Female Condomania

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This blog entry about the events of Sunday, November 14, 2004 was originally posted on November 19, 2004.

DAY 393:  Monday.  For most people, the day to go back to work, a day when business reopened after a one- or two-day weekend.  My only goal of the day was to go to the open airline offices and figure out my itinerary after Chennai — but before breakfast was over, I had an additional mission:  to track down a female condom.

Chrissy worked in an HIV research and awareness project, and one of her upcoming obligations was to do a demonstration of the female condom — but one was hard to come by in a place like Chennai.  Tom, Chrissy, Koco and I were at the breakfast table eating dosais that morning and discussed my new mission objective.

“Oh, I’m all about trying to find a female condom in Chennai,” I said.  Up until then I didn’t know what my angle of the daily entry would be.

“There’s that pharmacy on the ground floor of Spencer’s,” Koco advised.  “You could start there.”  The three of them went to work and left me on my mission. 


IT WAS A MORNING OF RESEARCH walking in the sunny tropical weather of Chennai (picture above) amongst the southeast Indian men in their common and socially-accepted leg wraps, back and forth from Air India, Indian Airways, Jet Airways and new budget domestic carrier Air Deccan, conveniently all within a block of each other.  I explored the possibility of going to the holy city of Varanasi up north for a couple of days before heading back to Delhi for my obligatory flight to Bangkok, but I couldn’t justify the $300 plus cost for an experience that quite possibly might just blur in with similar experiences.  (Varanasi, the holiest place to die in Hinduism, is known for its cremation ceremonies; I had been there, done that in Kathmandu already.)  At the end of this mission objective I simply ended up with a cheap domestic flight on Air Deccan to depart on the morning of the day I’d leave India and head back to Thailand.


SPENCER PLAZA, IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN CHENNAI, was a continual mall-in-progress, with different phases of its construction opened as it became available.  It was a mall in the Western sense, only with a lot more confusion with its lack of maps and a decent directory.  Most of the stores were closed when I got there because of the big Muslim Eid holiday, marking the end of Ramadan, but luckily the pharmacy Koco spoke of was open.

“Uh, this might sound unusual, but I’m looking for a female condom,” I asked the woman working the floor.  I was expecting a weird look or something, but she wasn’t bothered.

“We only have these,” she said when she led me to the regular old male condoms.

“Oh, that’s it?” 

“Yes, just the male ones.”  She called over his boss or co-worker to confirm. 

“I’m looking for a female condom,” I asked him. 

“Sorry, just those.”

And that was the end of that.  Of course if they had them in inventory, it might have escalated into one of embarrassing scenes similar to teenage boys on their first condom-buying experience, when there’s no price sticker on the box and the cashier has to get it by usage of the PA system for everyone to hear (presented in ALL CAPS to accentuated the embarrassment factor):

“PRICE CHECK.  I NEED A PRICE CHECK FOR ONE BOX OF LATEX CONDOMS.  THIS GUY HERE WANTS TO BUY THEM, A BOX OF CONDOMS THAT IS, BUT THERE IS NO PRICE ON THEM.  NO PRICE ON THE BOX OF CONDOMS THAT THIS GUY IN THE FRONT WEARING THE GREEN SHIRT WANTS TO BUY.”  (The cashier gets a call on the phone but then she gets back on the PA system.)  “NO, THAT’S THE PRICE FOR MALE CONDOMS.  THIS FREAK WANTS A BOX OF FEMALE ONES….”

That never happened though and I went off to wander the mall.  I browsed through the big book and music store Landmark and had a six-inch chicken tikka on Italian at Subway.  (Jared’s picture was up.)  I found another pharmacy in my wanderings and asked about the evasive female contraceptive device.

“Uh, this is a homeopathic pharmacy,” the pharmacist said.

“Oh.”

I walked back to the guesthouse from there hoping to run into another pharmacy on the way, but there weren’t any.


KENNETH ASKED IF I WOULDN’T MIND sharing a room with Chrissy since the house was booked already — I was originally only supposed to be there for two nights and those had passed already.  Chrissy was fine with it and I was as well (the pricey rate would be split in half) and Kenneth had a bed and my bags brought over. 

“Come look at his abscess,” Chrissy my new roommate said to Kenneth when he was in the room when I was applying some more Bacitracin on my leg.

“Oh,” he said with interest.  “Abscess makes the heart grow fonder.” 

His corny uncle demeanor continued to keep Chrissy laughing — that and the fact that ever since Jaipur, India, I could only use my laptop with a big clunky clamp on its side to squeeze together a bad internal connection that would make the screen go dark. 

The family atmosphere in the guesthouse was ameliorated when I met another Asian-American guest just back from an excursion in Delhi, Amanda, originally from Sacramento, who had the same physical features and demeanor as Chrissy’s (real) cousin and my friend Lizle back in the metro New York area.  Having her around furthered the feeling that my stay in Chennai was like being home for a while; she was a Princeton grad and we reminisced about Princeton’s Halo Pub, which made arguably the best homemade ice cream in the American northeast.  (I include Ben and Jerry’s in this statement, but feel free to beg to differ in the comments below.)

Amanda and I played ping-pong with Tom that night, but all three of us were no match for one of the one-nighter Indian businessmen staying that night, Ninesh, who quite possibly could have been on the Indian Olympic Ping-Pong Team.  With speedy reaction time and fancy footwork, he was a true master of the paddle and the ping-pong ball.

And speaking of things that have been known to be inserted into a women’s privates (don’t deny that you know this already), Chrissy told me that in the end, she’d just reuse the one female condom she brought over from the States over and over (for demonstration purposes only of course).  I don’t know how much Chrissy paid for it, but I’m sure if there was a big scene over finding the price, I would have heard about it.






Next entry: Martyrs and Magicians

Previous entry: Return Of The Touts




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Comments for “Female Condomania”

  • NICOLE:  Thanks for the pledge! Hope you like TGT baseball jersey!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  08:18 AM


  • Wait - they wander around in those bathrobes??

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/19  at  10:04 PM


  • Dude, that clamp on your iBook is SO GHETTO!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  12:42 AM


  • Didnt they have any LARGER clamps?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  04:15 AM


  • That’s too bad about the laptop clamp. Random tech question: I noticed in a picture a few entries back that your laptop was loading Mac OS 9, but in this entry it was running OS X. Was that someone else’s machine? I haven’t used OS 9 forever. I’m a long-time Mac user, so I was just curious.

    Sounds like your India part of the trip has worked out well. It’s crazy how you’re travelling to all these different countries where you don’t know anyone but you can find all these connections. They must help you get away from “Backpacker Hell.”

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  07:36 AM


  • re:  iBook:  Yeah, it’s the logic board (again)... I had this problem back home and had it replaced…  Looks like I need a new one—or just a shiny new Powerbook when I get home…

    I AM running OS9… i’m just using Kaleidescope which makes it look like OSX…

    BTW, that was the smallest clamp I could find in Jaipur…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  07:49 AM


  • STILL IN BANGKOK…  Stories to come…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  07:55 AM


  • hey that clamp is keeping the blog alive, so why all the clowning?

    price check on the condoms reminds me of degrassi junior high!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/20  at  10:12 PM


  • Erik-
    I’m giving it to my brother!
    Thanks for the postcard again!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/27  at  05:08 PM


  • Enormous Clamp Saves Blog. Embarrasment Unwarrented—unless waiting for that Price Check!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/03  at  09:34 PM


  • BTW, if you haven’t figured me out, it’s CHRISTY writing on PATRICK’s computer.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/03  at  09:36 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Martyrs and Magicians

Previous entry:
Return Of The Touts




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