Shampoo or Tobacco?

Bangalore is full of small shops and kiosks. A curtain of small packs and sachets frames the shopkeepers.

Pan shop

What is for sale in these small shops? On the one hand, you can buy everything to keep you clean and healthy. If you can’t afford to spend a hundred rupees on a bottle of shampoo in a supermarket, you can buy a single sachet here for a couple of rupees.

On the other hand, you can also buy various products containing chewing tobacco, such as “gutkha” or “pan masala”. Sale of these products is legal in Karnataka, but has been banned in some Indian states, including the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh. I haven’t tried any of them!

packets of shampoo

Packets of coffee


There is an interesting article on The Hindu website, published on 5 April 2013, about the ban on gutkha sales in Andhra. The Hindu reports that the strings of sachets have disappeared from the front of Hyderabad’s shops, but the products are still available behind the scenes, at higher prices, smuggled into the city on trains from other states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

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