Plain old romance is neither fancy nor expensive
In our days we had none of the quick fixes for entertainment, neither television nor movies. We had an open-air theatre, because we were part of the army. That was great fun. And we had radio. All other sources were through nature. Besides climbing hills and walking through sprawling valleys in between, we had our rudimentary games, langdi, dhopka, saat lingochaar, and ring tennis. The girls also played tapir, skipping rope, and a floor game with shells. Of course there was kite flying, Holi, dahi handi. Even cricket had not caught on then.
So our romances were also influenced by the movies of the ‘60s and ‘70s where love was denoted by two dahlias or roses touching gently. Our first experience of watching steamy innuendo of sex was in the movie Aradhana with Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore. It was great titillation and old and young alike were furtively excited at what it suggested. Some of our simple pleasures of the past can still be used effectively to infuse a dab of romance in modern day living.
Related reading: 7 habits that kill romance in your relationship
Picnic in the park
Pack a small meal of sandwiches and samosas and a thermos with tea or coffee. Just you and your sweetheart. Find a nice spot that is far away from main roads so the noise is only in the distant background. I remember a nice large block of rocks behind the Banerghatta Park. Find a tree to sit under and don’t mind the grass and wildflowers growing around – watch the train of ants go by. And the clouds above. Sheer joy!
Old Hindi movies, songs
This is an indoor activity that can bring a spark of romance, get yourself some Madhubala, Kishore Kumar, or Rafi and Mukesh movies or songs. Of course this will not work for the youngsters, they don’t hear any melody nor resonate with lyrics and the movies seem to be made for losers. But never mind them. They could go for the Batman series and feel energised. I remember an elderly couple getting all misty eyed and affectionate during a session of antakshari with the extended family.
Just the act of going to the temple brings a lightness and warmth to many a Malayali couple. The worship, in traditional clothes, the prasadam and the kuri–chandan (sandalwood pate) on the forehead. Returning home and sharing it with the other members of the family… adds to the feeling of togetherness. My friend Rasika Begum would love that the Friday prayers meant a special mood for both to get fresh after a bath and a session of lovemaking!
Meeting old friends
My schoolmates have formed a group and we meet once in a while and have an old-fashioned party on someone’s terrace. We all pitch in with food and booze, and proceed to sing and dance and of course cut jokes, and someone will invariably be a mimicry artist. Suddenly we realise we have all forgotten our ageing bodies and transported ourselves to our teenage times. And somehow music and dancing always sparks romance in the best among us. And somehow music and dancing always sparks romance in the best among us.
Cooking a traditional meal as one does for a festival, or just a meal for the two of you can bring a buzz of comfort and romance. My husband and I would do a marathon session of cooking for Onam, 14 items of vegetarian dishes and 2 payasams. Then we’d eat on the floor mats on green plantain leaves. And sure enough we were in the mood! Sometimes we went continental with Wiener schnitzel, mashed potatoes and a glass of wine. That worked too!
Related reading: How my husband’s regiment took revenge on me in the kitchen
Shopping is an alternative to romance, but definitely adds to nostalgic memories. Go to all the old haunts, markets, mandis, no need to buy anything, just absorb the colours, smells, smoke and dust, talk away nineteen to the dozen, laugh about funny incidents long past and get back home drunk on a trip down memory lane.
And buy token trinkets; home décor products, tribal stuff, honey, jams and spices…just go with the flow.
Creativity uses the side of the brain that also highlights pleasure, simplicity and individuality. Getting to the good old desi days to rekindle romances with your spouse or not your spouse is simplicity itself. It just takes a little bit of reminiscing what worked then, and using your imagination.