How To Dirty Your Fingers

Back in Mangalore there’s this little wedge where you find a bearded man and an ice cream machine that only gives you vanilla and always leaves your hand covered with ice cream.

The shop is near the basement library near Tagor park and Tipu’s lighthouse where the roads climb at an alarming rate and you always worry you’ll fall over. With plants and coarse cement slabs all around, and bored retirees sitting around on cane chairs in front of the shop you might wonder how you ended up in someone’s backyard. Your alarm is unnecessary.

This is the shop, unnamed, unadorned with a bored old man staring at nothing in particular. It’s pointless to ask him anything. He’ll offer you a harmless cough, because there isn’t anything you need to learn about vanilla ice cream.He’ll give you a small cone of vanilla for 20, a medium sized cone for 25. There is no large cone. There are two flavors- vanilla and pink. My friends insist pink is actually strawberry, but think about it. Does strawberry ice cream ever taste like actual strawberry? No it doesn’t, it never does. There isn’t even a name for the taste that people market as strawberry. So I call it pink. It tastes pink.

I don’t know how to describe the taste. It tastes like ice-cream. It’s what all vanilla and pink (strawberry?) should aspire to be. When I think of ice cream, the ice cream the old man sells is what comes s to mind. It always drips all over your hands because there is always too much ice-cream for the cone to handle. He gives you the tiniest, single square layer of paper that masquerades as a tissue. The tissue always falls apart and your fingers are always covered with ice cream, but at least they’re delicious.

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