'Khus ka itra'
and 'Mitti ka itra', lemon grass shower dips, mattha, nariyal
paani, phalse ka sharbat, keora water, rose water, lassi, bael ka
sharbet, phalooda kulfi and thandai - faced with a delayed monsoon
and scorching heat, people in Uttar Pradesh are resorting to
time-tested traditional ways to beat the heat.
And so it is not without reason that non-carbonated drinks, the
traditional coolers, are doing brisk business as day temperatures
in most cities of India's most populous state touch around 44
degrees celsius. Suresh Kumar, owner of the 100-odd-year old sweet
shop at Narahi, near Hazartganj vouches for the "evergreen demand
of traditional" lassi and informs that he sells about 400 medium
sized and 200 large glasses of lassi every day.
Despite the phenomenal price rise of milk products, he says, his
business, found by his forefathers has not dimmed at all. "We
maintain quality, hygeine and the taste as it was several decades
ago," Kumar told IANS while admitting that a glass that came at Rs.
5 ten years back, now comes at a princely price of Rs.25 a glass.
But then he adds, milk, sugar, curd - prices of all have
increased. Sunil, a worker at the famous Chanakya Kulfi and Mattha
centre outside the KD Singh Babu Stadium too is unmindful of the
scorching heat wave.
"It is the heat that shoots up our business," smiles the owner of
the shop, which serves more than 500 servings of pista kulfi in a
day. The same shop serves more than 100 litres of buttermilk or
mattha every morning to fitness freaks who pick up a glass after
their morning jog. Non-carbonated alternatives like nimbu
pani-shikanji (lemonade) are also roaring hits in the sultry
summer. Anil, owner of a road-side shikanji stall near IT College
square says he serves lemonade made with mineral water for Rs.12
and his clientele usually are passersby and office goers.
Raj Pal, owner of a 15-year-old old shop, serving 'jamun ka
sharbat' and mattha to morning walkers outside National Botanical
Research Institute (NBRI) everyday, points out that people are
"becoming more and more health conscious and hence prefer non
areated drinks" over the fizzy drinks. "The trends have hugely
changed in the last few years and people are health conscious," he
points out. Vijay Vargi, owner of the fifth generation perfumers
Sugandhco, says summers is "brisk business time."
In demand, he points out are products like the keora jal (used in
drinks and food recipes), rose water (used in face packs and
drinks), khus and chandan (used for body use and also in cooler
scent). Vijay informs that he imports roots of khus from places
like Sidhauli, Sitapur, Etah and Aligarh though it earlier came in
bulk from Moosanagar in Kanpur. "Irrespective of social strata,
these products are an instant hit across the board," Vargi told
The perfumers have also brought out a product christened GIL -
itra-e-gil (in Urdu) - meaning scent of the soil. Boiled and later
absorbed in clay pots, the scent gives aroma of the wet soil soon
after the monsoon and is a big time hit with people in the state
and overseas too as it is exported 'on demand' to the Gulf
Denizens of Lucknow are also hooked to the traditional thandai - a
concoction of chilled milk, sugar syrup, cardamom, almonds,
cashewnuts, rose petals, fennel seeds and pepper and a beeline at
the shops in the old city's Chowk area is a testimony of the craze
thandai still enjoys in these hot summers. Served in earthern
glasses (kulhad) at Raja Thandai, a shop run by the Tripathi
brothers who are in business for 100 years now, the drink serves
as a great coolant, avers Rituraj, a regular at the shop.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at email@example.com)