To Kiss or Not to Kiss

For a land that touts the Kama Sutra amongst its bestsellers, India is still that 12-year-old who’s yet to plan spin-the-bottle at a sleepover.

India, despite being the third biggest customer base for Pornhub in 2017, insisted on banning porn in 2018 – much like a no-carbs no-fat no-nothing diet for the sex drive of a billion.

If watching porn in the privacy of your home gets the government’s knickers in a twist, one can only imagine the war-esque bloodlust that fuels the moral police on exposure to PDA.

In a country where a sex scene on TV can render the average Indian family watching catatonic, the moral police make it their job to voice the question on every regressive onlooker’s mind: How dare you?

Forget Romeo and Juliet, the real star-crossed lovers are those who have to balance romance and the omnipresent desi battalion of tsk-ing aunties, moral police and the occasional transfixed bystander.

The moral police, usually a group of men who’ve decided to upgrade from just the side-eye to assault and battery for unsuspecting couples, invade bars, like in Mangaluru in 2012, or even hotel rooms, as seen in Madh Island in 2015.

Parks, dim-lit streets and other clichéd spots for a spot of romance are a big no-no unless you wish to star in the aptly named ‘Operation Majnu’ like in Meerut, where couples were beaten by police officers and said beatings were telecast proudly by the police.

The so-called ‘chill’ spaces aren’t so chill after all, with the Downtown Café in Kozhikode, Kerala, being vandalised by high-handed Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha – youth wing of the BJP – activists, all on the basis of the restaurant allegedly being a popular spot for young canoodlers and canoodlerettes.

Also read: Love at the Edge of the City

In a country where even in 2019, a man and woman simply waiting at a bus stand together is enough to inflame the self-righteous passions of the moral police, where does the average couple go?

Young Majnus and Lailas face up to three months of imprisonment – a tremendous turn-off – under Section 294 of the IPC.

A foundation for moral policing, this section forbids “obscene acts” in public.

Need of the hour, sure, if it’s your ex and his new girlfriend perfecting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation seven feet away from you as you pretend to be on a phone call or take a sudden interest in your shoes or chart a new route back to your hostel.

A law that’ll cost you both a fine and a second date, however, if the moral police gate-crashes your Tinder date.

So what do a 21st century Devdas and Paro do?

Desperate (read ‘passionate’) times call for desperate measures, with PDA-savvy couples giving the usual shady lanes and parks a miss and heading over straight to ‘couple-friendly hotels’, Oyo Rooms or Airbnb’s where your host most likely won’t try to school you on what’s ‘decent’ and what’s not.

But what about those who choose to cuddle, nuzzle and hold hands with their in public?

Perhaps keep a rakhi or mangalsutra handy?

Featured image credit: Reuters