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How dare you kiss in Chennai?

By Shobha Warrier
October 03, 2005 14:59 IST
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Chennai, the city of auto majors Ford, Hyundai, BMW, Ashok Leyland. Chennai, the city of software majors TCS, Wipro, Infosys, Xansa.

Chennai, the city of several engineering colleges and thousands of engineering students.

Chennai, the city where the country's first six-lane information technology expressway is under construction.

Chennai, the city of the Big Brother.

Scene One

A park in Chennai. A young teenage boy and a girl are sitting on a bench munching peanuts. The distance between them slowly reduces, and the boy puts his hand on the girl's shoulder and draws her close to him. They are still talking and munching peanuts. No, they are not about to kiss, but their physical proximity is such that they can. That is, if Big Brother does not turn up. And he does.

The terrified kids jump up. 

"What are you two doing here?" asks Big Brother.

"Nothing…" the boy stammers.

"Nothing? What nothing? You are doing something," Big Brother thunders.

"We were talking and eating peanuts," the boy's voice is barely audible.

"What? Can't you talk loudly?" Big Bother's voice is so loud that the two young things clasp hands in fright.

"Take your hands off her." Big Brother whacks the boy with his baton so hard that his eyes fill with tears. The girl has already started crying.

"No tears. No crying. Don't you know boys and girls are not supposed to sit so close to each other and hold hands in a public place?" 

The boy wants to ask 'What's wrong in us sitting close and holding hands?'

"Don't say she's your girl friend?" 

The boy nods.

"Girlfriend and boyfriend? What is this world coming to? Come on, get into the jeep. I am taking you two into custody."

Moral of the story: If you are in Chennai, never sit on a park bench with your girlfriend or boyfriend. And, most importantly, never hold hands. It is not part of the great Chennai Culture.

Scene 2

A party in the discotheque of a luxury hotel. Loud chatter, louder music. Couples dancing merrily on the floor. The music gets louder and the dancers more passionate. Bodies intertwine. Soon, some lips lock.

Enter Big Brother on the dance floor. 

"Stop!" his voice booms, but the music is too loud. He keeps shouting, but no one can hear him. He rushes towards the DJ console and terrorises the DJ into stopping the music. 

The romantic world of the couples shatters.

Big Brother jumps onto a chair and shouts, "What's this? What's going on here? Don't you have any respect for this great city, and its great culture?"

"What's he saying?" A woman whispers as she comes out of the trance.

 "You people better listen to me. This is a great city..."

 "How many times will he say that?" Another woman laughs.

"The culture of the city is so great that here, no woman and man should hug each other in public, nobody should dance like mad people. You should learn to dance Bharata Natyam. That's our culture, and not this. Here, no man and woman kiss each other in a public place."

 "This is not a public place. This is a hotel, and this is a dance floor," an angry young man shouts back.

 "I will arrest you for insulting our great culture. No man and woman should kiss in a hotel even if they are husband and wife. You will be arrested if you do that. Today, I, the Big Brother, forgive you," he jumps off the chair and walks away.

Moral of the story: In Chennai, you should not go to a dance party unless it is Bharata Natyam. You should not kiss your spouse even if you are dancing the Bharata Natyam. You should respect the great culture and traditions of the city. 

Scene 3

An engineering college campus. Three students are summoned to the principal's room to appear before a panel of five teachers whose duty is to question 'immoral' students and punish them. The students' fault; they are wearing short, sleeveless tops and tight jeans, and they were caught talking to boys. 

"What kind of dress are you wearing? Were you seducing the boys when we caught you? Don't come crying to us if you get raped. If you dress like this, anything can happen. Remember, this kind of indecent dress is not allowed in this city and in this college, understand? Now, go home and get Rs 500 as fine for wearing sleeveless top and tight jeans. If you want good jobs in good companies, you should learn to dress properly, and also learn not to flirt with boys," The teachers shout at the girls.

Once the girls are done with, five boys are called in. They also undergo a dressing down for 'wearing dark coloured shirts,' 'talking to girls' and 'flirting with them'. 

"You people will never see even the gates of an IT company," the jury declares.

Moral of the story: If you are an engineering student in Chennai, you should dress 'decently' and never talk to the opposite sex. That is, if you want a good job in a good company.

Scene 4

Angry women demonstrating -- with brooms and flip flops -- in front of a movie actress' house. The women shout unprintable abuses, spit on the gate, burn her effigy. 

In an interview, the actress had advised people of the city to have safe sex. She had pooh poohed the idea of pre-marital virginity as an essential virtue. 

"You dirty woman, you insulted our great culture. How dare you live here? We will banish you to the Andamans," roars the mob.

Moral of the story: If you are a woman living in Chennai, a city that has Big Brothers who flaunt their several wives/mistresses as proof of their wealth and social status, never talk about sex, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, AIDS, condoms or virginity. 

Scene 5

The bedroom of a newlywed couple. It is an unusually cool night, and passion is running high. As they are about to kiss, the voice of Big Brother booms.


They stop in mid-kiss. "But why? We are husband and wife. We are not in a park. We are not on the dance floor of a hotel. We are in our bedroom. Can't we have some privacy in here too?"

"No, Big Brother is watching you. You should abstain from sex today."

"But why?" The couple dare to question the Big Brother.

"Today is Thursday, the day of abstinence." Big Brother announces.

"Can we have at least one kiss?" they plead.

"No kiss today. You can kiss on Mondays and Wednesdays and can have sex on Fridays and Sundays. This is Big Brother's order. Remember, Big Brother is watching."


No, this is not an adaptation of George Orwell's 1984. This is 2005, and the city is Chennai.

Yes, Chennai, the city that has blah blah blah.
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Shobha Warrier