By V. Shourabh
Pics. by M.N. Lakshminarayana Yadav
The humble earthen pot and the lime soda are the best ways to keep oneself cool and healthy in a hot summer. While the pot water soothes your throat, a lemon-and-soda drink rejuvenates your body after a tiring day where the sweltering heat sucks out your energy. This Weekend Star Supplement narrates the story of people behind these earthen pots and lime soda. Coming to our city from far off places, they sell these eco-friendly and natural stuff to the health-conscious and at the same time eke out a living.
Heavenly Earthen Pots
The earth is a treasure trove of nutrients and minerals. Our ancients knew how to harness its benefits the right way. That’s why they designed pots and pans crafted out of the clay. To this day, many Indian households swear by the clay pot and prefer the water cooled in the ‘Matka’ to any refrigerated beverage.
Earthen water pots, commonly called clay pots or ‘mannina madike’ in local parlance, have several healthy properties and also keep the water cool by maintaining a temperature of about 10 degrees to 14 degrees – much healthier than the water cooled by a typical refrigerator.
These pots are also known to filter impurities as they settle down and the porous texture helps in maintaining the temperature, however hot it may be outside. The pots are also known as ‘Pani ka Matka’ and in a hot summer, the water (from the pot) acts gentle on the throats.
Ask any user of these earthen pots. He/she will definitely question, with these eco-friendly pots, who needs a refrigerator that runs on electricity and also burns a hole in pockets. Water from the refrigera-tors gives a cooling effect momentarily but acts harsh on throats and causes throat infections too.
Krishna, a 15-year-old boy sells earthen pots and clay water pots near Kalamandira entrance. His parents have been selling earthenware over there since about 30 years. He was born in Mysuru and has studied upto 6th Standard.
Speaking to Star of Mysore, he says, “We are from Rajasthan and have settled here since many years. Our family is into this business of selling earthen pots and clay water pots. I was born in Mysuru and since then I have learnt polishing the pots and have mastered it. I managed to study till 6th Standard. But now, as my younger brother attends school and we need someone to take care of the pots, polish and sell them, I shouldered the responsibility.”
“We are about 5 to 6 families with over 40 people. We divide the areas and each family has its own location and they earn their profits or their fate of destiny. It all depends on sales. Our family sells pots near Aishwarya Petrol Bunk, Kalamandira, and Saraswathipuram.”
They get their pots from Ahmadabad in Gujarat and each load of a truck filled with pots costs them about Rs. 75,000. Sellers who are settled in various parts of the country buy earthen pots from Ahmedabad.
Krishna says, “We get around 2,500 to 3,000 pots of various sizes in one truck load. The truck travels all the way from Gujarat and comes to Mysuru. We are always worried about the journey as many pots tend to crack or break. Even with utmost care, on an average 200 to 300 pots are broken in transit. Those damaged ones are of no use to us, we just throw them away. It is a loss for us.”
“There are pots of several sizes – 6 litres to 20 litres. We tell the drivers to take extra Rs. 20,000 to en-sure care and drive safely and smoothly. Yet many pots break and we are helpless. Tollgate taxes at several places are also borne by us. Once the truck arrives, we unload the pots carefully and later we polish them and attach tap to them. Their quality is checked and we keep it for sale,” he adds.
“Customers demand good quality and we want to give the best to them. The Government has provided our families with houses at Shantinagar and we are managing our livelihood,” he says.
Shekhar and his family have settled in Mysuru near Ballal Circle and have set up their own roadside sale of earthen pots and clay water pots next to the MMK-SDM Women’s College. Shekhar manages to make his living out of the sale and lives along with his wife, children, brother and an aged mother.
Shekhar, who also hails from Rajasthan, gets his earthen pots from Gujarat. He says, “Since 10 years we have settled down in Mysuru. During summer, we manage to make a decent earning as people buy pots from us. But after summer, business drops. In order to make a living, I make idols, paint them and sell them. This is our life cycle and we do this for our survival.”
“With each pot we make a profit of about Rs. 200 to Rs. 350. Making these pots is an art and that is why it is a little expensive though the raw material used in it is just mud,” he adds.
fizz in the air…
Lemon along with hot water removes toxins from the body. But it is a pain to the taste buds for sure. With heat at its peak, lemon soda fits the bill and is an icing on the cake to beat the heat. Lime soda has several healthy elements and helps in digestion. Moreover it is economical for a common man. No wonder American actress, producer, and philanthropist Sandra Bullock has said, “Lemon cleans everything. It’s the greatest disinfectant.”
With several flavours at their disposal, lime soda sellers are providing various combinations and are displaying their expertise of mixing flavours. They give a colourful look to the humble drink and serve it in a preferred flavour to their customers. Who doesn’t like the glide of a lime soda down the throat? The liquid re-hydrates the body and after having a glass or two, one is usually raring to go.
From Nellore in AP to Mysuru
A group of people from Nellore, Andhra Pradesh (AP) have asetup a business of selling lime soda in Mysuru. They stay at a rented place behind Bamboo Bazaar Road at Bannimantap (Next to ICRM Central Prayer Hall). About six men set out with their carts every day and locate themselves at strategic junctions and sell lime soda.
Their day starts off with the preparation of soda, getting the required ingredients like masala, sugar and lemon ready. They have two soda making machines at their place. B. Penchilaiah is the one who heads the group. He, along with 5 other men, set out onto the roads at about 11 am and they sell lime sodas at various locations such as near Akashawani Circle, Highway Circle, Ramakrishna Ashram, CFTRI, DC Office, etc.
Sharing a slice from his life, Penchilaiah says, “We hail from Nellore and we come to Mysuru during Dasara season and go back to our village during monsoon. When we are there we do odd jobs like daily labour to fill our tummies. We have been doing this since eight years and we wait to come to Mysuru and sell the cooling soda.”
“We enjoy selling lime soda and we feel good when thirsty and tired people are energised after drinking soda. Our business peaks during noon time as most pedestrians and commuters stop by and buy soda to quench their thirst. We earlier used to sell soda at Rs. 10 per glass but now we sell it at Rs. 15 as the cost of lemon and other raw materials have also increased. Masala soda is now Rs. 15 and sweet soda is Rs. 20,” he says.
From II PUC Science to selling soda
Penchilaiah’s son Raju is one among the other 5 men who set out on foot, pushing their heavy carts to sell sodas. Raju has passed second PUC in Andhra Pradesh in Telugu medium in the science stream. He, along with his father and other co-workers, engages in preparing soda and then positions himself near the DC Office.
I completed my PUC in science stream. I quit my studies because my father owns this business and I too wanted to support him and be a bread winner for our family. Being educated, I and my workers use only paper glass and we are against the use of plastic cups. Our families stay in Nellore. But my mother stays here along with us. She cooks food for us and we have managed to make a decent livelihood,” he says.
“In summer, we get good amount of customers and this lime soda is good for the health as it helps in digestion, prevents gastric and is a good remedy for stomach ache. I have no regrets that I dropped my studies, as I have shouldered the responsibility of our business very well. We have our own soda-making machines, good co-workers and a place for ourselves,” he adds with a broad smile on his face.
An array of flavours…
A soda outlet in city is attracting people with its name “Pappu Soda Centre”, owned by Pappu Das Vaishnav.
Pappu Das Vaishnav sells varieties of sodas, kulfis and ice-creams on his modified self-designed cart near Vishnu Bhavan Sweets in Kuvempunagar. He is quite popular in the area and makes a roaring business during summer.
He has made his identity for himself since about 20 years as he offers several varieties of cooling delicacies. His customised cart is colourful and he also accepts digital cash. He has one advice to all: “Please don’t go by the size of my shop. I have a lot to offer and the taste will linger in your mouth for long.”
His shop offers Kulfi Ice, Kulfi Faluda, Kulfi Pista, Kulfi Vanilla, Cadbury Kulfi, Suganda Fruit Salad, Suganda Badam Shake, Kaju Shake, Fruit Salad, Badam Shake, Butter Milk, Lassi, Masala Sweet Soda, Katta-Meeta Soda, Lemon Sweet Soda, Kala Katta, Blue Berry, Green Berry, Mango Soda, Pepper Soda, Jal-Jeera, etc.
“I have been in this business since the past 20 years and I live nearby so that coming here is not a bur-den. I come here daily at about 12.30 pm and return by around 10.30 pm. I have a variety of flavours and people, especially youngsters throng the place. I have a fixed soda-making machine in my cart and easily can prepare soda, use flavours and masala and serve as per customer preference. Different people like it to have in a different way,” he says.
No wonder the squeeze of a lemon mixed with a pinch of salt stirred along with the oozing soda is all what it takes to make a hectic sunny day into a pleasant one.