I tried the South Korean rubbers, and preferred them to Moods, but sought something more discreetly packaged because I didn’t fancy carrying around pictures of naked, big-breasted women. After scanning the counters of dozens of chemists, I chanced upon a ten-pack of a Japanese brand called Skinless Skin packaged in simple black with a floral motif. It was a bonus that the condoms themselves smelled less like balloons than the others I had tried.

Multiple choices

In England as a post-grad, my choice of sheaths expanded considerably. Making a shopping list before a holiday back home, I put down Durex condoms alongside Camembert cheese and Lindt chocolates. An American housemate happened to see the list and laughed, “Seriously? Don’t they make condoms in your country?” “They do,” I replied, “Just not very good ones.”

Years later, after both of us had returned to our home countries, he mailed me a pack of Trojans, marking them “prophylactics” on the parcel, hoping the word would confuse customs agents. When it reached me, one of the sachets had been torn open and the rubber inside slit, perhaps to check for drugs.

By then, Durex had come to India, and a couple of decent home-grown brands had established themselves as well. I didn’t have to look beyond my neighbourhood medical store for my contraceptive needs until 2014, when the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority made its strange decision. It claimed that allowing free pricing for condoms would flood the market with high-priced goods at the expense of cheaper options. Can’t you visualise the headlines now? “Mercedes puts the squeeze on Maruti” or, “China’s overpriced goods drive Indian manufacturers to bankruptcy.”

Thanks to this voodoo economics, good condoms became as rare in India as honest politicians. I took to stocking up on trips abroad, until I remembered those Trojans my American friend had once sent over, and wondered if Amazon offered that service.

As it turned out, not only could Amazon deliver condoms to India, but the value packs of my favourite brand were priced far lower than high-street prices. Bundling the order with a couple of other items brought down unit shipping costs. The order arrived in reasonable time, with no opened sachets or slit rubbers.

Now that the Delhi high court has restored sanity to the local condom market, I will be spoilt for choice, but I think I’ll stick with the long-distance parcel service, if only because the mythic resonances of Amazon and Trojan make them sound like perfect allies in the noble battle against procreation.

This post first appeared on Scroll.in. We welcome your comments at ideas.india@qz.com.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.