition that none of my family members miss. This year, I actually hand picked the fabric I wanted to get stitched. I now have a pretty pink and gold  salwar kameez that I am waiting to wear. I’m looking forward to the sweets, the ranglolis and the clay lamps.

In the past few weeks, Mint and I often head out to an early morning breakfast at different cafes before we start our day. It helps immensely that we’re both in a position to work from home often. The week day breakfasts are awesome. For starters, we have fabulous food and I love tucking in. The avocado and feta stuffed crepes, the dark chocolate and banana smoothies, the chia seed puddings, the egg coquettes and benedicts, the warm rye breads, the croissants, waffles, granola parfaits, muffins,  dips and cheeses, aah. I love breakfast dates. So far, Le Pain Quotiden, Indigo and Suzette are our top favourite breakfast destinations. I feel so blessed when Mint and I start the day with laid back conversation and terrific food. Here are some pics of our recent breakfast plates ..

breakfast1

breakfast2

I know I lead a spoilt life. I have so many people to pamper me. As long as I am living right next door to my mama and papa, I know I will not truly grow up. Which of course, suits me fine. They indulge me beyond words. And if that wasn’t enough, I have Mint to contribute. I had just walked out of a head bath the other day and as he was drying my hair for me, I thought of how much a of lazy bum I was. Surely, I could dry my hair on my own. But the fact that I have him and that he willing does these things for me is so awesome. I took this very quick blurry pick as he was drying my hair so that I would remember and feel thankful for these moments of my every day life.

dryer

My eyes. They’ve behaved so far even as I tapered my drops to 3 times a day. So much to be grateful! From this Friday, I lower the dosage to 2 times a day. We’ll see how it goes, but irrespective of the outcome, I know good things happen to me.

Posted in Small joys | 31 Comments »

Into a child’s mind..

Posted by Pepper on April 8, 2016

I’ve mentioned earlier on this blog that my sister works as a teacher. What I haven’t mentioned is that I think that is one of the nicest professions in the world. Sure it is undervalued and underpaid, but hey, I think few other jobs give you a similar sense of fulfillment.

Everyday she comes home with heart warming stories of ‘her kids’. They are both exasperating and adorable. I love listening to the stories and going through the paraphernalia that she carries home. Aww inducing cards her kids make for her, calling her the best teacher in the world, notes her kids write to each other and other bits she collects through the course of the day.

This is the crumpled piece of paper she brought home one day. It was a note written by one of her students, addressed to her and another student.

kids1

 

It says, ” Dear A and Ms. B, I am verry Dearly sorry for not briging the erayser by tomoro i will bring it I feel sorry for A and plan to give it to A..

By M”

Like you can guess, little M forgot to carry to school the eraser given to her by little A. It looks like they were taking turns at keeping it. The next day little M was hit by a wave of guilt for forgetting the eraser. So she wrote this note of apology for A. Don’t miss out the face at the end. I can’t get over the cuteness. The sister pinned it on our soft board since both A and M decided to let her keep the note.

Sometimes I wonder, just how uncomplicated our lives are when we are kids.

Posted in Small joys | 17 Comments »

Summer

Posted by Pepper on March 13, 2016

I am beginning to smell it. And I can’t begin to describe how happy this makes me. For the first 15 years of my life, summer was always associated with freedom. Because summer came with a special gift, the glorious summer vacations. Summer meant complete abandon. It meant endless hours of play time. Sweaty afternoons. WWF card games. Famous Five and Secret Seven marathons. Special treats in the form of Rasna. ‘Correcting’ notebooks from the previous academic year. Calling out to friends who lived on different floors of the building by collectively ringing our bicycle bells. Playing cricket till we could hardly see the ball. Roller skating in the dark. Taking cold showers. The smell of Cinthol soap. Abundant mangoes. Delicious freedom.

Those were the days of ecstasy. Nothing could pull us down. The heat and sweat didn’t stand a chance. I am strangely undisturbed by the heat even now. Maybe because the heat is still a reminder of my past freedom. While the world complains about the unbearable heat, I just shrug and pull out my tank tops and cotton skirts. I look forward to cool glasses of mango milkshakes and cups of mint flavoured butter milk.

Summer. I am beginning to feel it. And that makes me so happy.

Posted in Blasts from the past, Small joys | 6 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!

 
heart

 

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 »

B for Blessed

Posted by Pepper on November 20, 2015

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

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

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

Q1

 

Q2

 

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

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

Posted in Small joys | 24 Comments »

To be a husband

Posted by Pepper on September 3, 2015

is a joyride. Not.

Because while you put your feet up and watch some TV, a sneaky wife may appear and start adorning your foot with her jewelry. She’ll start with her rubber band and place it around two of your toes, she’ll place the loops of her diamond-studded earrings around your two little toes, she’ll add a bangle around your big toe, she’ll let her chain ornament your foot and will even shove her butter-fly hair clip between two of your toes as a finishing touch.

Why, you ask? Well, just because she was bored.

PS – In case you are wondering about the said husband’s reaction, let me just say, he belongs to the zen category. Nothing perturbs him. Not only does he ignore his wife while she err, beautifies his foot, he even gives her a big smile once she is done. Much to her disappointment, she has failed to evoke a strong reaction, once again. The quest to rattle and annoy him continues..

Posted in Small joys, Splashes of Mint | 11 Comments »

A sweet prayer

Posted by Pepper on June 6, 2015

There is a little temple in our apartment complex. When dusk sets in, typically around 7.30 in the evening, the priest performs a small aarti. I am not a religious person at all, but I love the sound of the temple bells. They add an aura of tranquility to the atmosphere. The breeze floating out of the temple carries with it a whiff of incense. I usually try to go for my evening walk in the complex around the time of the aarti. Although I never step inside the temple, the bells and the fragrance of the incense sticks make me feel happy.

But more than that, I know what I look forward to the most. It is a sight that melts my heart. Right after the aarti ends, the priest hands out tiny laddoos to every person who enters the temple to pray. Our complex has many kids of different ages, all playing in the complex premises in the evenings. As soon as the aarti ends, I see all the kids abandoning their bicycles, skate boards, swings, games and running towards the temple. They queue up inside and wait for the priest to present them with a tiny piece of laddoo. I stop my walk and wait outside the temple sometimes, just to see the gleeful faces waiting patiently with their little palms extended. Sometimes they run out with a fistful of their prized laddoo. Sometimes they gobble it up before they even step out. Their excitement on finding the laddoo is heartwarming. Oh, the joys of being a child.

Posted in Life in India, Small joys | 7 Comments »

Happy Week – Day 4

Posted by Pepper on March 23, 2015

Happiness is spending a good part of your evening sitting on your couch, ‘bursting’ the bubbles from a sheet of bubble wrap. Popping those air pockets is therapeutic. See how big my sheet was? Each pop was so satisfying.

bubblewrap

 

And here’s a picture that Mint took of me when I was engrossed in the act.

bubblewrap2

Such joys. For the sake of humanity, I think popping these tiny air pockets is an activity that we should include in our everyday adult life. We knows, we may just be a happier race.

Posted in Happy Week, Small joys | 19 Comments »

Bits of joy

Posted by Pepper on December 23, 2014

* The nip in the air and the resultant change in weather has given me the mother of all colds. I lay in bed at 4 am, unable to disconnect myself from my state of discomfort, unable to drift away. The severely blocked nose and hacking cough was not granting me any respite. Just as I was beginning to feel utterly miserable, it began.

The wind chimes. At first, it sounded like a mad clamour. The wind outside must be blowing with unusual gusto tonight, I thought. Soon, it picked up a tune. And the melody continued. I held on to the notes, taking in the sweet rhythm of the clinks and tinkles. It seemed lyrical. I lay there in bed and smiled. Had I slept through this, I would have missed something beautiful.

* Talking about beautiful, our Christmas tree makes the house seem cheerful and adds a new dimension of beauty to it. We haven’t had the space for a big tree in years but that hasn’t diminished our joy in anyway. We’re happy. Some of our favourite carols are played on loop, and yet we never tire of them. There is excitement in the air.

j1

* Some days ago, Oregano completed the 6 month mark after his kidney transplant. Like I keep telling him, his illness has taught me a lot. I’ve learnt to value normalcy instead of taking it for granted. While I have seen closed ones suffer from dreadful illnesses, it is Oregano’s sudden kidney failure that really shook me. Although I had come to terms with the fact that people fall sick as they age, I was unprepared for something as dreadful as an organ failure happening to somebody as young as Oregano, with no cause or warning.

6 months after the transplant, he has come a long way. He is healthy, doesn’t have as many dietary restrictions and leads a fairly normal life. He ran a marathon and struck out an item from his list. Every time I see this picture, I feel incredibly happy. I took the first picture a day before his transplant surgery. Mint and I were sitting by his side as he underwent the dialysis. We were anxious and excited. I had truly hoped this last session marked a new beginning for him. And it did.. Here’s the picture from his blog.

* Guess who I shared space with this Sunday while we were buying our weekly supply of veggies at the organic farmer’s market. None other than the lovely Nandita Das. She was right behind me and we moved together from aisle to aisle. I hadn’t realised it was her until we reached the billing section and somebody let out something that sounded like a loud exclamation. That is when I turned my head and saw her face. My first reaction was, Oh My God! So I was making polite conversation with her about tomatoes and stuff without knowing it was her! But instead of letting on my over excitement, I just gave her a composed smile.

And just after I was getting over this, in front of me appeared Manisha Koirala. Two celebs in a matter of twenty minutes? Have I told you how excited I get when I spot any known personality? Anyway, I came home, Googled and found this image of hers at the farmer’s market that day. Do you like what she is wearing?

* Yesterday was the BFF’s birthday and we went to a lovely Mediterranean place for dinner. The food was amazing and they gave us some complimentary lemon tarts in the end. What a perfect end it was. You know life is good when you are genuinely happy on a Monday evening.

j2

The very amazing dips and spreads served on warm stone platters

j3

Lemon tarts

 

* Lastly, I am excited because Mint is off from work for the whole week. Although I am off for only 2 days, his longish break makes me very happy because it will let me spend my evenings with him without worrying about his night calls. And ofcourse, we have the holiday spirit to revel in. Yay!

Posted in Small joys | 10 Comments »

Yeh mausam ka jaadoo hai mitwa..

Posted by Pepper on September 9, 2014

I feel very sorry for people who dislike the rains in Mumbai. I really do. Because those poor folk have no means to escape them. The rains in this city are relentless. They offer no respite. Couple this unstoppable rain with high tide and the city is a mess. The tracks get flooded and trains either slow down or come to a complete halt. The roads begin to overflow. There is pandemonium and the rain haters are busy cursing the weather and feeling sorry for their very difficult lives.

But the rain? It goes on. Thunder booms. Crackling bolts of lightning rip apart the skies. It pours. On and on. I LOVE it. I see magic in the rains. And despite the mayhem, I see that the enthusiasm level of the people in this city remains unaffected.

One monsoon, many years ago, I was passing through Linking Road with my California bred cousin in tow. It had been raining endlessly for 24 hours. The two of us had stepped out to enjoy some street food in Bandra. It was our last chance before she flew back to the US the next day. Given the weather conditions, she thought the streets would be deserted and we would be the only two nutcases out on the roads.

To say she was surprised by what she say would be an understatement. People in Bandra were busy shopping despite the flooded streets. They were walking around, examining the clothes on sale, bargaining with the vendors and all this while being completely unaffected by the stream of water that was running by their feet. It was like walking through a gushing river. And nobody seemed to care.

How do they do it, she asked me. I just laughed. Rains never deterred the people in this city. Life goes on. And no, I am not talking about mandatory things like going to work, running important errands and the likes. We have no choice but to comply at such times. I am talking about the times we the choice of staying in the safe confines of our homes, but choose to venture out and  live our life instead. So people shop while it pours, they make dinner plans and travel to the other end of the city to meet their friends despite the pelting rain. I love the enthusiasm.

So while the rain haters are busy cursing everything around them because of their disrupted schedules, the slow traffic, the muck stains that are hard to scrub off, the clothes that never seem to dry, the rain lovers are occupied with only one thing – keeping their spirits high. You obviously know which category I belong to. I love the rains. The sudden burst of freshness and the vibrant greenery after each shower only add to my joy. I believe we’ve reached almost the end of the season now. That makes me a little sad. But never mind. Let me just say a thank you to the Lord for a happy and bountiful monsoon.

Here are some pictures I took with my rickety cell phone camera. They obviously do not do justice to the actual images, but nevertheless..

It continued to pour one Saturday afternoon. After feeling a little listless at home, I stepped down for a breath of fresh air. My plan was to sit in our lobby area and watch the rain. Instead, I had the added fortune of watching kids play. They ran in the rain with such abandon and glee! Just watching them made my day.

Rain1

And this time.. I was just happy to see big, fat rain drops fall on the windshield of my car.  I was waiting at a red light, so I used the opportunity to take a quick pic before I was forced to use the wipers.

Rain2

I took this pic from the corner seat of a McDonald’s outlet. I was sipping on my coffee as I waited for Mint to arrive. We were both meeting after work to make a few purchases for our new home. Mint was running late, as usual. So I used the extra time to grab a coffee. When I looked up from my table, I saw an uneven layer of mist covering the glass. I paused for a second to think of how beautiful that moment was. A good cup of coffee in solitude. Mad, pounding rain outside. Misty glass walls. How lovely!

Rain8

I was driving back from work early one evening when I noticed how dark it was at 5 pm. Traffic was slow and it looked like the sky would burst any minute. It happened, quite predictably. Thunder rolled and the rain began to descend in torrents just as I was clicking this picture.

Rain6

And this one time when the sister and I ran downstairs to play on the swings just after the rains stopped. The air smelt sweet. We took crazy pictures of each other. We played some of our favourite childhood games. Such happiness!

Rain4

PS – The title of the post is a Hindi song which actually means, ‘This is the magic of the season’

Posted in Small joys | 43 Comments »

Bliss

Posted by Pepper on August 14, 2014

is what you feel when you have not one, not two, not three but four holidays stretching in front of you. Four! Four! That’s like a double weekend. Most people you know have only three. That makes you want to rub your extra holiday in their face. Mwahaha.  And for the first time ever, you have no travel plans. So you come home, get an oil massage, grab a blanket and settle down on your couch, with what else but your ultimate source of delight?

chocolate

 

Sea salt soiree, hazelnut and chili. Just incase you didn’t notice. Since I couldn’t decide which one to start with, I decided to have all of them at once. Makes sense, no? Alright then. I’ll go back to my chocolates and that feeling of zen which comes with absolute nothingness. Happy holidays!

Posted in Small joys | 35 Comments »

 
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