India Uncut

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Monday, May 09, 2005

To the place where lovers go

IANS reports, in English so bad that it could be a parody of itself:
Thick curtains shroud the tiny cubicles. Inside, two wooden stools sit before dusty computers, occupied by some couple. It is an everyday scene at the cyber cafes of this old, ramshackle city.

The couples don't come to surf. This motley crowd instead tries to enjoy a few hours of privacy that they cannot get anywhere else in the city.

In the garb of meandering through the World Wide Web, these young women and men explore each other, breaking taboos and boundaries that stop them from mixing freely anywhere else.

The "old, ramshackle city" is Patna and, according to a cyber-cafe owner quoted in the report, "[m]any people here cannot really be seen with their boyfriends and girlfriends, or, for that matter, even friends from the opposite gender in public too often." So they come to cyber cafes, where "[T]he arrangements include soft drinks, water and snacks delivered at respective cubicles, curtains with hooks attached to the door so that they don't slide open and even discounts for customers who hire the space for long durations every day."

The stuff of nostalgia for some, and remembered guilt for others. I can imagine an old married couple talking 40 years from now:
She: Darling, do you remember that time in the cyber cafe when we...

He: Held hands? Yes yes, I do, what a golden memory!

She: No, not that cyber cafe, the other one, when we...

He: Kissed for the first time? Yes yes, I do, the brightest moment of our youth!

She: No, not that, but when we...

He: Made love? Oh what a joyous day that was, when all the world was alive!

She: Listen, stop talking like an IANS report. I'm talking about the day in the cyber cafe when we first discovered Amit Varma's India Uncut. Remember?

He: No.

Now, that's true love. (Link via email from Rajiv Poddar.)
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