Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why I do not like strawberry ice-cream anymore

Didibhai got married in 1993. I am not sure whether Didibhai is my most favourite cousin, but she surely ranks in the top four of the quartet. However, she has always been a reliable confidante and makes the best homemade chilli chicken in the universe, so she is definitely a contender for that top spot.

But that is another story. She had decided to marry in 1993, which was also the year in which I appeared for my Madhyamik — the West Bengal Board equivalent of ICSE or CBSE.

Note:
I know that this gives away one of those mysteries that I had managed to keep away from mankind so successfully all these years: my age.

***

This also meant that I was enjoying the first of the two three-month vacations one associates with Madhyamik. The other happened immediately after the examination, which also brutally exposes the humiliating fact that it took three months to bring out the results.

The first three-month phase was, of course, the “study leave”, which, in student language, translated roughly to two-and-a-half months worth of siestas, UGC-granted programmes on Doordarshan, reading all sorts of books, ogling at girls during tuitions, and gaining weight; this was usually followed by fifteen days of frantic slogging on Samudragupta and leading bauxite-producing areas — information that was supposed to change my life for good.

But this story is not about Samudragupta, and neither is this about his cousin; it is about my cousin; if it had involved bauxite, I am not aware of it. This is about Didibhai, her wedding, and strawberry ice-creams, and the incident.

***

My uncle and aunt, both nice people, had apparently committed a blunder: they had decided to include ice-cream in the menu for the wedding reception. One has to remember that this was 1993, when pocket-money was scarce, and we had to battle hard for the “cup ice-creams” from the Kwality, Magnolia, or Farinni carts.

This meant that ice-cream was special. Of course, ice-cream was available at Scoop and Sub-Zero (opposite The Hobby Centre), but that was where cool grown-ups on motorbikes took their girls to. For us, ice-cream was generally sacrosanct, and was one of the reasons that we looked forward to weddings.

Eating ice-cream from cups has always a mission. It is a three-step thing:
1.      You undo the lid first; the underside of the lid is white, and has an ear of sorts: you started the ritual by licking the white side clean.
2.      Now you move on to the cup with that fragile wooden spoon (the one that looks like a truncated spatula) they provide you.
3.      Once you are through with the last scoop-able bit of ice-cream with the spoon, you are faced with a new problem: there is still ice-cream in the edges of the base of the cup — edges that are too narrow for the spoon to slide through.
This is where the fingers come in: you run them along the rim and shovel out the last remnants.
4.      Bonus step: if you still crave for more and can do away with random stuff like inhibition, just use your tongue.

All this meant that they wanted to surprise everyone by including ice-cream in the list — a decision that, as mentioned above, backfired. It does not seem to be a grave error, but the January of 1993 turned out to be one of the coldest in the history of mankind.

Kolkata froze that January. It snowed all day and night, and soon we were below three feet of snow, out with shovels to remove the snow from our driveways. Of course, the above statement is a blatant lie, but it gives you the idea. It was remarkably, unbelievably, undeniably, brutally, selfishly cold — the kind that is supposed to ooze of stalactites and stalagmites but did not.

As a result of the intense cold the inevitable happened: there was surplus ice-cream. Loads and loads of ice-cream, Kwality, strawberry-flavoured, in little, identical white cups with hints of pink seeping out of the corners: good times lay ahead, for sure.

***

The customary discussion regarding the distribution of the party leftovers followed the wedding as I was sent back home along with my grandparents (which was a five-minute walk) to study the mysteries of xylem and phloem.

Then they arrived: my father and someone (I cannot recall who it was) in a taxi. I was curious. I had to be curious: why would my father cover a five-minute walking distance in a taxi?

Then they unloaded the carton. There were 107 cups in all. Our house was apparently the nearest, and had one of the emptiest freezers. The general consensus, thus, was to shove the ice-creams in our freezer.

Let us go over this: a hundred and seven cups of ice-cream in the freezer (well, of course all of them did not fit inside the freezer; most of them found their way in the refrigerator). To add to the situation, I was on a three-month-long vacation.

Then came the command — the greatest command from a parent in the iconic Mukherjee lineage of South Kolkata: “finish the ice-cream as soon as possible; you are on vacation; it is your responsibility to ensure that food is not wasted.”

***

So I got to work. It was, once again, a three-step thing:
1.      Take an ice-cream cup out of the freezer.
2.      Replace it with an ice-cream cup from the refrigerator.
3.      Empty the first cup.

It took me a couple of days to realise exactly what was wrong with the process: I consumed ice-cream faster than they froze. This meant that the freezer was soon full of semi-cold ice-cream. Since my lust for ice-cream was a stronger emotion than the desire for frozen ice-cream, I chose to gulp them down.

It took me (and my entire household) just over a week to polish the lot. I did not need to go out to buy rolls when guests turned off. I kept a count (and I have reasons to believe that it is more or less accurate): I had managed to finish 77 cups of ice-cream in a week.

All Kwality; all strawberry; almost all semi-liquid and semi-frozen: I, forever the obedient and proud son, had kept my parents’ command. Unfortunately, that had come at the cost of losing my willingness to have strawberry ice-creams for good. It was also successful in taking me off two-in-one (half vanilla, half strawberry).

***

Morals of the story:
1.      When your parents order you to do something you like, there is a catch somewhere.

2.      Do not fall for pink, soft things, however tempting they might be, before board examinations.


30 comments:

  1. It's not clear what exactly put you off. Is it the pink colour? The gooey-ness? A resulting throat infection? Or simply the number 77? I would find it difficult the believe the last one, for two reasons:
    1. Give me 77 helpings of "nolen gurer sondesh" and see how I crave for the 78th. You'll be amazed.
    2. 77 suggestive (and potentially lecherous) glances at a comely lass doesn't get you a reprimand. Instead, you own her heart for free. Such is the awesomeness of the number 77. See this for proof : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZCOnDuL6pM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. I envy you.
      2. It is not about 77. Things would not have changed if the count was 76 or 78.

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  2. 1. You undo the lid first; the underside of the lid is white, and has an ear of sorts: you started the ritual by licking the white side clean.
    2. Now you move on to the cup with that fragile wooden spoon (the one that looks like a truncated spatula) they provide you.
    3. Once you are through with the last scoop-able bit of ice-cream with the spoon, you are faced with a new problem: there is still ice-cream in the edges of the base of the cup — edges that are too narrow for the spoon to slide through.
    This is where the fingers come in: you run them along the rim and shovel out the last remnants.

    I taught Dhopash this, step by step, just last weekend. We have progressed of course; social upliftment, that is. It was a cornetto this time. But process, just the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hah. Try cleaning a Cornetto without breaking the cone.

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  3. What? 77 cups of icecream-turned-"payesh"-in-consistency in a week and no diarrhoea? I thought you were going to say that the diarrhoea that followed, turned you against strawberry icecream for life. :D :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No. No diarrhoea. Also, given your profession, you may want to cut me up and inspect my digestive system after my death.

      Delete
  4. I assume now that you never wooed a girl by singing 'strawberry aankhe... dekhti kya hai... ladki tum toh mehelo me ho pali... woh ice cream ho jo hai fridge me rakhi...' - which is kind of sad because girls ALWAYS fell for that song back then. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No. For that matter, I have never wooed a girl by singing anything. Oh well, I have never wooed a girl in the first place!

      Delete
  5. Please give me back 5 minutes of my life. This was the baap of *kuchh bhi* posts.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a tale. I look forward to reading your book as and when you write it!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, thank you. Some day, even that may come true.

      Delete
  7. What is Didi Bhai? I know what a Didi is, and what a Bhai is and what a Bai is. But a Didi Bhai? :/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This, milady, is something only a Bengali can understand and explain.

      Delete
    2. I guess Abhishek-da should do a post on all the weird names of endearment we Bengalis have concocted. Notun-mama who you know for a 100 years and N(aw)-pishi who is the 6th (not 9th) in the sibling order...Mind boggling, really. Mlvk, on the question of Didibhai: if you want a straight answer, then Didibhai is just a Didi. the Bhai suffix attached to distinguish this Didi from other Didis- Bordi, Chhordi, Rangadi etc. If you want a heavy-weight answer, then one can elaborate how Didibhai smells of deep-rooted male bias that permeates most institutions in India (and most other places) and adding a Bhai to a plain vanilla (not strawberry) Didi just makes her more dear to the younger siblings who are unfortunate enough to not have a Dada or a Boro Bhai. (But all this I am writing before my morning coffee and because we feel free to soil the walls of Abhishek-da's blog ;-))

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    3. Mlvk, I am sure that answered all your questions.

      Delete
  8. Hi Abhishek da, you have actually mentioned your age in your post Alia re also :P... so this is not the first time!! (sorry could not resist)

    Anyway really enjoyed reading it like all of your other posts. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for pointing out, whoever you are!

      Delete
  9. Mmm Hmm. I never liked strawberry ice-cream, growing up. Preferred vanilla. Didn't like the 2-in-1 either. But one Boimela, Kwality had an updated version of strawberry ice cream, with REAL STRAWBERRY PIECES.

    I was sold.

    But chocolate remains my most favourite flavour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My favourite flavour is.. well, no, it's the answers to one of my secret questions for net-banking.

      Delete
  10. 11 cups a day for a week, that's not too horrid abhishek? You may not be a true foodie, my suggestion, go back to strawberry ice cream and try again! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. "the Kwality, Magnolia, or Farinni carts":

    There was also Quality probably hoping that people would mistake it for the quality of Kwality, and Rollick, I only remember Farinni cakes, but not ice-creams.

    So 77 in a week was too much for the flavour, but not too much for
    ice cream altogether? Anyway, strawberry was never the one I liked too much, and now, since you have reminded me of this particular kind of food and made me hungry, if you will excuse me, I need to go and get some ice cream.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Quality as well. But Farinni was always there! And yes, 77 strawberry ice-creams in a week was overkill.

      Delete
  12. Moral number 2 is really dangerous.pink soft things before board exams...ha ha...nicely created

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What are you talking about? I am too innocent for all these statements.

      Delete
  13. So let it be....btw the note has created nicely

    ReplyDelete

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