Sunday, August 13, 2006


Coke Adds Life

Kathmandu, Nepal

Coke and Pepsi are back in the Indian news. A few years ago Kerala was all up in arms about the stolen water from villages (and rightly so). Rumours about the soft drinks being full of pesticides have been flying around for ages, and have now been revived. (Of course, when you are manufacturing them with Indian tap water, which is already full of god knows what, they are bound to be pretty questionable anyway.)

The Indian papers are all full of stories warning that the Pepsi-Cide scandal will be "bad for the economy": WASHINGTON (AFP) - As Coca-Cola and Pepsico lose their fizz in India, the US government and business leaders are warning of potential fallout on investment in the booming country of a billion-plus people.

Most of the traditional, hand-painted sign boards for shoppes here have been replaced by corporate ones from the soda companies. They picture Indian film stars reverentially holding a bottle. Instead of being works of individual art, all the signs now look the same...and all are just adds for Coke and Pepsi.

I went for a short hike to a nearby hill temple and on the way back, noticed there was not *one* tea stall...all the shoppes were just serving Coke and other bottled drinks. No tea in sight! and no juice (except the horribly overpriced boxes).

I have cultural ties to Coke (it was invented in my hometown by the Chattanooga Patent Medicine Company and we grew up drinking it) so I enjoy it, but at what price to locals?

My Tamil friend who is in college in Delhi says that the phenomena of everyone drinking sodas is new. Ten years ago, everyone drank water with everything. Now, everyone "has" to have a soda or bottled drink. Sort of like paying extra money to rot your teeth.

These drinks, besides being unhealthy, are extortionately priced at 20rs. I mean, when you make 100Rs a day.... by comparison, in the US, where you make $100 a day, there is no drink on the market that is $20. They are outrageously priced for ordinary people, and the people are *bombarded* with ads for their desirability.

Drink tender coconut water! (where available...I miss it here in Nepal.)

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