January 06, 2006

Quite far beyond

The Bombay suburb of Bandra has a short stretch of four-lane divided highway. It is the first part of the Bandra-Worli sealink, though until that is finished it is just one more route to enter Bandra.

It is also a place where you will find couples, who find privacy in this most public of city spaces.

Some months ago, I was in an autorickshaw, zooming noisily past a whole string of these couples. I could see the driver looking out at them, so much that I almost told him to focus on the road ahead.

Almost, because he speaks before I do. More accurately, he screams. He leans out of our speeding put-putter and screams: "Saale chootiye! Line mein khada kar ke ek-ek ko goli se maar dena chahiye!" (Loose translation: "You bastards! You should be lined up and shot dead one by one!") He looks fierce enough that I'm afraid he'll jump out and do it himself. He screams loud enough that some of the couples actually turn to see what this is about.

When I recover from this blast, I ask him where this viciousness came from. He lets fly with an angry torrent of words, some of it impossible to understand, especially above the noise of the vehicle. Though I do catch "sanskriti" and "parampara", said often. Culture, traditions, all that. Yes, this foul-mouthed driver actually believes these cooing, necking, hugging couples are doing some ghastly immoral things to his culture.

Which means, of course, that he must spit abuse at them, not forgetting death threats.

Impatiently, he dismisses any more argument from me. "Woh sab chhodo!" he says. "Yeh log bahut galat kaam kar rahe hain! Maar dena chahiye saalon ko!" ("Forget all that! These people are doing very bad things! They should be killed, the bastards!")

Speaking of bad things ... I find it hard to imagine a worse thing than screaming filth and death threats at innocent people. (Yes, even if they are necking). But then, I don't have to imagine. In Meerut, the police actually went beyond abuse and threats. Quite far beyond.

Protecting our sanskriti and parampara, those police in Meerut? Yes?

Well, in 1987, police in Meerut went some distance further still beyond abuse and threats. Don't take my word for it, nor even that of the writer of that report. As you will see, the police themselves admitted to the court that the men concerned
    "were taken in the PAC truck URU 1493 to the Hindu Canal (Village Makanpur) and the Platoon Commander and PAC men shoot [sic] them dead ... the incident and human right violations [are] not denied."

Forty men shot dead. Protecting our sanskriti and parampara, yes?

And as a postscript, here's how one young man who was a 10-year-old in Meerut at the time wrote to me to describe how he felt then:
    We would have discussions of what to do ... My dad was given instructions to kill my mother and me and my sister if [there was] an invasion by the PAC (Provisional Armed Constables). ... As a young child it had a profound impact on me. You feel that the Government cannot defend you and you stop trusting the institutions. After spending my childhood in Meerut I became very disillusioned with India."

Protecting ... and all that.


Anonymous said...

And India is the land of the Kamasutra. *tch tch*

wise donkey said...


Anonymous said...

Do you think people should have the freedom to have sex in public? Where does society draw the line?

Anonymous said...

Moscow considers kissing ban

"Our children are getting love lessons all day long from what they see around them," Ms Maksimova said.

Indonesia to ban kissing in public

Travellers caught kissing in public in Indonesia could face five years in jail. A new anti-pornography bill proposes a ban on "kissing on the mouth in public" and on "public nudity, erotic dances and sex parties".


# First, public kissing is frowned upon by Japanese (and Chinese and many other cultures). It is seen as bad etiquette to do certain private activities in public. Conversely, loudly slurping food is not considered impolite in those countries, although it sends westerners insane. The world would be much poorer if we didn't have these cultural differences. What all the different human cultures do agree on though, is that homo-sapiens are one cut above other animals, and having 'rules of etiquette' is one way of showing this. To break one of these 'rules', for example kissing in public, is considered bad form.
# Secondly, although kissing is a very natural activity (as explained above), many people in the East believe it was an import from the West. To use a kiss in a wedding ceremony in Japan is to show that the couple chooses to use a style that is thought to be non-Japanese, giving perhaps a more exotic image to the ceremony. (See western-style wedding in Japan for suggestions about why people choose this style of wedding.)

Anonymous said...

India is not an exception...

Two Kiss in Church, Are Ejected

People were angry at this outright desecration of the church.

Mexico hotel ejects two men for kissing

A gay couple was tossed out of a Los Cabos resort hotel for sharing a kiss in the pool.

Gay man stopped for kissing in public in Britain

A gay man has complained after he was approached by a security guard who told him to stop kissing another man.