Intimate Encounters of the ‘Open’ Kind at Marine Drive


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This morning I had a meeting with my lawyer. After finishing the meeting I hopped into a cab to get back home. The previous night had been a sleepless one and I was itching to close my eyes. So, once in the cab, I rolled the window down (something I never do – but it was really hot and sunny and I needed some fresh air) and put my head on the head rest, hoping to get some shut eye!

The breeze was doing wonders and I was soon drowsy. We took a right turn from Churchgate towards Marine Drive. I love being close to the sea. The serenity and calmness of the sea and one of the most beautiful promenades of the world – the Queen’s necklace is what makes one fall in love with Mumbai again and again. Thinking of this I kept smiling and enoying the view, the breeze and Schumacher’s (aka my cabbie) pace. Until suddenly a sight broke my reverie! I blinked as I was unsure whether I had fallen asleep or was still awake. On the long parapet, close to the rocks, along the entire Marine Drive road, in a gap of a feet to a feet and a half, it seemed that there were rows of two bodies merged into one! I rubbed my eyes to see if something was a amiss; and then I realised these were the ‘lover’ couples hurdled together as one joint body in the scorching Mumbai heat, ‘doing’ stuff!Oh well! This wasn’t a new scene for me on Marine Drive. Having studied at Sydenham College which wa‎s at Churchgate B road, bang opposite the sea, we would go for long walks after the day at college was over. That time couples were few and far between and one spotted some or even none on some days. Whenever we did spot someone cuddled up like that, all of us classmates would look at each other and start giggling. It was hilarious at that time. But honestly it didn’t seem as funny to me today.

It seemed jarring to my eyes, and I felt sad to see young couples that way. Some under an umbrella cuddling away to glory, other women wearing a dupatta hoping no one spots them and recognises them with their lovers, some very bold kissing away in the open while some were holding hands and talking to each other. Lest I forget to mention, some were also sitting on the rocks right below the parapet dangerously close to the sea wanting to get a really private moment away from the world! ‎And one has heard of the traumatic accidents that have happened in Mumbai during high tides! Not only that but there are urchins, eunuchs and some anti-social elements who harass the couples sitting there. So much for a quiet peaceful time!

In crowded Mumbai, couples hug, kiss, walk together.. whither love and security? #Mumbai #Indiasdaughter Click To Tweet

To say that such a sight is a pity would mean being judgemental! ‎I don’t mean to offend anyone here but I wonder where we are headed. We choose to be a ‘closed’ society in a way where words like ‘sex’ and ‘intimacy’ are still a taboo. At the same time we have such a high young population whose hormones are kicking desperately and are seen at any open space that allows them a few private moments. And how private it is in an open public space! It’s unfortunate that Mumbai is a crammed city and doesn’t have bigger better places and parks unlike some other cities which would lend some some quiet space to the otherwise wandering couples. Most are college going kids and can’t afford to watch movies or sit in coffee shops on a regular basis, especially not those who hail from middle class and lower middle class families. So, what’s the solution?

The recent week has been a turbulent one – with the documentary of Mukesh Kumar – the rapist being aired with his not-so-gracious views on the character of Indian women. In the same light I wonder what the famous Mukesh Kumar would have to say about ‘these’ young women. Perhaps they would be an open invite for the likes of the thousands of Mukesh Kumars… with the words “come molest me” ringing in their ears! It’s a very disturbing thought! And then there are the likes of BBC trying to demonise Indian men by labelling them ‎to be of a certain mindset!

On the one hand we are trying to become a progressive ‎society and on the other hand we prefer to keep topics of basic needs under wraps. The joke is that it isn’t really possible to keep hormones in check and under wraps! But, where do these people go? And who will ensure their safety in a world which throws stones at them, when the world itself is a house made of glass?

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