in pictures. A day out to the Science Museum with kids.

We celebrated Kabir’s birthday this year on a Saturday, a day before his actual birthday with a big party for all friends and family! A fun reptile theme for my reptile lover. Will do a post of our DIY birthday party soon!!

On Sunday, his actual birthday, we wanted to celebrate with just us, doing something he’d enjoy. So while looking around for things to do around Bangalore that he’d like (instead of heading out to the mall to play games again), we found the Science Museum near Cubbon Park. While Cubbon Park we frequent at least once a month, the museum was still unexplored.

In the end we finally didn’t make it that day. After a lovely brunch at one of the birthday boys favourite restaurant, Smoke House Grill, we headed back home. Considering we had to be back early to get him to revise for his year end school assessments.

But we did make it a point to go the weekend after.

So after a early lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. Again chosen cos he loves his burger! But frankly we were a little disappointed, the place isn’t quite what it used to be. While the staff was very courteous and playful with both the boys. It seems to be missing it’s old vibe. Would definitely pick Smoke House given a choice between the two, the next time.

On Kabir-shirt & shorts-H&M; shoes- Adidas Originals
On Ranbir-shirt & shoes- Zara kids; shorts-H&M;
On me- Pleated skirt-H&M; crochet lace top- Zara Woman; bag- Coach; Sunglasses- Urban Outfitters

Another reason we chose to go to Hard Rock was cos the Science Museum is just a short walk away. That’s something I miss so much here in India. Walking on the road. While in Europe for work or leisure….I walk and walk and I love it! For that matter even Shanghai and Hong Kong. In India, however it’s a luxury. Owing to bad infrastructure. Poorly maintained footpaths and the pollution. But… there are still some places where you can.

And the walk till the Museum was quite pleasant and refreshing.

After a 10-15 minute walk, we reached the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum.

The entry ticket is 50 Rupees per person and it is open from 10am-6pm.

The first floor was what Kabir enjoyed the most with fun activities and interactive set-up. The Fun Science section. The lower floor had a special exhibit of the Wright brother’s aeroplane along with the Engine Hall.

Even the little one was entertained by the machines and loved looking at his big brother doing things with them!

We also went for a short 3D movie which you have to pay for separately. While Ranbir got too restless and refused to sit through the show(daddy stepped out with him mid-way) , Kabir really enjoyed the shark and other fish coming right at him!

Some of the favourite things were the whispering circle, magic mirror, the vortex, coloured shadows and more!

All in all a day well spent. And I’d highly recommend a visit. It’s a refreshing change when struggling to find things to do around Bangalore with kids. Just make sure you are carrying enough water and stay hydrated. The building isn’t air conditioned and it can get quite warm, specially now in the summer. Also, we didn’t explore the entire space as the kids were already getting worn out. And we didn’t want to stress unnecessarily. Thought better to leave something for our next visit!

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on the road. New year-2018 in Sri-Lanka.

Hello World! And a Happy New year 🙂 (I know I am crazy late for that but well, a good wish is always relevant!)

I am back. When I left from here, I was a Mamma of one, prepping up my nursery for the little one to come. And now I have a almost 6 year old and a 1 year old in my tribe. Life’s been busy to say the least. After I’ve had my second one, life with one kid has seemed like a breeze. Now with 2 and work, I have had my hands pretty full. And have been putting all my creative energy on my insta account. But hopefully this year I’ll be able to do this space more justice too.

We started off the year with a trip to Sri-Lanka. And since a few of you asked for travel tips on my insta page. Here I am. Back on my blog after too long a break.

So it was my first time there. I loved the country. Its clean, has so much to offer despite being so small. Amazing food and humble and kind people. It was a short trip for us and we covered only a small part of it. Hope to go back again soon to explore more.

TOP EXPERIENCES

  • The Safari in Udawalawe
  • Visiting the beaches:
    • Unawatuna
    • Mirrissa
  • The Galle Fort
  • Turtle hatchery
  • Shopping at The Paradise Road in Colombo
  • Enjoying amazing sea food
  • Enjoying a cocktail by the beach, in Mirrissa, while watching the sunset

Sunset on Mirrissa Beach

The last sunset of 2017.

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At the Turtle Hatchery

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In and around Gallefullsizeoutput_36e9fullsizeoutput_36dcfullsizeoutput_36a1fullsizeoutput_369dfullsizeoutput_3686

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THE SAFARI IN UDAWALAWE

Udawalawe is smaller, a third of the size of Yala, covering 308 square km / 119 square miles BUT far less busy. Nonetheless, given its smaller size, it has a greater density of animal to size ratio, particularly elephants.
What you can hope to see.
Elephants. Udawalawe is well known for its elephants because they are attracted to the Udawalawe reservoir.

Leopords.Ahhhh the leopards! The main reason why most people do a safari in Sri Lanka.Leopard spotting is the big game at the parks. Unfortunately, leopards are very hard to spot because they are solitary and elusive mammals, hunting at night and sleeping during the day. We were not lucky enough to spot a leopord, but thanks to the keen eyes of my 5 year old, we did see a wild cat.

Peacocks. Both parks are a heaven for bird watchers, particularly for peacocks. Crocodiles. What my 5 year old was most keep to see. Reptile lover that he is. Unfortunately, we managed to spots only some bobbing heads in the lake.

Entry fees for Udawalawe National Park

In Udawalawe, the park entry fees are the same: $15 for one day or $30 for two days. However, hiring a jeep for half a day should be a bit cheaper, around 3,500 rupees ($24 / £16).

A safari Jeep will fit around 4-8 people (depending on the size of the vehicle), so when you share the cost between the number of people, it is not so expensive.

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SHOPPING AT PARADISE ROAD, COLOMBO

We planned our trip specially such, so that we would have a day on our way back in Colombo. So we could shop at the lovely and unmissable Paradise Road. A Home store not to be missed when in Sri-Lanka.

They have lovely mix of everything home. Table ware, Kitchen ware, cushions and more. And a lovely cafe too. Must must visit.

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WHERE WE STAYED

Sergeant House
This is a small luxury boutique hotel in Unawatuna, a town is Southern Sri-Lanka. Known for it’s coral reef and palm lined beaches. The hotel is in a colonial-style building with stylishly decorated rooms in a modern style. The pool and garden area is lovely and the chef serves up a delicious mix of Thai, Sri Lankan, and western specialties. You can choose each day from the menu, what you’d like them to serve you for the night.It’s wonderfully secluded and quiet. And the  Unawatuna beach with all its restaurants is just a short walk away. The staff is friendly and helpful. There is also a Spa offering some fantastic Ayurvedic massage.

We reached very early in the morning, as our flight timing was such. So the room was still occupied. The staff did their best to make us comfortable in a small area outside. And also served us break-fast which was a delight!

The service and food especially are something you can look forward to, in this boutique hotel.

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KEY INFORMATION

BEST PERIOD TO VISIT

Sri Lanka’s climate is rather complicated for such a small country, due to the fact that the island is affected by two separate monsoons – though this also means that there is usually good weather somewhere on the island, at most times of the year. When thinking about the best time to visit Sri Lanka, it’s worth bearing in mind that the basic pattern  can vary significantly from year to year, and that global warming has disrupted these already complex weather patterns.

 

The best time to visit the west and south coasts and hill country is from December to March, while the best weather on the east coast is from April/May to September.
Sri Lanka’s position close to the Equator means that temperatures remain fairly constant year-round. Coastal and lowland areas enjoy average daytime temperatures of around 26–30°C (often climbing up well into the 30°Cs during the hottest part of the day). Temperatures decrease with altitude, reducing to a temperate 18–22°C in Kandy, and a pleasantly mild 14–17°C in Nuwara Eliya and the highest parts of the island – nights in the hills can be quite chilly, with temperatures sometimes falling close to freezing. Humidity is high everywhere, rising to a sweltering ninety percent at times in the southwest, and averaging sixty to eighty percent across the rest of the island.

HOW TO GET THERE

At present, the only way to get to Sri Lanka is to fly into the island’s international airport at Katunayake, just north of Colombo. From the airport you can take a taxi or pre-book one through your hotel. Which is what we had done. We had the van waiting for us when we reached and we drove directly to Unawatuna. Approximately 2.5 hours of a drive on way.
Air fares remain fairly constant year-round – in general, the further ahead you book your flight, the better chance you have of getting a good deal. We flew Sri-lanka Air and it was a comfortable flight. Also, for us it was super short! Probably the shortest flight I have been on.

FOOD

Sri Lankan food is delicious, so make the most of it while you’re there. However, knowing where and when to find the good stuff may prove a harder task than you anticipated. Bowl-shaped hoppers (savoury rice flour crêpes) are a highlight, though they are typically only served first thing in the morning or in late afternoon. Rice and curry is a lunchtime affair, while kottu rotty (chopped flatbread stir-fried with eggs and vegetables) is only available in the evening.

Those familiar with Asia will be surprised at the lack of street food stalls; instead, some of the best food can be found in the kitchens of small guesthouses.

You can read more here. About the top 10 things to not miss while in Sri-Lanka to eat.

SAFETY

Yes, the country went through a 20 year civil war, but life has since returned to normal after the end of the war in 2009. Sri Lankan people are famous for their hospitality, and violent crimes towards tourists are virtually unheard of. I have met some of the kindest and most welcoming people in Sri Lanka! Just as you would for any other country that you travel to, exercise a reasonable amount of caution and keep an eye on your personal belongings when you head out. Don’t flash money around and leave expensive jewelry and electronics in your hotel room or at home.

LANGUAGE

Sinhalese and Tamil are the two primary languages spoken in Sri Lanka, but I’ve personally found that many people also speak or understand basic English. Most people who work in, or live around, major tourist destination cities like Galle, Mirissa, Weligama, Unawatuna, Colombo and Kandy will be able to communicate in conversational English.

Here are some useful phrases you should know before you go:

  • Ayubowan = may you live long, a formal way of greeting someone. You can also just say “hello” or “hi”
  • Istuti = thank you
  • Kohomadha = how are you?
  • Hari = okay, got it, fine (you often say this twice – “hari hari”)
  • Lassanai = beautiful

VISA

Most visitors will need to apply for a Sri Lanka tourist visa (except for nationals of Singapore, Maldives and Seychelles) but this is easily done online for a fee. My recommendation is to apply a week or 2 before your trip, it usually takes 24-48 hours for the visa approval to come through.

 

TIPS

  • As soon as you arrive make sure you get a SIM card with access on the Internet, it’s easy to find them also in the Airport. Using a local SIM is very cheap and 4G is great in all the touristic areas. I had the mis-fortune of losing my sim just when we got the new one. But then I was connected with whatsapp with my old number. So it was all good.
  • Don’t forget bugs and mosquitos repellent. Being a tropical country they are everywhere. The draw-back of all the lovely greenery you are surrounded with. We carried mosquito patches for the boys, but despite having them on, all the time, they still got bitten. 😦
  • Sri-Lanka is an extremely safe travel destination, locals are humble, good-hearted and welcoming. Respect their culture and you’ll enjoy an amazing time!
  • Unlike other popular tropical destinations, Sri Lanka remains relatively pure, untouched and unspoiled. Yes, there are massive tourist destinations and slightly shady beach parties, but you won’t find anywhere like Kuta, or Patong in Sri Lanka. With tourism rates projected to explode over the next few years, now is the perfect time to visit!

SRI-LANKA WITH KIDS

 

Sri-Lanka is absolutely family and kids friendly, there are so many activities to do all together and resorts and hotels welcome them with open arms.

FOOD

The food wasn’t a problem anywhere. The hotel made special meals for our one year old on request. My 5 year old was happy with all the sea-food on offer everywhere. The only thing you need to be a little careful of is the spice. The chilly could get a bit much for the kids.

Sri-Lankan food, which is very similar to our Indian cuisine is something you can find everywhere. Its also easy to find westerner restaurants that serve Italian.

SLEEP

Our hotel arranged a crib and high-chair. As would most resorts on request.

ON THE GO

The secret to traveling with a 1-year-old can best be summed up in two words: Be prepared. Whether you’re going a short distance or far away, bring a large diaper bag stocked for every eventuality.

That means lots of easy-to-handle snacks (like dry cereal, fig bars, or crackers), milk, water, plenty of diapers and wipes, a sweater in cool weather, two changes of clothes (in case of diaper blowouts, carsickness, or other spills), extra clothes for you (you never know when you’ll become part of the mess), comfort objects (bear, blankie), and multiple diversions (such as board books, small toys, and finger puppets). Also, ensure your baby bag is equipped with a changing pad. If not carry disposable sheets. You never know where you might have to do a diaper change in an emergency!

On airplanes, travel early in the day to avoid delays. If you can afford it, buy a separate seat for your toddler (and take a car seat on board) to give everyone more room. Give your child something to eat or drink during takeoff and landing to encourage swallowing, which helps reduce painful pressure in the ears. Having your child suck on a bottle, breast, sippy cup, or pacifier works well.

TRANSPORTS

  •  Uber (app android e IOS) works well in Colombo and is super convenient. From Unawatuna, we hired the van to move around to the nearby areas.
  • For a daily field trip rent a taxi driver. We hired a van as we were a big group and needed the space with the kids. In Sri-Lanka, like in India, the car seat for kids is not mandatory.

a little note. prepping the nursery.

The crib is set up once again. Kabir’s old crib and current bed will now be little baby boo2’s! Life’s little circles? 🙂 Set it next to our bed, just like Kabir’s was before. 

Another few days and it’ll have a tiny little thing lying in it next to me…and we can’t wait. ❤️ 

Kabir for one has been praying every night to God to send his baby sister soon now. I mean it is already December!!!😄 The first thing he had to say the morning of first December was…”Mamma!!! It’s December…has the baby come out?!” 😄😍😍🎄 This little one isn’t really in a hurry to face the world outside though! Unlike Kabir who was out the minute I turned full-term, this one is still laying low at end of week 38 now…😊

in pictures. cooking and baking with my sous chef..and The chocolate cake…

On weekends, when the house is quiet, we bake. (Provided we have all the ingredients at home!😄) My sous chef being my  4 year old son. “Mamma can I …?” “I want to break the egg!” A happy mess of flour and sticky hands. Standing next to me on a stool pulled up to the work surface. 

From when he was barely able to walk, he’s been around me when I’m cooking in the kitchen. Then, I would hand him a few veggies in a pan and hand him a spatula. And he’d be happily cooking away 🙂

Now he demands to be a part of the process! I’m going to do it…And so, I take his hands and I try and teach him to break an egg and mix and fold. His favourite part being licking off the leftover batter 😄 And then he waits patiently for the cake to get done! 

So finally here goes the recipe for my go to chocolate cake..made special by all these times that we’ve baked it together and then gorged it together! And ofcourse the…”mmmmmmmm…. Mamma it’s yummy!!” “You are the best!”
After experimenting with a few recipes, this one is pretty much fool proof. 🙂 

The Best Chocolate Cake

The Chocolate Cake combines cocoa and coffee to create a chocolate lover’s dream. A simple ganache recipe to top it makes it perfect!

This cake is dark, moist, rich and incredibly decadent! 
The Best Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sugar (I like my cake less sweet, you can add more if you prefer)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. Hershey’s or Cadburys work great. 

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sea-salt

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup strong black coffee (I use nespresso pods)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (purer the better)

Directions:

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. (Or simply use a size you have, you can cut in half after its cool and frost as you desire.) Set aside.

In the bowl combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Sieve the cocoa and flour, so it has no lumps. Mix with a spoon, until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.

In another bowl mix the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes; slowly add the dry ingredients and beat again. The batter will be thin.

Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Frost as desired. This cake pairs beautifully with a simple chocolate ganache. You can also do a chocolate butter cream frosting if you prefer!

So there it is…for all those I promised the recipe to:) Try it and let me know! 😘

in pictures. Old world charm…

The old world charm of putting flowers in your hair in a bun… something so nostalgic and lovely about it. In south India it’s quite the tradition, to infact put flowers in your hair (mostly jasmine) every morning after a bath! Though I don’t indulge in that luxury every day…in this festive time of the year, I did..And it felt lovely! Coupled with the bright pink of my Nicobar kurta, it was a match made in heaven 😍 

I don’t know if it’s just me…but the impromptu shoot on the day of Bhai Dooj, of the three of us (couldn’t manage to get both the boys together sadly:() somehow reminds me of old oil paintings… And I love the feeling! Always a sucker for all things old and vintage…✨✨✨ 

On me:

Kurta from Nicobar

Pants from Manan

Earrings from Amrapali at Good Earth
Chappals-Gift from husband from a recent trip to Ahmedabad 🙂 
On Kabir:
Kurta and churidars from Anokhi

in pictures. I am a zombieeee….

So this is the third year for Kabir dressing up for Halloween for school. And every year we ask him what he wants to be and then try our best to turn him into that character or object to the best of our ability!!!

The first time round he wanted to be a rocket and he was…the most cutest adorable lil rocket ever! The second year …he was his favourite character ever …The Hulk!!! While the rocket needed some bit of our creativity, hulk was easy with a ready costume from H&M and his favourite hulk hands to …SMASSHH!!!

This year was more special…Kabir decided he wanted to be a zombie! He has this thing for zombies and monsters and ghosts and Dracula… and everything scary and dark! So well…a zombie he became! Woke up super excited to get dressed as a zombie… while daddy took up the task to create his bloody t-shirt, my job was the make up! For which he sat so patiently..only occasionally squirming when I was covering his eyes with Kajol! 😄 After a good hour or so of hard work with red paint, water colour and a hair dryer, dads master piece of a t-shirt was ready!! Meanwhile I was at it on the make-up! Kajol, my wine red lip-stick, concealer and some white paint did the trick! His reaction when he saw his face was just priceless!!! How happy someone can be to look sooooo scary!!!😂 The last bit was the hair and voila we had a zombie in the house!!! He was totally in character in school too…with the whole walk and talk… “I aaammmmm a zombieeeeeee….” “I’m coming to eaaaaatttt yooouuuuuuuuu….!!!””

To see him so happy was so satisfying! We did rock as parents a one hundred percent as Kabir would say it! 😍😘😘😘

Happy Halloween 2016 y’all!!👻👻👻

in pictures.Dussehra celebrations in white… 

Continuing the festive season dress up… for Dussehra this time. Celebrating the victory of goodnover evil dressed in white as family. Celebrated in different ways across India. Though I missed Kabir seeing the burning of the effigies which happens in the northern part of India. But we celebrated it with tikka and gifts, from Sapan’s side of the family. And it was wonderful…