A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

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Flavour of my life

Name game

Posted by Pepper on April 28, 2017

There are several things that annoy me about Mint. The one thing that tops the list is how he has saved my name on his phone. Assuming Pepper is my first name and Mill is my last name, my name in his contacts reads ‘Pepper Mill’.

Like I said, this annoys me. It makes our relationship sound so official. I am all about adding a personal touch. Fine! You don’t want to use the so called cute names, but why can’t you use my first name and leave it at that? Maybe he could call me just Pepper?Why add the surname? It’s not like he knows a million Peppers anyway. And even if he did, I’d expect him to suffix their names with whatever he wants. Not mine. I am supposed to be the primary Pepper in his life. Okay, that does sound a bit hysterical, but you get the point.

In his defense, that’s how he saves all names in his phone. All his contacts have the same format, first name followed by last name. The same holds true even for his parents. There is no mom and dad. Just official first and last name. I wish he’d make an exception for me though. He has his contacts synced to his Gmail and he doesn’t want to mess with that. *Rolls eye*

Me? I have all sorts of names for people. Mint’s name was once saved as Makkhan Singh on my phone. We’re done though. I get irked every time I see my name on his screen. When I was saving Mint’s US number after we moved here, I decided he deserved to be only called by his official name too. So first and last name it was. Hmph..

 

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 13 Comments »

Keep calm and.. moisturize

Posted by Pepper on April 29, 2016

Mint has terribly dry skin. The skin on his legs is completely parched. If you even gently run your nails around his ankles, you will see white flaky lines all over. The sight would make me cringe. I had been pointing out to him for years, that his skin needs intense moisturizing. But the guy would simply ignore my pleas and concerns.

Well, on second thoughts. He wouldn’t ignore them. He would promise to take action. I bought the best body butter I could lay my hands on (rich cocoa enriched with shea, I must add). Along with that, I ensured he had timely reminders from me. Please use it regularly! He would promise to do so but most of the promises would fall flat after he had used the cream once or twice. He simply couldn’t keep up. Moisturizing was never a part of his daily regime.

To make it easier for him, I bought a bottle of some nourishing body oil. Probably that was easier and quicker to use. Again, he promised he would use it but he was simply unable to live up to his commitment. I moved the bottle of body oil next to his shower area. This would make it hard to miss. It would be in a very accessible location. All he had to do was pat down some oil after his shower. As usual, he said he would do it. But after a month of me eyeing the bottle and noticing no change in the quantity it held, I decided to give up without even confronting him this time.

The last time we were in the US, I couldn’t resist buying a bottle of ‘Jergens Ultra Healing Extra Dry Skin Moisturizer’ for him. I don’t give up easily, you see. Maybe this one would help repair his skin, even if he didn’t use it religiously. It was a big bottle and I just hoped the extra weight in my luggage would be worth it. But who was I kidding? The bottle sat untouched on our dressing table for months.

Some time ago, I noticed those awful marks on Mint’s ankles again. Flaky white scrawling. It made me shriek. Enough was enough. I pushed him back on the bed, pumped some moisturizer onto my palm and applied it on his legs. To my relief, I could see an instant difference in his skin. It looked so much healthier with just one use.

That was motivation enough. I began to apply moisturizer on his legs every night. He would sit back and continue using his laptop, I would silently massage his legs. The boy got used to it of course. Whenever I asked him to do it on his own, he would grin and ask me to do it instead. This was my own doing. I knew it. He needs to worship me. I’ll let him know that I accept offerings in both cash and kind.

That is how our night time ritual began. It continues till date. And surprisingly, rubbing moisturizer on his legs is something I have come to enjoy myself. It is rewarding to see his skin heal, day by day. In the quiet of our air conditioned bedroom (for which we need to be so grateful! I keep thinking of how the homeless survive in this heat), with the calming scent of eucalyptus, and our bottle of Jergens, we find our solace in fixing things.

Dear Mint, just keep in mind though that without me in your life, you’ll have some rough times.

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 25 Comments »

Living with anxiety..

Posted by Pepper on April 9, 2016

Some months ago, Mint came home and told me he was planning a trek to Sikkim with his colleagues. A 9 day trek that would take them through the Himalayan range. Typically in such situations, my initial reaction is to lose it and ask him to cut it out. Because I am by nature an extremely anxious person. The first thought that enters my head is: what if something goes wrong? Why expose yourself to dangers that can easily be avoided? How will I get by the days living with such intense worry?

Unfortunately, other than being an anxious person, I am also a fairly rational person and realise my own line of thought is at times quite ridiculous. I find it hard to justify my fears to my own self, let alone to Mint. Other than knowing the odds of something fatal happening were very low, I also knew living a life completely devoid of risks isn’t a possibility. And of course, we also have all those theories about space and letting your partner live their own life and blah. So this time when he told me about the trek, I said nothing. When he told me he was  booking his flight tickets, I said nothing. I remained silent as he went about making all his travel arrangements. He booked his accommodation, purchased the gear he would need be needing for his trek. It was all finalised.

And then two days before he was to leave, I broke down. I realised he would be going through completely uncivilized terrain and passing through settlements with no electricity. There would be no mobile coverage. The thought of remaining disconnected for days together when he was in the wild made me feel sick. I threw a fit and asked him to cancel his trip. He looked at me with disbelief when I said it. I was asking him to cancel a trip that he had booked over 3 months in advance, one that he was highly looking forward to, was fully paid for and would result in a complete loss. Yes, I repeated what I had just said. Don’t go.

He negotiated with me for a while, requested me not worry. When I would not budge, he agreed to cancel it. As usual, I didn’t know what it was that would make me happy. The thought of him going was killing me with worry. The thought of him not going was killing me with guilt. After a lot of turmoil, I turned around and asked him to go. Only to back out a day before he was to leave and create another scene. I screamed, accused him of not caring about me, being the most inconsiderate partner and so on. I knew I was being unreasonable but who is to stop me at such times? He was back to asking me if he should cancel his trip and I was back to saying no and then hating him for going.

We decided to have a good heart to heart on the evening before he was to leave. What exactly was my worry, he wanted to know. I thought for a few minutes, and then blurted out. I was worried he would die. There, I said it. Of course, he laughed and told me he was going for a trek, not on a war. Before you laugh at me, let me tell you anxiety is not rational. And it sucks that most people with anxiety realise how irrational their fears are. We had a good long discussion and he acknowledged my fears instead of dismissing or ridiculing them. Somehow that conversation put me at ease. I felt better after a long time and was able to let him leave on a cheerful note the next morning.

It took him two flights and a 7 hour car journey that went over the ghats to reach the place from where he was to start trekking. He called me the next morning before beginning his trek. I reminded him again that I expected to hear from him at least once in every 24 hours. If there was no mobile coverage in the area, he was to find a landline. He told me knew how worried I was and that was worrying him and making him uneasy. He wasn’t able to put his mind at rest knowing my condition. I promised him again that I would try to not worry.

And just like that, I lost all contact with him after that conversation. I waited for night to set in. Maybe he would call when they stopped for the day. He didn’t. I convinced myself to pull through the night. When I hadn’t heard from him by the next morning either, I was in a state of extreme panic. What could have gone wrong? I knew he would be making all possible attempts to call. So then, why couldn’t he? His phone was switched off.

One day stretched into another. By the end of the second day, I was sure I would not survive anymore. I kept calling him every 3 minutes, knowing very well that it wouldn’t help. I was trying so hard to not imagine the worst. What if something had happened to him? How would that impact me? Please God, make sure he is alive and well. I prayed with all my heart.

I was feeling physically sick by day 3. If something has happened to him and he is no more, maybe I will really not survive myself. How bloody fortunate I was to have met him in my life. Maybe I was so fortunate that it had to be short lived? He is the best thing to have happened to me. What if I have to spend the rest of my life without him? Oh my God! We have a massive loan that I will never be able to take care of single handedly. Well, I will sell the house immediately. But oh, what if I am unable to sell the house because the market prices are too low? The loan will not disappear. I will be ruined. I will be all alone. I will die too. Oh God. Stop! Stop! Stop!

On day 4 I decided I hate him. How could he subject me to this anguish for the sake of his own pleasures? He knows that I would be dying every minute. People who have partners with anxiety should try to curtail their lives and desires to an extent. Yes, this was his fault. I will never talk to him. Oh wait, I will not talk to him only after I know he is alive and well. Please God, just let me hear from him once.

He called finally on the 5th day. This time I thought I would die of relief. I had no words to tell him the kind of hell I had been to. Like I should have guessed, he could not call for all those days because he had absolutely no means to do so. No mobile network or coverage, no access to landlines. Nothing. I hated him for going to a place like that. These adventures are meant for people who are free and footloose. People who have no responsibilities and can live their lives with glee and abandonment. Not for people with massive loans and wives who suffer from anxiety disorders.

When I had calmed down though, I knew the biggest lesson was for me. I have always known my anxiety makes me deviate from my sense of logic. It begins to exercise a deep level of control over my every day life. For example, I still panic when my dad comes home two hours late and we aren’t able to get through to him. When other people would attribute it to heavy traffic and a phone that has run out of charge, my mind embarks on a journey of it’s own. What if he was in a accident? What if his phone was stolen? What if something terrible happened? How will we get through it?

I read in an article that having anxiety is like having a brain with a faulty alarm system wired into it. The alarm goes off in your head even when there is no real need for it to, even when there is no sense of danger. And then you spend your time freaking out knowing well that there is no reason to freak out, but being unable to stop yourself from freaking out. It’s like wanting to stop the blaring alarm that is causing a heart attack and driving you nuts but you just don’ know where the ‘dismiss’ button lies.

I know coping with anxiety has always been one of the biggest challenges of my life. But this whole episode has taught me that this isn’t a sustainable way to live. I will always be exposed to situations that have more questions than answers. But every time I face a question, I cannot let myself assume the worst answer, not even in my subconscious. I have promised myself I am going to try to be a more secure person. I know it will be a long journey, but the first step is making myself believe that I can do it.

Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour, Splashes of Mint | 45 Comments »

Year 6 – Happy Anniversary, Mint

Posted by Pepper on March 25, 2016

Dear Mint,

It’s been 6 years. Gasp! 6! It’s a number I am still trying to come to come to terms with, because it makes me feel just so old! But then who am I kidding? I have always been the person who struggled to embrace adulthood. I thought getting married at the little age of 23 was the most grown up thing I did. Until I realised being married does not necessarily include growing up.

I must admit though, not marriage, but the forced adult life has caused me to grow up a little. All I can is that I am so glad I grew up with you. That is so much nicer than the idea of meeting you as a ‘grown up’ person who has already been forced to attain adulthood. You have seen me transition from a whimsical child to what I call a half adult to a choiceless  adult. And although I grumble and rant quite routinely about the perils of adult life, I have to admit, on most days it is not so bad. And that is mainly because you’ve made it all such a fun ride.

Let’s face it though. Life with you is like my friend said, ‘riding a constant wave’. While I see other peoples’ lives resembling stable, flat lines, ours swells with excitement and then plummets into adventure and uncertainty, only to rise back to more excitement. I am a person who always preferred stability to adventure. When I talk about stability, I mean being rooted to one place, enjoying a level of certainty and sameness, having an established routine in place. But you, you love riding the wave and boy, you sweep me off with every surge and ask me if I had fun! I am now used to holding on to you for dear life.

We’ve had a few good years in this city. To my surprise, by now I find you almost as attached to this place as I am. And now, we’re back to a crossroad and we need to pick the direction we want to move in. The next few months are full of myriad questions. And the only way to find answers is to wait for them to unfurl. For an anxious and impatient person like me, this can be quite a test. But the ease with which you coast along at such times makes me feel amazed. If there is one thing I could learn from you, it is your ability to be zen and nonplussed.

This year is going to be huge for us. We’re working towards one of the biggest projects of our lives (getting a baby home!). And as I watch our lives being hijacked by this massive project, I can’t help feel all excited. The coming few months are going to be overwhelming for us because there is so much going on on all fronts. Thank you for keeping me safely belted up. Thank you for being the awesome person you are.

All my love,

Pepper

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 24 Comments »

Glimpses of junior Mint

Posted by Pepper on January 23, 2016

Every time I visit the in-law’s house in Chennai, I get to see a piece of Mint’s childhood. His mom has preserved so many things from his past. Of all the things she has safeguarded over the years, I love to see the toys! These are the toys that Mint and Oregano played with when they were little kids.

In this picture are some action figures, hot wheel cars and the Boggle Junior game (does anybody else remember that? I had the same game too!). What makes these toys so amazing is that they are almost 30 years old! I keep picturing my little boy playing with these hot wheels and my heart melts. Most of Mint’s toys were passed on to Oregano and he too has used them well.

These aren’t the only toys and games that have been preserved. My MIL has an entire cupboard dedicated to her kids’ toys. I love going through the collection, sappy sentimentalist that I am. And sometimes, for no real reason, I lay out little bits of their past and take pictures. These sights make my day.

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 4 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 | 20 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 »

Fitting in

Posted by Pepper on June 11, 2015

There is this couch at my parents’ place. It is meant to seat two people. I loved this couch from the time we moved in to this house. Although it is the smaller of the two couches in the living room, it is mega comfortable. Since I loved it so much, I laid claim to it from day one. Instead of letting it be a seat for two people, I would spread out on it and lie down, using one of the arm rests as a leg rest. The other one was used to rest my head. The size was perfect. I snuggled like that for hours.

Then Mint came into my life. From the day he first visited my parents’ home, he decided to take over my couch. He started sprawling on it in the exact same way that I used to. At first, I let him. I was sure he would return to me what was clearly my place. Unfortunately, he had no such intention. He would rush to claim the couch the moment we would enter home. And once he was sprawled out, he showed no signs of moving his ass. If at all I did manage to get the couch to myself sometime, he would even have the audacity to tell me that I was occupying his space! He would annoy me till I was forced to get up. How convenient.

I tolerated this injustice for years, until one day I got fed up and tried to squeeze in while he was lounging on the couch in his favourite position, watching TV. To my surprise, what I thought would be an uncomfortable squeeze, turned out to be an extremely comfortable position for me. I was so excited I had found a new spot. I started using him to lean on. He is a good pillow. Ever since, this has been a favourite position. He welcomes me to use him as a back support. I place my legs up on the center table. It is uber comfortable.

We have now made truce and no longer have to fight for the couch. This is us, watching TV together. Now I know what they mean when they say we must all learn to carve a niche for ourselves. Mwahaha..couch1

 

Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour, Splashes of Mint | 28 Comments »

The tides of memory

Posted by Pepper on June 3, 2015

Ever so often, I’ve wished I had penned down my love story on my blog in detail. Chapter by chapter. That was such a glorious period of my life. I love soaking in the memories. Maybe I will write about it in sequence someday. Until then, let me just write disconnected chapters. Chapters that come from memories that get triggered unexpectedly by events of my current life. I know I have mentioned this part of our story somewhere on my blog, but for my own reading pleasure, let me put it down here in detail.

****

December, 2006. I was in college. I  was planning to go to Bangalore for Christmas break with my girl pals. That included my BFF, her sister, my sister and ofcourse, me. Since the plan involved 4 people, we kept going back and forth with the travel dates. At that time, Mint who was in India for his annual vacation, kept calling me every other day. He was going to be visiting Bangalore around the same time and he kept begging me to try and coincide our travel dates.

Mint. He was a good friend of mine. A friend who was witty and sarcastic. He was bold and intelligent. A friend who would hit on me and tell me he liked me more as more than a friend. I knew it was all said in good humour. So of course, I would laugh. While I did think of him as a really good friend, I always knew he would forever remain in the ‘friend zone’. It would have been great to meet him in Bangalore and catch up, I thought. But if we weren’t able to coincide our travel, there was nothing we could do. Why did he have to sound so desperate and earnest? Like the world would fall apart if we didn’t meet. I told him I would try my best and left it at that.

Once I had finalised our dates, Mint reshuffled his own dates to match mine. Or so he claimed. I still couldn’t understand why he would do that? Why that urgency to meet me? Anyway, the four of us girls traveled to Bangalore. We were staying in my cousin’s house and having our own fun. My cousin had planned a Christmas party in her house on the day I was to meet Mint. Neither my friends, nor my cousin was pleased with the idea of me going out to meet ‘a friend’ on that day. I tried explaining to them how eager my friend had been to meet me. He was leaving Bangalore the next day. He lived in the US. So I didn’t get to see him often. After bargaining for some time with him and promising to be back in time for the party in the evening, I left.

Other than Mint, I was also supposed to meet S, a common friend of ours who had just moved to Bangalore. We were to meet at The Forum mall for lunch. S and I were dot on time. While the two of were hanging out, we started bitching about Mint for being so late! What kind of a guy shows up this late? Just as we bitching, he came. After giving a quick hug to S, he came and enveloped me in a big, giant bear hug that seemed to linger on forever. Although I was mad at him, I could feel his warmth and that made me soften.

Since all of us wanted to eat different things, we decided to eat at the food court. We chatted as we ate. It was a good lunch. Shortly after lunch, Mint requested S to leave so that he could spend time with me alone. I was horrified. Now, I know this guy always claimed to like me. It was all said jokingly and I always laughed. But asking somebody to leave so out rightly was rude! S giggled. She turned to me and said Mint had already told her he wanted to hang out with me alone and it had been decided that she would leave right after lunch. Umm, okay.

And then, we were alone. Since we couldn’t stay in the food court, we kept walking around the mall, trying to find an appropriate place to hang out. I remember Mint coaxing me to enter ‘Firangi Paani’, but I dismissed the idea because they had a big cover change and we didn’t plan on ordering anything. It didn’t make sense to pay for nothing. So we just kept talking and walking aimlessly. Until I glanced at my watch and realised the time. OhMyGod! I told him I had to rush back. I had promised my friends and my cousin that I would be back soon. Moreover, I had missed 4 calls from the BFF. She had also sent me two very angry text messages.

I kept telling Mint I had to leave and he kept begging me to stay some more. At this point he did something that took me aback and had me totally stumped. When I declined his request and said a final ‘no’ and told him I was leaving, he went down on his knees and folded his hands in plea! OhMyGod again. The mall was crowded and what the hell was he doing, creating a scene and getting us so much of undesired attention? I was embarrassed. People were staring at us. What a drama queen he is, I thought. He refused to get up until I gave in. I gave in, just to save myself from further embarrassment and stares. This boy knew how to have his way.

After walking around the mall some more, we found a quiet stair way connecting  two levels of the mall. It was silent and perfect for us to sit and talk. We sat on the steps. Conversation flowed. We spoke about his life in the US. My college life in Mumbai. His views on life in general. My views. And so on. It went on for a long, long time. Talking to him was so easy. Sometimes I would notice him just staring at me dreamily as I spoke. What, I asked. He kept telling me it was my eyes. They were arresting and it was hard for him to not stare into them. Right. Good dialogues, I told him. *Chuckles*. As usual, he was offended because I dismissed everything he sincerely said.

When we were both silent for a while, he pulled something out of the little bag he was carrying on his shoulder. “I got this for you”, he said. It was a tiny box. When I opened it, I saw in it a set of gorgeous earrings. He told me he had spent many hours choosing them for me. He made it a point to tell me that he “didn’t get anything for any of his other friends”. Wow. Why did he always treat me in this special way? And why did he want me to know that?

When I was quietly staring at the earrings, he asked me if I would mind if he put them on for me? Umm. I wasn’t sure. Would that be awkward? Instead of answering him, I told him we should go and find a mirror so I could see how they looked on me. With that thought, we tried to find our way back to one of the levels in the mall. We would find a mirror somewhere, we thought.

Instead, the door we got out of took us the parking lot of the mall. ‘Perfect’, Mint said. We can use the side view mirrors of all the parked cars. It was funny. We walked to the nearest car and both of us stood close enough to peer into the mirror together. I pulled out the earrings, and just as I was putting them on for myself, I had a change of mind. I decided to allow him to put them on for me. All along I told myself, I shouldn’t find that awkward. They are just earrings. Why would him touching my ear lobe be a sign of intimacy?

I told them he could put them on for me if he wanted to and his eyes lit up. He brushed aside me hair and put them on slowly and carefully. We continued to peer in the mirror. “Tell me, do you really like them?”. I swore to him I did. I really did. They were such gorgeous little things. “Thank you”, he said. When I told him it was funny he was thanking me after gifting me something, he said he was thanking me for allowing him to put them on for me.

Before I could respond, my phone beeped for the nth time. I had stopped answering my phone because I was too scared to tell my folks that I was still at the mall with my friend. I was supposed to be gone only for around 2 hours during lunch time. It was late evening by now. The party at my cousin’s place had begun. My friends were at her place and I wasn’t there myself, which was awkward for them. They were all furious. I knew I was in for big trouble when I got back. I told Mint I really had to leave. We walked to the exit together and he gave me another big hug before he let me go.

That day after the party, I had quite a fight with the BFF. She said we had planned our holiday in Bangalore together. If I wanted to keep disappearing to meet my friends, we needn’t have come together. I knew she was right and I didn’t know how to explain the inordinate delay to her. I just told her ‘my friend really didn’t let me leave’. She continued being mad at me. That was one of the biggest fights I’ve had with the BFF till date. Some years later when I introduced Mint to her as my boyfriend, her first reaction was “Oh, so this is the friend you ditched us for in Bangalore”. We still laugh when we think of it.

What brought this on? I was cleaning my jewellery box and I pulled these out. The earrings he gifted me on that day. I put them on and smiled as the rush of memories hit me.

Earrings

 

Posted in Blasts from the past, Splashes of Mint | Tagged: | 41 Comments »

Year 5 – Happy Anniversary, Mint

Posted by Pepper on March 26, 2015

Dear Mint,

We completed 5 years of marriage yesterday. Half a decade. Quite a milestone, isn’t it? I wanted to write this post yesterday, but we were wandering around town all day and by the time we stumbled back home, we were in a giggle induced, semi drunk state. Not the best state to write this letter in, I thought. Anyway, let’s not think about the delay and move on.

5 years! Do you remember all the wedding insanity that took place on this day 5 years ago? Given your memory, I am quite certain you don’t. I do, ofcourse. When I think of that day, I think of the sweltering Chennai heat, the over excitement, the exhaustion, my annoyance because of my uncomfortable hairdo, the beating of the drums during one part of the ceremony and the subsequent relief after it was all over. Yes, at the end of it all, the feeling that was most overpowering was that of relief. Relief, more than joy. After all, the amount of fight we had to put up to reach this stage, I was relieved to know we were done with it.

Some weeks ago, we were having a disagreement of sorts. You wanted me to stay up at night and play a board game and I was too sleepy to be willing to do that. At one point you said, ‘Why don’t you like staying up late anymore? You loved not sleeping at night at one time. You were so different when we were friends 12 years ago”. To which I jumped in and said, ‘Ofcourse, 12 years ago I was just 16. I was obviously a different person at that time”. And then I paused for a minute as the realisation hit me. We’ve been friends for 12 years! From a time when we were kids. It’s a long association.

When I look at the last one year, I see the house we’ve tried to build together.  I say ‘tried’ and not ‘have’ because it is still far from complete. But we’ve worked so damn hard for it, we’ve put in our blood and sweat and I see it as a cherished product of our labour. It may still be incomplete, it may be far from perfect, but it is ours. A place we can call our own. And this space we jointly own makes me supremely happy.

I don’t know where we stand today. We have almost no savings, we have a massive EMI and we haven’t made any smart financial investments. In fact, our finances are a mess. We hardly know where our money goes every month. We are yet to learn how to organise and plan our budget. We don’t know where life will take us next. When our sorted and well settled friends find out how we live on the edge, they gasp. It makes me laugh, because it reminds me of the song you sang to me all the time when you were ‘convincing’ me to give our relationship a chance. The lines, ‘Our friends would all make fun of us..And we’d just laugh along because we’d know..That none of them have felt this way’ from Hey There Delilah come to me often. I guess it is true, we may seem crazy to some,we may not have planned our life very well, but at the end of the day, what matters to us is that we are together.

I’ve written a letter to you on every anniversary of ours and I spent some time reading each one today. It is interesting to note how we have evolved, and yet, the essence of our relationship still remains the same. I love the good times we have together, but I also love our arguments and fights. I absolutely love the space we give to each other for such honest expressions. I love the underlying security it all comes with. Between us, there is no pretense. We know each other’s ugly sides pretty damn well. I’m so glad we don’t have to pretend being good when we aren’t.

So thank you, my dear idiot husband. For all the laughs, madness, fun times, cuddles, giggles,  drama, entertainment, fights, disagreements, arguments, space, support, love and above all, the blanket of security you wrap me in.

All my love,

Pepper

 

PS – Here’s the song we sang day and night in our early years.. I’m sure I’ve put it up earlier too, but what the heck, I love it and so, here it is again. Considering we were in a long distance relationship and I was unsure of where we were headed, every single line in this song held great meaning for us.

And since this is our 5th anniversary, let me go ahead and reminiscence. A flash back episode made me revisit the wedding madness. The cocktail party, the reception, the wedding ceremony, all brought back some fun memories!

Posted in Happy Week, Splashes of Mint | 19 Comments »

The silent judgement

Posted by Pepper on December 3, 2014

There are a few things that I keep mulling over time and again. This is one of them. It started off with my aunt complaining to me about Mint and how he doesn’t talk to her much even when he meets her. Again. Yes, this is a complain I have heard fairly often. That Mint doesn’t talk. I have tried telling people several times that Mint is a quiet person. And that I can’t change it.

The underlying truth is that this does bother me. I fear people mistaking his quiet, placid temperament for unfriendliness. Besides, it is much easier to bond with people if you talk to them. I think he misses out on that bonding. Engaging in conversations gives people around you an opportunity to know you. Verbal communication goes a long way in depicting your character and personality. I feel a little bad that people don’t know him too much only because he is quiet.

Even if I don’t enjoy talking, I still try to participate in conversations if we are socialising with new people. For example, I try to pick on common themes and share anecdotes from our own lives. Infact, when I find Mint not participating much, I even speak on his behalf. ‘Oh you take long in the shower too? You should see how long Mint takes. I’m always getting hysterical while waiting for him to come out!’, I chip in. I wish Mint would speak at such times and say that he takes long to shower too, and thereby connect and bond with the person who is jestingly complaining about his wife’s reactions to his long showers. I mean, I see that as the perfect opportunity to bond. We have the same story. Mint on the other hand will only laugh and give me a look that says, ‘Sounds familiar?’.

So he stays quiet in most intimate gatherings, talking mainly for the sake of politeness, not much else. I used to resent it a little earlier because I know he is a friendly and favourable person, and I wanted him to come across as one. I realised a little later that Mint absolutely does not care about how he comes across to the world. He does what suits him and gives a damn to the rest. Thinking about what impression he leaves behind in somebody’s mind is not his concern. Quite a good way to live your life, so I stopped thinking about it..

There is another little problem I face. I am chatty and I discuss my life with people around me often. Mint who is obviously an integral part of my life, is a different person when is with me. He is fun, talkative and awesome in general. So I find myself sharing those awesome snippets of our happy and playful life together. I even talk about how Mint has always spoken up for equality, how open minded and fair he is and more. Now when the same people meet Mint, I worry about my honest claims not being validated in their eyes. On one hand I truthfully tell them about how loud and playful we are together and how my husband raises his voice to protect me from the wrong doings of patriarchy, on the other hand they meet a guy who is serious and doesn’t seem to speak up too much. This contrasting picture bothers me at some level..

Anyway, I am gradually learning from Mint and letting go of my need to seek validation. Although at times I still feel like a child wanting to show off my shining trophy. He says as long as I know what I have is awesome, I shouldn’t want to prove anything to anybody. I know he is right. But the final straw for me came when my aunt kept praising my cousin’s husband. She said ‘He is such a nice guy’. Now, he is a good talker and a pro at connecting with people. He does come across as friendly and genuine, but I know from internal sources that he is a chauvinist pig. He ill treats people around him. And he is known to be nice only because he talks well? Quite sad, if we judge people by their ability and willingness to talk.

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 28 Comments »

How it ended

Posted by Pepper on November 2, 2014

Thank you, kind people. All your thoughts and comments on my last post are much appreciated. I owe you guys an update. Since I spoke about how it all began, I should also mention how it all ended. Infact, I am sorry I have taken this long to update this page. It lead some of you to believe that Mint and I were still feeling the strain. That is far from the truth and I felt utterly guilty for not updating this space when I saw some concerned mails.

My post was probably a knee jerk reaction. Maybe because I am absolutely not used to disputes that last more than a few hours. When the last one had not been resolved  by the next morning, it started upsetting me more than it should have. Anyway, it came to an end in a day. I also realised that I had taken this a lot more seriously than Mint had.

I remember being all upset the day I wrote the last post. I wondered how long it would take for us to thaw. When Mint got home after work, I glanced at him and then decided to ignore him. To my surprise, he seemed totally fine. He even chose to engage in some trivial talk. “Hey, the shoes we ordered for you online are here. Did you try them? Did they fit you?”. I was a little confused. So I responded to him only with a silent nod. I mean, I thought we were not talking to each other? Why are we discussing these inane things then?

It went on like that. Mint talking to me as though nothing had happened. Hello? I don’t want to return to normalcy unless we sort that out. Like I said, I need closure. But most importantly, I believe it is critical to discuss our differences if we want to avoid similar showdowns in future. We need to negotiate and reach an agreement that both of us are comfortable with. If we don’t do that, won’t we keep getting trapped in our old issues?

Looks like the guy didn’t think so. He was absolutely comfortable not discussing our past behaviour. Neither was he being cold to me anymore. After realising this wasn’t going anywhere, I decided to take matters in my own hands. I told him I wanted to talk about what had happened the previous day. Like I suspected, he seemed reluctant to go over the crap. Too bad. Not that I find the exercise very enjoyable. But what needs to be done, needs to be done. I’d rather get done with it by talking about it now than be caught in it again. Setting the tone for the future is imperative.

So I broached it after giving it some more time. And we spoke. I told him what angered me. He told me why he was mad. That was easy. Reaching a mutual agreement on what lines are not to be crossed in future called for a slightly longer discussion. But after some calm negotiation and bargaining, we were done. Back to being best pals.

It has been many days since we resolved it now. Realisation strikes me yet again. Mint has spoiled me too much with his forever affectionate gestures.  He has conditioned me to expect a million hugs and cuddles in a day. It is what made me feel so unprepared to face a tiff that lasted an entire day. So after a day when I went back to being his ‘guds’, the world seemed right once again. That is what he usually calls me. It is the shortened version of ‘gudiya’, something that my dad lovingly refers to me as. He picked it up from my father and eventually went on to modify it to ‘guds’. Perhaps that sounds corny and it may garner a lot of eye rolls, but needless to say, I love it.

I’ve known couples who barely fight. BFF#2 for example. She always tells me how she and her husband hardly find any grounds to disagree, let alone fight. I wondered how they did it. Mint and I are such vastly different people, we disagree and argue with each other often. But I love our instant ability to turn around and go back to being madly in love with each other. I’ve secretly come to enjoy the disagreements. They challenge my perspective, teach me how to defend my view point and as a result make me question, learn and grow.

And then there is that matter of underlying security. It indeed is the most comforting blanket. Perhaps, it is that security that permits you to cross boundaries at times. It is what makes you fearless of the consequences. Because you know, no matter what, you will be loved and cared for at the end of the day. It is also what assures you that the freedom and power you have bestowed on someone will never be abused beyond a point. It is what you lie wrapped in when you sleep at night.

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 16 Comments »

From a glass wall..

Posted by Pepper on October 28, 2014

I love writing posts that are joyous. They come to me easily. Writing about your hurt on the other hand, calls for some courage. To admit that your life is not as merry as you would like it to be is not easy. But here I am. Acknowledging the imperfections and baring myself. Well, it isn’t hard to guess that I feel very sullen and disturbed at the moment.

I’ve had two lousy fights with Mint in two days. It is emotionally draining. Moreover, the fights are so ridiculous, it gets me mad that the two of us can have such enormous fights over nothing! Ofcourse, in my mind, Mint is responsible for blowing it out of proportion. According to him, it is all my doing.

Two days ago, Mint and I were driving back from somewhere. He was at the wheel. Traffic was particularly chaotic at one junction. The car adjacent to us brushed against our side view mirror. It was such a minor collision, I did not believe it caused even a scratch. The driver in the other car looking into our car, mouthed a ‘sorry’ and raised his hand in apology. I smiled at him and told him it was okay with a gesture of my hand.

The next thing I know, Mint is racing up to that car and glaring at the driver with all his might. I turned to Mint and said, ‘Why are you glaring at him like this? The guy said sorry already’. Mint asked me, ‘When did he say sorry?’. I was surprised Mint had missed the silent mouthing and the hand gestures. So I told him, ‘He did show his hand’. Mint’s next sentence is what made me see red. His exact words were, ‘He did not show his hand’.

Huh? That statement can have only two implications. Either I am hallucinating. Or I am lying. I was furious beyond words. Because this is not the first time Mint has thoughtlessly dismissed something I have said. I instantly unbuckled my seat beat. I wanted to tap on the window of that car and get the driver to admit to Mint that he had indeed said sorry. I had this burning urge to furnish some evidence. Sometimes I have this undying need to prove myself when I know I am right. I didn’t even utter a word to Mint, but my expressions and action (the anger with which I unbuckled myself) may have conveyed to Mint just how furious I was.

My fury is what got him furious. ‘Why do you have to get so mad at everything? Why do you react like that. Why do you want to pick up a fight all the time?’. I couldn’t believe he had the gall to say that after passing that statement. When I asked him, he said he meant ‘He didn’t see the guy showing his hand’. Well then, your wording was all wrong. And that tends to happen all the time, he doesn’t word his statements right. Why can’t you watch what you say, I ask him? Why do you always stick to words, he asks me? He was screaming. It was only feeding my rage.

I had not even said a word to Mint when he passed that statement, let alone shouted at him the way I wanted to. He got that mad only seeing my expression and watching me unbuckle my seat belt. I thought that was unfair beyond words. Here I am, showing enough restrain to not scream when you dismiss something I have said with so much conviction. But do I not have the space and freedom to even react silently? My expression wasn’t even voluntary. I don’t think I was even conscious of it. And he had to pick at how angry I looked instead of apologising for a wrongly worded statement he made?

No, we didn’t sort this issue out. We merely stopped talking about it. I continued to blame him. He continued to blame me. We decided to let go. But I am sure this stayed between us. It sure stayed inside me. I always need closure and leaving something open ended like that bothers me deeply.

I do not have the energy to write about our second dispute. But it was *exactly* the same as the first one. He passed an unfair statement. Yes, he agreed later that the statement was unfair. This statement came after I had gone out of my way to do something for him. Obviously, when I heard that statement, I reacted and asked him what he meant by that. I know I sounded angry, but I maintain I was well within my right to exhibit atleast some anger after I had done so much for him. No, I didn’t expect a thank you from him. But the last thing I expected was that statement. And that is how it began again. Him screaming and asking me why I have to shout and fight for everything? After all, he was only asking me a question. The accusation always feels like a slap on my face.

So that has been the formula for our recent fights. He says something inappropriate. I react. He reacts because I react. And it goes on. I am guessing I can just put an end to all this unpleasantness if I do not react to the things he says and does, but that I think is very unfair and difficult. It will suffocate me if I am forced to always suppress my reactions. Even if my reactions are not extreme, he still expects me to have NO reaction and tell him whatever I have to say in a very calm and zen way, irrespective of how outrageous I find his words. Hah! Perhaps that doesn’t sound unreasonable, but it does not come easy.

We haven’t spoken after our last fight. It has been an entire day. He went on to watch a movie on TV right after we fought while I paced around, disturbed. How does he do it? And his behaviour is so out of character. I kept wondering what happened to my ever patient, ever caring and affectionate Mint? When I tried to swallow my ego and talk to him, he flatly refused to have any conversation with me. Great. He even left the house to go on and complete some chores without informing me. When I called him and asked him if he cared to let me know before he left, he just told me a cold ‘No’. I hung up, feeling a sudden ache in my gut.

I really wonder if I deserve such nastiness. Since those accusations have been hurled fast and thick, I have asked him if that is how he perceives me. Somebody who only loves to fight with him for no reason. On the other hand, I am the one who feels hurt by his thoughtless remarks and yet he is the one who blames me in the end.

And so he continues to sit on his throne of self righteousness. I really wish he would want to come up to me to console me instead of withdrawing like this. I know I did my part by trying to make amends with him, twice. We need to communicate with each other and figure out what is bothering us so much. I tried to get him to talk. It wasn’t easy going up to him when I expected him to come to me. I had to crush my pride. And yet, all I got from him in the end was arrogance and a blatant lack of will to make peace. So I let go. I know it is pointless to try again. Besides, my pride (or is it self respect?) will not permit me to go up to him once again. So I spend my day feeling distressed, angry and sad, while I suspect he goes about without much remorse? I don’t know. I am just so done with it all.

Posted in Chaos, Splashes of Mint, Uncategorized | 58 Comments »

Understand? You better understand!

Posted by Pepper on September 24, 2014

Look what I found while clearing my drafts.

****

Dear Mint,

If we’re at a friend’s place and I look at you questioningly and raise my eyebrows, it translates to, ‘I think we should leave and I’d like to know when you’ll be willing to get your ass out of the door’. It does not mean, ‘How are you?’ like you thought it did the other day. In return, you don’t have to give me a sweet smile and mutter something like, ‘I’m great, baby’, and then continue to lounge on the couch, refill your beer and watch the match. I hope you understand.

Thank you very much,

Pepper

****

This post was written a few years ago, but things have largely remained unchanged. Perhaps I need to design a crash course on ‘How to interpret nudges and signs’ for the husband. Ufff..

PS – The title is a dialogue from a shady Hindi movie.

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 13 Comments »

Sometimes I wonder..

Posted by Pepper on September 16, 2014

I wonder what happened to Mint. Each time I go back to old pictures, I feel a pang. Until we got married, he was in an extremely good shape, physically. Some people called him skinny, but I thought his body was very well toned. He had this youthful glow. And really, he looked like a complete baccha. I’m not exaggerating. You can see his pictures and I bet none of you will say he looked a day older than 20. I thought his boyish looks were irresistible.

And then we got married. And he got fat put on weight. I refuse to believe the food we cooked post marriage was fattening. Infact his diet before marriage was very unhealthy. He bought packs of ready to eat, frozen food for lunch everyday. Even when he cooked, he used packs of frozen, cut vegetables and canned food most of the time. I made sure we switched to using fresh ingredients after we started living together. We used limited oil. We didn’t eat very carb heavy food. Then how the hell did he keep getting fat? Was it because he quit exercising? But it isn’t like he exercised vigorously before we were married. And he was a skinny rat for the first 25 years of his life. Like I said, you have to see the pictures to believe just how skinny he was.

The fat also makes him look older now. Okay, fine. he isn’t exactly fat. He just has excessive stomach flab. And he doesn’t look old. He merely looks his age now (I think) , although he still believes he doesn’t. But me, I really miss the boyish looks.  The past 4.5 years of our marriage have been err, quite transformational for him. And I want to understand why. No, jokes about his ‘sufferings’ in our marriage will not be tolerated.

The other day when our friends were home, one of them picked up a photo frame that was lying around. It held a picture of ours from our just married days. ‘Oh look how young Mint looks in this one!’, the friend commented. ‘ But I was four and a half years younger back then!’ was Mint’s response. I chipped in, ‘Hello! I was too! Why does it only show on you?’. Mint said something like,’You look the same from the time you were 15. So it doesn’t say much’. Ofcourse, that was an exaggeration, but I let it go. The friends seemed to agree with him though, so he had an edge. I ended it back then, but I continue to wonder what happened. Oh well, he can’t look that young and child like forever. And what they say about our metabolism slowing with age must be really true. It’s such a scary truth.

Posted in Splashes of Mint | 22 Comments »

 
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