PDA Kiya Toh Darna Kya?

Love and Sex

PDA Kiya Toh Darna Kya?

Illustration: Sushant Ahire/Arré

It was 2009, movie theatres had given up waging a war against the IPL, deciding to replay old movies, and we had just walked out of Dev.D for the fifth time that May. I remember it like yesterday. My first girlfriend and I in the underground platform of Rajiv Chowk metro station. Hands on waist, bodies pressed against the last pillar, the metro going by every five minutes, eating each other’s faces the way only teenagers can. It was wonderful, really — heavenly even — as my pretentious 17-year-old self would say. Then shit got weird.

An old dude, fairly tiny with an ugly ’stache screamed, “Kya ho raha hai.” It was my first “relationship” so I had to remain cool. “Kuch nahi sir, baal theek kar rahe the. Metro ki hawaa se kaafi udd gaye,” I said confidently, hoping he would believe that we were only adjusting each other’s hair. Now this dude clearly knew what was going on, so straight up went nuclear on us, “Papa ko phone karoon tumhare?” He said he was a metro employee and had caught everything on CCTV. Check mate. We gave him 800 bucks. Our combined liquidity for the week.

That Uncle perverted my experience of kissing in public. The spectre of his lusty desire to call my papa looms in my head every time I reach for a kiss under a beautiful blue sky or a shady metro station. Public Display of Affection seems to me a fairly ordinary, and sometimes downright wonderful, thing. In those few seconds, you are transported, in the middle of the public to a magical place where only love matters. It’s like the movies. When Tom Hanks leans in to kiss Meg Ryan on top of the tower, when Anne Hathaway kisses that blonde dude in Paris, when Katrina gets off her bike and plants one on a mopey Hrithik Roshan in ZNMD, everyone claps. You are overcome by a rush of emotion and you act upon it.

And yet, we’ve made it a dirty thing. I remember being a kid in Buddha Garden and playing cricket where every other ball would go hit some pyaar bharaa couple going at it behind colorful chunnis. My grandfather was disgusted and asked us to pack up. Central Park in Delhi has now joined Buddha Garden as the “Yellow Chunni Areas” of the city.

In those few seconds, you are transported, in the middle of the public to a magical place where only love matters.

Now look here, I’m not advocating that you go gonzo in public, but what’s our problem with a kiss. Or 12? You’re young, you don’t have any place to go, and you don’t fucking care. There is a rush of blood to both heads when you’re innocuously walking in public, or when you make an excuse out of a house party, or step out late at night and go at it in the Dilli ki sardi between parked cars. First Base, Second base, Third Base… Okay maybe, that’s when it goes gonzo.

I think our censure of PDA comes in very early and starts from home. I don’t think we remember our parents kissing each other. And if our dads ever tried, our moms would swat them aside like pesky flies. That behaviour is difficult to unlearn, but I think we should all give it a try.

As I grow older and more comfortable with casual PDA, as and when my heart yearns for it, I am also beginning to learn how to give zero fucks about old people who hiss and glare with eyes more disapproving than Amitabh Bachchan’s at the screening of an Abhishek film. Sometimes this is exactly what elicits me to go harder, a step further, maybe even risk some hand-under-shirt action. It makes me feel wildly rebellious against the world, my parents, authority, culture, and random strangers who don’t give a fuck about my rebellion. It’s our own little version of the filmic song and dance.

If you’re still not convinced, you must be waiting for science to weigh in. So here goes. PDA (or even regular DA) is good for your health. Constant touch reduces blood pressure and heart rate, and helps the immune system. So think about this: Every time you and your significant other are walking in the mall and not slowly caressing the back of each other’s hands, you are walking one step closer to your death.