It is generally at about 10 that mom comes over to my room and starts talking. Mostly it will be a monologue about hundreds of things, which for me, will be more like daily News. My part of the conversation, whilst I am engrossed either in a novel or internet, will mostly be a one-word, seemingly disinterested interjection of ‘How?’, ‘When?’, ‘Then?’, ‘Why?’ and the likes, which is why, she wishes she had a daughter who would have reciprocated with a vibrant volubility! A wish which has now turned into a crave. A crave for daughter-in-law. Well, a painful topic! So lets stop at that!
Anyway, it was on one such occasion that mom came and told about how common it has become in Bangalore these days to see guys and gals being cozy in public. Coochie-cooing openly has become order of the day. Although, pretty common in US, I must admit it still came as a mild shock for me to see the cupid passions for display at hometown. It has been on such a rise that a new law has come into force in co-ed schools to stop boys and girls from holding hands!
While it is a mild shock for me, a Bangalorean for 24 years, I can imagine how it would feel for the 60 plus. From an era in which the girls never saw the guy before marriage to an era when a girl openly asks to be kissed on a busy pavement by a guy whom surely she will not marry, its been one huge sea of a change.
The reason why I used ‘girls’ above as a point of reference is because the mothers generally tend to target them. As my mom said, it’s upto the girl to uphold her dignity and honour. Guys are anyhow branded with a ‘Rowdy’ and ‘Eve-teaser’ image which wont be erased for ages. So, a guy is ‘expected’ to sin. Blaming ‘him’ is useless, for ‘he’ shall always be worthless.
I was mute all through my mom’s tirade of the current generation, until she had her say and went to sleep. However, it set me thinking. She was talking about a common phenomenon, which is quite popularly now called as PDA, acronym for Public Display of Affection. I am neither in favour of it nor against it (which is how I tend to be in most cases, by the way!)
Affection, or a token of love, is something that is actually construed on positive lines. I mean, its good to see two people holding hands, as compared to them in the middle of a verbal abuse. Its good to see two people hugging one another than to see them physically fighting. Why else would people term ‘happy ending’ to a movie if the hero and the hero-ine get together after a three hour epic?! So, PDA should be ideally construed as a positive development and a growth towards betterment of the society.
On the same lines, just for instance, there are hundreds of men defecating on the roads and answering the nature’s call at free will over the compounds of the general public, caring none to the nearby walking pedestrians. Why is it that no one ever speaks badly of such a scene? Urinating is public is clearly something that has to be construed on negative lines, something which a kid’s eyes have to be shielded from lest he takes it for granted and starts imitating the dastardly act. And yet, life goes on, without anyone complaining about the actual scene, but silently cursing that the Government offers far less urinals for the universally-short-bladdered-man.
So, is the case with people spitting, throwing banana peels, wastages, etc, openly on the road or pavement, be it due to the lack of dustbins or, simply due to laziness, even in the presence of dustbins. Blame it on the way we have been brought up, on the civilization, on the education. Blame, adjust, and ignore. Which is what is happening to PDA too, but the whole point is, the hue and cry is misplaced on something which is actually positive but not on the innumerous things which are being carried out negatively in public.
As a parting thought, I shall reproduce below an edited version from The Times of India, Valentines Day edition of 1999, on ‘Touching’, although not directly related to PDA:
Though in a society like ours where an overt expression of affection in terms of physical closeness is often frowned upon, a loving touch is crucial for our well-being. Touch, say, behavioural scientists, often acts as an anti-depressant or relaxant. Researchers have found out that physical touch increases the body’s oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is said to promote feelings of affection and care-taking behavior. Synthetic oxytocin is in fact used to treat depression and obsessive-compulsive behavior. And so, holding each other, hugging, petting, snuggling, stroking is all good for your relationships, heart and health. Experts agree that the benefits of opening our hearts go beyond curing our bodies of disease. It’s the first step towards healing our lives.
Which is what the hugely successful film Munna Bhai MBBS tried to convey partly in its cliché Jaadu-ki-Chappi. An afterthought. Here is a fictitious article that I had written on a similar context in December 2003. It was an article inspired by an ambulance scene in the famous movie Run, Lola, Run.