Aarushee Haksar loves to bake. She surprised her mother Ratika Kaul Haksar in January with a special coffee-flavoured cake that she baked for Ratika’s birthday all by herself, with instructions on the phone from her grandmother. The Chennai-based 10-year-old’s interest in baking is courtesy her nani (maternal grandmother), who lives in Bangalore and with whom Aarushee spends at least one-third of all her vacation time.
Granny time: Ratika Haksar wants Aarushee to spend at least one-third of all vacation time with her grandparents. Khushboo
“Nani teaches me how to bake cakes, cookies and sometimes even cook Kashmiri food,” says Aarushee. The little chef has also been learning how to make biryani. “I have not learnt it fully yet,” she says.
Ratika, a jewellery designer and stylist who works mostly with her photographer husband Sharad Haksar, remembers her own summer vacations as being different. “It did not matter which part of the country we were in, pre-1987 holidays meant travelling to Srinagar and spending time at my grandparents’ home. We would be around six-seven cousins and all of us would spend time roaming around the gardens—Nishat, Shalimar, or at the Jhelum river which was a 5-minute walk from home. Breakfast would be kandur tshot (bread from a Kashmiri bakery) and kehwa (Kashmiri tea) and my dadi (paternal grandmother) used to always cook special treats for us,” she recalls.
Ratika’s grandparents’ house was razed in a fire in 1987 and summer holidays were never the same again. “I like to send Aarushee to my mother’s place for some time during the vacation because I believe that spending time with grandparents is a real joy. My only regret is that my mother’s house is not full with cousins and relatives like my dadi’s house used to be. But these two get along like a house on fire, so neither is ever bored.”
Besides cooking, Aarushee intends to brush up her photography skills. “Daddy’s already taught me how to download images and save on my computer, to make them look brighter, to crop them. Now, I want to learn how to frame images with my digital Nikon camera.” She talks excitedly about a photo shoot at a new Italian eatery in Chennai for which she accompanied her father. She was allowed to take photographs of some of the pasta dishes, while her father photographed other things.
Besides photographing and cooking, Aarushee spends her vacation time working on craft projects and playing computer games. “In our apartment complex, we don’t have many young children, so I try to fix up as many play dates for Aarushee during vacations as possible. Having friends around is the best way to spend a long day,” says Ratika.
The Artisans Institute trains students in the art of baking in six-day workshops. Children can try their hand at moulding chocolates, making chocolate-coated biscuits, baking brownies, cookies and more.
Call: Lisa Isaac/Jaya Uday (09841057422/0996203486)
When: Through the year
Age group: 8 upwards
Cost: Rs2,000 (includes all baking material)
Where: Z-292, 2nd Avenue, Anna Nagar, Chennai