My earliest memory of a bar of soap was the oval Sandalwood soap that was manufactured in Mysore. I remember my father using it along with Yardley talc powder.
When it came to personal usage, i remember it was the white bar of Lux soap that was advertised by all the reigning heroines of that time. The first variation of Lux was a pink one—perfumed with rose I think.
Frankly, I really don’t remember any particular preferences for soaps. Vaguely Lifebuoy was floating around in our homes maybe because of the brothers who were sports mad and had more baths in a day than Cleopatra. Hamam came into our lives especially after the ad song being sung in a comic situation by Rajendranath in a Dev Anand/Asha Parekh movie, “Jab Pyar Kisise hotha hai”! The Sunlight bar of detergent was familiar in many houses.
When my nephew, niece and son were born, Johnson’s Baby soap took prime spot along with all Johnson products. We used talcs generously and years later, it was a rude shock when my granddaughters were born and the word talcum powder was viewed with great dislike and disdain. The modern opinion was that talcum powder was taboo as it caused many other complications in a baby’s well-being.
In Mauritius I was introduced to the glycerine Pears Soap and I was quite intrigued when a few years later, on vacation in India, I found my maternal uncle exclusively using it. Over the years, many other brands of soap came into the market. Liril sold like hotcakes because of that wonderful green ad of a girl splashing around in a waterfall suggesting lemony freshness. Dove soap has captured the imagination of a younger gen. Cinthol too has been very popular.
Patanjali, Chandrika and Medimix are very popular with the crowd who looks for natural products.
There may not be a single home where you will find tiny bars of soap from hotels placed on wash basins to rinse hands. These tiny bars are also useful to carry around in toilet bags and travel kits.
In recent years we have gradually segued into exotic, handmade soaps made from natural ingredients and herbal base. Natural soaps are promoted in private exhibitions and I found a young girl making and selling it in a Farmer’s Market in Saratoga, CA. She was intrigued by the cap my DIL was wearing that was from her Alma Mater Berkeley. This young girl was a bio-chemistry student and the soap line was a side business started from a passion for all things natural. We had a lovely chat with her and came home with a couple of bars of her homemade soaps. Honey, lavender, Lemon Tea Tree, Spices like clove and cinnamon, seasalt, turmeric, activated Charcoal Soaps, Neem and Tulsi Soaps are some of these exotic combinations in soap fragrances and ingredients. I must confess that many of these exotic soaps that are presented to me are tucked away into corners of my wardrobes to add fragrance to my clothes.
What has always been a concern for me is the slivers of soap that slip around towards the end use of a cake of soap. These slivers take unexpected dives all over the shower cubicles and difficult to pick up. Somebody suggested that we blend all the slivers and put into a handwash soap dispenser and use it up. I have been planning to dump a few slivers of different colours and aroma into the microwave but have not got down to doing it. I am hoping to make a bar of soap from all these bits and pieces and use it to wash my hands.
Yes, coming to the current obsession with soap to clean away residues of viruses, our thought are centred on this necessity. With depletion of stocks and my inability to get my particular favourite brand has left me scrambling around my wardrobe searching for the aforesaid gifted bars of homemade soap.
I never knew that a bar and slivers of soap would become so important in my reckoning in Co-Vid times and motivate me to blog about it. I am on slippery ground though!