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In Mumbai, Sex Toys Masquerade As Head Massagers



You’ll be amazed at what you can buy on footpaths these days.

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You’ll be amazed at what you can buy on footpaths these days.

On a warm and drizzly day in late July, I step out of the car on a mission to find dildos. This, I confess, is a first for me. I stand at the Flora Fountain in South Mumbai, unsure of my next move. Perhaps seasoned dildo-hunters would be able to instinctively sense the right direction to head towards, but I am at a loss. The rain picks up in intensity and I run towards the nearest source of shelter, a sidewalk covered by an overhang of a stately building.

One thing that I’ve learned about the powers that be at 101India is they love to make their writers uncomfortable. Less than a week after spending an hour in a softcore porn theater in Goregaon, I was asked to go and find the men selling sex toys in South Bombay.

“Where are they?” I asked.

“Kala Ghoda,” they said. “Go to the Flora Fountain and ask anyone. Go tomorrow in the morning.”

“Sounds good,” I said.

In the morning I looked down at my phone to find a text from my boss. It read: “Don’t buy too many. The office has no accounting code for dildos.” I resisted the urge to text back “Yet.” Besides, there was no way I was actually going to buy one.

Keeping your dildo dry in the monsoon is a must. 101India recommends an umbrella

Keeping your dildo dry in the monsoon is a must

Underneath the overhang, I watch with dismay as the rain increased in intensity. Without an umbrella or a raincoat, it looks like I will be trapped here for a while. And then someone taps on my arm.

“Umbrella, sir?”

It’s one of the many guys running street stalls along the relatively dry sidewalk. I look across at what he’s selling: umbrellas… sunglasses… dildos! Wait, what? He’s selling umbrellas, sunglasses and dildos? I struggle to figure out how those items go together without coming to any conclusions. As I glance down the sidewalk, I realize that through sheer dumb luck, I’ve arrived at the mother lode of Mumbai sex toy stalls. There are dildos as far as the eye can see—along with creams to increase breast size, sprays which promise to help men last longer in bed, and the ambiguous and vaguely frightening ‘Push-Up Sexy Gum,’ which features an image of a man and woman aggressively tonguing one another.

The fearsome Crystal Condom. Use at your own risk

The fearsome Crystal Condom. Use at your own risk

By far the most disturbing item is the ‘Crystal Condom,’ a hard sheath of clear plastic for the penis, with countless ridges and nodes on the outside. The advertising promises that it’s reusable. To me, it looks like a medieval torture device, capable of taking all the pleasure out of sex for everyone involved.

A respectable looking lady walks by and gives me a look. Some residue of Puritan shame rises in me and all of a sudden I’m embarrassed. Somehow my summer job entails browsing sex toys and musing over the relative pros and cons of the Crystal Condom at 10:30 AM. Hell, most of the stalls aren’t even fully set up yet. The vendors clearly aren’t expecting customers until a bit later in the day.

Wary of being branded as an unbearably horny foreigner, I retreat to a bookstore. Lots of Lonely Planets here. Maybe, I’ll go to Hong Kong. Or Singapore. Anywhere but here and my new life as a dildo hunter. Outside, it starts raining harder than I’ve ever seen before. I postpone my travel plans until after the storm passes.

I work up the courage to go outside and drink a fresh coconut. Then I ask the man to carve up some of the meat for me. It’s been nearly 30 minutes since I arrived and I still haven’t talked to any of the dildo-men. But cometh the hour, cometh the man so I summon my courage and approach the man at the nearest stall.

“How do you say ‘umbrella’ in Hindi?” I ask to break the ice.

“What about ‘sunglasses’” I follow up.

“And ‘dildo’? How do you say ‘dildo’ in Hindi?” It turns out that the word for dildo is, in fact, dildo. This man wants nothing to do with me. He won’t tell me how many dildos they sell in a day and won’t even show me the biggest one he has unless I promise to buy it for 1500 bucks. I’m insulted. Am I not even good enough to buy a dildo? This is a low point.

I move away from the stall in a huff, but my good humor returns when I check the photos I’ve taken so far on my iPhone. They’ve all been geotagged as at ‘Horniman Circle.’ You just can’t make some of this stuff up.

The rain shows no signs of abating, so I decide to buy an umbrella. I find another, friendlier dildo man who quotes me some ridiculous prices. He’s more eager to show me his wares, though, and pulls out massive dildo after massive dildo. I’m shown ones that vibrate, that bend, that wiggle in interesting ways. Each day he sells around 10 dildos, he tells me, for about 1500 bucks a pop. Most of his customers are women of all ages, but he sells to the occasional guy.

We haggle for a while and eventually I score a sweet package deal for a great umbrella and a lovely dildo. My first umbrella is large, black and cumbersome. My first dildo is large, pink, and veiny.

The transaction itself is conducted in utmost secrecy—I palm him the money and he furtively wraps the dildo in about 5 black plastic bags. It’s all very cloak and dagger because, apparently, there are multiple cameras watching us. If I ever decide to run for president back in the states, you can bet this footage will surface.

I leave Horniman Circle and head back towards Bandra and the 101India brain trust. When I arrive, I place the dildo on the table in the middle of the office. It stands there proud, erect, and sloping slightly to the right.

Something to remember me by.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of

By William Gansa
Illustration by Eshna Goenka

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