February 27, 2012

No ice cream till I'm single

What has one's relationship status got to do with having ice cream? A lot, if you are Hemant Gairola.

In the summer of 1999, when I was an 11-year-old, half-pant-wearing idealistic boy, I decided I won't have ice cream. That was after my father showed me news reports that gelatin (stuff made of animals' bones, tail, ligaments etc, which makes ice cream sticky) was among other bizarre items ice cream is made up of. "No more ice cream," I decided. The strong-willed boy that I was, I abstained. Ek baar maine commitment de diya, phir to main khud ki bhi nahi sunta.

A couple of weeks later, we went to a relative's lavish wedding reception. My father, sitting next to a relative, called me and asked me to explain why one should not have ice cream. After explaining, I went to join my cousins, my discourse leaving the relative introspectively nodding. After about 10 minutes, my father called me again. This time, he wanted me to bring a helping of ice cream for him. I was like, "Whoa! What about walking the talk!" It was a lavish reception and they had that multi-layered ice cream. I never—not on that day, not on any day—felt tempted or that I was missing out on something awesome.

A couple of years down the line, companies started making gelatin-free or vegetarian ice cream. I could have resumed having it, but nah. I made a vow that I shall get back to ice cream only after I find true love in life. I went on an indefinite ice-cream fast, which would end only after my demand was met. And it would end with me having ice cream from the hands of my lover. A brahma-pratigya was made. And I stuck to it. I must have been 13-14 then. Even at that age I had this die-hard romantic in me, who pre-planned celebration of the grand occasion of falling in love.

A couple of years after I made that vow, school got over. The girl I had fallen in love with called me "bhaiyya". Graduation got over, then post-graduation. I remained the prince of bromance but pauper at romance. Got a job, started making money, but had no one to splurge it on. Yeah, all these years, I did make quite a few sisters. Sisters. Even 11 years after I made that vow, I was an eligible bachelor and, thus, not eligible to have ice cream.

Fed up with not being fed ice cream
Then one fine day in the summer of 2010, a friend called me from the UK and asked me to attend wedding reception of his close friend in Bangalore, and take gifts, on his behalf. That was it; I told him I would break my no-ice-cream-till-single vow at the reception. Enough, man! I realised there's no point in abstaining from the taste of ice cream just because girls don't have a taste for me. That's mighty stupid. Finally, I conceded I had been stupid for 11 years. And, on Thursday, June 24, 2010, I wolfed down two (or three) slices of vanilla ice cream at that wedding reception with the vengeance of a jilted lover. Would have taken more ice cream at the party if it were not for the suspicious glances of the guy serving it. Ah, I had waited 11 long years for this moment.

By the age of 22-and-a-half, I had spent/wasted half of my life without ice cream only because... It's the greatest irony of my life: I'm a die-hard romantic yet romantically challenged; so loving yet so loveless. And that's why I was ice creamless for half of my life. Well, had I not broken the vow, I wouldn't have been able to have ice cream even now.

“All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.

—Charles M Schulz

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