Khayaban-i-Gola Ganda

Published June 8, 2014
The richer, the better. Photos by Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
The richer, the better. Photos by Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: Crushed or shaved ice, lots and lots of it, raspberry, Roof Afza, orange, pineapple, banana and ice cream soda syrup, canned fruit, dried fruit, chocolate and condensed milk ... and your heavenly rainbow is ready to savour. Down here on earth it is better known as ‘gola ganda’.

Karachi’s Dhoraji boasts a line of gola ganda carts parked on either side of the road well-stocked on ice, flavouring syrups and fruit and condensed milk cans. There are deep freezers loaded with ice slabs on the footpaths.

“I remember when I was a little child, there used to be these vendors ringing that particular bell that all the neighbourhood children were familiar with. The cheapest gola ganda on a stick cost five paisa to 10 paisa and the one with malai was Re1,” says Ijaz Wali Mohammad, a resident of Dhoraji.

Road to heaven. Photos by Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
Road to heaven. Photos by Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

“Today we don’t even have five or 10 paisa coins. Besides the gola ganda prepared by these vendors is too rich for me now,” he says.

As the legend in cold desserts goes, Dhoraji once had only two gola ganda vendors and all this razzmatazz grew from there. Shakoor and Ghaffar sold the gola ganda at a place also known as Dhoraji but in Indian Gujarat before Partition. Later, they came to Pakistan and resumed their business from here. Today two vendors bearing the names ‘Saleem Qadir Uncle Gola’ and ‘Khalid Saleem Amla Gola’ have carried forward their business and made an even bigger success of it.

“They start making gola ganda from 3pm and don’t close shop till Fajr the next day,” the resident says. “I love to see them prosper but as a resident I was concerned too as some customers in the early hours are not very peaceful. There was shouting, firing into the air and whatnot? So we complained to the police about the disturbance and now they close around midnight,” he says.

Ice, of course, remains the main ingredient. Photos by Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
Ice, of course, remains the main ingredient. Photos by Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

And where does the ice come from? “The ice depot of course,” says one vendor.

Meanwhile, there is also another ‘uncle-type’ with his cart claiming to be the original uncle who started it all. Haji Mohammad Taufiq says that his cheapest gola ganda served on a stick or in a plastic glass is for Rs50 and the most expensive one on a bowl with all the yummy toppings is for Rs150.

“Earlier, we used to do so much manual labour shaving the ice to make the gola ganda but now we have machines to do all that,” he says putting a piece of ice on a vice-like contraption before turning on the switch which gives you crushed ice in seconds.

Can it be trusted? “Baita, these days when you don’t even know if you are going to see the next day, why worry about the quality of ice. Here have some. Enjoy life!”

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2014

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