Living the ice-cream dream

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Home Ice Cream truck owner Jagdish Patel speaks about his work 

Many of us who have moved from India to Australia reminisce fondly about the thelawalas and itinerant door-to-door salesmen and women who brought a world of convenience and wonder to our doorsteps. Where I grew up in Goa, we had the pavwala (bread seller), the sabziwala (vegetable seller) and the macchiwala (fish seller) making their daily rounds. Occasionally, the knife-sharpener and the mattress cotton-fluffer came along and we would watch them, fascinated by their tools of trade.

Jagdish Patel.Indian Link

When I moved to Sydney, I missed the late night kulfiwala too. This hard, frozen Indian ice-cream is a treat on sultry summer nights. Here, there are no calls announcing the arrival of goods at the door and we have to travel to markets or shopping centres to get what is needed.

That was until one afternoon I heard the continuous tinkle of a bell in my new neighbourhood and was surprised to see the neighbours’ kids running to buy ice-cream from a truck that had stopped in the street.

Keith Reisinger founded the Home Ice Cream business in Toowoomba, Queensland, in 1988 and since then franchises have brought joy to customers all over Australia, selling quality frozen treats on a fortnightly basis at low prices.

Jagdish Patel is the jovial owner of our local Home Ice Cream truck and we always look forward to hearing the gentle tinkle of his bell, especially on hot summer days.

Rather than wait to find an office job after he migrated here, Jagdish took up this ice-cream franchise.

How long have you been working in the ice-cream business?

I have been running this business for three years now.

What does your work entail?

Driving all day is not an easy job and you need to be fit. You need to have good, as well as safe, driving skills. You also need to be good at handling money and mental calculations!

What’s a typical day like?

Though I am driving the streets all day, you always get to experience different things. I go to the Home Ice Cream depot at around 10 in the morning and check emails for online orders. I also check the stock. After that, I drive around the streets of my allocated suburbs. At the end of the day, around 8pm, I go to the depot again to refill stock. Every day is a unique and amazing experience.

Jagdish Patel.Indian Link

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my work is seeing the happiness and smiles on children’s faces as I pull into their street. The second best part of my job is meeting new and different people every day.

What is the hardest thing about your job?

The hardest thing about my work is ringing the bell all day while driving!

What’s been a memorable experience while on the job?

The best experience I have had on my job is helping out my daily customer, David, who is 80 years old!

How has this job influenced your life?

This job has made me more energetic and improved my fitness. It has vastly improved my communication skills too.

What’s your advice for people who may want to do this kind of work?

It is a great opportunity for people who are willing to do unsupervised work and like to work with no pressure. The best advice I could give would be to drive safely and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Most of all, one should be passionate about one’s work, after all, you need a smile on your face when dealing with customers each day.

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Jyoti Shankar is a freelance writer and sustainability professional, who is passionate about nature