Sunday, January 07, 2007

A full circle called Kamasutra

WHEN I FIRST ARRIVED IN THE AMERICAS the one question everyone always asked me invariably was ‘So do you know the Kamasutra?’ As I fumbled for an appropriate response they’d shoot another classic at me ‘Do you guys like learn this stuff in schools and colleges?’ I never had an affirmative response to those tricky questions. Having been brought up in an India that was still finding a way to define her self through the 80s and 90s, I was always told ‘The Kamasutra’ was a subject everyone knew about, but was never taught or talked about anywhere. As a keen teen I wondered ‘Then how does one find out about it?’

As time flew by, questions regarding this topic started becoming more complex. I would visit centuries old temples and cities that would be decorated with a thousand sexual positions all around them. Sometimes it was like watching a stone-version of an Indian Playboy magazine. Except the models here were not always the healthiest all the time. Some would have their hands chopped off or a vital organ missing. Regardless, there they were. Proud and unashamed of their sexuality, experiencing, experimenting and educating the wide mouthed onlookers below. Their future generation.

As we tried hard to avoid eye contact with these exquisite sculptures, we’d look around and find curious foreigners zooming in and out of their cameras next to this unique and quite ‘unIndian’ goldmine of publicly displayed sexual fantasies.

During our History lessons we’d be taught, that our grand civilization has grown with time. Our tireless teachers would go on for hours explaining in a lot of detail of how the West came to us, invaded us, ruled us and left us hungry and poor. We’d sit there looking at each other and wondering ‘Fair enough. We definitely came a long way with everything but one. Those convoluted mangle of genderless bodies we saw on those temples. How come we don’t see them being practiced anymore? How is it that the movies which showcase that sexually vibrant bygone era no longer produce stories like those?’

And it was true. We’d look around and wonder why our people became so aware of their sexuality with the progress of time. We pondered over the things that might have led to the women in Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings to finally cover up and stop playing with the swan without a top on. We were amazed how strict our dressing policy had become that a woman could no longer walk around skimpily dressed as they did in the days of the kings and kingdoms.

We were sad. We had somehow missed out on some great moments of socializing having been born into such a boring and work-oriented 80s and 90s. Even people who’d kiss on screen would end up in two flowers necking each other during song sequences. How dull, we thought.

But all that was about to change. Little had we realized that the circle of Kamasutra was not yet finished! In came the 90s and post Y2K and Lo! We have a whole new generation that is so eager to drop their inhibitions that a blink is all it takes for the transformation to occur. Movies were finally waking up and showing that two people can actually kiss without a flower in the scene. Scenes were finally depicting men and women, in all possible combinations, enjoying their sexuality like they had done so in the 1500s or 1600s. Ah! The Kamasutric cycle, as it were, seemed to have completed a full circle.

I finally seem to have an answer to those obscure questions the West throws at me. I can now proudly disrobe myself and say ‘Yes. I am from the land of the Kamasutra. Don’t believe me? Just watch the latest movie release. They have come up with a few new extensions to the art.’


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