The recent news stories about the raid on hotels and young lovers near Mumbai had me remembering a sign that I saw recently in Hyderabad.
We were out to dinner with our Telugu family at a local restaurant, which also doubled as a hotel on top. It was a famous chain North Indian snack place called Bikanervala. My mum spotted the sign first, as we were waiting for the elevator and proceeded to be outraged enough to take a photo of it on her iPhone. As a woman who often travels alone for business - especially in India - she thought the sign was hilarious.
Of course, the first time I landed with husband-ji in India, I was also unmarried. We travelled around so much, most notably doing a huge road trip from the bottom of Kerala to the top - all as an unmarried couple. I don't know what I would have done if some place denied us accommodation. Luckily, I don't think they would have questioned me as a foreigner - but they may have questioned us if we were an Indian/Indian unmarried couple.
As many of my readers know, husband-ji and I were together for 6 years before we got married. During that time we lived together, paid bills together, and did all the same things that married couples do - enough for my own Canadian government to deem our relationship "common law" so that I could sponsor husband-ji's immigration, without even having to marry him. During our long unmarried courtship, we travelled back and forth to India, in which being JUST a "girlfriend" meant nothing to a lot of people. In a nutshell, it really sucked to see society underestimate our love and commitment for each other.
Of course, I would have married husband-ji in a heartbeat, as we fully intended to do. But there were other reasons why we couldn't get married right away - for example, we wanted to graduate, have job security, help pay for our wedding, and make sure both our families had bonded together. We didn't want to just elope. We wanted to get married in a really special way. Not to mention, we had to wait for other cousin-brothers who couldn't find a bride who were in the marriage line first (and who were totally holding up the line...)!
Seeing the news stories in the media had me thinking:
1. Why are consensual unmarried couples so threatening?
2. Why are unmarried couples treated with less dignity than married couples?
3. Shouldn't the police being putting more energy in more important areas like eradicating poverty, corruption, crime, domestic violence, etc.?
Not only that, but it disrespects the couples who are in consensual relationships and have complete autonomy over their decisions. I mean, these are ADULTS here!!! And they are actually giving these hotels a lot of business! And if you can't kiss in public, then where exactly should you go???
Luckily, there has been a major public outrage about this culminating in an apology from the Mumbai police, so I'm glad that I'm not alone in my thoughts. But seriously, if this is the mindset in one of the more "modern" cities then what hope do smaller cities and rural areas have?
Dear readers, what did you think when you saw the news' stories?
Do you think India has an intolerance to young unmarried couples?
What has been your experience travelling around India as an unmarried person?