It was Valentine’s Day 2017. If you are in a relationship, you were bound to have faced the “what are you doing on the 14th?” question followed by a silly grin.
The Times Of India, the most newspaper popular in my neighbourhood, published Valentine’s Day special articles throughout the length and breadth of their Calcutta Times. Not to mention the condom ad with a jasmine flavoured product purportedly advising that the wife be treated like a girlfriend, which came across to me as a clear sign of marriage being the Debbie Downer in an Indian’s ravaging sex life.
There was also an article on Public Display of Affection among couples across the city and how people start “sneezing” and getting the I-have-a-problem-pimple as a reaction to a thing as simple as a couple holding hands in public.
Policemen have admitted to the non-illegality of PDA (public Display of Affection) and empowered these couples to sue people trying to take pictures or a video recording of their intimate moments. It is a direct violation of our freedom of movement and assembly enshrined in our Constitution.
I remember the last time I was out with my Significant Other, and how he heard people say things like “Go to a park or someplace to do ‘prem’ (love)” when a couple were standing together in a queue to get metro train tickets.
Elliot Park is one of the most couple-crowded places in Kolkata, and the nature-lover’s paradise.
Don’t think you won’t get stared at even if you are alone or at least at two arms distance from your Significant Other.
Some places are branded as couple hangout areas and parents just won’t allow their daughters to go to such places. I had a hard time convincing a friend’s mother to let me take her to the Kolkata Literary Fest at Victoria Memorial.
That is probably the biggest couples paradise in Kolkata, and yet people behave like it is sacrilege to show some respect and look away when a couple is sharing a private moment. Would they like being stared at that way?
Princep Ghat is another such place. I went there, with my cousins, after dusk and it was horrifying for me to see what I saw.
Somehow my older cousins gathered the courage to talk about their sex-capades there. All I could think of is when would I get over the fear of being stared at and judged.
Yes, a city this judgmental can do that to you.
What’s with the staring anyway? What would qualify as looking and noticing and just not extreme enough as staring?
I remember waiting for a friend for a ride to college one morning, and a relative furtively observing me from her balcony to see whom I was waiting for, secretly hoping that I was waiting for a guy to help her spread rumors.
I call this condition as being ‘being allergic to change’.