Wandering around Udaipur’s spice market one blistering morning in June with rivulets of sweat dripping down every part of my body, I zeroed in on something familiar and momentarily forgot that the back of my neck was about to turn the same color as the chilies in the burlap sacks.
Soap. Not just any soap: handmade black soap. “Black” soap ranges in color from light brown to almost black, depending on the ingredients used to make it. It’s very basic, raw soap. No chemicals, no perfumes. It just smells earthy and soapy.
I first learned about black soap when I lived in West Africa. It’s known for being a cure for many types of skin conditions, including rashes and acne. Oil or fat is one of the main ingredients of this type of soap, so it leaves your skin very soft. I do get more breakouts and rashes than usual in tropical temperatures, so I was delighted to see that it’s available in India.
It’s incredibly cheap: 20 rupees apiece for the large blocks pictured here, which is about 33 cents. I got some that was darker in color, just because that’s what I’m used to.
Cheap incredibly excellent massage, cheap incredibly excellent soap, and cheap incredibly excellent Indian food. India really is heaven.