Although rubber in almost all its forms 😛 was invented before the year 1992, there was an attempt to invent a really huge, flavored and colored rubber (yes, I know we are technically supposed to call it ‘eraser’) by 7 year old researchers in one of the world’s most sanest laboratories. The scientists involved in this episode were all in grade II, and they had in them a keen urge to liberate school going kids from carrying boring, odorless white Nataraj/Non-dust/Camilin rubbers. Whether their attempt was successful or not, shouldn’t be given importance, trust me you will know why towards the end.
The first scene in this episode goes back to my grade II dormitory (the precised lab setting) when we all decided to ‘make’ a rubber that we could be proud of, to use. Well, the recipe isn’t patented but I would still like it if you didn’t copy our experimental procedure. As far as my clearest memory can go, this method was suggested by my friend Gaya (coincidentally, today is her birthday). To make a rubber, here are the ingredients you will need along with how you should use them.
The ‘top part’ of a soap case (criteria: it should not have any water outlet holes), a ‘few’ ml of your favorite shampoo, and a ‘few’ grams of your favorite talcum powder. The ‘few’ here is directly proportional to the size of the rubber you want you make and the longevity of its odor. And so, you mix all the ingredients in your soap case and (this is the most innocent part of the story) put the soap case by the window sill in your dorm to dry for a few days. Of course, if we were allowed to keep perfume with us then, I’m sure we would have been asked to add a ‘few’ drops of them too. For some nice reason, the only cosmetics we were allowed to keep in our shelves were the soap, shampoo and talcum powder, not even the toothpaste. Yes, I repeat, not even the toothpaste. Wondering how we brushed? Every morning and night, we formed a line with our tooth brush to get paste. Our Warden aunty would be seated on a silver color trunk (the ancient form of a suitcase), patiently holding each brush and ‘putting’ paste. We walked up to her each day, and said “Sairam Aunty” before and “Thank you Aunty” after. I have grown from inventing rubbers to writing board exams, passed grades and changed dormitories, but each morning she sat there, without fail, taking care of little children. Aunty is a woman of substance and everybody’s favorite. I definitely cannot confine the possibility of describing her into a single paragraph or blog. Such is her impact on me. My learning and deliberate usage of the word “picchi-vada” is a sheer attempt to be at least a little like her. I should also mention here that I have a dear friend, (name undisclosed) who had a great affinity towards eating talcum powder, Cuticura to be specific.
Hmmm, coming back to what our little scientists were working on, the mixture actually never dried up, despite lying by the window for days and days. Our plans to launch the rubber that would smell like your favorite fruit and have the shape of your favorite cartoon character (we had wonderful artists who had offered to the shaping part) had to be given up. What else can researchers do when they run out of materials and grants? Anyways, I am just glad and thankful that ‘senior scientists’ addressed this child issue with a solution, because in the future if my 7 year old kid asks me for an eraser that looks like Popeye and smells like strawberry, all I have to do is go to a nearby store (rather than sit by a soap case at the window :-D).