Priceless.. Post 31

After the rant yesterday, it is only right that I talk about the wonderful people I know here.

I have mentioned before about how slowly, this city that we live in, has become home for us. We have lived a nomadic lifestyle ever since we got married. Moving cities, continents, enjoying making new friends, exploring different ways of life.. Each city had it’s highs and lows, and each phase had a different flavour.

This place that we are in now, has been idyllic, if I am honest. Living in a lovely, quiet, peaceful suburb, knowing that you have friends that you can rely on. Knowing that there are friends that watch your back, knowing that there are people you can count on. Knowing that there are people I can call – any time in the night, if I need to, in case of an emergency.

The love and concern that come in some boxes of food that concerned friends send when they know that I am not well, or offers of picking up daughter from school, or taking her for a play-date, when I am not well, just so that I get some rest.. Priceless, as they say. Simply priceless. That feeling of being cared for, a home away from home… How different would life be if not for such wonderful friends, who make such a huge difference.

And that completes the NaBloPoMo! Thank you, my wonderful blog friends, who have been so supportive of the non-stop rubbish that I churned out every day 🙂

Trans-Continental Baking Experiment – A Chocolate Mud Cake

A mere two or so years ago, I was the sort of person, who would have looked down her nose at even the concept of ‘meeting people online’. I could not understand how people could make friends with people they met online.

Even when I started blogging, I had no idea that there is a blogging community and that you would interact with others – to say that I was completely clueless would be the biggest understatement. Which is why this is even more amazing for me. One, to meet so many wonderful people on the internet, who you can so identify with, with similar ideas and two, to collaborate with 5 women across the world in a baking experiment, of all the possible things.

It all started with Goofy Mumma(GM) sent a bunch of us (‘A’ , Monika, Trish and me) an email asking for a chocolate mud cake recipe. I don’t bake too many chocolate cakes, so I was of little help. ‘A’ sent across the most delicious sounding recipe from here.  GM tried it and had a few questions and doubts. A flurry of emails went back and forth.  ‘A’ went through the effort of making 2 cakes, following slightly different methods and came out with the most gorgeous(and I am sure,  delicious) cakes. Not just that, she recorded everything she did. And that prompted Monika, myself and Trish to give it a try and GM to give it a second try.

The first time I tried it, I totally forgot to check whether I had enough dark chocolate and realised just as I was making it, that I had run out of dark chocolate. Thankfully, I found a huge slab of white chocolate in my pantry. I also added 50 gms  of cocoa, by replacing it instead of 50 gms of the self-raising flour. I had a really runny mixture and it took me ages to get the cake done. I had also made the mistake of buying a pan of the wrong size.  I had wanted to pick up a 9 inch pan, but ended up with an 8 inch one instead, stupid me! So I had enough batter for an 8 inch cake as well as 16 cupcakes. I was literally praying that it does not become a disaster. I am normally very, very particular about following cake recipes exactly. While I play around with other recipes, baking, I feel, is quite an exact science and I am loath to use approximations or substitutions. So having made so many changes, I was quite apprehensive about the result.

My worry only added, when at the end of 45 minutes(the time mentioned in the recipe, the batter was still liquid in the oven. Finally after 2 hours, and a lot of poking and prodding, the cake was done, albeit with a bunch of cracks.

Not a pretty cake at all. The cupcakes turned out beautifully, not a single crack and they were ready in 45 minutes time – they were just gorgeous, and I forgot to take pictures. In my defense, I had a busy day, I was having friends over for dinner, and had a lot on my mind. Well, as they say, looks are deceptive. The cake was the most divine tasting cake ever! It was moist and absolutely delicious! My friends took home the leftovers. I kept aside some for Poohi which disappeared the very next day. The cupcakes went to work with husband and were never seen again.

Inspired by the gorgeous results that the others had with the recipe, I was tempted to give it one more shot. This time, I was determined to follow the recipe properly and follow all the tips and suggestions that everybody else had added after their own experience with the cake.  So I went and bought myself a stash of dark chocolate and set about it all over again. You know, when I plan to do something right, I almost definitely make some really dumb mistake. This time, I ended up pouring the chocolate mixture into the flour, instead of the eggs. In my defense, both the bowls were next to each other. I know, it is a lame defense. Then on, I followed everything, and hoped that this time, my cake turns out pretty.

This is how it turned out. Not as bad as the previous time, but still with some cracks.

So to take the attention away from the sad cracks, I just inverted it and dusted it with icing sugar. The dusting was not done very well, though.

A slice of chocolate mud cake anyone?

The most amazing part of this experiment was that feeling of being part of a group, knowing that someone, even if on the other corner of the world, was there to talk to, to ask for suggestions.. The sort of tips and information that just flowed in those emails was absolutely wonderful! We discovered things which we took for granted was new information for somebody else, and learnt some really cool tips from the others.. It was such a collaborative effort. The joy at seeing my friends’ gorgeous cakes was more than seeing my own.  I would refresh my inbox every time I could, just in case, you know 🙂 Girls, thank you so much for all that! GM, A BIG thanks for starting it all off.

To see the other gorgeous, yummilicious cakes, hop over to ‘A’s, GM’s, Monika’s and Trish’s. And if any of you are in the vicinity here, please drop over, I have my last attempt stowed away in the freezer 🙂

Friendships beyond boundaries..

My three year old daughter started nursery in a school last week. Yesterday, she talked about ‘her friends’.

So I asked her who her friends were. She replied, ‘my friends’. So I asked their name, and she replied, ‘I dunno’. So I asked, ‘What do you call her’ and she replied, ‘My friends’.

I gave up. I was talking to her key worker this morning and she said that daughter had indeed made some friends. So I mentioned the conversation above and she reassured me that it is completely normal. Children connect with other children, without even needing parameters such as names.

I have always noticed how Poohi does not notice race, or colour , in others. And we never mention it either. Children adapt so well to people, based on how different people behave with them. They know, instinctively, who can be approached and who cannot. This nursery, employs the same concept. They just let the children mingle and decide for themselves, who they are comfortable with. I was talking to another mum, while waiting to pick up daughter on the way back, and she was mentioning how she was not happy with this approach. I had found it nice, that they let the children decide for themselves, while she felt that a child would have felt more comfortable if they are introduced to each other formally and told a bit about themselves.. And I don’t know which approach is better, to be honest. I guess it totally depends on the child and what makes him/her comfortable. Some may be comfortable with a little more adult guidance, while others might be very independent.  Especially children for whom, this is the first time away from their parents, a bit more adult guidance might be comforting.. for others like my daughter – it might not make a difference either way.

This reminded me of something that I read a couple of days back.

Babies come to us unconditioned spirits. We condition them to our reality, but who is wiser to the TRUTH.

I have been reading a lot of books, I had never heard about, thanks to my library where I can never spot any of the best sellers. The only redeeming thing is that I get to take 20 books, so I pile on, every book I can lay my hands on.  I also end up picking up a lot of Indian (or Indian origin) writing. This book was one of the good ones.  Hindi-Bindi Club by Monika Pradhan.

It was the story of two generations.Three mothers who are first generation immigrants to America and their three daughters. It was interesting to see how dynamics shifted throughout the story. One of the mothers said this in the book and it touched a chord for me. And I guess, I found it more interesting because of the part about cultures clashing and it also gave me a perspective of how my life would be , if I chose to stay here.

I am in the phase, where I want to write(hence the post), even when I have no time, so please forgive me for these ramblings and for not blog hopping, and not replying to comments.. Will get to it.

Of daughters and mothers and friends..

Does anything sound sweeter to one’s ear than the delighted giggles of a child, thoroughly enjoying herself ?

After, Poohi not getting to see any animals, last week, we wanted to ensure that she got to have some fun this weekend. And it was not very difficult to achieve either.. She had been invited to a birthday party, and ended up having a ball of a time too! And that was just the start of the weekend.

It was in a soft play area where the children went crazy! Climbing up obstacles, and zooming down giant slides to end up in the ball pool! It was fun to watch her collapse in giggles as she hits the balls 🙂 It took me back to the time in London, where we used to go to these soft play places, very regularly.There was one, very close to where we lived and there the parents were supposed to go with the child – on to the play area. So to be honest, it was as much fun for me as it was for her.

Those days, husband used to be working away from home – 5 days a week 😦 , so we used to do a lot of mum-daughter fun stuff. The soft play area was on of our favourites! We used to climb right to the top and zoom down the huge slides, ending up in huge ball pools  – huge enough even for mums to get submerged 🙂 It used to be amazing exercise too – for me 🙂 Made up for all the junk that I used to eat 🙂

That was the time when, I ‘fell in friendship’ with a dear, dear, dear friend. She was my husband’s ex-colleagues wife. Funnily enough, we had never met before we accidently ran into them at a restaurant. We started talking on the phone and hit off instantly!  Both our husbands had been very busy travelling and we went on our annual India vacation and we never met again for the next three months. We did keep in touch on the phone all the time though.. Finally, we ended up meeting at a play group near her house and from that day on – I think we met every single day  – barring the weekends. She had 2 daughters, a 5 year old and a 1.5 year old- the sweetest little children! . Her younger daughter and mine hit off too 🙂 Both their names were similar sounding and both of them referred to each other with the same name and funnily they, even looked similar. We used to be asked by people of the road if they were cousins 🙂

Those days, were probably one of the best times, of my life.. We used to be inseparable.. We used to meet at the play group every day – and then walk around the town aimlessly – talking away, go to the park, and let the kids run around having fun.. and yet feeling as if time was not enough.. there was so much more to share and so little time. It was a truly magical time.. We used to share what we cooked. What she cooked and I baked, to be honest :), share our thoughts on everything possible.. gossip , have serious discussions… watch our little girls have fun while we, big girls had the time of our lives too 🙂

DSC09305Here’s a pic of the 2 cheeky monkeys running around in the park 🙂

The amount of fun all of us had, was amazing.. What absolutely took the cake, that my friend’s elder daughter and Poohi got along very, very well too – from the moment they met! They even had a sleep over at our place and my daughter could not stop talking about ‘chechi'(elder sister) for ages after that..

What brought on, all this reminiscing? Well, it’s been a year since I saw her last. They returned to India last year, this time, and to be honest, it broke my heart.. Everything felt so empty.. Daughter used to look for her friend, in vain, every time, she went to the play groups, to the library or the parks…We are still in touch and we can still talk away for ages on gtalk or on the phone.. and it is almost as if she has never been away.. But it is amazing how much we still miss each other..  Just makes me wish, how wonderful it would have been, if our friends did not have to move away, or if we could all live nearby.. how wonderful that would have been..

Weekend Update : I have to say that this weekend, while Poohi had a wonderful, wonderful time, I got the bestest compliment from a little 7 yr old girl:) She told me that my daughter and I look like a ‘pair of twins’ :), if only I had been a little shorter 🙂 For an almost 33 yr old to be told that she looks ‘just like’ a 3 yr old is huge 🙂 Coming from the mouth of a babe – I am going to consider it totally true 🙂 And to make it even better- I even drove the Audi !!!! Yay!!!! Even the fact that it was just around our estate did not detract from my excitement!!! Like, my daughter says, ‘I’m so excited and happy’!!!!