In New Delhi’s Nirman Bhavan there is a clock, but it doesn’t tell the time. It calculates the cumulative fruits of efforts initiated approximately 280 days ago. The rate of increase is approximately 29 per minute. It would’ve definitely been faster, if not for inventions called contraceptives. The most popular and visible form of this restrictive yet propagative is prophylactics which in more comprehensible terminology are called rubbers, love gloves, jimmy hats, raincoats or simply, condoms.
It was the revelation of the underlying meaning of the classic “Pyar hua iqrar hua, pyar se phir kyon darta hain dil (Love happened, acceptance happened. Why does the heart then fear love?),” with the addition “Deluxe Nirodh aath aane mein teen (Deluxe Nirodh/condoms three for 50 paise),” that I became aware of the existence of the rubber sheath. The ad has the greatest recall value amongst all contraceptive advertisements in India. We kids loved it and put a price on our classmates, 50p for 3 – cheap. But one condom cost soft drink major Pepsi dear – Rs. 1,23,000 to be precise.
What began as a protection against insect bites, infection and injury some 3300 years ago has evolved into coloured, flavoured, ribbed, dotted and I don’t know how many different varieties – almost customised for individual needs and moods. The land of the KS – the Vatsayana one, is also the land of the KS – the Pooja Bedi and Viveka Babajee one. In India the use of the rubber isn’t limited to prevention of procreation. Keeping in line with the glorious tradition of producing electricity using tractors and using washing machines to make lassi, Indians use it in the finishing if Benarasi silk sarees, to provide a smooth finish to tarred roads, waterproofing ceilings against the monsoon onslaught and also to carry water to the fields to answer the call of nature. Blowing balloons is one of the intended purposes.
Says Rama Kant of King George’s Medical University, Lucknow,
“The lubricant in latex-made condoms comes in handy for giving a smooth finish and shine to Benaras silk saris. For waterproofing, condoms are cut and spread under the cement-concrete mortar above ceilings; and as for roads, large quantities of condoms are mixed with tar-concrete in hot-mix plants to churn out a high quality road finish product.“
This solves the riddle of the millions spent in free condom distribution not reflecting in the rate of growth of population and the incidence of HIV/AIDS. And we thought that Indians got hyperactive in bed with the availability of free protection. Given the qualities of the condom such unintended use is unavoidable.
A quality condom can easily stretch over three feet (now you know what to think when someone says that it doesn’t fit) and it can also hold up to 12 litres of water or three bags of potatoes before bursting.
Nowadays we welcome the richest man in the world with an eight foot condom and also get it as a reward for getting a haircut. At the same time we had governments restricting condom advertising on the national broadcaster asking people to focus on abstinence and single partner relationships. The next government again shifted the focus on the rubber. Abstinence does not even work amongst the avowed celibates and power and single partner relationships do not seem to go together. Recent scandals and hidden camera acts have added credence to what everyone knew for long.
Sometimes a little off-track application puts the doer as well the doctor in some trouble.
A 27-year-old lady presented with persistent cough, sputum and fever for the preceding six months. Inspite of trials with antibiotics and anti-tuberculosis treatment for the preceding four months, her symptoms did not improve. A subsequent chest radiograph showed non-homogeneous collapse-consolidation of right upper lobe. Videobronchoscopy revealed an inverted bag like structure in right upper lobe bronchus and rigid bronchoscopic removal with biopsy forceps confirmed the presence of a condom. Detailed retrospective history also confirmed accidental inhalation of the condom during fellatio.
Moral of the story: A blowjob can blow up your medical bills (Suggest more morals).
One of the major obstacles which youngsters face with condoms is not about using them but acquiring them, especially from a medical store. Matters are made worse if there is an elderly gentleman or a woman manning the store. If you’ve seen the movie Anubhav (no not the one from 1971 directed by Basu Bhattacharya, but the 1986 one which has a gawky Shekhar Suman in the lead role opposite Padmini Kohlapure) you will know what I exactly mean.
Many like to stock an emergency rubber in the wallet. But it is always advisable to keep on replacing the stock at short intervals. The daily friction which the wallet has to go through, especially if you’re in a habit of keeping your wallet in the rear pocket of you trousers/jeans, takes its toll on the otherwise sturdy and flexible latex. A friend had to retreat from an escapade as the wallet-stocked sheath gave away immediately after application. He had been carrying it for months in hope. This joke gives a different perspective to condom storage and why you shouldn’t be putting it in the wallet (many must have heard it before, but it is still funny):
My wonderful girlfriend and I had been dating for over a year, and so we decided to get married.
There was only one little thing bothering me.it was her beautiful younger sister.
My prospective sister-in-law was twenty-two, wore very tight miniskirts and generally was braless. She would regularly bend down when she was near me, and I always got more than a pleasant view of her private parts. It had to be deliberate. She never did it when she was near anyone else.
One day “little” sister called and asked me to come over to check The wedding invitations. She was alone when I arrived, and she whispered to me that she had feelings and desires for me that she couldn’t overcome. She told me that she wanted to make love to me just once Before I got married and committed my life to her sister.
Well, I was in total shock, and couldn’t say a word. She said, ‘I’m going upstairs to my bedroom, and if you want one last wild fling, Just come up and get me.” I was stunned and frozen in shock as I watched her go up the stairs. When she reached the top she pulled off her panties and threw them down the stairs at me.
I stood there for a moment, then turned and made a beeline straight to the front door. I opened the door, and headed straight towards my car.
Lo and behold, my entire future family was standing outside, all clapping! With tears in his eyes, my father-in-law hugged me and said, ‘We are very happy that you have pass
ed our little test…. we couldn’t ask for better man for our daughter. Welcome to the family.”
And the moral of this story is:
“Always keep your condoms in your car!”
This guy also has a nice take on condom storage and related stuff.
An administrative folly did try to put a restrictive barrier on us Indian bloggers but that was very unlike the good condom. The rubber doesn’t restrict the fun (the new ones add to the experience) but stops us from the regretting later. The rubbers of India are many and varied and so is the propaganda practice. The real purpose of this post was to bring together at one place, the best (that I could lay my hands, make that cursor, on) of rubbery India.
The big Indian condom story began back in 1966 when the largest manufacturer of contraceptives in the country – Hindustan Latex Limited – was established. It was in 1991, the sultry side of the rubber industry in India came to the fore with the introduction of Kamasutra condoms by JK Chemicals – now JK Ansell (ask for KS and the chemist understands, ask for KS and the bookseller understands). Ask the panwallah and he’ll show you varieties which Google cannot find. This is what I could manage with Google. My panwallah didn’t let me photograph his stock (Other stuff that I found in old magazines will make it to this blog in a different post.)
Condom packets have written on them – for single use only – right. Condoms are purchased by an individual for his personal purposes, but like all other things you can buy in bulk and save a little. But a FAMILY PACK of condoms! A family pack means that the whole family can use it or do they mean that these are intended for starting a family. As Rishi (Rahul Bose) in Jhankar Beats suggested – condoms for NOT family planning. But condoms in a ‘family’ pack? That’s taking things a little too far.
If you thought that male condoms are only of the latex type (no I’m not talking flavoured or dotted, that’s for later), the All India Institute of Medical Sciences tells me that there are four:
* Natural skin condom: Made from lamb intestine, rarely used nowadays. It provides better sensation, but does not protect from infection. Most viruses can cross natural membrane
* Latex condoms: 0.3 – 0.8 mm thick – sperms and organisms causing STIs cannot pass through these condoms.
* Poly-urethane condoms: These are odourless, have greater sensitivity and resistance to deterioration from storage and lubricants. Individuals with latex allergy can use poly-urethane condoms.
* Silicon rubber condom: thicker and less popular (does Pamela Anderson have anything to do with it?)
If you’re unsure of how to use them but can’t read the fine print on the cardboard covers, or you’ve already cut them up and pasted the pictures on your ‘hot’ scrap book then there’s Condom Sutra for you with all it’s gyaan.
And this one has been ‘Specially made for Government of India.’ Since the product is ‘lubricated’ it does make some sense.
Some Indian condom brands:
And some varieties within
A condom vending machine
The manufacturing machinery
And some print ads
What about some television commercials?
Raj and Rishi finally get their one-liner in Jhankaar Beats and I repeat – Better safe than worry.
Yahi Hain Sahi (This is Right) – Condom promotion campaign
Safe sex ad
A rubber vendor
Kamasutra Print Ads
More KS Ads
The World’s First Condom Bike
By who else but an Indian – K Sudhakar of Sudha Cars, Hyderabad. Pictured here sitting atop his condom bike (wonder if the material used is the same) on November 28, 2002.
Reader’s contribution: Dwaipayan of Meaningless Crap has sent the following featuring an article on condom campaigns in India (HT Sunday Magazine July 9, 2006).
Click on the images for a larger view
A history of the evolution of social marketing of contraceptives in India is available here
This page contains a collection of audio-visual spots on HIV/AIDS produced by ILO UNAIDS & BBC World Service Trust – NACO – Doordarshan. The videos are downloadable and are in Real Media format.
Addition #10 (August 18, 2006)
What do you have with your morning tea (besides tea)? Newspapers. Now add some action to that. According to Hindustan Times the Andhra Pradesh State Aids Control Society is planning to deliver a condom-a-day (in strawberry-coloured packaging) with the morning paper.
“We thought that delivering the condoms with newspapers would be the surest way of reaching people. We are talking to newspaper distributors and hawkers to pitch in for this social cause,” said AIDS control officer Dr Dinesh.
The authorities hope to distribute 10,000 condoms a day with the newspapers. The target groups are people living in poorer localities and migrant workers. While the bulk of the condoms would be delivered with the morning daily, a small number would be distributed along with a locally-published evening newspaper.
Addition #11 (November 10, 2006)
Flavoured condoms are a hot favourite. But censors (as usual) do not like the ‘taste’ of it.
The advert promotes DKT’s “XXX” strawberry, chocolate and banana flavoured condoms with the catchline “What is your flavour of the night?”
“This campaign is obscene,” Sharmila Tagore, chairwoman of the Censor Board was quoted as saying in the Times of India. “Maybe DKT is targeting raunchy teenagers. But the ads are definitely not meant for children.”
A senior DKT official told the newspaper the flavoured condoms were not meant to promote oral sex, but to encourage couples who do not like the smell of latex.
These are courtesy Shivam
Narendra Modi pic on Condoms Pack
The goodies are from Chief Minister Narendra Modi and even his picture graces the kit.
“He puts his photographs on food packets for those affected by the floods in Surat. Now it is even on condom packets, it is embarrassing,” said Arjun Modhwadia, Congress leader.
But the government says its intentions are noble and even though it has unfortunately got nicknamed the Modi condom, the plan has worked.
The next is from Hindustan Times (They desperately need to do something about their websearch and archiving. So no link to the original story, only excerpts from the text).
Protection is not really Narendra Modi’s forte
By Ruchir Joshi
July 6, 2006
Having not yet seen the goods myself, I don’t know if Narendra Modi’s
face is printed only on the cartons, whether it’s resplendent on each
individual packet or, indeed, also embossed like a royal profile on
the business end of each condom itself. What I do know is that Modi
and Ashok Bhatt, the Health Minister, both seem eager to try and get
ever deeper into the lives of the citizens of Gujarat.
(The story isn’t condom centric, it’s just used as an excuse for another unending round of Modi bashing. All the media bashings doesn’t seem to have done the man any harm)