Those of us who are not too touchy feely are not likely to embrace with enthusiasm the news that an Australian man has inspired a global free-hugs campaign. Now we are no strangers to grabbing hold of hapless people in order to demonstrate a variety of emotions. We hug at will whether it be the Punjabi jhappi at weddings, or that snaking of the arm around women in public places.
But, the honour of being the First Hugger should not have gone to the Australian gent but to our very own hugging godwoman, Amritanandamayi. Such is the power of her engulfing arms that grown men have been known to dissolve in tears. We also took tree-hugging to heart much before others. The Chipko movement was a pioneer in the free-a-tree campaign. But western legitimacy for free hugs could have many in India up in arms. In many an instance, we have seen that familiarity breeds attempt and the hugger may be using this friendly gesture to cop a feel of the hugee. No, we certainly cannot allow potential huggers a free hand here unless we want the situation to get out of hand. We are all for the brotherhood of man, or woman as the case may be, but so long as it’s from a healthy distance. The next time you see someone advancing upon you at a social do, arms outstretched, it would be best to wrap up your evening and head for the exit.