When an Englishman, James Meadow Charles, started the Lakeview Milk Bar in 1930, MV Joseph was not even born. When James sold it to a 19-year-old Indian, Vraj Lal, in 1947, Joseph was five years away from coming to this world. And when he did, he did not know for the next 37 years that he would be part of the parlour serving ice creams to kids who would come back as doctors, architects, engineers and address him as 'Uncle Joseph'.
By the time he came to Bangalore from Kerala in 1986, Joseph had worked in various hospitals, newspaper offices and also travelled to Saudi Arabia before he found his true calling at one of the first ice cream parlours of Bangalore.
Now 61 and 24 years with the parlour, Joseph is a familiar face to many regulars. Trim in black pants, white shirt and black waist coat, the radiance on his face is warm, pretty much unlike the cold ice creams that he serves.
He has served people when they were fussy toddlers and the same people have returned decades later, with a picture or an anecdote where 'uncle Joseph' is the hotshot ice cream man. He doesn't remember everyone he says, but there are some faces he recognises. "All these people have grown. Their faces have changed. It is difficult to place everyone," he says.
And when such people do turn up, looking for fragments of their childhood days, all Joseph can manage is a shy toothless grin.
Recalling the glorious days of yore, Joseph says that back then their's was one of the only shop selling 'exotic' flavours and sundaes and on weekends the shop used to be flooded with families, out to enjoy their holiday. "But now so many places have come up. The footfall in our shop has decreased," he says. When Joseph started working at Lakeview, MG road was a very different place. The joint occupied a much bigger space and there was more walking space for people. "Day after day I have seen Bangalore change. New buildings have come up and pollution has increased but then again life goes on," he says.
So far, the journey as the 'ice cream man' has been good, adds Joseph. According to him, the main reason for sticking on for so many years is the kindness showed by the owners. "I am part of the family now," he says. This job has given him the opportunity to educate his son who is now a student of class tenth. "When I look back, I have no regrets. There is no other profession I would have chosen over this," he says. As an after thought he adds, "Life is like an ice cream, enjoy it before it melts," which also happens to be the tagline of the shop.
As the year 2013 is all set to, City Express is moving away from the normal year-ender stories. Instead we present some unseen faces of Bangalore, who have been excelling in their respective fields, to make a living. In the next one month, we will bring stories of lesser-known people through our series 'Unseen Faces - 2013'.