Indra Dev is a star in his area. His reputation precedes him and especially in summers students cannot do without him. If you want something more refreshing than just water, then visit his thela right outside the Hindu College.
For the last 15 years, Dev has been selling the humble ‘banta’ or lemon soda in a not so humble avatar. His lemon, orange and cola soda are quite a rage among students of both Hindu and St Stephen’s College.
Not only this he claims that his prestigious thela was featured in a movie as well. “My thela was featured in the movie Dil Dosti. I was told that it was based on Delhi University (DU) and I was more than happy to help them out.”
But he is not the only one. There are scores of other such bantawalas spread around North Campus. They are much more popular than regular carbonated drinks. The bantawalas have their own theory about its popularity. Mukhdev, a bantawala, who sits near Vallabhbhai Patel Chest and has been in the business for the last 12 years said, “We add a lot of lemon juice to it which keeps these student going in sweltering hot summers. Another ingredient, which makes it tasty and helps in beating the heat, is rock salt. A cold drink just bloats you up, it does not quench your thirst, that is why banta is so famous here.”
The traditional lemon soda is the most popular here but other concoctions made from cold drinks and juices are also gaining popularity. Even when the country is reeling under skyrocketing inflation rates, these bantawalas manage to sell it at Rs8 and Rs10.
Not only do they make the best bantas they are a storehouse of knowledge related to the university as well. They are always ready with answers related to admissions, which college to apply to and a whole lot of other things.
“I have been here for the last many years. Most of the knowledge we have is because of the students who visit us often. They tell us about the cutoffs and also about the courses they study. So whenever any student looking for admissions comes up to us and asks for our help we try to help them out,” said Ram Kumar, another bantawala.