Sixty, Bokka Onji Goli Soda Korle? Fizz of Goli Soda Fading Away
Mangaluru: “Sixty Bokka Onji Goli Soda Korle? (Give me sixty and a Goli soda?)- one used to hear that at the “Country Gadang” (Arrack Shops) run by AJ Shetty decades ago- but gone are those days when Goli soda was available at small petty shops (Goodangadis) that you now don’t see many of those Goli Soda’s, after bottled soda’s by Bisleri, Coca-Cola, Pepsi etc invaded the market. I still remember school/college days when Soda was sold in Goli Bottles? I used enjoy drinking from them but most importantly loved to hear the sound as it was opened. There were couple of ways to open it, one with a wooden device with a central projection which pushed the marble back inside the bottle and the other with finger!
Typically the bottle was pressed against the shoulder as it was opened. At times it was frustrating for me as a kid to drink because the marble kept blocking. Until one day as I was looking at the empty bottle, turning it around, holding upside down, realized that in certain position the marble got locked into place. Since the advent of crown top lids, these goli soda bottles have become scarce, almost non existent except select few places in Mangaluru stock them. A few of them have become collector’s item. No doubt that almost anybody who grew up in Kudla around two-three decades ago would have rushed to petty shops with the few paise he or she had saved up and asked for goli soda: the soda bottle with the marble inside- something unique and strange-and we used to wonder “how did they put that Goli (marble) inside the bottle?.
Couple of days ago, when we were relaxing at Puthran’s Riverside Party arena near Sulthan Battery-Mangaluru, my friends sent me to bring few sodas. Stepping into Iyengar’s Bakery at Urwa Market, my eyes fell on the goli soda- and I decided to buy them (but they were lime flavored), along with couple of Bisleri sodas. Trust me, this lime flavored goli soda was a perfect mix for the vodka cocktail-cheers! Getting information from the shop owner as to who makes and delivers those vintage goli sodas, the next day I visited “Jagadamba Soda shop” run by Jayakumar, opposite Urwa Market- and got all the more details needed to draft this article. Earlier we used to get chappe soda (tasteless), nannari (sweet flavour made from the root of a plant), ginger and Impto (cola)-but Jayakumar makes only one kind of Goli Soda-that is lime flavor, made from fresh lime, salt, sugar ,water and added CO2 for the fizz. No artificial ingredients, no additives- simply natural and Yummy!
Sources reveal that Goli Soda bottle, with its marble in the neck, was patented by English Engineer Hiram Codd-the bottle is filled with the required flavored contents and gas, which pushes up the goli (marble) against the rubber washer, thereby sealing it tight. Opening the bottle is tricky- veterans tilt it at an angle and push the marble in-it falls into the neck with a pop and a clink letting out the pressure-the quintessential Goli Soda experience. Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Jayakumar, aged 54, said, ” In summer time I sell around 500-600 bottles, and also when there are cricket matches played at the Urwa Market ground. When they shut the liquor (arrack) shops, our business too got hit. Eight years ago I continued this business after my brother-in-law passed away, who had this shop for decades.”
” I come daily at around 6 am get things ready, and then start making sodas; and close the shop by 6pm. the bottles are hand washed thoroughly before re-use, and the rubber ring which holds the marble in place can be replaced. I do not let customers take away the soda bottles as it is expensive to replace and hard to find it also. I manage with all the bottles that I have in stock. It costs me about Rs 5 to make the soda, and I sell it to the shops for Rs 7- and they sell it for Rs 10 or more. We used city water connected to Aqua-Guard for purity, and all our ingredients are natural, no additives or artificial flavors. I have only one employee, and I deliver sodas only to a few shops around here on my bicycle. My wife works at a Hostel, while my daughter is doing her MCom at Gokarnatha College, while my son sometimes helps me in delivering the product” added Jayakumar.
Making goli soda was an exact art: if you don’t pay attention to the number of times you swing the handle of the soda machine, the excess pressure can make the marble pop out of the bottle. But Jayakumar knows by experience; he has several knobs on his body from being hit by a marble. Earlier these bottles used to come from England and Germany.
As I was talking to him, he made a fresh lime soda with little salt/sugar poured it into the Goli Soda bottle, shifted it to the machine to add gas to it- and handed me a refreshing lime flavored Goli soda. There is definitely a distinct difference in the taste of goli soda than the crown top one. Jayakumar said that some of the damaged bottles are broken into small fragments and are used in the fire by some bakeries, since they retain heat for a long time because of thick type glass used to manufacture these bottles.
In conclusion, once this Goli Soda was the choicest weapon for heroes and villains in most South Indian movies, now the thick “Codd” bottle-known in local parlance as “Goli Soda”-has now assumed a side-part, though, with the onslaught of soft drinks with bottle caps like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Thumbs Up, Fanta etc. And if you want to bring back memories of those yester years when you were sipping on Goli Soda, you can still buy them at few petty shops in town. Best of luck, and “Have Onji Goli Soda For Me?”