Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Golla wallah

I was walking in Manek Chowk that morning when I saw the golla wallah. It brought back memories from childhood when one desired the golla (ice candy) more than anything else!

The Bazaar is so often a coming together of visual delight and affordable living, a place for the "common man”, a place where every character of R.K. Narayan’s stories would feel at home, a place where many of us would be happy wandering through as we find that which delights us and that which we can easily afford.

If you are thirsty as you meander through the bazaar, what are the choices you have? You can have ‘sada pani’ - just plain water. You can have tender coconut water or sugarcane juice. You can stop at a chai wallah or you can go to the golla wallah. When you think about it, it’s only the chai that you can also get at home, not the tender coconut, not the sugarcane juice, and surely not the golla! (Anjali's comment has proved me completely wrong. Do check out her home-made Kairi Panha slurp recipe!)

The golla is street food at its best. “This food is to die for” you hear Rocky and Mayur say on their television show ‘Highway on my Plate’ every time they are checking out a new eating place. It’s a programme I love watching because it takes you to all those places serving yummy food that you haven’t gotten to yet. There are endless episodes of it because there are endless choices of food in India. For those of us who love street food, there is the book Street food of India that won’t let us forget that street food is as much living heritage as anything else in this country. And, here is a recipe for the Kala Khatta golla

I think now about all of the local thirst-quenchers and their place in the bazaar. How do they add functional value to the bazaar? How many sugarcane juice stalls might exist in the city compared to the golla wallah stalls? How many people make a livelihood in the city selling tender coconuts? How many invest in a business that sells the kala-khatta golla and more? And then, how does it differ from one city to another? In India, it is not so easy to know the details of operations within the informal sector – its past and its present.

However, we can put our recollections together and build an image of the bazaar. If I asked, what do you remember of the golla wallah? How often did you get to eat a golla? Was it something you did on the way back from school? Is it a memory linked with the summer holidays? If each of us shared what we can remember, we would soon have a bigger picture. So, if you would like to share your thoughts here, we can do a golla wallah collage of memories…

Read about:
The Pani Puri wallah
What is Chai
Tender Coconut in a Street Bazaar


suresh said...

Back in the days, we would buy what could be a Vizag terminology, core-u . It was shreded ice with coloured sugar solution in a glass. As we grew older, we did not buy core anymore but more expensive sugandhi soda. It has been decades since I had core. I do have sugandhi soda now and then.

rk said...

\\\\The Bazaar is so often a coming together of visual delight and affordable living, a place for the "common man”, a place where every character of R.K. Narayan’s stories would feel at home, a place where many of us would be happy wandering through as we find that which delights us and that which we can easily afford.////

Being a fan of RKN, simply loved this description.

You have a great blog here! Keep it going.

You have been blogrolled.


Anjali Koli said...

Here is a post on gola now fashionably called slurp. Hope to add some zing to your memory collage, its a super idea.

Will call you some time soon. Good to see Suresh here :) Helloos to you both.

Indian Bazaars said...

RK: Thanks.

Anjali: Just loved your post!!

Arti said...

One of my favorites, the gollas! Ahh, surely this post takes me back to my summer holidays when along with my cousins, having a golla outside and quenching the thirst in the scorching heat was a real treat! Now, all we hear kids say and drool over are the factory made ice creams... back then the fascination for the gollas were hard to beat!

Thanks for this wonderful post, I loved it!

radha said...

This was sadly prohibited by my mother. And in turn I forbid my children to have this fearing the quality of water. The carts would be parked very close to bus stops and I could watch them endlessly till the bus arrived. Of course, now they sell it as 'granitas' in fashionable coffee shops for the young. But I am told it does not taste the same!

Meena Venkataraman said...

Such a wonderful post have made it come alive... Indian street food rocks!

I'll check out the book you mentioned soon :)

Indian Bazaars said...

Arti: I must say, we are also excited about icecreams and are regulars at the Juhu Naturals Icecream franchise that we now have near our home in Bangalore. The flavours are gorgeous - there's tender coconut icecream, jackfruit icecream and chickoo!! Nearby, there's Baskin Robbins and it's always empty. I don't know if it's the pricing or the foreign flavours, but their business is not so good.

Radha: I must confess, for all of the joy of writing this post, the golla was banned for us too. When I read Anjali's detailed description on her blog about the Golla, I realised that she had some REAL memories!

Meena: Did you try out some street food this time around in India? There's some stuff that continues to be good AND hygienic. For instance, in Bangalore, there is the chain of stores called Cane-o-la which has many flavours of sugarcane juice prepared in extremely clean conditions - there's mint, lemon, natural and ginger.

joshi daniel said...

they are always so colorful and attractive

Anonymous said...

Wow. Old memories.

Kusum said...

Lonely Planet led me here :) Very nice post on Golla Walla. I have never tasted one as my Mom never allowed it!

Indian Bazaars said...

Joshi Daniel: Yes, they are. And, I sometimes feel so grateful we still get to see these in our cities.

Divenita: Our street experiences still carry stories & characters of the "good old days", isn't it?

Kusum: Thanks for leaving a comment.