A Belated Joy

They say “Life is like an ice-cream. Enjoy it before it melts”. But for some of us, while enjoying life comes easy, enjoying an ice-cream is a bit of a challenge. This is particularly true when the said ice-cream is in a cone. As fate would have it, enjoying a cone ice-cream for me has always been, and until two days ago, seemed like it would always be, a dream.

Dollops of creamy, delicious ice-cream topped on crisp, graceful cones is a mouth-watering sight as well as thought. A thought that holds the power to drag me out of my lassitude on to the busy roads to hail a cab and arrive at Natural’s, the regular paradise called ice-cream parlor (the nearest to my place about 20 years ago). Natural_Ice_CreamA 20-years younger me enters the blissful heaven with a salivating tongue to ask for a scoop of strawberry ice cream atop a pretty waffle cone. As the luscious delight is gently placed into my arms by a smiling server, joy spreads across my face. I set to enjoy my journey with my treat. What had been a graceful spectacle until now, takes an unexpected turn for the worse. My strawberry ice cream decides to start melting as I am now plonked on one of the tables outside the shop. And with each milky stream of ice cream off the cone, melts away my composure. I begin to panic as I feel the cold stream on my fingers and try to finish my dollop as fast as I can. A friendly helper offers me a paper napkin in the nick of time, saving me the embarrassment of having melted ice cream all over me, but in turn, leaving me embarrassed at being reminded about what a mess I must be looking. You may ask why sit at the parlor with your cone ice cream when you can enjoy it while on your way. I ask why order a cone ice cream when a cup is available and when the same scene repeats itself every time, whether in the parlor or on the road. Unfortunately, both of these are among the many answer-less questions.

While I could not shake off my unbridled love for ice cream in a cone, over time, I chose to avoid it in front of company, thus minimizing my embarrassment a hundred fold. I would marvel at those who could effortlessly and gracefully enjoy their cone ice cream before it melted. Days, months, and years passed and arrived this day (which was two days ago) when I bought myself a cone ice cream to celebrate the wonderful moments that were unfolding since that morning. I carried a big swirly dollop of chocolate and vanilla ice cream on a crisp vanilla-flavored waffle cone out of the parlor, to the sunny road (mind you, the sun is overhead, creating the perfect weather for a meltdown atop my cone). However, slurp, slurp I went, enjoying my cone ice cream for the very first time – with grace and manners intact. I smiled as I bit into the last of my cone, thinking how eating ice cream off a cone is a always joy, whether it arrives on time or is belated.

Glimpses of Home

A sense of belonging is beginning to appear on the horizon, a feeling that has eluded me for almost a year now. The newness of this place refused to wane for much too long, leaving me in a bittersweet spot. I have been up and about town in the metaphorical gypsy garb, thoroughly savoring the sights and sounds that are local to this land. Yet, if you cared enough to take a closer look, you could spot a glimmer of yearning even in the brightest and  the earnest of my smiles. Yearning for a place called home. Or merely a sense of belonging.

Being less a go-getter and more a “let’s-see-er”, I have done little to quell this longing. This was partly because chasing the evasive feeling meant that I turn cold towards the alluring beauty of where I was. And the place is too beautiful for me to afford ignoring it. It was also because my hopeful heart vainly believed that time alone would bring the sense of belonging to my doorstep. And so I watched the seasons change. Cherry blossoms lent their pink hues to spring and summer wrapped the little city (village, actually) in its warmth. Fall opened a mesmerizing palette of colors, painting a breathtaking, awe-inspiring picture. Underneath the cold, barren robe of winter was a beauty you would have to see to believe.

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I reveled every moment of every season but my much-awaited “guest” was no where in sight. Life went on until one day…

On a certain Thursday, life in our little town (village, really) was interrupted by some unexpected water-supply related issues. I grabbed the opportunity and decided to visit a tad bigger neighboring town. Armed with a plan, I dragged my reluctant hubby to a much-talked-about arty coffee shop there. That place took me back home in Mumbai, where I frequented several coffee shops, one of which was just as arty. I felt less of a tourist for probably the first time since April 2016. But more importantly, it suddenly dawned upon me that pieces of what I define as home may just be around, waiting to be discovered by many a home-sick soul. As I entered my house that evening, both tired and elated at the end of a fruitful excursion, I heard the pressure cooker whistle from the apartment above mine. Home is not very far I thought.