Tabu Toypro
from Rediff India Abroad

In the land of the Kamasutra, with temples like those in Khajuraho, and a billion-strong population (which is growing by the minute), it is illegal to buy sex toys. That's a paradox if there ever was one. Our lawmakers have ensured that getting inventive in bed is a pleasure that comes with a penalty -- two to five years of jail. But as is often seen in India, we learn to meander our ways around legislations we don't like, a fact substantiated by our currently thriving Rs 500-crore sex-toy industry. So if it's not the law, what is it that stops women from walking into fairly popular underground markets to pick up their weapon of choice? That's the question we have in mind as we set out on this adventure -- an entire day scouring the seedy and snazzy markets of New Delhi [ Images ] on a hunt for sex toys. As the day comes to an end, we find ourselves with a bag full of, well, seriously questionable products, and the experience of a lifetime!

hree markets in New Delhi are notorious for selling sex toys -- Palika Bazaar, Sarojini Nagar and Ghaffar Market. We map out Sarojini, pretending to be out shopping for a bachelorette party. Here we find stores where we have to push our way through mounds of clothing, reach the inner confines, and sweet-talk the shop owner into showing us the 'real' stuff. Fur-lined handcuffs, leopard-print hunters and edible underwear -- the market is all about the peripheral items, we discover, disappointedly. But we want to buy lean, mean sex machines. And so we head for Palika, an underground air-conditioned market in the heart of the city, known for selling pirated or fake versions of just about everything. Owing to the rising demand of sex toys in the capital -- shop attendants claim to sell 10-15 sex dolls and over a dozen vibrators every month -- these are available in almost all stores. But we choose a soft target, an illegal DVD shop, as it seems easy to take the conversation from the 'foreign' films on display to sex toys.

As the attendant busies himself showing us the latest 'masala maal' (spicy stuff) in DVDs, we gently broach the subject of sex toys. "Ummm... would you also have some adult toys?" we ask. He stops, turns around and gapes for about 10 seconds, a smirk slowly spreading across his face. And as easily as that, we are in business.

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