Many long years ago the Sometimes Resident Engineer did not eat ice cream. We were living in Lucknow at the time, and his sister lived quite near us too, so we'd occasionally pile into our ancient Ambassador (which we called Arrey Arrey Kyon, as its registration letters were RRQ) with our kids and Didi's kids and head to GoGo Ice Cream in Mahanagar, where all of us would indulge in our favourite flavours. This was just a stand-up place, a few square feet of space in front of an old fashioned freezer- no glass to see through to the different ice creams- you had to look at the menu on the wall. The SRE was a smoker in those days, and was just not tempted by ice creams at all. Strange man.
Times changed, we moved cities. He quit smoking, and discovered Baskin Robbins. Black currant was his favourite. We moved cities a few more times, and landed up in 21st century Kolkata, with its malls and multiplexes and gelato parlours. Gelati are low-fat frozen desserts, and for me and the kids were soon synonymous with ice cream. We were happy to see the SRE partake of them too.
Last month, however, there was a huge revelation. The SRE had been seriously deceived by us: his loving family, and the gelato parlours.
The Eldest Daughter had come down when my mother was in hospital. After settling her in for the night the day she was discharged from the hospital, we thought we'd go out for a coffee, but our local coffee haunt wasn't feeling very hospitable at a quarter to eleven that night, so we trundled over the bridge to the gelato parlour, actually in search of coffee, as we both had bad throats and were not in a mood for an ice cream. We were pleased to discover some non-frozen desserts, and shared a lemon and a chocolate tart, while the SRE indulged in what he thought was a butterscotch ice cream.
"I must be getting old," said the SRE, most plaintively,"My taste buds seem to be getting weak."
"Why, Pops?" asked the eldest daughter.
"Ice creams don't taste creamy any more."
The Irreverent Spouse aka moi and the daughter laughed until we could laugh no more.
We dragged the SRE by the arm and showed him the counter where every second gelato was 96 or 98% fat-free. We explained to him what a gelato was supposed to be.
The poor SRE was most insulted. "You guys have been fooling me all these years. I kept thinking that there was something wrong with me."
When we came to pick up some strawberry tarts for the Eldest Child before she left for Delhi, a couple of days later, we also visited a nearby ice cream shop and bought the SRE some genuine ice cream. He was most delighted to eat it and discover that his taste buds were doing just fine!