Thursday, December 30, 2010

Evolution of the Soda Bottle


Webbs Double Soda Waters, London c. 1830 (Murali's Collections)

As the New Year eve approaches, corks are popped up all over. Kerala is a state in which the hard liquor is sold like an essential food item and has more consumers than for the traditional hot cakes of Xmas and New Year. Soda water is an essential ingredient for hot drinks for many.
Though soda water in pet bottles is popular and readily available, many people use the soda makers at home for making their drinks. I too had once bought the Butlers soda maker, a brand quite popular here.
Talking about soda bottles, it is very interesting to trace the evolution of these in India. Though the concept drinking soda water was introduced by the English, the elite Indians soon developed a taste for it and buying soda water became quite fashionable in the nineteenth century.
The earlier soda bottles date back to 1778. Probably, these bottles were introduced in India only during the middle of the 19th century. These egg shaped bottles had a pointed base and could be placed only on its side. This was to keep the cork moist and thus tight-fitting and to prevent the gas from escaping.


The Hutchinson's Device c 1920-Murali's Collections -

The lightening stopper was used from 1880 to 1920. These bottles worked on a wire-clip principle. These bottles were also called Hutchinson’s bottles because Charles G. Hutchinson of Chicago invented this bottle-closure and called it the "Hutchinson Stopper".


The cod bottle c 1960 -Murali's Collections-

Later, the "cod bottles" came into use around 1930s. These bottles with aerated water had a marble inside the bottle's neck that created a seal when the bottle was turned upside down. The marble then pressed against a rubber ring. During my boyhood days, these soda bottles were the standard everywhere. Interestingly, many soda makers in Kerala villages still use these bottles. A curious westerner will certainly find this amusing.


Crown cork bottle seal c 1970s

In the late nineteenth century, William Painter introduced the crown-cork bottle seal, which quickly became a standard and replaced other types of bottle sealing devices. These were introduced to Indian markets only decades later.


Soda bottle for the household soda maker c 1990

The pet bottles came into market during the early 21st century by which time the glass bottles were taking a retreat. Aluminium cans for soda waters also are popular and the little old glass bottles are now of interest to only good old collectors like me.

Hearty Cheers for a happy 2011!


Fort In, Tripunithura, South India

30th December 2010.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nostalgic memories

Statue of the Maharajah
Anyone born in Kerala and who has gone away from its shores for employment and a living has many lingering memories of the land in his mind. Of these, the memories connected with the ancestral family, the village, the childhood, the harvest festivals and the worshipping places are most rooted. Probably, this is because these institutions or symbols have considerably shaped ones personality and thoughts during one’s formative years.

Temple festivals of yore were occasions when village children in particular enjoyed themselves wholeheartedly. The hawkers with wares unseen, vendors of exotic sweets, performers of magic tricks, performances like Ottan thullal, Chenda melam with its mystic and captivating tones and the caparisoned elephants provided enough thrill and excitements to the young minds. Money was hard to come by, but the enthusiasm was never diminished. Snacks from the make-shift stalls tasted heavenly.

As one grew up, the colours of many memories faded. Still, the Kathakali performances seen with sleep-filled eyes and the sight of the procession of family members back to home in the wee hours of the morning are images strongly left in the mind.

Ezhunnellippu, the divine procession

The temple festival at the Poornathrayeesa temple during the first week of December brought back many memories of my childhood. We stay in the Fort area adjacent to the temple. I have grown to be less religious. I am now more interested in spirituality and philosophy which cross the boundaries of every known dimension invented by man. However, I respect tradition and love all the art forms which were greatly encouraged by our forefathers. So, an occasional trip to the temple precincts with cameras was always memorable. My SLR camera with lenses had been gifted to Lavanya, my daughter who has since proceeded to the Nottingham University and I am left with only digital compact cameras and the Digicam. She does a very good job with the camera and I have no regrets. The thrill of still photography comes only with a SLR camera, I feel.

Thayampaka, the orchestra.



Majesty, the caparisoned elephant
Pancharimelam, the orchestra


Seeveli procession

There were about 16 elephants brought to the confines of the temple compound. The caparisoned elephants provided a beautiful sight indeed. But I wonder if we need to continue with the tradition of bringing elephants for the festivals. These mammoth animals are not intended for such occasions. They are best left in the jungles or game parks so that generations to follow will praise our compassion and understanding to these gentle animals of unique proportions.

As always, the ending of every festival brings in a gloom. But soon, at another place, another festival begins. The performers move to their next destination with all their paraphernalia along with the bundles of their Karma!

Now, comes X’mas! A very merry Christmas and a very happy new year to all!

Fort, Tripunithura,
South India.
19th December 2010