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   Everybody has some brand loyalty. (February 16, 1993)

Mine is to Lifebuoy soap. I thought of that this morning as I tore open a fresh cake of the soap. A simple packing, as everything else is about the soap, just a bit of paper wrapped around. You don't have to blunt your nails trying to remove it early in the morning. And the soap itself: a block of red glycerine with the name written on it, nothing fancy, not a shape that curves with the palm of the hand, the name in designer script.I have been using Lifebuoy ever since I can remember. In an aunt's house, a most disciplinarian lady, where the earliest years were spent, we used two soaps: Lifebuoy for the body, and Yardley Lavender for the face and head. There were no shampoos then. For that matter, in my life, there are no shampoos now also, except when I happen to be staying in a five-star hotel. Then, believing in getting my full money's worth, I take the shampoo out of all those little plastic bottles and use it, plus aftershave, plus everything.

Lifebuoy continued to be the second soap (or the first, depending on whether you consider the head or the body more important) in school also. After games, especially football during the wet muddy monsoon of the hills, we had to wash with Lifebuoy. All the boys would then come down to dinner in the dining hall, looking fresh and clean and disinfected.

I think it was then that I was completely sold on the soap, because I have always used it since then. Not just on the body, but face, head, hair, everywhere. It is my only soap.No doubt, in between I have occasionally sidetracked, because of gifts of soaps that friends have brought from abroad (they must be among the cheapest objects that you can bring from abroad as gifts), or the soaps that Hindustan Lever annually sends in its cardboard box of toiletries as a New Year present. However, I have noticed that Lifebuoy, which is one of Hindustan Lever's products, is never included in the cardboard box. Probably, they believe that their elitist customers, who are sent the gifts, would be offended by it.I must also mention here that some product genius in the company had a few years back brought out a Lifebuoy de luxe (like Charminar de luxe). It smelt like a strong gulab ka attar, and fortunately the experiment failed and hopefully the product has been abandoned and the product genius sacked. Well, not sacked, but taken off the project.

What I like about Lifebuoy, apart from its cleansing features, which are second to none, is its smell. It is the smell of hospital floors, scrubbed and disinfected, or of a washed and bathed truck driver at the end of a long journey. The smell of an honest and hard-working man.

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