Summer heat make Guwahatians chill out with thirst busters

To soothe the body and mind seared by soaring temperatures, a host of chilling options have hit the town. And, of course, without cutting deep into your pocket.

The mouth-watering tarbooz (water melon) is seducing the passerby at every road junction in the city. These round characters have come from outside the state-all the way from places as far as Hazaribagh, Dhanbad, Siliguri, etc.,-and have been strategically placed at busy crossings and market places in the city.

Selling at around Rs 6 a kilo, tarbooz vendors are giving roadside competitors who sell traditional thirst quenchers like sugarcane, cucumber and green coconut juice, a run for their money.

As seven year-old Priyanka, a city school kid from the Kamarpatty area puts it, "The first thing on my mind as soon as I get back from school is to gobble up a piece of cold tarbooz."

But despite this competition, the traditional vendors are doing brisk business. They are thriving on a section of the citizens who still prefer the older cousin to the new entrant.

Amidst the raging roadside rivalry, demand for conventional options, like ice-cream, cold drinks, fruit drinks, etc., have also increased. And to take a slice of the demand from heat weary denizens, bigwigs like Baskin Robbins, Kwality Walls, and the good old Coke and Pepsi have already come out of winter hibernation.

Certain cooling off hot spots like Juicy Hut at Zoo Tiniali, Sizen Counter on Jail Road and Xika in Chandmari Colony have geared up to meet customers' demands that look set to rise as temperatures shoot up.

Xika's manager Kaushik said that most of his milk-product clientele from Gauhati Commerce College prefer ice creams to lassi, while some opt for cold coffee.

Juicy Hut is providing another specialty this season-cold chocolate drink. According to one of the waiters, the drink is very popular among the little ones. He added that the Hut's popular fruit juices, which a lot of the customers take home, are always a hit in summer.
Vinod Sarma, the proprietor of Sizen Counter, says his customers are content with the old loves like badam lassi and mango shakes. And without doubt. For, three of his customers-Nayanika, Renuka and Dip-waited for a full fifteen-minute stretch for a glass of Sizen ke lassi when the lights went out and Sarma struggled to get his generator set working at noon on a hot Wednesday.

Praline Cashew, the latest from Baskin Robbins' ice cream stable, has also hit the stands and is available in Xika. Digen Verma's Frooti, Tropicana, Real, Pran are also here along with a host of imported drinks from Thailand, Malaysia, etc.

- By SANTANU BURAGOHAIN