That progressive nation called India

Earlier this month, a much talked about “celebration of love” occurred within the confines of a sylvan campus in Madras. As expected, some (in fact, many) viewed this as a challenge to the authority of moral policing and a desecration of our glorious (Indian/ Hindu/ Tamizh) culture. Soon after that, a different outfit took to exercising their salivary glands outside this campus, as a mark of protesting the original protest. What is worth mentioning here is that, I came to know of both these events the next day, after some people posted articles and videos on Facebook congratulating students and decrying spitters.

When I mentioned to family members about this progressive stance that the students appeared to be taking, they were predictably filled with disgust. I did not expect this from an institute of such repute… Kids these days don’t know where to draw the line… And the quote which seems to make its way into any discussion: Technology has ruined everything… I expect disapproval from those of a certain age, but what surprised me was the number of young people vehemently opposing the idea. Can’t they get a room? Why do they want to kiss in public in the first place? Don’t these girls have any shame? (As you may already know, only the “shame” possessed by a girl will come under scrutiny.)

Initially, I found myself to be a little uncertain about the Kiss Of Love protest. Somebody I know asked me if I would have joined, had I known about it earlier. And I thought: Who would I kiss? I am the kind of person who hugs friends and relatives on special and rare occasions only – such as “I am so happy to see you after three years” or “I do not know when I will be seeing you next, this is really the end of an era“. But what I know for sure is this: I want to be able to express myself in a manner I find suitable, without having to look over my shoulder.

Have you thought about what this country’s favourite sport is? Staring.

We derive great joy in staring at extraordinary as well as unexceptional things. We look at a dog licking itself, a monkey foraging in the dustbin, a boy and a girl going past you on a Dio, a woman berating her child, a fruit vendor pushing his cart even if you have no plans of buying any fruit, a group of boys crossing the road – we stare. We live in a country where women look upon with derision at other women who sit next to a man in a share auto, where a traffic policeman says something derogatory to a couple that crosses the road holding hands (along with the customary accusatory glance), where those in love have to be careful so as to not show their love.

And this is why I think we need the Kiss of Love protest. If only to tell people to mind their own fucking business while they go about their business.

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