Scaly-Breasted Munias, Pulicat Lake

Sexuality in India: Don’t try this at home

I think that sex and language are inconsolable bed-mates. They can be best friends with benefits. They can go out for a coffee, talk uninhibitedly about life, and get drunk on each other. They can wake up in each other’s arms, with one pretending to have already freshened up. And the other playing along for the kisses and giggles.

But I feel odd whenever I try to write about sex. Even if I feel uninhibited about the process, I find myself in a state of imbalance. And I end up regurgitating bedtime fantasies. Perhaps it’s because of where I am from. The land of the Kama Sutra, and home of the prude.

Growing up in urban India, sex education was non-existent. At home, it wasn’t brought up until someone would awkwardly joke about how I may be spending a lot of time in the restroom. Or how the sweltering summer heat had nothing to do with the pimples on my face.

As teenagers with raging hormones, most of us were obsessed about the female anatomy. But we are too embarrassed to engage in healthy conversations about it. Instead we told each other tall tales, making puberty a peace treaty with the universe gone horribly wrong.

The most reliable and accurate channel of information, for me at least, was local pornography. Even though, they were shot in unfavorable lighting conditions – they conveyed the awkwardness with which Indians deal with sex.

This historic repression of our basic instincts has also led to the weaponization of sex. It’s why marital rape shockingly remains decriminalized in India. Also, one of the reasons why people can be arrested for kissing outdoors.

It’s fair to assume that a majority of Indians are still conservative about sex.

Even today, simple onscreen kisses in movies draw major reactions at theaters. I have seen people hide their faces behind open palms, and nervously shuffle in their seats. A drop of sweat dances on a twitchy nose. A parched throat gulps dry air. A set of fingernails dig into leather. Everyone feels tense for a few seconds.

As I am posting this, I remind myself that my dad often visits this blog. And I don’t feel entirely comfortable about it. Basically, I am 34 years old man, feeling weird that my daddy is going to realize I may have had sex before. It wouldn’t have popped in my head if I were married. So it turns out that I am a moral zealot too.

However, over years I have found birds to be far less rigid about physical intimacy . They have made a sheepish cuckold out of me. While I never photograph mating pairs, I do enjoy – freezing in time – some of the intimacy they share.

I’ll wrestle
the moon just to sweat
through the night with her
intransitive verbs, and
wriggle, like vaudevillian
larvae, grabbing air and light,
to find my way to her faux-pas,
and the warm crescents that
are her words.

Spotted Doves, Vattakanal

(Photographs: Palani, Megamalai, Pulicat)

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68 comments

  1. I do neither, but maybe I want to now. And your analysis about language chasing, encasing the body…you made the connection more than erotic. It was sensually sympathetic or something.
    Just awesome.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sensually sympathetic. I very much like the sound of that. To paraphrase many before, language is sorta like the dog chasing a car in erotica, I feel. Once it catches up, it seems clueless.

      And thanks again man, for, you know, the awesomeness!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Perhaps it is related to people who are older or those having constantly been in long-distance relationships.But yeah, language can always titillate – no matter the circumstance

        Like

  2. yes….I can totally relate to that….sometimes conversations can be so erotic even if they are about completely non-sexual things!! 🙂 In fact I have always been turned on more by conversations than by appearances anyway 😀 They have the power to make you fantasize about someone you never would have or be huge turn offs too….anyway great post as always!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Aiye aiye. Please do treat people’s tolerance for sexuality in art with a pinch of salt. The way I see it, if they find it in bad taste – they can always look away. I urge you to continue trespassing your own boundaries through language, what can be broken must be through words, if for nothing but liberation of the artist herself / himself.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post. You write about erotica well for someone who professes that it does not resonate with you as a writer. Your final sentence, though, had me catch my breath: “We are so keen on documenting the struggle and ecstasy of living and loving that we neither live nor love to the extent that we ought to”. I’m not sure if this resonated because I agree or disagree… I think I tend to believe that as writer’s we document lives that we live passionately 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oooooh purrfect! Especially the part, ” that’s the problem with writers. We are so keen on documenting the struggle and ecstasy of living and loving that we neither live nor love to the extent that we ought to.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I liked everything you wrote but what I probably liked most was the part where you said your dad might be reading this. 😀 I think my blog is my best kept secret, I feel mortified even if I so much as imagine either of my parents going through it (in fact, I’m so paranoid that I admit to having tried out different combinations of keywords just to make sure what I write doesn’t pop up in the first page of Google results) 😛
    Also, look what I found today: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2015/10/birdman-parakeets/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally understand where you are coming from. There was a time when I would have been terrified of my anonymity being ripped shreds, especially at home. Since this blog, I have been more open about my life than I intended to.

      Also I I am a huge fan of creating social awkwardness for the sake of humour. Sorry dad hehe!

      Glad you enjoyed it, anu (smiles)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. *The writing perfectly describes the situation in India. Sex is a taboo. The word only emanates imbalance.

    And before I could comment properly the send button clicked unknowingly. And since I don’t know how to delete my comment, I have to face the ignominy of a stupid comment. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  7. In this land, 99.9% of the time, the imbalance exists. Talking about sex definitely draws stares and in no time, you will be branded. Though, the situation is getting better.
    The movie scenario was hilarious. 😀 Specially if you are watching with parents. Neither of us want the other to see what’s happening though all of us very well know that it is all natural 😀
    If it’s TV, there is the fidgeting, the search for remote that goes on forever and then changing the channels ‘casually’. It’s been a long time since I watched TV, but describing the general scenario. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your post was awesome. It had everything – bird pictures, India, and sex. Haha!
    I’m uncomfortable writing about sex, too… I think I feel better when I write about sensuality, or intimacy, because those don’t necessarily need to be about sex. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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