The Devil Called Consumerism
I remember the first time I visited my favourite ice-cream joint in Baroda, circa 1989. It was a quaint hut-shaped shop, small yet inviting. I had topped my class and my parents had afforded me the liberty of buying two ice-creams that day. I chose a Mango-Vanilla cone, followed by a Chocolate-Vanilla one. I distinctly recall they were priced at Rs. 18 then. There was not much room inside the shop – just two narrow tables, one of which I stood against for support as I took my time to lap up the ice-creams. For the next seven years or so, I visited the same shop no less than once a week, which must have been a total of at least 365 times. But my choice of flavours never changed. There was something about the memory of the first visit that lingered on, and I stayed loyal to the same two flavours. Years later we left Baroda, much to my intense grief and resolution that I would never eat ice-cream anywhere else. (I did not really stick to that.)
Last weekend, I took my wife to Baroda. On our way to the same ice-cream shop, I told her about that unique smell and ambience of the shop, and how it had come to be my first love. But when we reached the joint, I saw something that wrecked my nostalgic reverie. The hoarding was in tatters. The tiles on the floor were evidently not being cleaned. And the smell was gone – probably overpowered by the aroma of a McDonald’s outlet somewhere nearby. On enquiring with the staff, I was told of the diminishing demand of the shop with the advent of various branded outlets in the last decade and a half.
“Impact of consumerism,” my MBA-wife threw in a smart one. I cringed. I looked at the menu card in dismay. The simple, earthly names of Mango-Vanilla and Chocolate-Vanilla had been renamed to ‘IPL Twenty-Twenty Mango Ripple’ and such. God knows what that meant, but it sure didn’t feel the same any more.
I’m quite the victim of consumerism myself, so I can’t scoff at it. But there’s something about this devil that has taken away a prized memory of a place I associated myself with. For the sake of a few such chronicles, I pray that a part of our past is retained. And while the world may subscribe to the classiest outlets today, I still prefer my narrow table to lean against as I take leisurely bites at my cone. At any rate, it is more fulfilling than a ‘Finish your ice-cream in three big bites and win a free trip to Timbuktoo’ contest.