Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Yecch - plus the best unintentional pun ever

India has a big problem with HIV infections and AIDS, so Hindustan Latex has come up with a new public service: flavored condoms. Not wimpy fruit-flavored like Westerners are used to -- no, theirs are paan-flavored.

"We are giving the paan-flavoured condoms... it is hugely favoured by the sex workers," company spokesman S Jayaraj said overnight.

An aid group supported by the Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation, which is heavily involved in the fight against AIDS in India, told the firm that sex workers preferred it to more usual flavourings such as banana and strawberry.

"These condoms are free for distribution as the add-on will help sex workers persuade their clients to use them as a protection against HIV/AIDS," Mr Jayaraj said from the firm's headquarters in the southern city of Thiruvananthapuram.

Varieties of betel nut, tobacco jaggery and sweet and bitter pastes are mixed in a concoction called paan sold at street-side stalls across South Asia.

Aficionados chew the mixture wrapped in a leaf and then spit the red saliva onto the sidewalks or buildings that are adorned with the tell-tale stains.

So far as I can tell, paan must taste like the bottom of a well-used ashtray. Yummy!

Asked about future plans for this marvelous product, S Jayaraj had a wonderful choice of words.

"We are also thinking of commercial production of these condoms but that's for the future," he said.

"India's condom market is not ballooning despite our efforts, and that's why we want to sharpen interest with this product because usage is only five per cent in our billion-plus nation," he said.

"India's condom market is not ballooning." Tee-hee.

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