Kappu Ice cream


You open my cupboard, you’ll see black clothes. Black shirt, black pant, black jacket, black bra, and all that. You open my shoe cupboard, and it’s the same; black converse, black running shoes, black ballerinas, black kolhapuri; you get the idea. So when I heard that had black ice cream, I had to eat it.

It’s not that I haven’t seen black food, sometimes my friend burns the chappati and it becomes dark brown, almost black. Sometimes you forget about the food you had hid in your bag, one fungus infestation happens and that also becomes green, and then black.

But black ice cream was not rotten food, anthe. Something about charcoal, they said. I’d been reading quite a bit about going zero waste, and charcoal was supposed to be a natural cleaning agent used in tooth paste and stuff. Instead of tooth paste, I could just consume it, an organ version of detox, you could say.

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The first store with this black ice cream to open in Bangalore was Fritz Haber, a place too far and inaccessible to civilization. So I waited, these fads catch on, you know. Soon enough, Mama Mia opened in Indiranagar.

The store was lit dimly, like it was a Hogwarts corridor. It had a brown wall on one side, and white one on the other. The brown wall had some fake plants, and some white and purple pebbles in a Keventers bottle. The white wall said ‘La Dolce Vita’ in cursive, and it was quite catchy. Eno pa.

I knew what I wanted before I even walked in. The extravagant menu on the wall behind the counter made no mention of anything remotely close to the word ‘black’, so I looked through the ice cream storage and found the black ice cream in the furthest corner. ‘Vanilla Startdust’, I think it was called.

Teddy being the thoughtful child that he is; he read my mind and got me the black ice cream in a black cone. Wowzie.

I shut my eyes tight, hoped it would be nice took a leap of faith and gave it a lick. It was sugar. It was just plain sugar syrup, and nothing else. It didn’t even taste like vanilla, da.  Teddy being the whiskey aficionado, heard that some variation of chocolate ice cream was called Whiskey-something took that. Good thing he uses his brain sometimes.

And the black cone? I hoped it would at least be crispy, but no. It was thick and chewy, and faintly tasted like egg. As I finished the last bit of the black chocolate ice cream stuff that I had, I knew that I would retreat back into my rocky road cave, and would never try to be adventurous with my ice cream again.



Bus Stands.

In my previous post I mentioned about sitting at the bus stand and not wanting to go to work.The bus stand, like I said, was a melange of people. If I wasn’t lazy I’d have written about all of them.

A scrawny woman who always chewed pan came here every day unfailingly; she sat on the bench to the left corner and carried a basket far too big for her. She sat there till she finished chewing the first ball of pan, and made garlands out of flowers. She never got on to any bus.

Next to her sat a woman, who styled her hair differently every day, she was shorter than I. She wore neon-green aviators and always carried a book with her. She used her finger as the bookmark, but I never saw her read the book. She just sat there and listened to music on her little black ear buds till a Volvo to Banerghatta arrived.

The other was a guy was about 6 feet tall who went to the gym behind the bus stand. He always had a red backpack he wore on one side. Somehow his walk reminded me of the proud-walk the Emperor does at the end of the novel the Emperor’s new clothes.

Occasionally, I met a classmate who was always more than an hour late to her place of work. She interned at a neuropsychiatric hospital, and didn’t really seem to care that she was running late. (I don’t recall seeing her on time to class either)

‘Sitting here at the bus stand seemed far more interesting than getting on a bus and going to work’. It truly was.

Tampered Meds? Here’s what you have to do

Another one of my pieces for Citizen Matters.

Apparently, being given tampered or used medicines in Bangalore pharmacies are quite common, and an issue that needs to be talked about more often. Since not many people are aware of this, here’s what you have to do.

Dealing with Tampered Medication



Scrolling down my gallery on a lazy summer afternoon, I found a bunch of pictures I had taken when the city was gearing up for the annual Kadle-kai Parishe, not of the parishe (fair/flee market) per se but just a few things that meant something to me. These little pictures took me back to that winter evening.

The parishe opens officially after these peanuts have been offered to Nandi, whose statue resides inside the temple on top of the tiny rock called Bugle Rock in Basvangudi. It is a weeklong affair that happens on the streets bordering Bugle Rock. Farmers and their families from the villages in Karnataka, and some on the border of TN and AP bring in the kadle kai (peanuts) that they harvest and sell it raw, salted or boiled.

We went on the evening two days before the parishe ‘officially’ opened. When it ‘officially’ opens the roads are blocked and closed off to traffic and the crowd from all parts of the city and other villages flock here. The unofficial opening is only known to those who are passer-bys or live nearby. But going earlier also meant that one wouldn’t be able to see all the stalls up.

Amma tells me stories of a time when I was tiny and would easily fit in her arms and on her hips. She would carry me around these lanes on evenings when she was bored and I was being whiny. She would put me on a kids ‘giant’ wheel and watch the whining vanish; she would then bring me back home only to be troubled by take me back’s and more tantrums of that sort.

This evening the traffic was still open, but still the farmers sat on the borders of either sides of the road. It was different; they hadn’t been worn out by this city yet. The roads were lit up, not just with street lights, but with fairy lights hanging down from every nook and corner. Never had Basvangudi been decked up so much. The parishe also hosted local handicraft sellers- some selling beautifully painted ceramic pots, others selling clay pots, some sold beaded jewellery, and others sold plastic toys. It was beautiful though, the happiness in the air, the crowd and everything.

The uneven rock around the temple were a bunch of amusement rides – the Columbus, a Tora-tora, a Giant Wheel, and another ride which I don’t remember. Every time the Columbus swung a roar of happy screams of children filled the air, along with a dangerously scary creek which and a thud. One could only hope that it wouldn’t fall apart and hurt anyone. While I stood amused, Amma coaxed me to go to the temple.

While I climbed, I thought of reasons to not go in- I’ll go see the new public gym, I’ll check the stalls out again –need to buy something, and what not. But, nothing seemed to work and my little happy stroll ended with going to the almost empty temple; the priests were oiling the Nandi statue made of stone. The huge stone structure was smooth to touch, probably worn by years of washing and oiling and other rituals, the coldness felt soothing under my palm.

While I stood there and waited for the prasada (why else would one go to the temple?), I looked up casually, and saw a flock of pigeons in every corner; nothing like your ornithophobia to come kicking in to ruin the experience.

Maybe, the year after would be better. For now, the highlight of this parishe, for me, was its lights.



I didn’t want to go today, it was so far; I could have skipped, I had attendance too. I was sleep deprived and an hour long ride on a crowded bus would just make the mood crabbier and the body tired-er.

After drowning myself in self pity and pointless ranting, I went anyway; I got off the bus and waited for someone to cross the road where the traffic never seemed to stop. A bunch of people from the railway station came and waited as well. I hid between them- their fruit and fish baskets, huge cloth bags, and the children most of them were dragging. They didn’t realize, and I crossed the road feeling proud of myself like I’d accomplished something on a miserable day after all.

Bangalore weather is a bitch; the sun shines as bright as it does on a summer noon. Correcting myself, Bangalore has only one season- summer. I walked to the up the path and I turned right, I saw the garage and a few chickens in front of it, grease and oil all over the road along with little pieces of rags.I was close to the school now, I couldn’t walk, I froze.

I felt someone nudge, I looked. A little boy stood next to me and smiled at me. “Hi putta! School-ge barthidiya?” I asked him, he nodded. Slipped his hand into mine and walked with me to the yellow building.

I racked my brains to remember his name. I couldn’t. I knew his brother Rashid. He was the kid who’d hit me the week before, I had a little bump on my lower back because of that. He was a little kid, maybe three, who ran around like a tornado. His voice was raspy when he spoke and he cursed, so much. And he climbed on everyone he saw, and he liked being carried and turned around till he got dizzy.

He would run up to me and climb and kiss me on my cheek, the snort on his nose would not be wiped and I would hope it didn’t get on my cheek. And then he would have a moment of great affection and he would hug me and almost choke me. He would make me carry him and walk around the huge playground. Once, twice, thrice.

But his brother was different. I was standing inside the dimly lit classroom, and I still felt the little sand-covered hand in mine. I wondered what he did to get his hands and legs that dirty. He was just standing next to me, not asking for a sheet to draw, not asking for a puzzle, not asking to go back into the ground and play. 20150131_150827

And then he said ‘draw’. He didn’t talk much at all, he didn’t run, he didn’t do anything. I got him paper and colours and sat next to him as he started to colour. He had big eyes, he didn’t wear any shoes, they were as dusty as his hand. I reminded myself to sanitize my hand before I ate anything. But then again, these kids didn’t even have water to wash their hands.

I sat next to him for two hours without speaking a word, I didn’t fall asleep. I sat there and watched him fill colors into the drawing in front of him. He occasionally looked up and smiled at me. Before I left for the day, he slipped his little hand into mine, told me he wanted to walk around the ground and I did that with him. And then I bent down and hugged him, I wasn’t much of a hugger, never was.

Something in me snapped and I hugged him tighter and kissed on his hair. His hair was soft and I tasted sand on my lips. I wondered what he’d climbed on or where he’d fallen that he was THIS covered in sand.

I slipped away, saw a flicker of sadness flash across his face. It went away the same way it came. And I left promising to come back next week.

I wondered through the week if he thought of me,or if I he would remember me at all. I missed a week and I went a week later.

He slipped his hand into mine and asked me why I hadn’t come the week before. I told him I was sick and he seemed concerned. He asked me to guess his name, I told him I didn’t know. And he asked me mine.

“Niveadha, but call me Nivi” I said.

“I want you to call me Vishal” he said.

His brother came running up and I felt his fingers dig into my palm for a second before his hands slipped away. Rashid climbed into my arms and abused him in Urdu and called him Zuber.

“Vishal kanno, Zuber alla”, I corrected him. He looked at me chocked me with a hug and ran away. I told him I’d call him Zuber too and he walked away.

He climbed on the compound surrounding the ground and walked to the far end of it. Stood on the far end of it, he walked faster on this compound than I could run on the sand. When I went he hid behind the concrete, at first I thought he was playing and then I told him it was too hot so I was going back inside; I thought he would follow but half way into the ground I realized he wasn’t.

He just hid behind the cement compound, I was scared to do to the other side. I was scared of the other side because it was almost 10 feet above the ground. These kids were used to it so they would sit there like they were sitting on a cliff. I waited he peeped once, saw me looking and hid again. I ran back and he ventured further onto the other side, I peeped from this side and apologized and asked him to come back. He wasn’t.

I went out of the gate on to the road and he got off and went into the other ground. I wasn’t suppose to leave school so I stayed and we just looked at each other for a long time. I gave up and I went in and he didn’t come back in that day.

The week after, he was alone. He had forgotten about me calling him Zuber, which was actually his name. He slipped his little palm, cleaner this time into mine and told me about him. I listened and we spent the rest of the afternoon putting together a Pinocchio puzzle someone had donated. He smiled often, lost in another universe. He wore the same orange shirt week after week.

He was from Bombay; he never wanted to go again to Bombay. He was in Bangalore; he didn’t want to stay in Bangalore. He was in 4th grade before, now he was in 2nd. Rashid didn’t come anymore. They’d left for Bombay to never come back, he said. He didn’t want to go, “Eshtailla” he said. I was surprised. He lived with his grandmother now, ate Kurkure and watched TV, and went to school. I was still shocked but this was still better than him being alone so I stayed quite. He never spoke to me again to this extent.20150131_151913

He loved getting pictures taken. He stood in front of a friend’s car and got a picture taken, then he asked me to wait till he got his orange shit off. “I look dirty with this shirt” he said and hid his shirt behind himself and posed for a picture in his ripped vest. My little Salman Khan, I had called him and he had blushed. Looking at this all the other kids came there removed their shirts and posed for a picture. Salman Khan-s I called them and they all giggled and ran away. I asked Zu if he had something to eat, “Kurkure, five rupees packet” he replied proudly.

I walked out of the gate with him, and gave him my lunch, unfortunately only a bar of Snickers. I told him to go home, run. I wasn’t allowed to do this, it would ‘spoil the kids’ but I did it and I didn’t want anyone to know. He beamed at me as he walked away.

It was nearing the end. It was a hot day and I didn’t want to go again. But I did. I crossed the road and walked till the yellow building came into view. I stood there realizing I wouldn’t come there again. I felt a nudge and a little hand covered in sand slip into mine. I looked and he smiled; his orange shirt was a little torn near the collar now. I squeezed his hand and he hugged me tight. I pulled away and we walked to the school together.