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     Volume 10 |Issue 28 | July 22, 2011 |


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It's more than just Ice Cream

Aasha Mehreen Amin

Have you ever met anyone who hates ice cream? Sure, some people refrain from this heavenly dessert for different reasons - it's fattening, it flares up the tonsils, irritates the lungs and can give you a heartless toothache. But who in their right minds could actually detest this immediate source of happiness, contentment and peace.

As a consequence of the joy-inducing effects of this snowy concoction the ice cream parlour-going culture has been born and continues to thrive all over the world.

The ice cream parlour has always been a favourite meeting place for people in love. Which makes sense; ice cream and romance being as compatible as politics and money or truck-drivers and recklessness. Whispers of sweet-nothings will flow effortlessly and potential tiffs will dissolve as easily as the icy delectable scoops.

It is therefore a good idea for couples on the verge of divorce to go to the ice cream parlour at least three times before they forever give up. You never know, the feeling of well-being as the smooth, soothing coolness goes down the oesophagus to palliate the angry acids of the stomach, may actually salvage a relationship on the rocks and even rekindle some of the lost and forgotten spark.

Some ice cream experts have even suggested that certain political rivals with pathological hatred for each other may try eating a scoop or two together and see if they can get the nation out of the present impasse that threatens to freeze economic progress and set democracy on fire. At this point we, the public, are willing to try anything.

Ice cream parlours are undoubtedly, the most favourite hangout places for teenagers who can order one tiny dollop of the stuff for at least four hours of express gossiping, giggling and taking photographs of themselves.

But let's not be ageists; when it comes to ice cream there is no age bar though the general rule is that the older you get the lower your body's tolerance for this delightful creation and the higher the level of craving for it. Ice cream parlours are often crowded with people of all ages, shapes and colour. The downside for teens and young people in general, of the universal lovability of ice cream and hence shops that sell them, is the constant danger of bumping into their mother's best friends while they are meeting members of the opposite sex or bunking coaching class. What these young ones don't know is that the aunties are just as mortified at being caught red-handed eating ice cream at 11 in the morning.

The most common reason, however, for a visit to the ice cream parlour, is to watch other people who may well have gone there for the same reason. It may end up in a staring match where neither side knows how to look away and end this madness. While watching strangers may be the most natural form of entertainment, there are some who have taken it to the extreme.

These days if one enters an ice cream parlour at say after midnight (the most popular time to go to these places), the first thing to notice is about ten or twelve middle-aged men squashed together in a corner looking eagerly at the entrance. They may have one ice tea (for some reason you will never see them actually having ice cream) for every three men to be consumed over the next three hours while they give a 'once over' to every female that walks by before targeting the ones they want to ogle and comment on for the entire duration of their victims' visit. To say that they are going through mid-life crisis would be a laughable understatement. They are nevertheless, those ice cream parlour goers who have turned professional and never fail to turn up day after day after day.

Thus the ice cream parlour has become the centre of all kinds of activity besides the obvious eating of ice cream. It brings people together, sometimes even when they don't want to, they provide entertainment, bring lots of money to the shop owners and most of all they give us what we need the most – a few moments of unadulterated, absolute, cool bliss.


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