Sunday, 12 July 2015

No Winter Guard for your Itch



It's July. Another 6 months and as a season it will be winter. Not that it matters to people in Mumbai. But it also means that I will have to keep track of stocks of prickly heat powders and make sure I have enough to last till the next summer. Now you would wonder as to why somebody would stock up on something like prickly heat powder.

Over the last 3 -4 years I have observed the disappearance of prickly heat powders from store shelves usually in the period November to February. Enquiries would often throw up allegations of non-supply by distributor or margin issues between the distributors and the manufacturer. This I found to be a quite baffling as to how distributor related issues arose only in these months. The alternates would only be talcum powders which do not serve the purpose. You end up smelling like lavender, lily, or mogra and still scratch yourself like a dog with lice especially in the unmentionable regions. Not the one to give up, My search would reach out to the smallest of the chemists/general stores who would have some really old unsold stock. This search has now extended to online stores and buying out enough to last the full year.

Last year too I faced a similar predicament but got a fresh insight from the store manager of a popular grocery chain. Apparently, as the store manager informs, this is a seasonal phenomenon and has nothing to do with seller margins or the distributor. Prickly heat powders, and other over the counter anti itch lotions/medications are primarily summer products and are not manufactured once winter is about to set in due to their low off take.

But who defines when it's winter in Mumbai. It's probably those days when severe cold means you switch off the fans. I have not even seen anybody selling heaters or electric blankets in this city. Very few people own woolens.

Any resident of Mumbai will tell you their battles with sweaty conditions through the year. Enough fights occur in attempting to secure a spot under a fan in a local train. At railway stations you will find people in a reverse huddle of sorts with backs to each other at various spots to get some breeze out of the fan like contraption hanging from an overhead girder.

The only way to protect yourself, if you are the sweaty kind, is to douse yourself with liberal amounts of prickly heat powders and hope that you don’t get some heat rashes and other bacterial skin infections.
To put forth a demand that prickly heat powders should be declared as an essential commodity may not be entirely wrong. What say friends?

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