The other day I was looking at some communication for Yardley Soaps, and I was struck by the irony of the quaint, ye-olde-English nineteeth-century Yardley brand being bought over by the tech-hep 21st century Wipro. But then, big-business reality is often stranger than soap-opera fiction.
I tried to recall the soaps which we used as children. Lux is still very much around, although, the stars endorsing it have changed from Hema Malini to Aishwarya, with even a Shahrukh Khan in a rose-filled bathtub (shudder!!) in between. But I prefer a gracefully-ageing Hema to a nauseously-simpering SRK any day.
Liril is a soap which has fared better, I feel, and its lemony zingy appeal is quite fresh, especially during the long, sweaty summer. Even Cinthol’s deo-range, despite the masculine magnetism of Hrithik Roshan, does not compare.
But Rexona has disappeared. While the standard pink Lux was the staple soap in our home, the green Rexona regularly graced the soapdish in my Mamabari’s (mother’s maternal home) bathroom. It was a very ordinary soap, leaving the skin woefully dry in winter, but I have fond memories of Rexona just because of the Mamabari-connect.
In summer, when sweat, itching and prickly heat attacked, Maa would sometimes get the green medicinal Margo neem soap. And though the bubbles would taste bitter if they somehow entered my mouth, Margo enjoyed a sanctified status as a "GOOD SOAP WHICH CLEANSED AND CURED", so we never complained.
My especial favourite were Lavender Dew and Mysore Sandal, because they were special-occasion soaps bought during festive-seasons and suchlike. And because they had such lovely lingering fragrances. Lavender Dew, delicately mauve-coloured, smelling of gentle lavender, is now only a faint memory, but Mysore Sandal, with the more aggressive, exotic sandal-scent is still available, enduring where the former has evaporated.
There was the big and spherical Moti, which looked like a monster-pearl and which always slipped out of my grasp when I was a small girl. But it was a costly affair and lasted a very long time, which is probably why my Chhotopishi (father’s sister) seemed to favour it.
Winters, of course, were for glycerine soaps – the pure and tranparent Pears for the more affluent homes, and the murkier Chasme Glycerin for modest homes like ours.
And now, although I love my Dove and my Nivea and other post-thirty necessities, sometimes I wish I could get back those lavender and sandal days when the skin was younger and the soap seemed gentler.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD SOAP?