It’s a new Valentine’s, and love doesn’t care. Since “Salaam Namaste”, in which a chef (Saif Ali Khan) and a medical student (Preity Zinta) test their compatibility by living together for a year, relationships in big cities haven’t been the same.
Unlike fashion, live-in relationships are a trend slow to travel from Delhi and Mumbai, and the tricity’s live-in couples are hesitant to discuss it openly. But don’t let their silence fool you, because admitting or not, they are “in it” very much.
HT sniffed out two live-in pairs working in the software sector. It wasn’t surprising that they were reluctant to come on record, even after being assured anonymity. It took one of their colleagues to tell us the story of how they manage to share a place where “woman friends” are barred.
Abhijeet, the helpful colleague, said the man had hired a room above the paying guest accommodation shared by four women. To an unsuspecting eye, they are strangers; but once the sun goes down, one of the women moves quietly to the second floor with her live-in partner (where, of course, they just hang out, eat pizza, and watch movies). Sounds like a scene out of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)”?
Local property consultant Aman Aulakh confirmed that live-in couples were common in apartment societies, where most flats were rented out. Recently, he had helped a young bachelor find a two-room independent flat, and a woman joined him soon. You have to play a con to pull it off. A college laboratory attendant said girls moved into hostel initially put the parents at ease, and later convinced them that the food and basic amenities out there were bad, and friends at paying guest accommodations were better off. “The girl then moves in with her partner, who has rented a flat somewhere out. But she continues to pay her rent for the old PG house, too, where her friends are staying.”
“I find it common among mature students from distant states, who study at university,” the attendant added. Institute of Development and Communication director Pramod Kumar said live-in relationships were unacceptable to both Indian family and society. “Neither administrative nor legal system will support it,” he said. Panjab University sociology professor Rajesh Gill finds Chandigarh a modern city that has kept its small-town mentality. “People here look down upon live-in relationships as if it is crime,” she said. However, she added, they would sooner or later have to accept this culture, too.In SAS Nagar, rented accommodation is plenty and cheap. However, try asking the owner if a woman friend can visit from time to time, and watch the door being slammed in your face. Even Chandigarh with its “open hand” symbol may not be that “chill”.
Yet, live-in relationships are not uncommon. So next time you overhear someone say she hates her hostel and is now moving out, give her big thumbs up, and tell her: “Go girl!” Love will find a way. firstname.lastname@example.org