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The big little thing

Thanks to liberalisation and sex education, the condom has popped out of the closet, writes Vikramdeep Johal.
None | By Vikramdeep Johal
UPDATED ON APR 16, 2008 10:12 PM IST

An apple a day, as they say, keeps the doctor away. A condom, which is cheaper, does it as well — in more ways than one. Juggling birth control with Aids control, the little sentinel signals ‘No Entry’ to the seeds of life and death with equal elasticity.

It’s disposable yet indispensable. In ‘Incredible India’, where lives one-sixth of the world’s population, where HIV is no less lethal than terrorism, the humble sheath enjoys iconic status.

Recently, some NGO workers literally went to great lengths to promote its use in Hyderabad. They strung together as many as 90,000 pieces to form ‘the world’s longest condom chain’, which stretched for over 15 km!

There’s a hilarious commercial on the YouTube (above picture) in which four men dressed up as you-know-what sing its praises in Telugu. Indeed, the rubber (not to be confused with the eraser) has been the subject of many a campaign slogan. ‘Don't just get on. Get it on,’ goes a naughty one. Another has an authoritative ring to it: ‘Always use a condom — Always.’ Then there’s an ambiguous kind: ‘Practise safe sex. Be faithful to your partner.’

The ringed thing’s enormous significance has encouraged manufacturers to embellish their products with attractive features. You can have it all — ribbed, lubricated, perforated, sorry, perfumed. The old sarkari name, ‘Nirodh’, has been eclipsed by a catchy nomenclature. Strawberry, vanilla, chocolate — who says these are flavours only of ice-cream?

In an attempt to shake off its ‘killjoy’ tag, Brand Condom is promoted as a device that sustains and enhances pleasure. There are even different shapes, widths and lengths to cater to various kinds of users. Above all, a few brands are for the fairer sex as well, taking gender equality to new heights.

Gone are the days when this contraceptive was treated as secretly as contraband in India. Thanks to liberalisation and sex education, the condom has popped out of the closet. Adore it or abhore it, but you can ignore it only at your own peril. To be on the safe side, of course, it's “better latex than never.”

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