What’s A Napkin Between Friends !

Image used for representation only


Amidst condoms, an ointment for piles and other seemingly awkward things you can order at the local chemist lies a suspicious-looking newspaper wrapped product.

Sneakily slipped into a signature black plastic bag, this is quietly slid over the counter by the pharmacist. It is then hastily grabbed by the wary customer who ordered it with a petrified whisper..

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we’re referring to sanitary napkins- the touch-me-nots in the world of OTC brands.

“I’ve had to purchase this ‘sanitary product’ for my wife occasionally,” admits Mohit Hooda.

“It’s never a trip to the pharmacy you want to make, yet just as important as buying toilet paper. When wifey is hovering in the bathroom, shooting you looks that could kill through the closed door, what other choice do you have!

“I asked her to write the product specifications on a chit of paper that I slipped under the bathroom door. It was the only way to avoid embarrassment at the drug store. Imagine men around me asking for condoms and me whispering to the man across the counter that I needed a ‘Whisper’!”

While Hooda’s hovering shrew somewhat simplified matters for him, Vansh Todywala confesses he wasn’t that lucky.

“I had no idea about the brand she preferred,” he explains. “So, I was stymied when the pharmacist probed me.

Also, when it came to ‘wings’, I was dumbfounded. Was this some joke the chuckling pharmacist was making at me?

“Finally, he quizzed me about sizes, helpfully pointing out that I’d need an ‘L’ or ‘XL’ (if it were a heavy flow). Oh man, I prayed she wouldn’t need the latter, we shared the bed after all! So, I ended up purchasing three different brands to please my bleeding partner in life. Though she wasn’t too pleased with my choices, she was thoroughly amused by my experience.

Funnily enough, this routine female hygiene product is as embarrassing for men to sell as it is for them to purchase.

Jayant Bhave of Matoshri Medicals, Hadapsar expounds upon the tedious process. “We have to stock the brands under the counter, otherwise male customers would be uncomfortable. The wrapping is different too. When a ‘madam’ requests it, we first wrap it in newspaper, then parcel it in a black plastic bag. Lastly it is handed over in a white carry bag or brown paper bag like the rest of the medicines.”

Bhavini Doshi declares that this is an utterly foolish endeavour methodically undertaken by chemists city-wide. “The napkins are themselves wrapped individually in covers and then placed in the external packaging. So how weird is it that the pharmacists and grocers add three additional wrappers! It totals at five layers of wrapping! I mean there are bombs and explosives carried with less padding!” she laughs.

While Jayant Bhave has mastered a systematic technique for the sale, Naren Bhati of Ketlaji– a grocery store in Fatima Nagar, tells us more. “After double wrapping the sanitary napkins, I quietly place it on the counter,” he says revealing that handing the package directly to a woman might lead to some unknown yet formidable cataclysm.

Devina Mittal shares that the entire process is much of a hindrance. “The pharmacist is usually so mortified when I boldly demand sanitary napkins that he usually has me await my order until all the other customers (think men) have left the store.

“Then there is the taboo around exploring options. I can’t ask him to lay out a few brands on the counter for fear of watching his face turn red. Showing me tampons or menstrual cups would probably make him go purple with shame.

“Now, I buy my monthly sanitary supplies online,” she says exasperated wishing that men would grow the hell up. “I mean it’s just a necessary toiletry. No different than shaving supplies men buy! Just be done with the taboo already!”

Guys, are you listening!?

Aditi Balsaver

Aditi Balsaver

A rapacious reader and animal lover, Aditi is a traveler on weekends and a writer at night..
Aditi Balsaver