I was born on tropical land, inherited Aryan genetics, consumed lassi and butter chicken for breakfast (go figure), bathed with a bucket of cold “tanki” water, spoke a smoothie of Hindi, Punjabi and English, slept by the water-cooler and drove an LML Vespa.
Yep, childhood was great! “Ballin,” is how any person in my immediate surrounding would describe the predicament. I live in Canada now, eh.
There was only one snafu. My armpits reeked of goat breath all through childhood. Don’t ask me what happened when I was left alone by a cage full of pretentious goats. The only grooming products available to me, all thanks to my mom, were Vaseline, talcum powder and coconut oil.
One morning, I concocted those ingredients into a super formula, putting any reputed apothecary to shame! Little had I known what would be in store for me that afternoon in math’s class. The layers peeled off like potato chips. The teacher wasn’t impressed at my attempt to sneak snacks, in class, under my armpits.
That was a turning point. Like a character defining moment in a John Grism novel. Embarrassed and impressed with myself, I decided to find a better way. On my ride back home, that evening, I decided to stop by the neighbourhood general store.
We didn’t have Harrods.
The counter was so high I could barely see over and above. Boy, was I short back then. With both hands on the edge of this counter as mentioned above, I pulled myself up on my toes and looked over to the store clerk.
“Yes, what would like beta (clerk refers to me lovingly as a son)?”
“Do you have something to treat smelly armpits?”
He appeared puzzled at first but then got up and went towards the back of the store where they keep all the shaving gear. He returned minutes later holding a white bottle, over his head, as if it were a trophy. He placed it on the counter inches from my nose. It was beautiful. I knew I was in love with a bottle of Old Spice.
I’ve never had to sneak chips under my armpits ever since.