Sugarcane Juice

Sugar Circles !

Somewhere between Shirdi and Aurangabad we see sugar territory. They see him. Slightly decked up. With an assortment of colour threads and beads on his forehead and frontage ! Visitors they are. To the rural plains !

He walks around. In circles. Almost in synchrony to the command he nonchalantly receives from a man standing afar.

“There are new people who have come’. The man seems to say. Our protogonist must commence his walk again. On the beaten path. In the much treaded circle. He walks. He walks the rounds. There are levers at work. Circles of wood that spin. Juice that’s made. Raw. Sweet. And complete.

The visitors sit there. In row of chairs that have been held to a straight line by a rope. Much to the awe of the city siders. Omni present simple solutions stump them.

They havent seen anything like this before in big city Mumbai or wherever they came from. The sugar cane juice disappears from the glass tumblers like money in an inflation prone economy !

And him… Job done. He looks at the visitors. Almost asking if he must walk the path again. For them to soothe parched throats with more juice that was sitting pretty inside the cane !

They nod. He walks again. In that circle ! All for sugar & juice !

Sugar circles ! Ah ! The story of our lives.

One for the road

The sights are so many. The sounds are ear numbing. The mind tries to absorb all what comes by. The eyes are focused on the road. The heat is omni present.

The car’s air-conditioner is at work. As much as it can. Its some years old now. And it shows. The suns heat has been there forever. That shows too.

Its having an impact. All of this. To compound an already clouded mind. Clouded with work and its facets. Family and its facets. The home and the broken faucets.

The mind sows the seed for a head ache to take shape. The head is fertile ground. For such sowing. Tiredness germinates. Its becoming clear as to where all this would lead to. Beeps go off somewhere within. Auto triggered alarm bells within the confines of the mind.

Adding to the clamour.

That’s precisely when the sugar cane juice vendor is spotted. He pushes sugarcane into heavy machinery. Those wheels by the side, move with precision. Out flows concentrated juice. A slice of lemon. And some ginger. And some ice later, the drink is nursed.

As it sinks into a parched throat, the mind seems to be affected. The noises quieten. He sells more. A Small costs Rs.3/-. A large costs Rs.5/-. He can almost sense that the throat is parched enough for more. And proposes a ‘Jumbo’ for Rs.7/-.

In some time, what was grown in some field somewhere, rests in the glass at hand. The throat is a lot less parched. The mind seems to be a lot less noisy. Was there a connection ? There is wonder. As usual.

In satisfaction, the eyes roam. And spot the large tender coconuts sold. Just some distance away. The parched throat is no longer parched. The mind is still in its quenched trance. Yet, the tender coconuts beckon.

There are memories of having tender coconuts. In fields. Roadsides. Travel. With special people. With strangers. All alone. Lows. Highs. A million thoughts rush back. Its almost as though the tender coconuts beckon for re-living of those memories.

He is doubtful of any sale. For he has seen the Jumbos getting gulped with a ferocity of a ravenous glutton.

For only a fleeting second. ‘”The one with water'”, escapes the throat with almost quaint insult to the Jumbo glasses of Sugarcane juice. He gives a wide grin.

The mind seems to rise in protest. Somewhere, that protest is quelled with one statement : ‘This ones for the road’.

A sigh escapes. A smile uses the same escape route too. The mind is quiet. In some time, so is the air-conditioner in the car.

Juices & Frills !

Incessant travel. Much like the incessant rainfall, can have multi-dimensional impact. Just like viral fever. Back from a trip to Delhi. Or somewhere close to Delhi. Browsing through my photo albums i chanced upon two snaps. A study in contrast. Here is the first one.

Had this at a street corner. In a dry and sultry afternoon, a couple of months back. In the peak of summer, this was perhaps the best of drinks. He packed quite a punch. With ginger, lime and of course, sugar cane juice, spliced out by the age old splicer ! And what a crowd ! All of it for Rs. 5 only !

A couple of weeks later, i was at a fancy mall. And advertisement for sugarcane juice, caught my attention. And i queued up. All the store in charge was to do, is to push in the sugarcane and out came the juice.

As i waited out my turn in the queue little did i realise that it costed my Rs. 40/- ! Rs. 40 /- for a glass of sugar cane juice !!

I enjoyed the taste of the street side juice much more than the taste at the fancy mall. Now what was it because ?

a. Was it because i saw it being made ? In the true sense of ‘seeing’ !
b. Was it because the Rs. 40/- robbed the charm of the juice in the second case ?
c. Or was it because the drink in case 1, genuinely taste better ?

To me, it appears that it was a combination of all three ! These days, packaging seems to be everything. No matter, what the real stuff is made of, if you package it well, chance are bright for you to make a sale. It is happening everywhere !

As i continue to grapple with this fact, i have been told time and again that its about getting a space in the mind ! Its all about positioning they say. Its not the what you do, they say. Its the how you package it. That’s remarkably simple & disconcerting too.

So, in the fast paced world which doesn’t have time to look inside, its the outsides that are beginning to count ! How true is that ?

Oh, BTW, when did you last have sugar cane juice. With ginger. With lime. And the sound of a motor which causes the wheels to splice open the cane to give you juice!! Yummy ! No frills. True value !