Hari and I were in my hometown for holidays a year back. On a Friday evening our cousin who stays next door was coming home from Trivandrum by the daily train, Vanchinad Express. We were outside already and decided to pick him up from the railway station. We reached the station at around 8:30pm, close to the right time the train was supposed to arrive. Since we were not supposed to leave the car anywhere near the front porch, we went to the parking lot which was mostly empty and a little dark. We parked our car in front of the fence right next to the first platform where the overhead bridge started, so that we could see when he would come down the stairs. It started drizzling at that point and so we decided to wait in the car.

After waiting there for around 10 minutes, my cousin called and told us the train was going to be delayed by over an hour. So I told him we were leaving and would come back to pick him up later. On our way out of the parking lot, we looked for the guy who gives the parking tickets, the law-abiding citizens that we were. We were unable to find him earlier and had not paid yet. Just as we were pulling out of the parking lot, I spotted him. Hari lowered the window and called out to him. He came over and with a smirk on his face and looked at Hari and then at me. This was the conversation that followed:

He: Has it been long since you came?

Hari: No, just 10 minutes.

He (with a dirty smile): Oh! Just 10 minutes?

Hari: Yeah, we were waiting for someone; but the train is delayed. How much should I pay?

He: Train is delayed huh? I walked all through the parking lot a few minutes back. I didn’t see you. Were you parked somewhere at the extreme end of the lot?

Hari: No, we were parked by the fence in front of the overhead bridge.

He (with his eyes twinkling): Really? It must have been pretty dark huh?

Hari (seemingly irritated): If there is no proper lighting given in the parking lot, it would be dark right? Can you just tell me how much I should pay for the ticket?

He (looking at me with an amused smile): 5 rupees

The entire time I sat there I could feel something very disturbing in the way he looked at us and asked questions. But the fool that I was, I didn’t catch the hint right then. I kept thinking until it hit me right before we got home. He was implying that we were there to have sex or at least make out!!

I turned to Hari and asked him if he meant what I thought he meant. Hari still looked irritated and told me that was exactly what he meant. He went on to add that he didn’t want to give him a piece of his mind only because he didn’t want to make me feel uncomfortable as well. I have no words to express how pissed off I felt at that moment. I understood why Hari didn’t say anything back; but it killed me to think that the idiot could talk to us like that and get away with it.

Thankfully, when we went back to the station that night Hari made sure he told the guy this:

“I was here an hour ago with a girl and you asked me some questions with a dirty smirk on your face. Don’t think I didn’t understand what was behind your questions and smirk. First of all, the girl who was with me was my wife and I didn’t give you a piece of my mind then because I didn’t want her to be uncomfortable. We have a house of our own and seriously do not need your parking lot to do whatever we need to do, since that was what you were implying. Secondly, you have a sick mind! That is why you feel every boy and girl seen together are looking for a place to make out.”

The guy tried to argue a bit by saying there were a lot of such things happening, so it was justified to think like that. But soon he backed down and apologized to Hari.

When I think about it, it kind of strengthens my feeling that our people are in some way obsessed with sex. I am not talking about my hometown alone here; I am talking about such morons across the country. “A girl and a boy alone? They must be thinking of doing it!” I guess, for a lot of people it is too much of repressed sexual feelings that bring out this dirty mindset. And no! It is not just uneducated people who think this way. I’ve seen senior managers with vast experience from a multinational company where I have worked, reprimand junior trainees just because the guys had their arms around the girls’ shoulders in pictures taken out of office! The trainees were given such words of wisdom like, “If you can’t control it, ask your parents to get you married off”, and “How dare you touch her? I don’t even touch my wife” (he probably meant in public).  I have also seen the same senior managers trying to get a couple of team members out of the team, because they were apparently dating someone from the team and the management was worried they might “do the dirty” in empty training rooms! I can’t help but think of this as just another form of perversion.

This obsession with sex has gone to such bad extents that even in the so-called high-class, liberal schools and colleges, there are hard and fast rules against the interaction between boys and girls. There are chains separating boys and girls in buses. Can you believe it? Chains! There are separate recreation areas for boys and girls. There are punishments going to the level of suspension and more, in case any form of interaction is “caught” by the teachers or non-teaching staff. And to add to the worry more, in an article against such practices, I saw a huge number of “concerned” parents commenting it is a good idea to impose such restrictions so that their children grow up in a “decent” environment.

A couple of tips to such parents:

1) The more you try to restrict your kid from interacting with the opposite gender, the more you are instilling the feeling in them that there is a forbidden fruit. And the more forbidden the fruit, the higher the temptation to have it. So decide. Do you want your kids to have a healthy relationship with the opposite gender and talk to you openly about their friends or sneak out behind your back and get into dangerous relationships in an attempt to satisfy their heightened curiosity? You might want to take a moment to think about the number of cases of teenage girls committing suicide after MMS scandals.

2) I’ll put it very simply. No matter how much you restrict them, when they grow up and are old and mature enough to do it, they will do it, if they really want to. Honestly, it has got nothing to do with culture.