I’ll Drink to That


“Caleb, let’s see who can finish their biscuits the fastest,” said Caitlyn to her brother at tea-time yesterday.
Caleb then proceeded to woof down his biscuits as his sister savoured each bite
s l o w l y…
“Finished!” he whooped in delight.
“Caitlynnnn,” I chided, “I know exactly what you’re up to. My cousins and I used to do the same thing when we were kids…”

Only, in our case, it was with soft drinks.
Cordial is what we call it in Australia, but back in the day in Bombay, we called in “squash”.
This was a time way before big brands like Coke and Pepsi reached Indian shores.
Fizzy drinks of choice were Thums Up (cola), Gold Spot (orange) and Limca (lemonade). But these were reserved for adults.
The kids got to drink Rasna or Tamco – cordials with heaps of food colour and even more sugar!

Sunday evenings usually meant a visit to my Nana Violet’s house. While the adults shared a laugh and a beer or two, my cousins and I got to drink small glasses of orange cordial. Now these drinks could be gulped down in two slips flat. But my cousin Andy, a couple of years my senior, would say, “Let’s see who can drink this the quickest.”
… And then proceed to match my gulps with teensy-weensy baby sips. It was agony watching her enjoy every sip while I sat there, empty glass in hand.

Another cold drink story:
This used to take place in my other Nana Evelyn’s house.
Since my family lived with my Nana, our house always saw a steady stream of visitors. Uncles and aunts dropping in after work for a chinwag with Nana, family friends from near and far popping in for a chat, neighbours shooting the breeze…

Cups of tea magically appeared before them. (Er, actually, it was the maids who made them.) But if the weather was too hot, a soft drink was called for.
Now in those days, good manners dictated that the drinker of said soft drink had to leave behind the last sip in their glass.
Till today, I have no idea why this custom was followed!

A Blast from the Past: Jason looks on as Neil cuts his birthday cake. I'm peeking from behind Jason.*

A Blast from the Past: Jason looks on as Neil cuts his birthday cake. I’m peeking from behind Jason.*

Once the “good-byes” been said at the front door steps, we would return to the “sitting room”…
… Just in time to catch my brother Jason and my cousin Neil (no more than four or five years at the time), in the act of gulping down those final sips of soft drink! Their faces full of guilty pleasure while my Nana tut-tutted half-heartedly.
Down the hatch. Zup! Zup!!

*Thanks for the old photo, Neil!

So tell me, were you allowed to drink soft drinks / fizzy drinks as a child? Do you remember any strange customs your family / community observed when it came to food and drink?


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