Writers and literature lovers visiting this hilly town are clamouring for honey, and staying away from its liquor stores and bars.
Bee-rearing is popular in and around Madikeri, and stalls selling honey are doing brisk business during the 80th all-India Kannada Sahitya Sammelana. The three-day gala ends on Thursday.
About 20 shops in the vicinity of the literary carnival trade in honey. On a normal day, they sell 30 to 50 kilos. Over the past two days, sales have doubled.
Ashok, Secretary of the Coorg Progressive Beekeepers Co-operative Society, said, “Each shop has asked for 500 boxes. Each box holds 12 one-kg bottles.”
Despite the demand, vendors have not hiked their prices. “A kilo of pure honey in a sealed bottle costs `220. The price is `180 otherwise,” Ashok said.
Honey production peaks between March and June. “This is actually off season. We are struggling to meet the demand,” he said.
There are 1,100 bee-keepers in and around Madikeri, and 6,000 in Kodagu district.
Chandappa, head master of a government school in Bijapur district and a conference delegate, said, “We don’t get honey in our districts. That’s why we are taking home some.”
The visiting writers and literature buffs aren’t giving good business to liquor shops, though.
Thimmappa of National Wines on the Madikeri main road feels the guests are not the drinking type.
Traffic diversions for the literary carnival have also had a negative impact on the liquor business, he said.
Madappa, another liquor shop owner, said visitors from North Karnataka don’t drink.
“A small number come for wine and ask about the percentage of alcohol in it,” he said.
The weather is not helping the liquor business either. “It has become warm over the past week, and that is one of the reasons our customers have just one or two pegs of whiskey,” said Madappa.
The temperature in Madikeri on Wednesday afternoon (4pm) was 26 degree Celsius, not warm at all by the standards of northern Karnataka districts, where temperatures touch 40 degrees. Madikeri has about 30 liquor stores and bars.
Pure for sure?
Rajashree, owner of a honey shop in Madikeri, offered tips on how to test the purity of honey. “Take a cup of water and put a drop of honey in it. If the honey is pure, it goes to the bottom, but if it is adulterated, it spreads,” she said. The second trick is to use paper. “Dip a piece of paper in the bottle. If the honey is pure, the paper will not get wet,” she said.