377.

“it’s hot in this section“, he thought to himself, the drone of the fan not drowning the low hum that emanated from the teacher’s lips. With  377 students in the year and 72 in his class alone, he was safe.

The teacher was saying something, as usual.  He could catch some snatches of words trailing off in his mind even as they were transmitted there through his auditory nerves “…of the Indian Penal code was renamed as the Ranbir Penal Code…” He grimaced. Of all the states that he disliked in social science, Jammu and Kashmir was the worst. “Whosoever wants to keep it can keep it. Just get it out of my textbook! If it were up to me, I would hand it over to the UN voluntarily and tell them that India has (no, “had”! he corrected himself, sotto voce) enough troubles of its own.”

His mind flashed excitedly back to a word he had learnt in the previous class: ‘ carnal‘, delivered by the ruby red lips of miss mary the english teacher, who dropped a giggle along with the word, a dainty little puff of petal pink laughter, that ran and hid in the corner near the water cooler.  And Asif, that arboreal thug, who evidently had missed the lesson about the niceties of social intercourse, standing up with his crotch against the desk, the wooden top rack concealing his hardon and his lecherous smile revealing it horribly. He grimaced at the thought.

It was the principal’s order that the students of section XI A be encouraged to spend time in the garden, his poor befuddled mind clutching at straws to deal with the horniness of 377 sixteen year olds, and hoping vainly, that proximity to nature would sophisticate these insensate boors. The rowdies that roamed the corridors with switchblades in their pockets feared noone :  neither man, woman or animal, meeting life on their own violent terms.

“…… and we shall be studying about Ranjit Singh later, in the portion on Punjab…”

He looked up and saw that the teacher was still talking about J&K, and looked like she was going to pursue this through the class. He idly toyed with the idea of creating some commotion so that he may be  punished and be asked to leave the class. Joseph, the head peon, would share his hand-rolled cigarettes with him, and pass lewd comments about miss mary’s butt. Joseph always bragged about his exploits with women, and ever since his brief imprisonment (for posession of marijuana and not having enough to bribe the cops, it was later learnt), he had achieved a demi-god status among the boys. Joseph dwelt for long on the beauty of either cheek, jiggling as miss mary walked by in her heels. It was a description which he found particularly arousing, as he had watched her wiggle past many times too, walking up to the last rows to better see the boys there. It may be that Joseph had actually had sex with her as he described, pounding her senseless as she whimpered in lust….

…..His trousers began to feel tighter as his penis began to extend, and spring resolutely to life. “Was it the thought of miss mary, mewling into the arm of her lover, or the vision of joseph, wiry and muscular, roaring as he came deep inside of her?”, he wondered. It had been close to ten years since he had known joseph, and they were buddies, were mates.

(The teacher was still droning, he noted.  “shall I make a quick pass and jump out of the room?”)

He ruefully discarded the idea. Although the old-style colonial building was full of large bay windows, if he jumped out, at least 10 other boys would  also jump out along with him. That would be too conspicuous. Plus, he may become liable for these guys, and would have to shake them off before he met with joseph. No, he would wait till the evening. Joseph would be hanging out near the chaat stalls. He would run into him there. Accidentally. Everything would be just fine.

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14 09 2008 : savita bhabhi :

“ding dong!”

“who’s there?”

“WOW! What a hot BHABHI!”

thus go the first few lines of the exchange between “lingerie salesman” (Henceforth to be referred to as “LS”), and Savita Bhabhi, (henceforth to be referred to as “SB”), in the newly released www.savitabhabhi.com, india’s first online toon porn princess, published by the indian porn emprire (IPE)

wait a minute. princess?

that’s not quite right.

this is savita bhabhi, already married to a mustachioed gent of indeterminate importance and questionable virility, whose presence savita acknowledges and bears allegiance to. her unswerving identification as bhaiyya’s (hence referred to as “dheele lund ki peydaayish”, or “DLP”) wife is driven home in every frame, as she straddles her lover and arches her head to flash the deep red of the sindoor like an open gash in the parting of her hair, or shows off her mangal sutra, suspended in the deep valley between her impossibly globular breasts.

yet, her desires get the better of her, and SB takes the opportunity to bed just about any man that crosses her path, be he lingerie salesman, cricket-playing neighbourhood boys (“CPNB”) or even hot husband of fat wife. her lust is insatiable, and her conscience, that pitiful organ with one tottering leg and a sign saying “Push-Over Here” in large neon on its head, is no deterrent as she prevaricates for one frame, maybe two, about the moral dilemna that she is in, and the transgressions she has committed by agreeing to sleep with the man in q., before plunging (pardon my french) right into the act.

plotlines are slim, and besides of the qualms on her wafer-thin conscience, the seduction scenes themselves do not have too much of artful finesse or playful coquetry, preferring to replace heavy-duty flirtation with more efficient and business-like come-hither lines, completely in keeping with all gender stereotypes attendant on the hot-bhaabhi-turned-sex-crazed-fuckmachine (“wait here, let me get you some limbu-sharbat”, delivered from over her shoulder as the frame presents SB’s hourglass figure, tapering down to a wasp-like waist and lusciously ample bottom)

the scheming to get the man into bed is also not too detailed, running true to realistic plotlines in similarly sexually charged situations (“hmmm…. let me give these bacchas really something to look at”, bhabhi’s thought bubbles conspire even as she is on her hands and knees in front of the couch, searching for a lost cricket ball underneath it, wiggling her voluptuous bottom in CPNBs’ faces.). all such childish scheming is lost soon afterwards as bhabhi’s voluptuous lower lip is gathered in between her teeth, and she screams “aieeeee” as her neighbourhood cricket-playing boys double penetrate her efficiently, giving a whole new dimension to the phrase “ball swinging at both ends”

the artwork tho, is predictably lavish and generous with bhabhi’s overflowing charms,and the gossamer saris and deeply cut cholis reveal ubiquitous cleavage, as also the main character – mr mangal sutra, hanging between SB’s heaving and (ostensibly) strife-torn bosom.

the content is not novel, nor earth-shatteringly different. i suppose what makes it unique is its (at least superficial) understanding of the sexual tensions underlying male-female social relationships within the milieu of a typical indian suburban household. the trotting out of traditional indian stereotypes (hot stay-at-home bhabhi, invisible, and hence morally non-troublesome bhaiyya, endless cups of chai/ glasses of limbu sharbat fetched for lascivious male visitors and delivered with a low bow, stooping to conquer, with smooth saree pallus slipping to reveal deep cleavage below, etc)

all-in-all, a definitely interesting read, and surely worth a dekko, for al such persons who have chuckled over these stereotypes a hundred times before. also available in marathi, hindi, malayalam, bengali, gujarati, tamil, telugu, kannada et al. tho the languages did not open up at first click.

one thumb up, definitely.

this, the thirty-first day of august, two-oh!-and-oh!-eight : on onanism :

a loud rumble of thunder sounded in the distance. i heard, over my right shoulder the distant disgruntled muttering of two large groups of opposite charge, clashing violently on the outer fringes of the stratosphere, teeth gnashing.

my belly is full with warm rice and dal and thai-chicken-curry now, the rice made more fragrant by some jeera, and a pod of cardamom and some ghee dropped carelessly into the dish as the cooker was set on the fire. there is satisfaction, and there is some contentment.

it is the cardinal difference, is it not, between sex and masturbation? that masturbation requires that u move the world in relation to your rock-steady member. the entire universe may wrap around ure turgid appendage and stroke it appropriately. fast, languid, slow, still, rhythmic: all cadences decided by the frantic movements of the subscapularis, the infraspinatus and the deltoid. lesser muscles like the pubo coccygeus playing a momentary, if explosive, role.

not so for sex, is it? there, you have to move. and then the universe moves in response.

the extra dimension that it introduces is unpredictability. the price it extracts is commitment.

and lest ure beginning to sneer out the “sex-does-not-come-with-an- in return for commitment only – expiry date”, let me clarify. the commitment is to the act only, and to lesser extent to the universe that moves in response to ure commitment. it requires exertion and dynamism far more than masturbation does, and for this reason, asks much more of us, in terms of instant investment.

 

Take up a cup of water

      from the ocean

And there I am

   –Jack Keruouac “Dharma Pops”

pushing office desks out through your vagina

Ho, hum. Another day, another entry. We are doing data entry and cleaning with the intimate secrets of the lives of teenage brides all across Marathwada and vidarbha, and the process promises to be interesting.

And nerve-wracking, and gut-wrenching, and sometimes-nauseating, and eye-opening. And sobering. Did I mention sobering?

So yesterday there was a girl in the list. Lets call her Kunti. Not because that’s a near (or far) approximation of her name, but because there are so many kuntis out there, staring at me from in between SPSS/STATA outputs, that its difficult to keep track of names…

Besides, I guess my apostate soul does take some vicarious pleasure in naming my representative MAG (Married Adolescent Girl, u ken?) after Indian mythology’s most famous teenage mom.

So kunti’s here, with details of her life, her background (farming, two room house), children (one- a boy), her deliveries, her abortions, her still births, her uterus, her vagina (no pain, no discharge, no ulcers), her menses (regular, three days), her views on wife-beating (its ok if the wife makes a mistake (like a long hair in the dal, f’r instance), but my mard doesn’t hit me, no sir- eyes suddenly cast down) on the 14-odd sheets in front of me.

Something was amiss in Kunti’s data. She is 16 now, its been two and a half years odd since she had gotten married. She has one kid now, so far so normal (yes, I did mean to use that word, so go figure), but she had become pregnant once before. Her son is just five months old, she’s just given him his third DPT/OPV immunisation shot a few weeks back. Her previous pregnancy had been a stillbirth or an abortion. But because the investigator had not been too careful in taking the answers, or perhaps had not checked the concordance of the girl’s response with the facts, both answers were reported in different parts of the questionnaire. We were stymied. Where do we put the previous pregnancy? So we did a little detecting work:

Her son was a full term delivery, and was 5 months old: she had turned 16 a short while back, about one month back. So lets say she was 14 years and 11 months when her son was conceived (5+9 months back; her age now about 16 years and one month). She got married when she was 13-and-a-half, and she conceived about 4-5 months after she got married, so lets say 13 years and 11 months? So was it a stillbirth, or an abortion? If it was a stillbirth and a full term, as one part of the questionnaire assured us, then that meant she gave birth when she was 14 years and 8 months. After this exhausting process, she got a break of abt 3 months before she conceived again.

Again, if it were an abortion, and induced, as the form assured us, why did she abort at all? If they were so keen to have a kid, then why did they abort the foetus at this stage? (note that I use “they” with care; abortion in a 13 year old girl married and living at her in-laws place is very unlikely to be primarily her own decision) It can’t have been concern for her health, as evinced by her almost immediate conception and successful delivery. Could it be that the stillbirth hypothesis was true?

“Well”, a colleague piped up, “what if the first foetus was a girl? Then they may have wanted it gotten rid of immediately, that would also explain the hurry to get pregnant soon.” It is to the credit of our cultural conditioning that noone questioned this possibility as being too absurd or macabre, but instead nodded in agreement and said that this is probably what happened, you’re right.

Yet there were detractors. An event like a stillbirth has a profound effect on the psyche of a girl; she would be unlikely to misreport such an event. It is more likely that the investigator would have reported it wrong, mistaking a stillbirth for an abortion. So stillbirth, thrown out the door, made a surreptitious re-entry through the window. There was less supplementary information about the abortion (how many months, where, etc), that sort of pointed to the possibility of a stillbirth.

I think it was at this point that one of us saw the precariousness of our discussion. We were calmly discussing figures, forgetting that kunti was standing at the other end of the column of numbers that detailed the inmates of her uterus over the last 2-and-a-half years. In case u didn’t know, dear reader, when a girl conceives, at the point of conception, her body stops growing physically. So there was kunti, forever stuck at 13 years and 11 months, spawning children through the next 10-odd years of her life, and then waiting to become a powerful mother-in-law or a proud grandmother, whichever came first (the first is for the sons, the second for daughters). Babies grow at more or less the same rate no matter how old the mom, perhaps better fed if they are known to be boys. So you have a 2.5 kilogram bawling mass of flesh and bone, all writhing limbs and bulbous head, pushing and straining at mom’s pussy, chin-to-breast, shoulders-at-right-angles…phew. Like pushing a desk out of your vagina, to quote Rachel from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Only, of course, that it’s a 14 year -old- cunt, innit? That’s when most girls in upper class urban India go to the ninth grade, think of what subjects to major in eventually, and argue with their parents about grunge music and the right to stay out after 8. Kunti, meanwhile, is busy, either lying on her back and getting laid by a 21 year old youth eager to experiment the moves he’s seen in the x-rated vcd he rented from his friend, and also to prove he’s a man by knocking up his bride before the year is over. And after his splattering ejaculate has impregnated her super-fertile uterus, there she is, nine months later, in roughly the same position, pushing desks, a la Rachel.

Then at 35-odd, there she is, a grand old woman, perhaps with a uterus so bruised and torn that she has a prolapse, or perhaps with a uterus removed by some kindly doctor who murmurs “youre done with it after all, we might as well knock it off” (please translate into vernacular), with such a world-weariness and brusqueness about the sex thing that her husband, scarce 7-9 years older than her, decides to seek it elsewhere, maybe in another wife, maybe with an accommodating lady in the village/next village/market town, or with one of his nieces/daughters in law.

Do you wonder why I feel a faint sense of revulsion and distaste when people swear by our old culture, and how the villages are pure and true, and how western influence and modernity has sullied our great heritage?

Then again, maybe I’m being melodramatic.

Amen.

the unbearable heaviness of being (indian) – 2

Hallo chikkabiddies! How’re y’all?? Poona is awash in a deluge fit to send Noah into paroxysms of ship-building, as gallons of water tumble from open sluice gates at khadakwasla into the city’s sewers, gutters, streams, and ultimately, to the river mula mutha that slices the city into two. Even as I write, cats and dogs slam into the soggy earth outside my window and a cold breeze runs thru the fanless rooms.

In a few days, I fear we may be into the stage where the river will be swollen to overflowing, and the bridges will go under water.

As part of my continuous series on Indian culture and its albatross-weight, let me go on to my core area of intervention, professionally at least: marriage in adolescent girls. This is, incidentally, the area where I work, so my data is genuine, at least for this corner of the world, my opinion based on true observation.    

Many parts of India still marry their girl children off on the teenaged side of 18. And before you can go on and conveniently blame it on the rural hinterland for this statement’s veracity, the National Family Health Survey-3 pegs the figure for girls married by age 18 as 49% for rural and 29% for urban Maharashtra. Woe betide girls in Bihar and UP.

So there you have a girl, 13-15 years of age, picked up from her hopscotch sessions with her friends and handed over to a young man perhaps ten years her senior, barely 6 months to a year after her menarche. She was probably in school before this, but school is perhaps only upto primary level, and the secondary school is probably in the next village. Since there is a possibility that the character of the girl be sullied if she were to go into the next village for school, if she were to keep late hours, if she were to Horror! Fall in love with some unsuitable boy, she is asked to stay at home and prepare cute tiffin boxes for her brother leaving for school. And then, a girl hanging around the house all day with scarce anything of particular note to do besides help her mom in housework and in the fields is always under risk of being considered for marriage.

So there she is, 14 and married, sent off to a house maybe three villages and a whole universe removed from her own, led away by a callow youth astride a white mare and accompanied by drunk dancing dolts. She leaves with a substantial part of her father’s lifetime earnings with her, never to return again except for childbirth and selected festivals.

At her husband’s home, she often has to share the room with her husband and mom-in-law on the floor, as her pa-in-law occupies the only cot in the one-room house. Peri-pubescent and petrified, she is entered nightly without preamble, with ritual certainty, by her husband, mother-in-law sleeping satisfiedly nearby. There is very little scope for tenderness or playfulness as he heaves in between her thighs for a few times, grunting with the effort, his seed splashing all over the puckered lips of her cervix. Her moans are perhaps muted, her rhythmic movements cut short by a few unrequited spasms as he pulls out of her, his work done, sleepiness washing over him like a wave.

Is there consent in this copulation? Perhaps. After all, marriage implies consent. Is the consent valid? She is a girl of 13 who is doing what her parents ask her to do. But tradition deems that it is. Is her consent informed? Does her mother explain to her hesitatingly before her marriage that her husband is going to stick his schlong into her pussy every other night? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Does she have a choice?

In what way is this different from paedophilia? In what way is this practice removed from a sleazy German in Goa buggering some little girl he has lured away using sweets and playful jokes? Does anyone ever think of child brides when they talk of child-sex and dirty old men?

To my mind, the difference lies in tradition, and in the unbearable weight of culture. Marrying the daughter off at 13, or 15, or 16 , or even 18 (medical advice says that the ideal age for India is after 20) is sanctioned by cultural norms that allow sexual transgression of the most extreme nature, provided it is sanctified by marriage. And while we all may wrinkle our noses at it, there is an implied shrugging of the shoulders and a “what can I do about it?” attitude that prevails. A sort of “these-are-aberrations but India-still-has-the-greatest-culture-in-the-world” about it.

My entreaty is simple. When you think about the glory that was India and swell your heart with pride as you dwell on the various achievements, the enormous corpus of art, the gentle peace-loving nature of Indians and Indian culture, spare a thought for my 49% demographic, and ask yourself this question: Can any culture that treats its women so badly ever consider itself truly great?

the unbearable heaviness of being (indian)

The weight of tradition is onerous, a deadweight around our collective necks dragging us down, and choking us. Usually, tradition is used along with culture, a loose term meant to indicate a way of life that has existed for centuries and a collective approach to problem-solving that derives as much from precedent as to immediate realities.

People who are traditional are often also described as old-fashioned, and the reference can be desirable or offensive depending on the person. Usually, being traditional is admitted to with a sense of self-effacement, a shuffling of the feet, a sort of embarrassed cough, yet there is an attendant aura of deep satisfaction, of societal approval for having followed its tenets.

An extension of the same theory is religiousness. A person described as religious is usually seen as disciplined and philanthropic, “doing good” wherever indicated; this is accepted as a positive character trait even if the religion in question is different from your own.

Yet traditionalism has a particular sense of warmth and comfort about it, a sense of cookies and apple pie, of geometric patterns in front of Brahmin houses as convoluted as the coffee steam wafting to ure nose, of strawberries and cream, of dal-chaaval and cute girls in pretty chadors reading the Qu’ran in unison.

There is a sense that tradition is the way of our childhood, a halcyon age when the world was happy and people were good. Even if this is an exaggeration, being traditional is not a personal trait that is associated with too much opprobrium, a traditional person by definition does not have to face censure for ending the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

I come up against tradition quite a lot in my job. It is almost always stifling, irrational, and frustrating. It fosters hate and bad blood, and creates difficult situations where there need have been none. Let me explain:

In most of rural India, girls are a distant second choice as far as children are concerned, besting only eunuchs and disabled persons in a desirability scale. In most communities, the bloodline is passed on by the male child to his son, and so on, so daughters are a loss-making investment a “paraaya dhan”, fattened and raised only to go to another house after marriage, to be a willing receptacle for some other family’s seed, to bear their offspring, and to perpetuate their line. Again, daughters bring in little by way of monetary compensation to the parents because of their low levels of employment in remunerative work; in fact, they actually demand a greater investment from the parents because of their dowry needs.

Marriage is universal, and the daughter’s marriage is the culmination of a couple’s social life, a duty that they must fulfil, to entrust their daughter in the hands of a suitable man who will feed her, clothe her, and heave periodically in between her thighs so as to deposit frantically wriggling spermatozoa in her uterus.

This is all mainstream tradition, and if you have looked at the way that much of India conducts its activities, dear reader, then this is a not-unfamiliar pattern.

Ok, so we have the daughter who cannot carry on the line, (and thus represents a dead investment) and whose dowry needs are so high (necessitating large amounts of immediate investment: have u ever tried raising 10 lakhs in cash and a 100 sovereigns of gold at short notice?) as to cause families to be plunged into endless debt in their wake.

There is less incentive to feed them well and to educate them, you would say. And you would be right. Just not an effective business proposition. So there is reduced motivation to have girl children.

: The spectre of female foeticide rears its ugly head:

Yet this does not end at foeticide. Study after study has shown that families deliberately feed their daughters-in-law less if she is seen to have a female foetus. So girls are born with a lower average weight across households in rural India, and left to clamour for more as wailing babies, fighting for their mother’s breasts even as the mom in question’s fatigue is ignored and she is asked to get back to work on the field (son-bearing women are allowed a lot more rest and succour post-labour, is it any wonder why women prefer sons too?). And for a household that denies its babies proper food, is it any wonder that girls receive less food and less attention as children?

(so, for instance, the next time u make a “dumb female” pronouncement on a rural/conservative urban/ traditional Indian/ culturally orthodox woman, do spare a thought for the fact that much of what we call intelligence depends on brain growth and development (function of foetal nutrition and childhood food habits), on freedom to move, to question and to study (function of the prevalent cultural mores in a traditional society), and on ability to translate all this into sentient thought and conversation (function of the society’s culture). A girl denied most of this, which we take for granted, really has no recourse, does she?)

I am not trying to make a case for pity, or for sorry “awwww….. poor dear”s, I’m just trying to tell u that this world, this dark underbelly also exists in Indian culture, and that we must be aware, if we are to understand.

what is vulgar?

The heat is oppressive, and sapping. The road stretches before us in a shimmering ribbon, leading ahead into the distance, an asphalt strip of highway flanked by burnt-brown fields on either side. The ground is parched and dry, the soil cracked and broken into lumps of earth, its monochrome broken here and there by mosambi trees- flowering brilliant and startlingly green. Tiny dust storms pick up across the fields, eddies and swirls and whorls and loops of dust chasing itself round a windy maypole, ring-a-ring-a-roses, pocket full of posies, running around the fields like little children at the beginning of summer, when the mornings are still cool, the afternoons still bearable, the evenings pleasant.

We do not dare to go out these afternoons, though. The heat is terrible, menacing, and lurks just there outside of our air conditioned bolero, waiting to pounce on us the moment we roll down the window or turn down the a/c.

When we embark from the vehicle, the furnace-breath hits us like a blast, its putrid breath causing our flesh to creep, our noses to wrinkle, our every hair to stand on end, and quiver as the first prickle of sweat flushes out on our angry skins…

Yet the sweating is minimal; at least, its not around for too long to be too much of a presence. All around us is the dryness, the infernally thirsty heat, lapping at our flesh, sapping away the water in our skins, leaching away the moisture in our lips to leave them parched, cracked and bloody, split open like the turd-brown fields all round us…

A few days back, we were riding back from work, along the highway, flanked by a glorious orange sunset and fields of tall waving sugarcane stalks, when two peacocks flew overhead, screaming loudly. We turned, and saw a field filled with a flock of about ten birds, all standing around and scratching the ground dispiritedly, some taking off to make the short trip across the brown earth into the adjoining field, the others just roaming around and screaming irritatedly from time to time.

I watched, bemused, and not little awestruck, as the birds just strutted and showed off their plumage, their feathers burnished and glistening, their million eyes staring smokily at me in the fading lights.

Far away behind them, a thin haze of dust was settling over the land, and mingling with the smoke from the cooking fires and the shimmering heat haze of the horizon, making a smoky background to a surrealist landscape.

We get back into the vehicle and started to drive away again. The local populace has come out on to the roadside, small plastic vessels in hand, filled to the three-fourths with murky, sloppy water. Then, gathering their dhotis or skirts or saris about them, they proceed to squat on their haunches, turn their assholes towards the fields, and give us a 21-bum salute. I roll the windows down, glad that the air has suddenly become cooler.

(We are deep deep in sugarcane country, and the roads are littered with discarded stalks of cane that have fallen off the tractors trundling them along to the markets or the mills. The fields are being shorn of the sweet flags planted all along in rows, and resigned oxen lurch their way with humongous loads behind them out from the small village paths into the highways, to satiate the greed of the tractor-buggies.)

The smell of drying shit is what hit my nostrils first, as miles and miles of road is dotted with earnest squatters, their faces impassively turned towards the world in front, their bottoms calmly fertilising the fields behind. Men, women, children, grandmothers, teenagers, the whole carnival is out there, all squatting on their own piece of highway, their tiny little plastic mugs of water at the ready beside them to wash their asses with.

There are many women, many young girls, and old women, toothless and thick-spectacled, all gazing forward impassively as they indulge in one of the day’s great pleasures, an occasional fart punctuating their earnest performances.

I wonder at this: noone on the highway seems to mind this ablutionary performance; noone seems to find the lines and lines of shitters as anything “obscene” or even “vulgar”. As grown men sometimes break tradition and turn their hairy assholes to the road, looking across the fields at the setting sun to give them inspiration, noone seems to be offended at the vast quantity of skin on display, noone seems perturbed that the country’s highways are dotted with freshly laid turd, piled up in neat mounds at irregular intervals..

And yet Gere gets slapped a notice for kissing Shetty in public. In Rajasthan, of all places, where the squatters do not even have the luxury of water in small plastic mugs, where they have to make do with sand instead, and leave off by rubbing their hands on the ground. Its an instructive lesson on what a nation finds objectionable, and what it does not. And what the courts are willing to put up with in the name of protecting a collective national conscience.

Please do not think for a moment that I am saying that the sight of plump maharashtrian bottoms turned toward me in silent anticipation is obscene. Or that Gere kissing Shilpa is vulgar. Or, for that matter, that the sight of an energetic Karishma thrusting her hips over a grinning would-you-have-believed-it?-future MP Govinda is offending to the senses.

I would not presume to make such sweeping judgements. My point is precisely that. That I would not presume to impose upon others, certainly not the whole country, and most certainly not on Richard Gere, what I find offensive and what I do not. I may think the mild-mannered Mrs Balakrishnan down the road to be coarse and vulgar, yet the most foul-mouthed hijra may be endearing to me, the most bad-assed hiphop singer may be just noisy, and tuneless, but not to be taken seriously, or offensively. Its just my perception isn’t it? Must someone else arbitrate on that? Are there universal standards of offensiveness? If so, what are they?

(And can we move away from sex, please? We all know that India is a proud and old country that has survived for millions of year, and created its 1.2 billion population through asexual parthenogenesis, but is there anything else that the nation should be shocked at, that the nation would collectively gasp at, that they would collectively avert their eyes at?)

is there indeed?