Almost anybody who grew up in Mangalore around 30 years ago would have rushed to goodangadis (small shops) with the few paise he or she had saved up and asked for goli soda: the soda bottle with the marble.
Prabhashankar Rao is the owner of one of the few goli soda shops in the city. Dust has settled on the numerous empty goli soda bottles in Mr. Rao's shop in Mahakalipadpu.
“I have stopped line sale, and only make soda when stock is over. Earlier, I had five people working for me,” he said. Line sale refers to delivering soda bottles to shops in a wooden carrier attached to the back of a bicycle.
Another goli soda shop in Jeppu Market has the tall wooden structure with small square holes to hold the bottles. However, the proprietor of the shop was out on “line sale” both times this correspondent visited the shop.
Five years after Mr. Rao set up his shop, Thumbs-Up and Torino came into the picture. Goli soda was then available in four flavours: chappe soda (tasteless), nannari (sweet flavour made from the root of a plant), ginger and Impto (cola). Back then, it sold for seven paise. The company manufactured drinks sold for a few rupees Mr. Rao recalled. Now even though it is “competitively” priced at Rs. 4, Mr. Rao claimed that it was still cost-effective.
Jayram Shetty, a petty shop owner who sells goli soda, said even three years ago goli soda sold better than it did now. “When they shut the liquor shops, this too got hit”.
The magic marble
Goli soda bottles are manufactured with the marble fixed at the bottleneck making them re-usable. Sudarshan, Mr. Rao's son said that the bottles were washed before re-use, and the rubber ring which held the marble in place can be replaced.
Mr. Shetty said he did not let customers take away the soda bottles as it was expensive to replace (One costs Rs. 15).
Other bottles comparatively cost lesser to replace if broken, he said.
Making goli soda was an exact art: if you don't pay attention to the number of times you swing the handle of the soda machine, the excess pressure can make the marble pop out of the bottle. Mr. Rao knows by experience; he has several knobs on his body from being hit by a marble.
Sudarshan said in interior areas, goli soda was still popular, but his father disagreed. “I could educate my son because I had this (soda shop), but he will not want to continue it,” Mr. Rao said.
Sudarshan, who holds a diploma in mechanical engineering, sits in his father's shop only on holidays.