As summer arrived, umpteen shops offering traditional Indian cold drinks cropped up by the roadside in Bhopal and made a brisk business despite a challenge from a US-based soft drink giant.
The Coca Cola had launched a Refresh Raho under which 100 ml of soft drink could have been obtained from a vending machine for just Rs 5.
But, the campaign failed to cut much ice with the people despite extreme heat during this summer.
A Coca Cola executive said preference for Indian drinks over aerated drinks was natural, particularly when you have a choice.
Subhash, a youth gulping ‘aam ka pana’ at a shop in MP Nagar, said: “Have you seen the size of their disposable glass, it’s even smaller than a tea glass. When you want to have something to cool yourself, you need at least a full glass of that stuff.”
A middle-aged man, Rakesh Mishra, said, “In the era when use of artificial flavours, colour agents, preservatives, chemicals and other stuff in packaged juices and drinks are common, a glass of ‘jaljeera’ or ‘aam ka panna’ prepared in front of you is not only reassuring but also a healthier and fresh drink to keep you cool in summer heat.”
But, not all the people are reassured about hygienic conditions on these make-shift shops set up on handcarts.
“It doesn’t matter to them if a sewage line was just behind them. Flies, insects can be seen all over their shop. I don’t know how people take drink prepared there,” said Pratibha Sharma, a housewife in TT Nagar.
Some of the restaurant owners or others on contract by the cold drinks company suggested it was a marketing strategy of the firm.
Rajeev Soni, who owns an eatery on Kolar Road, “I had got the machine installed. But, it was not worth it. Why should a shopkeeper care to promote the campaign for Rs 15 per day.”
Regional head of Coca Cola based at Bhopal, DS Lamba, said the pan-India campaign got lukewarm response at some places.