You will never see shopkeepers move faster than when they have to bill and bag condoms. Propelled by a need to get rid of you before anyone realises that they actually stock disease-preventing prophylactics, they somehow manage to execute a series of actions in milliseconds:
- Grab the condoms (sometimes it’s not even the brand or type you asked for, because stopping to look for the right one means people will see).
- Whip out a brown paper bag.
- Thrust the box in.
- Blow into a plastic cover that’s as black as the sin you’re about to commit, prospective sex-haver.
- Shove the paper-wrapped box into it.
- Drop it onto the counter.
- Shoot you a look of death.
Most of us are so used to this that we give almost no fucks anymore. Some of my friends have even developed smug little ways of enjoying it. They’ll browse through the condoms ever so slowly, read the description on the package out loud, and scandalize attendants with questions like “Which do you think is better, dotted or ribbed?” (FYI, the answer is neither.) This article isn’t for those people.
This is for people who’d rather fly under the radar when they’re condom-shopping. If you’re the type that goes into full-scale panic mode when you think people are looking at you and judging, here’s what you can do when you’re buying condoms in India:
Choose A Supermarket Over A Pharmacy
This is the best solution that I can offer you.
Places like Health & Glow and big departmental stores are much less judgemental than small pharmacies. They have a wider range and they let you pick up what you want, take it to the counter, and get it billed, so you have to talk to exactly zero people to get what you need.
This is India, though, so even in shops where they display the condoms, lube, and those Durex Play rings (don’t buy one, it’s not worth it) for everyone to see, you may be treated differently the minute you stop to pick up a box. I once saw a woman look up from a display of vaginal tightening creams to smirk at me.
You may also notice that the flock of attendants that was just shrieking at you about perfume and makeup has suddenly vanished, but that’s more of a perk than a problem.
Sometimes, though, you need some sexual protection ASAP and you don’t have a Health & Glow nearby. This is when you may have to resort to one of those small pharmacies with a road-facing counter, aka everyone’s condom-buying nightmare. Here’s what you can do then:
Learn Condom Shorthand
“Bhaiyya/Anna, 3-pack KS!”
Translation: A pack of three Kama Sutra condoms.
Always remember that the shopkeeper is as invested in speeding this process up as you are. Don’t start with, “Do you have condoms?” If they’re a pharmacy, they do.
Walk up, use shorthand to ask for exactly what you want, and say it rapid-fire. I don’t know why, but using a short form of the brand name and not actually saying the word ‘condom’ puts people at ease. I assume it’s for the same reason that blurring out only the nipple of an exposed breast will get a film past the censor board.
For The Ladies
Hi, lady friends. Let’s cut to chase, for those of you who haven’t done this before. If you end up having no choice but to go to a place that’s judgy about condom buying, you will be treated worse than if you were a man.
You will hear whispered versions of “Girls these days, no self-respect, no class,” in a variety of languages, and you will have to deal with the unique-to-India experience of being judged, feared, and ogled simultaneously.
There isn’t much that you can do except to say fuck it. Own your sexuality, own your choices, and, this is important, sound as sure of yourself as possible. The more confident you sound, the less difficult the entire process will be for you.
Also, if you can, take a friend with you so you won’t feel too creeped out.
Here’s a tip: you’re going to have to deal with the looks and whispers anyway, so go big and get the largest box of condoms they have. At least that way you won’t have to go back for a while.
A List That Will Help
- You may be asked whether you’re married. You have two options: Say yes, even if you aren’t. Or decide not to deal with this BS and find another shop.
- There is no minimum age to buy condoms. If anyone tries to tell you that you look too young and it’s illegal, they’re either misinformed or trying to fuck with you.
- You do not need a prescription.
- Google the prices and take exact change to reduce the amount of time you’ll spend there.
- It’s either this or no sex, so suck it up and do it! (LOL, sexy-time puns) I’m going to assume that all of you are smart enough not to have unprotected sex, so no, you don’t get a third option.
The Easy Way Out
If you still feel crippling awkwardness every time you need to go buy some Anti-Infant Magic (my fav nickname for condoms), just buy them online!
You can get them from Flipkart. Here’s another site that sells them and here’s one that promises it will deliver them to you in the most discreet packaging known to man. Inexplicably, it’s called Condom Bazaar, which is the least discreet name for a discreet condom delivery service I’ve ever heard.
Happy safe sex-having!