Home Sweet Home

It has been a very hard October. My job has consumed me, my life and everything there is to consume. I have burned out in the process. We had our vacation planned around this time to celebrate Diwali with our folks in India. It was to be a 4 week, much deserved vacation but due to work pressure and such wholly silly reasons, we had to cut it down to less than 3 weeks. But atleast we got some break.

Packing was a nightmare in between  finishing the last of my assignment and a sick child. I thought I might not make it to the airport at all. But we did and it was such a relief to sit in the Bahrain airport lounge sipping my green tea and watching Mimi play in the family room full of toys. She was on antibiotics and hence experiencing some temporary relief.

Finally we did board the flight and it took us many hours before we landed in God’s own country – Kerala and more so to my mum’s and dad’s new home. We were spellbound by how beautifully this house was constructed and it radiated such tranquility and positive energy that its indescribable. Just the right place for burnt out souls like us. Whats bonus is, it was my parent’s home and it was waiting for us with all the  love and affection.

My parent’s new home in Kerala (India)

The gate and the compound walls are still under construction and my parents are planning to have a beautiful garden and a vegetable patch too. They have their own well to draw out sweet tasting water and coconut and jackfruit trees in their backyard.

My daughter who was recuperating from an ugly bout of ulcers in her mouth and throat seemed to forget about her pain and enjoyed frolicking around in the mounds of sand in the front yard. She lay on it, built sand castles and pretended to be on the beach. I sat watching her enjoy herself in the mild drizzle and enjoying the feeling of the wet sand between her fingers and toes.

Our everyday routine goes like this :

  • Wake at whatever time we please and find that a sumptuous breakfast is ready
  • Mid morning- laze around reading or finishing some writing project while sipping on some green tea
  • have a sumptuous lunch over conversations and loud laughter
  • take a nap or read some more
  • go and meet my granny and my uncles, cousins and aunts in the evening or a visit to the temple
  • come back and watch some tv- reruns of Masterchef
  • have a light dinner and then retire to bed or browse the internet.
Stone art by Mimi

I could do this forever or atleast for the rest of my vacation. But from here we are off to my husband’s homeland in the north of India- Delhi. Being in Delhi during Diwali is absolutely exciting. I am extremely pleased for Mimi to be a part of these festivities as it would be a new experience for her.

I have two more weeks of family fun and excitement waiting for me before I return to Bahrain and to my stressful job. Blogging has taken a back seat and I miss it terribly. I hope to keep up even on my vacation else you’ll can imagine me having fun shopping, eating and enjoying my vacation with my folks here in India.

Mimi’s 3rd Birthday with Nigella’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

One of my friends mentioned on my Facebook, against one of Mimi’s photographs – Tempus Fugit ( Latin for Time Flees/Flies) and it stayed with me for the longest time. Is there no way to capture it all and bottle it up or have moving photos like that in Harry Potter books? No videos can ever do justice to the essence of the moment. It can never capture the way my baby smells ( at each age; in months, at 1, at 2 and now at 3 years of age, she smells differently), the way she pronounces Mamma and how it has changed to a more definitive and more confident, Mamma now that she has made that transition from being a baby to a toddler. She has very strong preferences about the colour and the kind of clothes she wants to wear and the sort of food she eats and the activities that she wants to do. She can recognize most of the fruits, vegetables, colours, things, people’s names, shapes, animals, birds, numbers until 30, all the alphabets and talks in whole sentences. When did this change come about? It is most extraordinary when I see her perform with such poise and confidence her rhymes with her own set of actions to go with it. She is growing up way too quickly. I feel helpless and happy at the same time watching her grow up so quickly and into this fiercely independent individual. Birthdays are such powerful reminders of how time is just slipping by without warning. I want to hold on to each moment, want to savour it by being in it, revelling and participating in it. But countless such brilliant moments just pass by without recognition and sometimes even without awareness.

Her 3rd birthday was an eddy of emotions like that

It was unfortunate that on her 3rd birthday she was very sick; down with a severe throat infection and high temperature. Medicines kept her spirits up but not mine. I complained that it wasn’t fair that she should be sick on her special day. All my plans of making a cake and sharing it with her schoolmates were thwarted by this disease that seems to afflict my child ever so often. Sweet and considerate friends came over to make her feel special with gifts in tow. She blew a solo candle on a banana chocolate chip muffin that I had on hand. She was beaming from all the attention she got and the songs that were sung for her. She did her happy dance.

She got better a few days after that and we quickly planned a party to thank all our friends who made Mimi’s day by either visiting or calling to shower her with their blessings. A birthday party, that was simple and uncomplicated as Mimi’s own concept of what birthdays are. When I asked her what she thought about her birthday, she said, ” Cake, blow candles, sing birthday song for Mimi”

Such a simple philosophy and so much I learn from her each day about keeping things simple.

Mimi loves chocolate and a chocolate cake is just what she wanted. So Nigella Lawson’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake was just right for this simple occasion. I was inspired to try this cake from Thanh’s blog. Nigella’s bakes are fool proof and so uncomplicated. Quite like Mimi’s philosophy. Nigella’s old fashioned Chocolate cake was just right for the mood. Simple, homely and delicious. The sour cream addition to the cake the frosting lent a special flavour. It is a special cake and you can take my word for it. In the recent past, I have collected some real good chocolate cake recipes and this one’s an addition to that best- chocolate- cake- ever list.

All photos courtesy : Namit Bhatia

I changed the recipe a little by doubling the quantity of baking powder and baking soda and have incorporated that change in the recipe card in the post. Instinctively it felt that the original quantities of the baking powder and soda might not be enough to hold the cake up. I was glad that I made those changes in the quantities as the cakes turned out beautifully fluffy and moist too. The chocolate flavour was rich inspite of the fact that the recipe used only cocoa powder. I strongly feel that it was the sour cream, that did the trick.

My daughter and her friends enjoyed their cake slices and more so enjoyed picking out the M&Ms off their slices. The other guests ( my friends) enjoyed it too. Both the cakes were gone soon. Disappeared! with only the crumbs to show as evidence. It is with a lot of trepidation that I embark of baking special day cakes as most of the times, the pressure gets to me and my whole effort is wasted. The cake almost never turns out to my satisfaction. But this one did. Nigella promised that it would and it did. That is why I love her and turn to her for special occasion bakes.

It was such a joy to see all the children in Mimi’s party waiting for the cake cutting ceremony. Waiting with bated breath as the candles were being lit and as the glow of the candles reached their eyes,  the cake was the center of their universe. There was a race to blow all the candles in a single breath and once the candles were blown out the eager eyes trailed the path of the knife that sliced the cake laced with their favourite M&Ms. M&Ms were devoured first and then the cake with all the sumptuous attention it deserved. Happy children made everybody smile and the atmosphere was set for the rest of the luncheon. From then on it was more giggles and laughter, conversation and chatter. It was beautiful party indeed.