A pass to the past

You do odd things to get even. I don’t know about you. But, that is me. Especially when turbulence hits the soul. This time it’s not been very different.  
Most parts of the last few weeks have been whisked away by the desire to latch on to every memory. Perhaps a quest to seek new meaning, draw lines in the mind to what seemed to be faint dots faded by time and the vagaries that ‘gainful employment’ has brought over years. 
So, I went looking for places that my feet aimlessly shuffled around while locks of hair bounded the forehead of my wonder years! Hopeful of catching the smell, feel and sights of a time that seemed distant yet close. A time that often looks like its within arm’s reach of clear recollection and then slips away almost like a mirage that chooses to go into hiding upon seeing me.  
My journeys took me to the small village where we spent many summers challenging the Sun to beat us down with his rays, while we soaked much of the open air, green fields, braying donkeys, cows, goats and of course the languorous rhythms of easy village life. 
It then took me to the club that I hung out with classmates.  The courts where I played tennis in. The roads that I took my walks on. The small shops that sold silly candies. The bungalows that held allure. The College that was privy to adolescent dreams, hopes and expansive aspiration.  
It wasn’t a well orchestrated journey of sorts. Three quarters lead by happenstance and the meager rest by careful plotting. Most of the times carelessly retracing steps, upon a whim, on a road that brought alive last remnants of a clinging memory. Of a glance exchanged. A smile passed around. A word uttered. Sentences not spoken and conversations that spanned the world. 
In sheer gluttony of consuming far more than what the present had to offer and in the ever expanding search to relive a memory, occasionally I reached out To DO the things that I did when it was “in those days”.
No memory of growing up in those times in the intense climes of Madurai, can be complete without memories of what continues to be called ‘Paal ice’ ( Milk Ice). 
Proffered usually by a man with a hoarse rhythmic voice that arrested your attention no matter what you were doing. It caused you to run to your dad, mom, grandma, uncles or whoever that would be around and usually willing to spend a grand sum of one full rupee on you. 
I saw the “Ice man” again. A couple of weeks ago. 
Imagine the delight of seeing a memory come alive and stroll ahead of you.  The narrow lanes of a Sun beaten village served as a poignant backdrop as a man sold ‘Paal Ice’! Before I could say yes, my brother bought it, for a grand sum of Rs.5/-. In a short time, the collective memories stretched to ask “Do you have Semiya Ice?” 
Another grand sum of Rs.5/- left the wallet, even as the ice creams disappeared from the flimsy sticks that’s held them. Not a word spoken about hygiene or if it was made from ‘mineral water’ or some such urbane stuff. For it wasn’t quenching taste buds. It was satiating a part of me that was parched beyond parched. As the ice cream went down the throat, a million memories were resurrected, rejoicing a thirsty mind and a thrifty soul.  
The “ice man” moved on. After being bemused by us, for a bit. Tapping the box to announce his arrival in the neighbourhood and supplementing it with his arresting coarse voice.
I clicked a few more snaps vigorously.  In the future, if I needed a pass to the past, this was it. 

9 thoughts on “A pass to the past

  1. Tanmay Vora says:

    That’s me too, Kavi.

    What a beautifully woven piece that brings back the nostalgia. I find it particularly wonderful how a part of us always longs to go back into the time and recollect the scattered pieces of our fond childhood memories.

    After reading this, I remembered how we, a bunch of kids lazed around under the tree just waiting for the calling sound of the “gola-wallah” (gola is ice slush ball with syrup sprinkled over it). We would rush towards the road as we caught that lowly and familiar sound at a distance.

    Loved the picture of the hands with Paal ice, it almost seemed like a handover of a part of those fond memories to the next gen!



  2. you reminded me of Rita ice cream on Marina beach.. sure there is a post on it somewhere.

    just heard on NPR today that there is a placebo effect. also read in NatGeo yesterday that in the Kumbh Mela, millions of folks drink the contaminated Ganges water but experience euphoria and don’t get sick because they tell themselves it is the nectar of the gods. sometimes what we believe changes the way our body reacts to things we eat or so says the study! the ice cream surely improved your overall well being by ~873% ?!


  3. Jairam says:

    This was just such a wonderful nostalgic walk down memory lane for you. This post made me remember some of my fond memories from times long gone 🙂

  4. ashok says:

    ah! very nostalgic…

  5. Nandakumar P says:

    age old memories boss. Adding up to our street paal ice and semiya ice,the sound of gulfi man past night surely took away us to the road no matter the time.

  6. Nandakumar P says:

    age old memories boss. Adding up to our street paal ice and semiya ice,the sound of gulfi man past night surely took away us to the roads….

  7. teflon says:

    What your post brings back to me is the line that “not all who wander are aimless”.
    There is something about visiting your roots that puts life back into you.. inexplicable, but I have experienced it so many times.
    Lovely post.

  8. Vikas Mittal says:

    Sime of these memories are so gripping, they cause a fine heartache! Simple pleasures (5 of us on a lambretta, hot jalebi, softy in Mussoorie) the list is endless and the possibilities immense.

  9. Rajan Srinivasan says:

    A nice vivid account of your trip down the memory lane! I wonder how the “ice man” took this interaction. ‘Bemused’ is a nice word – probably the apt description. 🙂

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