Sunday, July 15, 2007


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.


soumik said...

Nice point brought up man....Also the thought of Times of India about touch therapy...but probably we shouldnt mistake touch therapy with PDA.....that day while coming from office I saw one couple in the bus holding each other and expressing their emotions towards each other in a fashion which really forces me to think...isnt it a reflection of the dark side of the western culture..may be i am not the perfect person to judge what is right and what is wrong..but still loving someone doesnt mean bare it all..its a feeling..not a show..i just want to mention one point written by mentioned that we are doing what our society,upbringing is teaching us...(read defecating..throwing stuffs)...agreed..but the same culture teaches us to be of high moral values...maintain dignity....then why we arent listening to it...because we thing PDA is "in" thing now in society...but no one knows if this PDA attitude is really taking us any where..if western culture is to be believed..this cozy cozy PDA soon turns to a dirty Divorce a suggestion...lets appreciate the real meaning of "jadoo ki jhappi/puppi"..and stop using it as an instrument to hug/kiss someone in the public place....

Deepti said...

"Ati sarvatra varjayeet" - To eliminate exess in everything - is in itself an everlasting struggle for people, civilizations and their belief systems. What I saw in Blore, last time I visited, was excessive PDA for its coolness factor. It was the coolness quotient that irked me. Also, a need for unbridled non-introspected 'liberation' and no inhibition. Although, I believe there is nothing wrong with PDA, I feel everyone has their very own PDA threshold. Older generations might see PDA as utter superficiality and the younger ones as a rightful expression of love. But it is NOBODY;s business to enforce norms that prevent girls n boys from holding hands!

Expression of love is multi-facetted. It is odd when one component gets more attention than others, like PDA. It is all about treading the middles - of balance. Hope we as a younger generation find our middles.

Also, liked your argument about why PDA is being targetted when there are other more pertinent issues like - urination in public! Chuckle!

Guru said...

Actions speak more than words! The actions louder and clearer and put the point across well!!

About PDA, I dont see any problem with it as long as it is within the limits(and again limits vary). A lot of things like perceptions, stereotypes, education, experiences all influence alva?