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Soda Ramana (standard:Fan Fiction, 2241 words)
Author: JuggernautAdded: Nov 22 2010Views/Reads: 1699/967Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A sad story about street soda vendor
 



Soda Ramana 

Subba Rao 

Ramana sold soda pop from a tiny shop alongside of an open sewer drain.
The shop, just ten feet high was built with used metal sheets. 

The soda shop was Ramana's full-time residence and business place. From
a squatting position inside the shop, he sold all kinds of beverages, 
but mostly plain soda or carbonated water prepared on-site using a 
small hand operated soda making machine. 

On the shop floor, the sodas were kept cold in wooden crates covered
with blocks of ice wrapped in gunny bags, and rice husk to prevent ice 
from melting in perpetual south Indian hot weather. 

A trap door on the floor functioned as the secret exit and entrance to
the shop above. While sitting inside the shop doing business, Ramana 
kept the trap door open to keep an eye on the stuff below. 

Besides sodas, he sold other sundry items such as cigarettes, bananas,
soap and other toiletries. But, he was known for making and selling 
sodas on-site. People knew how strong the Ramana's soda was just by the 
popping sound it produced every time Ramana opened the soda bottle by 
pressing the ball stopper with force using a round-wooden opener to let 
the gas (carbon dioxide) out. The “fizz” in the soda water that tickles 
the tongue made Ramana famous for his soda and earned him the nickname 
Soda Ramana. If the popping sound was feeble, he discarded it, and 
replaced with a better one to the customer to maintain his reputation. 

Whenever the business was slow, he would jump to the floor through the
trapdoor to make more sodas using a hand-operated soda machine. The 
machine is simple to operate with a wooden handle to rotate twelve soda 
bottles at a time. The empty soda bottles of varying shades of light 
green were first filled with tap water. Carbon dioxide gas was pumped 
from a small cylinder into the bottles, and the bottles were rotated 
upside down several times to charge the water with carbon dioxide gas, 
and pressurize the bottle to seal itself with glass marble inside. 
Unlike other soda makers, Ramana never shortchanged on the amount of 
gas per bottle to get maximum amount of “fizz” in the soda water. He 
kept the soda bottles in invert position to keep the marble stopper 
wet, and prevent excess gas escaping the bottle thus maintaining its 
freshness. Ramana conducted the entire soda making operation like a 
step-wise scientific experiment. For him, the quality of soda he sold 
is a gauge of his personal reputation. 

Besides plain soda, Ramana also sold flavored sodas such as ginger and
lemon sodas. People suffering with common cold and sore throat 
preferred ginger soda, hoping it would cure. Drinking plain soda was a 
daily habit like drinking coffee in south India particularly among 
thirsty rickshaw-pullers; some drink to quench their thirst, and others 
as an aid for good digestion after a heavy meal. 

The brisk business hours for selling sodas were generally when cinema
shows were closed between 5 and 11 PM. The movie patrons on their way 
home would stop by soda shops for bananas, cigarettes, and a strong 
soda. Some people belch loudly after each gulp of soda, a sign of 
freshness of the soda pop, and a relief from accumulated unwanted gases 
in the stomach. 

For years, when Juggernaut was young he observed Ramana's daily chores
from his house front porch. Not that he spent all the time watching 
him, but watching him over a period of time he concluded that Soda 
Ramana did chores mechanically as if he was programmed to carry out his 
chores at a certain time of the day. 

Early in the morning before sunrise, Ramana would clean his teeth using
forefinger as a toothbrush and dark-colored medicinal ash as cleansing 
powder. A wooden plank placed across the open sewer served him as 
multi-purpose washroom. Wrapped in loincloth, he would take a quick 
bath over the plank, wash his shorts and undershirt and hang them at 
the back of the shop to sun-dry. In dripping wet clothes, Ramana would 
turn to the east to face the rising sun for a short prayer. If he were 
to notice a passing cow, he would touch its butt with palm of his hand 
and then carefully draw his palm back to touch his forehead, as if he 


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