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.




The sun began to rise and the dark blanket of navy blue began to shed itself to make way for the sparkling grey clouds. Down on the ground, the Ramanagara Hills began to reveal themselves.

Amma always reminded me that this was the place Sholay was shot in. I made a mental note to trek these boulders someday. As the car moved, I curled up into a comforting foetal position to shield myself from the sun rays and fell asleep.

The unmoving car and loud banter along with the sound of dosa batter being spread on an overheated tava woke me up. The sweet smell of filter coffee floated in the air; we had stopped in Maddur for breakfast. Though Maddur was famous for its vadas, the vadas made here were always soggy and chewy these days; not crisp like it used to be a decade ago. Though every little hotel on the highway was called Maddur Tiffany’s, the ones that served the best of these vadas were the tiniest shelter hotels.

Sipping the coffee under the scorching sun which was now proudly shinning I watched the naked little kids, Maran and Pradeep, running around their mother who cleaned he vessels at the hotel. While Pradeep, the older one was shy and preferred to hide behind his mother, Maran ran around the cars, touching them with his little hands when the owners of the cars weren’t around to shoo him away like he was a fly on their plate. Mornings like these are what make one look forward to the rest of the day. The Maddur vadas tasted a world better now.

Back inside the car, the radio station that played Hindi music began to get feeble by the minute until it finally went static. Switching to headphones, I remembered the times when travelling meant going in a group and playing Anatakshari where everyone laughed and talked all journey long. Things were different now, hardly anyone spoke; everyone was lost in their own little non-existent world.

Every few meters you saw yellow or green boards displaying distances of the places. We’d been to all of these places once or twice while on our frequent trips to Mysore. Being ornithophobic I could never enjoy the numerous bird sanctuaries here. But Melkote and Srirangapatana weren’t just towns that housed historical marvels; they were providers of inexplicable calmness.

Bijoy Venugopal had said in his talk at the college’s lit-fest, “Travelling if not external, is internal”. I couldn’t have found a saying that was truer than this; I could spend hours sitting in some dimly lit corridor of the temple or the fort or even the old prison. Travelling to these old towns always felt like you were travelling to places with untold stories, places with memories carved into their walls. Memories that none of us could ever discover.

A big green board on the road announced that we were entering Mysore; Bangalore had been slowly seeping into it. The lazy town had its own share of skyscrapers and big buildings now.

We stayed at Hotel Dasprakash when I was younger. Since it didn’t serve north-Indian cuisine, we would walk down to a restaurant a few buildings away. It was in an old building with its paint fading and its meshed windows were always dark; you could hear the steel cutlery clanking in the kitchen when you walked by. It had faded blue plastic tables on which South-Indian gobi-manchurian would be served on a steel plate. We stopped staying at Hotel Dasprakash a while later, their cockroach problem had found its way into their dishes.

We would always pass the big circle and take the road toward the zoo. I’d strain my ears and listen to any sounds I could here. The traffic was always louder; I’d been to the zoo enough times to tell which closure was where from the outside of the zoo. The one with the highest green tent was the lion’s. The gorilla’s closure was now empty; the only one there had died now. Amma would often tell me that they gave the chimps a bunch of bananas in exchange for the cute baby it was holding; now she says she should have just eaten the bananas herself.

A bunch of monkeys sat eating a packet of Lays on the bridge over the river Kapila. I never felt like getting of the car, there was always somewhere else we could be. Reluctantly I stepped out into the scorching afternoon heat when the vehicle halted to a stop in front of the Nanjangud Temple. Somewhere in the distance I could hear the river I had just crossed gushing to someplace it had to be.

Travelling, for me, was always the memories of the journey I bought back with me.