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Kochi's tropic heat waves - dance upon its canal's green water. Tourists haggle with boatmen, on boats parked along it's walls draped in velvety green moss. At these junctures of ripe opportunities to exploit and be exploited, a constant clinking of glass on glass; like in a bar. Through a veil of Boost sachets and lemons in gauze pouches, one sees a man surrounded in the buzz of dragonflies and bees. As sleepy sloshes of waves lap against each other, the man makes kuluki sharbath, a local quencher.
On the horizon, the sun glistens on the laidback currents of the backwaters. With neither the freshness of the river water, nor the saltiness of the sea, these calm waters hold a tasteful mix of both; like the kuluki, a drink with syrupy sweetness and the aftertaste of chillies.
After a round of 'kulu kuluk' -ing of chunky ice in lime and sugar concentrate and throwing a juicy green chilli cut-open in the center into the glass tumbler, the man with handwork like that of a magician, tops off the drink with water-soaked chia seeds, bloated, round and textured, and hands it over to the tired but spirited tourist.
With caution and anxious uncertainty that tags along with any experimentation, the tourist takes the first sip, hurdled only by the chia seeds that the teeth take cares of. First, the familiarity of lemonade and then, the aftermath of screaming spice, simultaneously overthrown by sweetness- a constant overlapping like waves.
A swig, then a chug later, the tourist takes in a deep breath of seaweed smells and sticky citrus ready to take on the haggling again.