The unique Indian couple
We’ve all been there. We see that one couple at the restaurant, calling each other ‘Jaanu’ and ‘Shona’ and you want to throw a fit, not only because this amount of saccharine display of affection is annoying in public, but also because it reminds you of how terribly single you are. We all hate these couples, but those of us who want relationships, want that saccharine love. Perhaps, without the term ‘Jaanu!’ (I have an illogical hatred for this word, and most of the Indian Twitterati seem to agree with me!)
However, like these two (annoying) terms of endearment, there are certain other things too that are unique to Indian couples.
1. Meetings in the park
We all liked going to the park as children. However, apart from children and senior citizens on the jogging tracks of the park, couples constitute a majority when it comes to the various parks across the city. It’s obvious why. We don’t have a formal dating (courtship in old terms) protocol in our society so most people who are seeing each other are doing so without telling their parents. Meeting each other then has to be done discreetly. Parks, (preferably away from their own neighbourhood) provide space for this kind of meeting.
2. Secret dating
Dating as it’s known in the western world is relatively new to us. We usually have marriage looming over our heads and the idea of casual dating is misunderstood widely. We also know that our parents or well-wishers will drop the marriage word in no time. There is also the fact that they might flatly refuse the idea of you seeing someone out of your own free will. This makes dating a lot more convenient if we just don’t tell our families about it.
3. The joint family spectacle
It may seem like this only applies to the few couples living with their families, but guess what, it’s not a few. It happens to be the majority in India. The idea of a married couple living with the parents (usually the man’s parents) might seem like a unique living arrangement for an outsider, but it is the norm here; even if things are changing lately.
4. Our unique mark on monuments
This is not by any means a thing to be proud of, but we do it so often that it deserves a mention. Whether it is on the sand, a tree in the park, a building in the office or a historical monument, we are obsessed with leaving our marks on them. Literally! Some of us carve our names and even draw a heart around it. It is cute when you do it on sand. But it’s a crime when you want to carve on the sides of the Taj Mahal.
5. What will people say!
We have all heard a version of this! “Log kya kahenge!” or “What will people say!” This sentence has made sure that people stay married, irrespective of whether they are happy or not and basically just conform. This has not always been a positive influence on our lives. It is, however, an influence that exists predominantly. ‘What will people say!’ acts as a catalyst for couples to an extent that it could be called the third wheel in a relationship. The phrase sets boundaries in a relationship and controls how we perceive relationships as a society.
6. Public display of affection
No, I’m not about to suggest that Indian couples engage in a lot of PDA. Quite the opposite. Sex and physical touch is such a big taboo in our society that we hardly talk about it openly. While hugging in public is normal in urban settings, a kiss is ground for scandal. But people do kiss, and more and not always in the privacy of their own homes. Finding a place to be intimate is not easy when most of us live with our parents. So friends who live on their own become providers of sanctuaries. Hotels, restaurants and even the woods are places you’ll find couples stealing a kiss.