When cans of soft drinks were launched in India, they were both ridiculously expensive and ridiculously cool. I remember the summer holidays – four cousins in Bangalore, always hungry and always asking for ice-cream or cotton candy or, in the case of my cousins, soft drinks. I, sadly, did not like anything aerated, so I did not have the chance to strut down the street home with a cool can.
My grandmother allowed money to be wasted on cans just once. My cousins, both boys, were excited. The younger one opened his immediately with a satisfying sushhh and downed it before we were home. My elder cousin, being the sweet elder brother, allowed me to open his. I knew that it was a privilege that was difficult for him to grant, and so, I was extra careful. I asked him what to do and listened very closely.
Gently, I slid my finger into the tab. Step one successful.
Fingers trembling with excitement that people don’t associate with the opening of cans, I pulled. And the tab came out in my hand. No satisfying sushhh, no sound at all. The can remained closed. I looked guiltily at my brother, who was simply bemused. Feeling miserable, I took the can to my grandmother. She rolled her eyes and pulled out an age-old can opener.
Fighting with the can, trying to get it to open, she shook her head. “I don’t understand why you want all these cans. Wouldn’t a good old bottle have been simpler?”
Finally, my cousin had to pour it into a glass and drink it so that he would not cut his mouth on the jaggedly opened can. Somehow, cans were not so cool any more. It’s no wonder then that my grandmother did not allow any more money to be wasted on new-fangled cans.