Last year I, Kushal Gautam, was in Durham, pursuing my Master’s study, a long way from home in Kathmandu, Nepal. After the last day of exams, I, with my friends decided to give ourselves a quick treat of a milkshake at Shakeaway – yes, that’s how boring we engineering students are.
In the North Rd, Shakeaway’s pink and blue colors scream for attention, and their slogan – The World’s Largest Milkshake Bar Company – lures you to step in. This was my first time going there and I couldn’t wait for a flavored sugar-shake to excite my taste buds.
As we crossed the Framwellgate bridge, my friends were discussing how the lecturer had designed the exam papers imagining Einstein and Elon Musk as his students, and how annoyingly strict the invigilator was about the model of the calculator allowed in the exam hall. I, however, was thinking about which milkshake to order. Chocolate milkshake – would that be too obvious and unadventurous? Strawberry milkshake – guilty pleasure, but I’m not having it in front of my friends? Banana milkshake – could be a safe option.
We entered the shop and I was immediately overwhelmed by the choices. Who would have thought one had to read an essay before ordering something as simple as a milkshake. Slapped on the walls, and on every corner, were scribbles of the menu with detailed ingredients. My innocent choices between chocolate, strawberry, and banana milkshake went out the window and I had entered an embarrassing war zone. It was corporate marketing gone mad! Shakeaway’s philosophy for milkshake variety was obvious: every possible sequence of the mix of ingredients makes for a different menu option. Pouring milk over ice cream results in a completely different taste than putting ice cream in the milk.
Then came the naming of the milkshakes, which, I’m sure, was prepared by an intern tasked to come up with enticing names at Shakeaway’s headquarter in Bournemouth. Surely, after everyone had left the office in the evening, the intern slyly browsed through pornstar names and copied it to the menu. What does Very Naughty Nadia tell you about a milkshake anyway?
Five minutes went by as I was dazed and confused by the dizzying menu. My friend steps aside from the counter for my turn to order. The girl behind the counter asks, ‘And what would you like?’
After bobbing my head for another two minutes and uttering nothing but um and hmm, she asks me whether I would like to go over the menu. She put a menu on the counter no thinner than an entire volume of an encyclopedia. Another five minutes go by as I turn the 1,000-page menu and by now, my brain has gone passive and given up. I could feel the vibe of annoyance from whoever was behind me waiting for their turn to order.
Then the counter attendant adds another layer of confusion, ‘You can choose your own ingredients.’ Apparently, I can customize my milkshake! ‘These privileged British’, I thought. Where I come from, coffee is Nescafé, with the only choices being black or milk; and milkshakes are milkshakes with a name of a fruit preceding it.
That’s it! With my self-esteem shattered, I randomly flipped to a page and chose a random shake from the corner of the menu. Surprise me!
My heartbeat calmed only after my card went through and the girl said, ‘Thank you, it’ll be ready in a minute.’ Avoiding eye contact with whoever was behind me – it was a party-loving-lady because she had high heels on, which, of course, is a sensible choice in the cobbled streets of Durham – I joined my friends.
My random selection didn’t disappoint though. The milkshake was a delight. I’m not sure whether it was the actual taste of the shake or its name that made it luscious, but you definitely need to give Very Naughty Nadia a try.