Many years ago, on a cool summer’s day in Ootacamund, my family and I were lunching at our favourite restaurant. The restaurant’s sumptuous wood-panelled interiors were as familiar to me as my own bedroom. Outside, a light drizzle punctuated the eucalyptus-scented air, and inside, a very important decision was being made. My grandfather was poring over the dessert menu, torn between his two opposing loves: plump juicy strawberries slathered in thick yellow cream with a generous sprinkling of sugar — a carryover from his student days in England — and kulfi, the dense creamy Indian ice cream studded with green pistachios, and served in an earthen pot. 

Eventually, he picked one or the other, but sometimes he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) choose, and ended up eating both. As a child, this dilemma both fascinated and emboldened me: I could eat two desserts if I wanted! I inherited my grandfather’s love of food, and his incredible sweet tooth, along with his adventurous spirit, and love of the bizarre. As I grew older, I understood his conundrum better; the tug of war of the desserts represented the two identities inside of him that were at constant odds with one other — his love for England, and his eventual love for India.

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