April 23, 2010

Mumbai : The colours of Summer

Nothing ... absolutely nothing ... paints the vibrant colours of Summer in Mumbai even a fraction as much as ... golas!
Hard-packed globes of crushed ice wrapped around a stick, lollipop-style. But it doesn't stop there .... dipped in a glass of flavoured sweet syrup spiced with rather mysterious masalas, it transforms into the stuff of dreams. Dreams of frozen icy cool on a miserably boiling hot day. Of sticky, sugary flavours to be slurped up, tantalising the tastebuds and teasing the memory cells.

And the colours! Lurid, ravishing, vibrant ... golden mango, explosive orange, sunny pineapple, grape, kaalakhatta.... definitely more flavours than fruit trees could dream up .

But it is not for the squeamish or the faint-hearted. Being a transplant to Mumbai, I always found the rather dubious antecedents of the gola a bit of a restraint every time I was tempted to try one.

I found a long line of gola-wallahs busy at work on their carts on Marve Beach the other night. Don't you just love the way those bottles glow like jewels in the warm light of the lanterns ?
The colours fascinated, the icy coolness lured, but I resisted its charms. My Mumbai-bred husband shook his head at my stubborness and proceeded to gorge on frozen golas, leaving me melting in the summer heat.

Amazing how such a rickety contraption as a hand-cart, a manual ice-crusher and a super-model line-up of syrups and spices can transform into a superhero for so many Mumbai folk!

Then the other day we were driving down Linking Road, sweltering in the blistering heat with the sun snickering at the a.c. which was on full blast but might as well have not been functioning for all the good it did.
Many sweaty miserable minutes later,my husband stopped at an all-too familiar stall. And this one time, I was tempted once too often. And I gave in!

What can I say? It was like the monsoons had come early... in a sweet orangey flavour speckled with rock salt and chaat masala!

(At the time of publishing, the writer is still alive and not suffering any ill-effects after having eaten a gola. But the writer refuses to accept any responsibility for the same if the reader is tempted to have one too ;D )