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No place to do it

punjab Updated: Sep 22, 2013 09:59 IST
Aarish Chhabra

In the latest Irrfan Khan movie, The Lunchbox, the lead characters fall in love over snail mail but the movie ends before they can even meet. But the couple in the seat next to me more than made up for it, and the term tongue-lashing acquired a new meaning.

As I heard the slight moans and stole some voyeuristic sights of them kissing, the first thought that struck me was: What if I hadn’t agreed to switch my centre-corner seat for this one next to the couple-corner? That old Uncle with the leg injury certainly won’t have appreciated this hands-on experience.

My second thought: Get a room! But then, hotel rooms aren’t the safest option for two 20-somethings whose parents probably think the kids are busy taking math tuitions, not bio lessons.

It wasn’t quite my first time, I must admit. I’ve seen worse in Shanti Kunj, that garden in Sector 16 whose elderly trees have seen things that the elderly should not have to see. Before you ask me why I had gone there, I must clarify that I used to rehearse there. Rehearse for our small-time theatre group’s street-plays, silly.

Not everyone got away with the love, though. Policemen and policewomen representing the morals of our spick-and-span society, and probably frustrated with their own lost chances, would pounce on the lovers quite often. There would be the customary slap or three for the boy, a severe moral lesson for the girl, some sit-stand, and the looming threat of a phone call to the parents. In the end, Gandhi-ji would help settle it.

I have studied the subject purely for academic reasons and found many such places, the most popular being Fragrance Garden in Sector 36, a nature trail in the Sector-10 Leisure Valley, a park in Sector 42 and another in Sector 8. Everywhere, the danger of the police or the stick-carrying evening-walking aunties lurks. And not all aunties are willing to end it with just an ugly stare and move on. The philosophy of openness and all that jazz is fine when it comes to the architecture of Chandigarh, but Le Corbusier perhaps was antilove or mistook India for France in terms of PDA. In the proverbial small towns, it’s worse.

Call it moral policing, generational clash, humiliation, or just a cleansing exercise, but life is tough for lovers. What can one expect when the police commissioner of Mumbai, considered much more modern than the smallbig town of Chandigarh, finds a correlation between kissi kissing in public and crimes against women? Apparently, he has the backing of law to prosecute people for ‘loitering’ and ‘indecent behaviour in public’. As for the definition of decency, that remains the prerogative of the constable.

I am not exactly making a case for designating certain places as lovemaking abodes for hormone-driven youngsters, but holding hands and kissing your girlfriend goodbye on the cheek shouldn’t be enough to land you in jail, like it did with a young man in Mumbai last year. Neither am I saying that sharing saliva in public is a pretty sight for those not taking part in the activity, but why can’t you just turn your eyes and walk on?

A culture of frustration has been perpetuated in our part of the world, which manifests itself in two extremes. One, the sheer desire of having sex in a violent manner that would somehow wash away all those days of sitting on separate benches in school and being told by the teachers not to do ‘such’ things as talking to girls. The other is the extreme repulsion to any sort of public display of affection by others, even while you endure forced celibacy till you get married and then have guilt-free sex with a virtual stranger because you have your parents’ sanction for it.

Let’s not get that serious, though. If you don’t like the activity in the seat next to you, stop looking and watch the movie, like I did eventually. They’re just kissing, for god’s sake.