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Cheated by rains, UP falls back to traditional coolers

Wednesday July 04, 2012 09:44:29 AM, Mohit Dubey, IANS

Lucknow: '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 IANS.

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 countries.

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




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