Restoring Remy

“Hand me the box of nails” Appa instructed me while he held together the re-used pallet wood of the crates we were unboxing.  I knew the nail box all my life. It was the dirty brown cylindrical box which has stayed with us for many years and beside it would be the hammer, its inseparable friend. Appa pulled out the good nails from the crate and dropped it into the nail box saving it for later. Every now and then the nail box was called for, and it would appear with its dutiful hammer to meet our demands, and then it would go back to the bottom shelf right corner and wait.

 My dad’s enthusiasm to get the next promotion kept us moving every two years from towns to villages to cities. The landscapes, people, school, and the language changed but somethings tagged along with us everywhere we went. The nail box was one of them. It had accumulated layers of grime as years passed, which even protected it from rusting any further.


We sent a video of this restored Remy to my parents who were equally surprised. No one knew the hidden blue. I pat dried it, kept it in the sun to remove any traces of water, applied a thin layer of oil in the inside to avoid it from further rusting and here it is the Remy restored.

A day later my dad calls to share with us the story of Remy entering our home. In 1960 when my dad’s sister was a baby, they wanted to buy a powder. They were living in Cuddapah, Andhra Pradesh. He had gone to a fancy shop in ” ” and got this face powder for his little sister. I can’t imagine in my wildest of dreams how the tin box survived all these years with no use for it. But it did. It waited in my grandma’s house for the next 18 years until my dad got married, got a job away from his home town. He packed up his first box of things from home and left to a town nearby with his wife and his first born that’s me. They bought a hammer and some nails to help in packing and unpacking and carried the nails in a waste brown cylindrical rusted box which we all know now as Remy. Remy is approximately 60 years old now.

A bit of background about “Rem’y toilet powder “.

The  60s in India was the era of brands emerging. It was the year the lower middle class would buy a branded item for their necessities. BATA was a luxury brand chappal, Lux soap was for the heroines but at most reach of the upper-middle class. Everyday items came with an ad and a brand name to choose from. We lost our Chikkakai to shampoo at the same time. I knew all the brands but could not afford many as my dad was very brand conscious. He was very conscious to not bring any branded items home. We had everything necessary and sufficient. Nirma the washing powder which gave tough competition to many fancy brands like Rin came up in the 70’s. One of the products of this era was the Remy talcum powder with more know names of today like the Ponds.

I am not sure how my daughter would react if I gave her a box of soft powder and puff to smear the powder on your face and neck I found it to be ridiculous even when I was a kid. Many aunties smeared it on their wet faces with patches of it sedimented in several crevasses of their faces. The sweat would wipe some and their saree would clear the rest to reveal the real self soon.

Among many brands that folded Remy was one of them. Even today this tin box with its powder intact is sold for $29.00 as a collectible. Would I want that someday? I am sure I don’t. But I sure love this Remy darling on my shelf sitting with all my stones, tree barks and lava rocks I have collected in my travels.

Here is the original Remy Toilet powder. Photo source Net.


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1 Comment

  • The write up around the Nail Box is fantastic.It reminds, Not only the persons have their individual foot prints, the lifeless things also carry it’s history, it’s sentiments, connectivity and it’s journey all through. Generally we fall to notice or ignore. The writer with her insight brought the 60 years old Nail Box to the lime light. Great memories inter woven with a tiny thing is well brought out with her magical words. Fantastic.

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