A small shop with make-shift roof nestled under the CH Overbridge is one of the most popular hubs in Kozhikode city. There people flock from different corners of the city and often long lines of vehicles could be seen parked in its vicinity. A man is always seen sitting inside the shop from 10 in the morning to midnight, singing along with the tape recorder; he pours a kind of syrup to the glasses, puts ice cubes, adds milk and mixes all together for the clients. That is the most appetising drink “Kozhikodan Milk Sharbat” for many here.
The popular shop doesn’t have a name, people call it Bhaskarettante Kada or Paal Sarbathukkada. It was started by brothers Bhaskaran and Kumaran over 60 years ago and is now run by their sons, Anand and Murali. They sell only one thing: sharbat -- in varieties of milk, soda, lime and masala at price ranging from Rs 6 to 20.
“I am continuing what my father started and we earn our livelihood from this shop. It has been 65 years since the shop opened," said Anand while he makes sharbat using the syrup made from the root of Indian sarsaparilla, locally called ‘nannari’. “It’s purely nannari sharbat, nothing else”, he added. “I have been drinking this sharbat even from my childhood days,” said a regular customer Prabheesh NM, adding “and now it is a habit for me."
It is eternally crowded all the time but there is no queueing system in the shop. People just have to find a way to place their order, and the drink will magically appear in a few minutes. “No one can make it as relishable as the brothers,” said a college student named Arun.
There are no ads or boards for the shop but people from different parts of Kerala reach here, if they pass by here, to draw a glassful of ice-cold milk sharbat to beat the heat. It also makes a wonderful dessert drink after a meal at the equally popular Paragon restaurant next door. “It is like a beehive. The only time where we able to see the shop without crowd is when it is raining”, stated Dayanandan K, a brass designer who sits opposite the sharbat shop. “They are the only people in Kozhikode who is stable in business even after 60 years. And it is all because of its taste and natural flavour they use," he added.
Nothing changes in all these years except the use of those over-sized gloves in the name of hygiene even its the third-generation doing the same.