Friday, September 16, 2016

806. Soaps and their persona

I am gonna take you on a journey that will take you through your childhood. If you have lived in the 80s and the 90s you will love me for this post. Even if you do not end up loving me, you would at least end up friend-zoning me.

The collage below has images of all the soaps that I am going to write in this blog post. You can refer to this picture to understand this post better.

1) Pears
The first soap in the list. When ever I think about this soap, I always think of transparency and glasses. All of us would have seen through the soap. It had a pleasant smell. My friend Sneha and I used to fight to see who was right in pronouncing the name of the soap. I would say PAIRS and she would say PEERS. We still fight even after 20 years. 

2) Santoor
Santoor is one soap that would make girls hate other girls. The common myth about this soap is that when 40 year old women use this soap, they would look like a college girl.

Some advertisements also made middle aged women believe that they can play basketball. At the end of those ads, college girls would flock around a young lady and ask her "Which college are you from?", and a small girl would run up to the lady calling her "Mummy".

Middle aged ladies in the 1980s immediately started buying Santoor with hopes of being transformed into college girls. Nothing changed

3) Hamam and Rexona
Hamam and Rexona are twin sisters who were separated in their birth. They had a similar smell and they were both green in colour. Hamam in particular was the family soap for middle class families. I used to take bath using Hamam soap during my school life.

My mom never allowed me to change the soap. She would say that if I changed the soap, I would get pimples. I did not change the soap; but my face looked like a golf ball during my teenage days.

Rexona had a coconut flavour in it. This made it an instant hit in Kerala. 

4) Margo
If one could make a soap out of human shit, you should call that soap Margo. It smells like shit. I have no clue how the makers came up with such a disgusting smell. It was supposed to be a healthy soap with neem flavour. But it just stinks. You can never use it to clean your hands after coming out of the rest room. People will think that you never washed your hands in the first place.

5) Lux
In the late 80s, there was a common belief among middle class families that lux soap was the soap used by cine stars. It was the Mercedes Benz of soaps. It was advertised in such a manner that you started believing that only if you have a bath tub in your house, you could afford Lux.

When I was a kid, I only saw Lux soaps in the shelves of retail stores. I have never used them. That sophisticated image that Lux had was finally killed by the Lux CEO himself, when he decided to promote the product using ShahRukh Khan. It was horrible to see Shahrukh Khan jumping into a bath tub for the Lux ad.

6) Cinthol
Cinthol was the official soap of a man. This is one soap that men would use to show their manliness. In the Cinthol ad, Vinod Khanna (Hindi actor) would ride a horse in the beach. I still remember the bass voice that was used in the ad.

Later Shahrukh Khan was made to act in Cinthol ad too. He acted along with his wife in a romantic ad which made the soap looked like a soap for young men. Somehow the deep bass voice effect went away. Shahrukh Khan was responsible for the change in perception of this soap too.

7) Lifebuoy
This is was the viagra of soaps. It lasts long; really long. It was the official soap used by boys in college hostels. Four guys would be using a single soap for an entire semester and 50% of the soap would still be left at the end of the semester. In rural India, this soap was used on buffaloes too. We used to call it the brick soap.

8) Liril
The Liril ad was one of the path-breaking ads in the Doordarshan era. It featured  models Karen Lunel, Pooja Batra amd Preity Zinta taking a bath in a waterfall.

Young boys of the 80s loved the ad. Orthodox middle class families would switch off the TV when the ad came on TV. We had only one channel those days and they did not have the option to change the channel. Liril ads were used only by bold outgoing girls during that time.

9) Chandrika
Go to any hotel, lodge in India and 9 out of ten times you would find a Chandrika soap in the rest room. It does not have a strong odor and it does not stand out. But still it is a soap that appeals to the ordinary masses because it easily qualifies as the soap that every average middle class family could use.

10) Dettol
Mothers had the belief that if they use dettol soap on their children 99.99% of the germs in their body would disappear. If I had a fall and suffered some bruises, my mom would immediately wash the injury with a dettol soap.

11) Mysore Sandal soap
This is the soap that is used by south Indian bride grooms and brides during wedding season. When families exchanged trays of goodies that include fruits, clothing, and money; Mysore sandal soap also found itself placed somewhere in the plate. 

Santoor was also a sandal soap. But Mysore Sandal soap belonged to the elite class and was reserved for special occasions. Santoor was given unfair treatment on this regard.

12) Fiama DiWills
I use Fiama Di Wills because it is transparent like Pears, has an aroma that reminds me of Hamam, Cinthol and Lux and it brings back my childhood memories.

I have not written about many other soaps.Please feel free to share about other soaps that made an impact in your life when you were a child.

Question for my readers: There was a soap in the late 80s and early 90s that came into the Indian market. I remember seeing that soap ad in Doordarshan. It had a curved shape and it's USP was that it will last long. I have seen that soap; but could hardly get the name right. Can you help me in finding the name of the soap? The person who gives the right answer would get a pack of movie DVDs couriered to their house.

- Chronicwriter

Friday, September 09, 2016

805. Ten guitars

That is me and my wife- Joan

It has been a while since I posted a cover song in this blog. When Engelbert Humperdinck wrote the song" Ten guitars" and released it in the year 1967, he would not have thought that after 50 years, a guy named Prason Christopher Robin would butcher that song by singing a cover version of it.

Well, I don't think I butchered it. It has come out OK. The problem with me is that when I forget the lyrics, I invent my own lyrics and sing it live. That is what happened in this song. When I was recording this song in Ooty in a resort that is not worth mentioning, I forgot the lyrics. So I ended up adding my own lyrics impromptu and that is why a couple of lines does not make sense at all in this video.

Engelbert was born in Chennai and he is an English classic pop singer. When I say Pop, he was an original. Check this cover version of mine here and share your comments.


If you do not like my version and if you hate it, please provide me some kaasu; I will record a studio version of this song, add some music instruments and make it sound sexy. Nambikkaidhaan vaaazhkai

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

804. Setwet deo - Swag Avatar

I received a call last night that a friend was admitted in the hospital. He was my childhood friend Ashok. He is 34 now and after a long struggle to get married, found a girl through a matrimony site and got engaged to her. He is getting married in December this year. So when I received the news that he was admitted in the hospital, the first thing I asked the caller was if he was critical. The caller said that he was in the emergency ward
I rushed to the hospital and when I found the reason for his illness, I burst out laughing. He had suffered a concussion. He barely managed to avoid head injury. Apparently he was preparing to go out on a date with the girl he is engaged to. It was his first ever date in his life. The closest he has come to a date was when he acted as a driver for me when I went out on a date. He lacked conversational skills and he would put off a girl in seconds with his conversational skills.

His first ever phone conversation with his fiancee was as follows
Phone rings, she picks up and says hello
He: So... What next?
She: Tell me Ashok. You start the conversation like that?
He: Hmm
After an awkward 10 seconds of silence, she tries to liven up things
She: Did you have breakfast?
He: Yes... Then tell me?
She: Are you planning to go to office?
He: Yes
She was literally pissed after this phone conversation. So as a good friend of my friend, I decided to take some dating lessons for him before he took her out on a date. I told him to prepare some interesting topic around trending events  (Movies, music, Olympics, US open, books, art, places in Chennai, his childhood memories) and also asked him to have 5 jokes to crack at regular intervals to make the date memorable. He even took notes.
So one day before the date, he called me and said that he was ready with the 5 jokes. He also said that he read the newspaper and he has covered the latest news including sensex and foreign exchange rates. I realized that he has studied some out of syllabus topics too. But I did not discourage him. He added that he had brought a suit for his date. I was happy. I should have just let him go. But I did the grave mistake of telling him to apply some deo; because he usually smells bad.
He had bought Setwet - Swag deo thinking that he would show his swag side. Enthusiastically, he had doused ample amount of deo on his body. Within minutes he had fainted because he could not bear the smell. His room mate found him semi-naked in his room (unconscious too). Ashok was wearing his shirt, suit and his socks. His underwear and his pants were still unpacked and were placed on his bed. I still don't understand why he wore socks.
Back at the hospital, we all had a heart laugh. Ashok's fiancee was also at the hospital. His room mate failed to click a picture of Ashok in his room. His deo smell was still strong at the hospital. 
Note to readers: If you are planning to buy setwet deo, think twice
Additional note to readers: I have a setwet deo too (The mischief avatar). I spray it inside the western commode once in a while after cleaning the toilet with harpic.
I know you would be dying to see a picture of Ashok and his fiancee. But I won't add it now because if I add the picture, he would not invite me for his wedding. After december, I will add the picture for sure. Some one has to remind me of this after december