A padlock with an unfortunate name

ABOUT 26 YEARS AGO, we had lunch in a state run hotel near the archaeological site at Hampi in Karnataka. On the way to a toilet, I had to pass some of the hotel’s bedrooms. Each was closed with a padlock. I do not know why I bothered to look at a lock carefully, but I am glad that I did. The lock was manufactured by the Hitler lock company. I could not believe my eyes, and I took a closeup photograph of it.

Since seeing that lock, I have visited India about 50 Times. On every visit, I have spent some time wandering around markets and bazaars in many Indian towns and cities. At every market I have kept an eye open for Hitler locks, but never found even one of them. When I have asked lock sellers if they stock them, the majority of them look blankly at me.

Today, the 9th of December 2023, we enjoyed a journey on a crowded local bus in Goa. We travelled from Panjim to the town of Mapusa to experience its large market. After wandering around for a few minutes, I noticed a small stall selling locks.

As I have always done at other markets I stopped to examine what locks were on sale. To my great surprise, the vendor had some Hitler padlocks. They were available in three sizes. I bought the middle sized version.

The locks are manufactured by Hitler Lock Enterprises,which is located in Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh State. I can only guess that the name Hitler was chosen because someone must have regarded him as being at least as strong as the locks they produce. Why they chose Hitler, rather than strong personalities such as Hanuman or Hercules, puzzles me.

After making my purchase and some others (mainly clothes), we ate superb seafood in the St Francis Xavier restaurant in the centre of the market. On our way back to the bus station (bus stand), we passed another lock seller. I noticed that he also had Hitler locks for sale.

Hitler is a brand name that would not sell well in most parts of the Western World. Judging by the fact that so far I have only found these locks in Mapusa, maybe it is not a trade name that goes down particularly well in India. However, Adolf’s book “Mein Kampf” is available in most Indian bookshops. Although its author was fixated on Aryans, he did not have a soft spot for Indians, as you will discover in the book “Hitler and India”, recently written by Vaibhav Purandare.

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