After 10 gazillion watsapp messages, incessant laughter after each message and a lot of planning, 2 moms, 2 single friends and 2 toddlers flew approximately 6000 miles, to Italy, for an adventure that we will talk about for the rest of our lives.
An adventure that reminded us that our friendship had survived so many years, countries, weddings, babies and the demands of motherhood.
An adventure, we will laugh about till we cry, even at 65.
An adventure, I want little I to go on, when she becomes a mother.
2 moms traveling with our respective little ones, without a single minute to ourselves.
And 2 single beauties travelling with us, clueless about what was going to hit them.
But we survived.
Because though we were all at different stages of our lives, what kept us together was our insatiable appetite for travel, and food.
So, there we were, foodies, including the 19 month old, little I who is deeply in love with food and a 3 year old, little G, who is an intensely devoted pasta lover, all ready for a trip of our lifetime.
First we eat, then we do everything else, a single-minded approach to the trip.
All we needed were strollers, emergency food for the little ones, a fully charged phone, a company that paid for unlimited roaming internet data usage, a GPS and our hungry selves.
Also, when you travel with toddlers and food lovers you pretty much know what’s possible and what’s not.
A five hour tour of the Colosseum or fresh ravioli dunk in the extraordinary truffle sauce.
A trip down the history lane or a memorable walk to the famous restaurant in Florence.
An old church to please the soul or a generous helping of a creamy risotto with warm, out-of-the-oven olive bread, to satisfy the stomach.
A busy, touristy sight or a quiet lunch of delicious, home cooked Tuscan delicacies with pane tuscano. (A tuscan bread without salt.)
Long queues outside the Vatican or a leisurely meal of freshly prepared gnocchi, a platter of local soups, crisp insalata caprese with mozzarella, a glass of wine, and artichokes lovingly sautéed in garlic and chilli oil.
A long stay in one place or a road trip with bottomless knick knacks, and a playlist of favourite songs.
Just another bite of a gelato or a big, numbing bite of focaccina (gelato sandwiched in a traditional Italian bun.)
A non-stop walk or a stopover at a restaurant that served unlimited, mouth-watering bruschettas with a glass of a sparkling orange Spitzer.
It was exhausting to walk to the Spanish steps.
But exhilarating to walk to a local bakery.
Italy is beautiful, but the food there, is breathtaking.
You haven’t eaten a tomato, until you have eaten one in Italy.
You haven’t tasted mozzarella, the way it tastes in Italy.
This is where you know, what ‘fresh’ tastes like.
Of course, there were child tantrums on the way, tired mothers struggling to keep up, lost and found routes, single ladies wanting a bit of space from all the babydom, calculating long lists of expenses, neat pickpocketing that ruined our mood for a day, but all this against the backdrop of sunflower clad fields and Tuscan villas made it as picturesque, in a weird way.
And of course, what-should-we-taste-next always kept us going.
A trip with your girlfriends after you have become a mother is extremely liberating.
It’s like creating new memories with your old self, while walking your most precious creation in the stroller.
Now I have a playlist that will forever remind me of our road trip to Tuscany and Florence.
I can never eat pasta without thinking about this adventure.
I don’t think anyone of us can ever forget the taste of that spaghetti aglio olio secretly cooked late one night.
I can never forget that pure taste of olive oil.
The luscious olives, the fresh custard filled tarts, the iced espresso shots.
The sight of little I biting into the straight-from-the-tree, juicy plums and the fresh basil.
The non-stop clicks on every camera.
The excitement to dress up every morning.
The what-to-wear-tomorrow dilemma.
The fake posing for a pretty shot.
Those few, relaxing moments by the river.
The sudden shopping bursts.
The ginger spiced Indian tea that would get us started.
And the infectious, loud laughter, just like old times.
It’s a beautiful feeling to know that you can start off exactly where you left with some of your friends, after surviving motherhood.
Taking a trip with them, with little I by my side, was definitely exhausting but it made me plain happy, and happiness in simple things is all that matters in the end.
It will always remind me to teach little I the most important lesson of life, to always be herself and do things for herself even as life happens.
Mothers, stay in touch with that precious bunch, especially those who are ardent food lovers.
Because Julia Child once rightly said, that people who love food are the best people in the world.
I’m glad I did this.
For myself, for little I.
Ciao Italy, you were delicious.