The younger generation is discovering and sipping a slice of nature giving the fizzies a cold shoulder. Ranee Kumar finds out
The colas have lost their fizz. Our college-going youngsters have cocked a snook at the soft drink manufacturers and how now taken up to natural fruit juices. Streaming their way out of coaching centres and colleges by evening, you can see teenagers line up for a glass of fresh orange or ‘mosambi’ juice on their way home. Says Aditya, a Second Year Intermediate student: “It’s reviving, quenches my thirst and a wee bit of hunger too. We get tired sitting through hours of classes with packed lunch to go for the whole day. By the time we reach home, thanks to the traffic snarls and distances, I’m fagged out. It’s nutritious too.”
“Nothing like a dash of ice with my orange juice fresh from the juicer. It’s instant energy and peps up my sagging spirits at the end of the day,” quips Srinath, just out of his EAMCET medical coaching centre.
“It is not very expensive. It’s refreshing and filling. And we got to pay a little extra if we don’t want our juice to be diluted with sugar syrup or water,” Shreya makes an audit.
It comes as a relief to see boys and girls perched on bikes sipping pure orange juice at happening places like multiplexes.
“We are often dubbed as living off junk food and written off as a doomed generation which is bound to get into a host of health crises by the time we hit 30. Just look at our school-goers. They are already opting for what’s good for health,” a medico points out with pride at the row of ‘mosambi’ and lemon juice vendors parked opposite the cluster of schools and colleges in the city.
So, the humble juice vendor has the last laugh. He has actually scored over his multinational soft drink rival without much ado. Colas are passé, pronounces the savvy orange juice bar owner. It’s not yet wiped out of public memory that MNC and other soft drink manufacturers had once upon a time avowed to target the teenage component and get it addicted to their aerated drinks for years to come and thus make their foray a stay. The statement loomed large for sometime threatening to turn into a reality. Anxious parents remained mutely apprehensive having little control over their children. The young ones in turn guzzled bottled soft drinks with gusto as many times a day as their pockets permitted. While debates raged across the nation on the health hazards of carbonated drinks, a chunk of its citizens found comfort in soft drinks that came in handy at all times.
The soft drink makers met their nemesis when the nation woke up to pesticide residues being found in the water as well as soft drinks. Screaming a stop to consumption of these drinks were a number of anti-campaigners and researchers on one side and the high and mighty industry on the other.
To cut a long story short, the health hazard concept of soft drinks has made the manufacturers revamp their strategies. Few big houses and MNCs are now coming out with bottled fruit juices, ‘nimbu paani’ (lemon juice) and even coconut water. But they’ve yet to make inroads into rural/town sectors. And though small and big bottles of soft drinks still adorn pan masala miscellany kiosks on highways and village streets, the craze to buy and consume has ebbed especially among the youth. Long live fresh fruits and coconut water!