27 June 2008

It's in the bag

To be thirsty and to drink water is the perfection of
sensuality rarely achieved. Sometimes you drink water;
other times you are thirsty.

Jose Bergamin

The old white washed colonial wet market appeared to shimmer, coming into focus and then fading through the haze of the early afternoon heat. The locals had all but scuttled away into the shade and to the protection of thick old stone walled houses.

A few of the market's food hawkers, hidden behind tarpaulins - attached to the market wall like enormous blue and green gills - hunkered on low stools, chatting amongst themselves. A bicycle rolled slowly by.

Two foreigners approached. Tourists. Had to be, yes. Two large people, crazy enough to be walking the streets in 40 degree heat and high humidity. One limped. Her right foot had swollen to three times the normal size and yet she was foolhardy enough to be exploring the heritage area of Penang at a time when no one in their right mind would be walking the streets.

The other one loped along, obviously taxed by the elements, but not admitting to it. By their pallor it was obvious that a drink was
needed. A hawker stirred and rose nimbly to her feet to stand by her shiny cart with a puzzled look. She peered, frowning out of a deeply lined brown face until they reached her.

The rustle of the plastic bag, the deft squeezing of small limes into it with a splash of sugar syrup, then soda is added. A slurry of ice. The wrist twists with a flourish, a flash of rafia, insert a straw there and the drink is ready. Pure genius.

Oh the magic of Limau - or lime juice and soda. It has quenched my thirst like this in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. It's great for the digestion - especially if you're feeling the side effects of a spice overload - and for rehydration in the heat of the day. And I love it served in a plastic bag with a straw.

A drink in a vessel that can be hung from a hook, swung from your wrist, or in this instance,
also used as an ice pack on an excruciatingly painful, swollen and infected foot.

Simple, efficient and restorative. Other than a course of antibiotics and a good lie down, what more could I have wanted?

What's your vessel of choice?

1 comment:

Y said...

Ah, I remember these bags of drink. It's only lately that I realise how clever an invention it is!