After all, we are the city that was once home to the first and greatest self-styled ‘sex guru’ in the world, (Rajneesh, who later renamed himself Osho). At the veritable peak of that movement’s most energetic shenanigans, the disapproving frowns of Pune influenced the devotees to cover up, cross their knees and refrain from necking in public.
And, more recently, we have become the proud city where our Gay Pride parade comes with an elaborate and very rigid code of conduct which clearly articulates the necessity to be prim, and specifies the conservative nature of Pune.
So in our city we are luckily quite safe from the messy Kiss brigade!
However, putting personal distaste aside, it’s hard not to admire the young people who came out on the streets in Kerala, protesting against authoritarian harassment and using the kiss as a political symbol of personal freedom.
The fact that it was taken up in other parts of the country is confusing. Do we know what we are doing? Or is everyone jumping onto a bandwagon in an unfocussed and wannabe frenzy?
On one side we have our moral Gestapo. Are they driven by a political agenda? Or the greed for ugly power? Or is there a genuine concern that things are going wrong? After all, it is a matter of degree: you see a couple holding hands. Then they move closer. Their lips touch. Their hands get busy. Where is this going to end? Who is going to define the point at which it stops being ‘personal liberty’ and starts becoming porn? I would worry. And so would some – quite a few, unless I’m much mistaken – of you who are reading this.
But on the other side, as a young person intent on fulfilling my biological destiny, I would most certainly not have tolerated anyone else trying to interfere with my decisions about my body. Before it got to the point where everyone was being frogmarched into purdah or burqah (or even the more secular swine-flu masks once such a major fashion statement in our dear city) I would certainly have protested.
Looking at the news reports, it’s hard not to suspect that the politicians are crooked, self-serving and working towards dubious ends. After all, kissing in public may not be Indian culture, but pissing in public certainly is, and why isn’t anyone doing anything about that instead? Most of all, it’s hard not to be cynical about how moral these custodians of morality might be in their own personal lives.
And, looking at the news reports, it’s hard not to worry, because the young people who are protesting are terribly vulnerable. Do they understand the delicate, precarious balance of equality in a relationship? Do they appreciate the long-term value of honesty and commitment? Are they sensitive to the very different weaknesses that each gender has; do they know how to respond in a mature and sensitive way? Are they conscious, wary even, of the often irrevocable consequences of sex?
The worst part about the whole circus is that, instead of being guided to achieve this maturity, it seems more likely that they are being manipulated towards some kind of National Kiss Day, where they will be made to buy things so that the other side can get richer.
first appeared in Pune Mirror on 10 Nov 2014