By Chaitali Aggarwal
All photos by the author/copyright: Right Impact Media Inc.
As the famous 13th century Persian Sufi poet Rumi wrote: “Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along”. Ironically, once the lovers meet, there is a dire desire to meet again and again. Lovers perpetually crave for each other’s physical presence and search for a peaceful environ to spend some `love time’ with each other.
Young love can be seen flourishing in parks and in ruinous forts nowadays and almost everywhere they can remain obscure. It wouldn’t be trite to say flowers aren’t the only nature’s bounty that bloom in the gardens and lake-side parks of Delhi!
Growing up in a country where physical intimacy in public has always been a taboo, especially among the unmarried/young ‘lovers spots’ in the city are the perfect petting areas for such lovers who perpetually pine to spend some intimate time together.
Our society and its orthodox thinking is probably the biggest reason why one can find such couples getting close to one another in public places. It’s a constant race, however, for the lovebirds to find parks where they can enjoy time together without being harassed by cops or bullied by people.
I decided to follow some lovebirds a tad closer to their nests: Probably the most popular and preferred garden for lovers in the city is the famous Lodhi Garden in the heart of south Delhi that is packed with couples at any time of the day. A safe haven for lovers, the general people and visitors around and inside it tend to mind their own business and do not harass the couples in this serene place.
Located closely to the upscale Hauz Khas village, the Hauz Khas fort and the neighbouring Deer Park can be seen packed with young couples, spending time together. An otherwise safe and peaceful area, these couples are sometimes harassed by the growing number of eunuchs lurking around for want of small sum of money; A small price to pay for the pleasure of being together! Proximity to Hauz Khas village adds to the excitement, as walking in the bylanes of the designer boutiques housed inside this swanky village and window shopping there enhances the experience for most.
India gate lawns and its myriad trees and thick bushes offer a perfect cover to the 'love birds' in all seasons as much as one of the oldest parks for lovers in Delhi is the Buddha Jayanti Park. Previously, a popular hangout park for couples, it is now avoided due to the lumpen, eve-teasers and corrupt cops harassing the couples. Even then, this park is usually full with loving couples - especially on weekends.
Delhi’s first shopping mall – Ansal Plaza Complex – offers a different kind of experience for lovebirds. The stairs of the open air amphitheatre in the complex can be seen buzzing with lovers of all kinds, especially if the weather is pleasant. A popular place among couples, it is not for those seeking too much intimacy. One can usually see couples simply holding hands and spending time together in this bustling place.
The changing face of the Capital city has, in recent years, has also transformed the needs of its metrosexuals and their choice of a spot to spend time together. Delhi Metro stations – both outside and inside it have recently emerged as places where couples can be seen spending some close time together. Be it right at the entrance to the stairs at the metro stations, the elevators or the metro station interior itself in early mornings or late hours in the day, it is a popular, safe destination for young lovers seeking togetherness more than privacy.
Unfortunately, with the changing societal systems and environment, many of these places are increasingly become unsafe. The question that arises is, when these places are not completely safe and there’s a risk involved and makes one wonder why must loving couples prefer these places?
“We both met in a software designing class and fell in love. Love is not enough, physical attraction is important and obviously our parents won’t be comfortable with it. So, we drive to this park often, as it’s safe from any relatives and we can get some private time”, said a 21-year-old to fnbworld couple coochie-cooing at the Lodhi Gardens, refusing to be named.
Another young couple, around 18 years, we spoke with at the Hauz Khas Fort said, “We sit together and spend some loving time together. It’s peaceful and people don’t interfere. So why don’t they simply go to a restaurant or a lounge? “They are all so expensive and crowded. Besides, we don’t own a car, where we could be to ourselves as many rich and young couples these days,” the girl quipped. While Sabina Arora (name changed) says: "Even while we hide and meet, we are scared of being caught for sitting closer or just kissing...is this a crime to kiss in public...I mean what are the laws?"
These explanations prompted me to think and come to my own conclusion on why these lovers’ haunts continue to be so popular and so much in demand, generation after generation?
My theory is simple. Since the times of my grandparents to my parent’s generation to mine, even as love is a constant, so is the “log kya kahengay” dogma (people will talk ill about our character). There may be a million parameters to making a decision on anything, but the foremost remains the same – how will it be perceived by the society? It’s this theory that leads all young couples to the same old lovers’ parks and forts that continue to stand testimony to the love of hundreds and thousands of young couples.
And till there is a sweeping mindset change in our society; lovers shall continue to visit these hideouts of love and togetherness. Even if it means facing the wrath of the uncouth and stalkers and meaner cops on the prowl, or, at times, even harassment at the hands of the moral police in search of the what they perceive to be the violators of the Indian value system. Don’t we need to ponder and go for a serious soul search?