‘Made in India’ soda bottles are highly priced in Pakistan.

Formal trade between India and Pakistan may be hostage to historic baggage but the informal route still brings in considerable amount of stuff from across the border including the “banta soda” bottle. Yes, indeed, “banta soda” bottles — the green-tinged Indian variant of the Codd-neck bottles with a marble as a stopper.

With India being one of the last two countries which still manufacture the thick-bottomed bottle and the “banta soda” having a market here despite the penetration of the big cola brands, dealers smuggle the bottles in from across the border at considerable risk; making them rather highly prized.

A Pakistani-Canadian on a visit to her native place in Sargodha had this to tell: After drinking the soda, her daughter asked the shopkeeper if she could have the bottle for a keepsake. Imagine the look on her face when he agreed with visible reluctance for a neat PKR 200! Seeing their bewildered expressions, the shopkeeper explained that he had to pay through his nose to get the bottles from India and so parting with even one came with a price. Non-negotiable.