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Lifetime Supply of Deodorant
by Hal Holt

In 1998 I embarked from San Francisco on my way to a one-year volunteer stint with the Seva Foundation at Aravind Eye Hospital in Tamil Nadu, India. The night before I left I asked some of my Seva friends what I would do about deodorant, realizing it was not advisable to bring my normal aerosol can type on the long flight, as there is a risk of these cans exploding at high altitudes. My friends took me to a pharmacy and introduced me to something I theretofore wasn’t aware of, a roll-on type of crystal rock deodorant comprised of natural mineral salts. This deodorant served me well; it was not only long-lasting, but very effective in eliminating body odour induced by the heat of India. Some months later when I was starting to run out, and just before I was planning a trip to visit my brother Ron who was living in Bangkok at the time, I noticed that the container indicated it was a ‘product of Thailand’. How convenient I thought, thinking I could replenish my stock while visiting Ron.

I showed my dwindling deodorant stick to Pui, Ron’s adopted son, who was about 13 years old at the time. Pui examined it and shook his head no, indicating that he did not know what it was. He then left the house and came back about ten minutes later, all excited and jabbering away in Thai, presumably indicating that it had just dawned on him what this rock was. Ron then gave him a few bahts and asked him if he could go out on the streets and find some. About half an hour later Pui came back with a boulder of it, over a foot in diameter. We broke the boulder up. Ron kept some and I took with me what seemed like a lifetime supply. In fact, over twelve years later I still had some. The interesting thing is that this whole boulder cost the equivalent of about 80 cents Canadian, yet a small roll-on jar of this in a pharmacy in Canada costs over four dollars pre-tax.