A lot of people wonder why I have so many Indian friends. Me too. Surely, it has something to do with where I grew up, but that alone doesn’t explain the overwhelming preponderance of sub-continent in my life.

Whatever the explanation may be – psychological or otherwise – you can bet that the following editorial from today’s Hindustan Times will be brought up by yours truly in many future 3 a.m. drunken debates.

Apparently, Sensex is not the only thing whose measurement is a subject of intense debate. After having fathered a substantial one billion — and counting —Indian men have to cope with some research that shows them to be smaller than they really are where it is supposed to count. A survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research, conducted on 1,200 Indian men, revealed that international size condoms are not fit for local men, because they come in larger sizes.

In this day of iPods and miniaturisation, it is not hard to believe that size is not everything. In fact, with EF Schumacher (the economist, not the motor racer), we might well say small is beautiful. It certainly is bountiful, as one billion people on the face of the nation show. Condoms, thus, are a matter of pure technicality. No need here to ascribe subtle symbolisms that show Indian men in a poorer light. Their performance shows they are quite productive. Or should we say reproductive? Whatever the semantics, the semen apparently ticks better in the land where phallic symbolism is part of the cultural heritage. Like laptop computers and iPods, like dish antennae and microchips, what matters really is what is inside.

If chuckles, raised eyebrows and snide remarks come in the wake of news reports that the rubber must get smaller for Indians, blame it entirely on jealousy, envy or other green emotions that invite wicked humour. That is the long and the short of this issue.

I can’t wait to tell HP about similar forthcoming condom research about to be published in Mexico. As I like to point out to him, how many Mexican porn actors have you seen?

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