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|Soda Ramana (standard:Fan Fiction, 2241 words)|
|Author: Juggernaut||Added: Nov 22 2010||Views/Reads: 1699/967||Story 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 Click here to read the rest of this story (148 more lines)
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