On dark street corners, abandoned by shops or pedestrians, they hide. The motorbike lovers. Not having the approval to socialize in private spaces they are drawn to locations that make the interaction seem momentary, temporary. Just someone speaking to another for a few minutes, when indeed it can be for hours and hours. Every day I see them, maybe two to eight couples a day, especially on my way to school when the sun has just risen and after my yoga class when the sun has just set. The in-between times. I wonder if they go to the streets far away from their homes. I wonder how long they’ve liked each other. I wonder if they are happy in their ways. I wonder if I would have done the same thing if I was a Punekar*. Usually, the man is sitting on the bike while the woman stands beside, maybe touching his arm but usually keeping minimal distance to be appropriate. If it’s later at night they might even be sitting on a bench together beside the parked bike, shielded by the shade of a tree. I smile at them even though they don’t notice.
But what about those who can’t afford a bike? Where is their space?
I think back to my own childhood where I defined each year by which boy I was chasing down. My teenage years of bringing home boys and asking my parents for advice in long-term relationships. A few days ago I talked to a volunteer from my school of my age and she told me that she had only heard about this kind of reality in movies, and had no idea real people had these experiences. I observe how untouchable the motorbike lovers are in their own bubble that they don’t even seem to notice this strange foreigner staring at them from the bus station. I envy them for having such a strong intellectual connection that they stay together even without each other’s touch, which seems rarer to find between lovers in Sweden. Our Nordic ways seem quite reversed to most cultures because the first step is sleeping with the person and the last is going on a date (I am generalizing the younger generations). I think the idea behind it is that a conversation can be much more intimate and personal than physical touch, though I think they both have the potential to be equal.
I cannot summarize this culture clash into a general message or life lesson, but I do know that I am grateful for the freedom I’ve had to choose the ones I love. No matter their nationality or social status, I have the acceptance and space from my community to love without boundaries. But I must say, forbidden love bohot romantic hai!**
*someone from Pune
** Hinglish (Hindi+English) for “is very romantic!”