The soaring temperature in Allahabad coupled with humidity was tempting us to go for gola when we were going to pick up my nephew – Guttu from school at around noon en route for movie at PVR, Allahabad.
Of course there are more sophisticated options to beat the scorching heat e.g. Lemonade, Ice cream, Kulfi, Gelato, Milk shake, Fruit juice. But licking on a Gola is perhaps the most elemental way of coping with the heat. Gola is nothing but a tightly packed ball of crushed ice, flavoured with various types of sugar syrups having various colours. It can be sweet and tart as orange and lemon, or spicy as Kala Khatta. The Gola wala (shave ice vendor) had so many different syrups lining his cart, it made a colorful picture.
In summer, Gola wallas station their carts in the most crowded places. The tall bottles of coloured syrup lines the margin of the cart, while the ice grater, sometimes with the bells tied on the handle, noisily churns in the centre.
Jaya, Dada, Boudi and I thought of going for our favorite kala khatta while Babai opted for his favorite rose. First he put the big block of ice in the machine to crush it, then he gathered the crushed ice with both his hands, made an oval shape and pushed a wooden stick through it. Then the gola wala made the regular kala khatta for us, mixed with lime, salt and pepper. That was really refreshing!
I used to have a lot of those as a child in Delhi, so I relived those days as I slurped the kala khatta flavored Gola. You can hold the stick in your hand and rotate the Gola on your dry tongue to give it a relief. Having a gola is no fun without your fingers, mouth and tongue catching the colour of the syrup; you need to keep turning it so the ice doesn’t break. If your syrup gets over, the gola vendor is generous enough to add some more syrup. We asked for a plastic glass from the vendor and kept the Gola there and enjoyed it without the fear of dropping it on the ground.
The Gola’s crunchy shaved ice stays inside the mouth for longer. It freezes the tongue, chills the teeth and numbs the cavities. Its iciness makes you deliciously comfortable and for a moment you yearn for the summer to last longer. 🙂
You need to keep sucking the syrup to get the complete taste of it, and you can feel your body cooling down. It’s not too expensive either, Kala Khatta was for Rs 10 ($0.20). There is nothing like slurping “Gola” on a hot, humid afternoon! Slurp!