For quite a while, the fact that E=MmmCake2 was closing down was the talk of the town. One heard it being mentioned in conversations of random Manipalites, as they made their way through the Food Court. Soon enough, when you observed a group of people talking animatedly with contorted looks of despair, you could guess with serendipitous precision that the topic at hand was the closing of the establishment. Barring a few specimens (who can safely be assumed to have been living under a rock), it was the common agenda of many in Manipal to try their luck at getting their hands on the last batch of the beloved cupcakes, on the eighth of March.
To no one’s surprise, a long queue had gathered at E=MmmCake2 that evening. Everyone knew full well that the last batch would sell like hot cakes (pardon the pun, o reader) and had arrived early in anticipation of the fact. The time distortion that people experienced while waiting in line, wondering if the cupcakes would still be available by the time they reached the counter, is something only Einstein’s theory of relativity can explain. What a wonderful coincidence that the name of the shop itself pays homage to one of the scientist’s iconic equations.
As the evening deepened to darkness, we watched people’s faces light up as they carefully opened their packages and bit into the cupcakes. “We knew it would be worth the wait!”, was the reply we received when we asked a particularly joyous group what drove them to spend an entire one-and-a-half hour standing in line.
The crowd finally dwindled. Night had fallen, and the stars twinkled. The counters were empty. The owners, Abi and Zac Francis were free at last, an aura of pleasant exhaustion surrounding them. It had been one long evening. When Abi waved us over for a taste of the few goodies that remained, we were struck by the colourful wall art that adorned the shop, spelling out “hope”. A Coldplay song played in the background.
…and dream of para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise…
It was like stepping into a perfect pocket of reality, a tiny paradise. Every inch of the opposite wall was covered with words of love from customers who went gaga over their cupcakes. “That wall will be what I miss the most about this place”, Abi said when we asked her about it.
The siblings were basically from Manipal. Abi studied in the School of Communication and Zac in the Department of Commerce. Abi decided to start a cupcake venture almost on a whim, in November, back in 2013. It was very surprising to find out that Abi had learnt how to bake, a mere three months before the opening of the establishment. “So, it must be natural flair, or perhaps a secret ingredient, that made your cupcakes so popular?” Abi laughs. “Well, Manipal is a small place”, she adds modestly. So be it. Manipal is a small place with a huge appetite for cupcakes which satisfy the refined palates of its inhabitants. Manipal has excellent taste.
Then we asked the questions that have been swirling around the minds of many; why are they closing the shop? Will Manipal ever taste their cupcakes again? Do they have bigger plans for E=MmmCake2?
“Sometimes, you get the feeling that it’s time for other things. We have really enjoyed running E=MmmCake2, but we feel it’s time to move on.” After a moment, she adds, “And it’s always better to stop at the top.” As for whether the future holds anything in store for E=MmmCake2, in Abi’s own words, “Life is full of random choices and possibilities. Even starting this shop was a random choice! You never know. We’ll see where things take us.”
How were they feeling, knowing that this could truly be the last time they sold cupcakes in Manipal?
“I will miss it, for sure. But mostly, I’m feeling excited about the future. In a way, I’m reminded of the first time we sold our cupcakes… we were filled with excitement, just like we are now! It feels like we are ending the same way we started. With excitement. That’s always a good sign.”
Do they have any parting words for Manipal?
“Life isn’t sweet enough, so have a cupcake!” Abi beams.
As for Manipal’s parting words for E=MmmCake2, a song from the Coldplay playlist playing in the background, The Scientist, most miraculously seemed to sum it up. The stars must have been perfectly aligned that night.
…Nobody said it was easy
Oh it’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard…
Can we go back to the start?
-Written by Niharika Dixith
-Photography by Deva Sooriya