Valentine’s Day is in the air. But the chocolaty aroma is not free of the acidic fumes of over-commercialization and over-westernization – according to some. What does the Indian youth really think of Valentine’s Day? To find out, I got chatting with a few young fans of Love in India. Today is the first in this interview series, My Valentine’s Day.
Rahul (that’s not his real name folks) is a fine young man, in the process of earning his MBA somewhere in Mumbai, after dutifully completing his graduation in Chemical Engineering, in 2011. He’s a gourmet, movie-buff, Facebook-ist (I invented that word when I came to know Rahul) and travel-junkie. “Spending all my life amidst the din and bustle of Mumbai makes me irresistibly attracted to the tranquillity of places like Haridwar, Hrishikesh etc.”, he says, “You should try it.”
So Rahul, what are your thoughts on Valentine’s Day?
To me, it’s a great opportunity to get fooled, cheated and robbed.
Many hearts are broken, many suicides occur around this time. And of course – getting a lot of your money nicked by clever corporations is also a part of the whole game. Prices of gift items double around this time. So it’s basically an occasion for well-meaning boys trying to impress their girls, to cough up a lot of money, saved over weeks, or even months. Nowadays you’ve got restaurants, resorts and spas luring you with special offers (some call them “discounts”, I wonder why) around Valentine’s Day. All for the gullible trying to win over the loyalty of their partners by spending money.
The market has managed to name a price on everything – pleasure, companionship, togetherness.
Maybe even love.
Oh … well… quite a strong position there…What would you say about Valentine’s Day having so-called ‘evil influences’ on today’s Indian youth – as claimed (and unfortunately acted upon) by some political parties?
14th Feb. is the second most popular day of the year for rapes, sexual crimes, and substance abuse – after Dec. 31.
If I remember correctly, statistics say that after 31st Dec., 14th Feb. is the date on which maximum rapes & related sexual crimes take place. Many an unwanted pregnancy, many a violent crime are recorded around Valentine’s Day all around the world. Even sales of drugs & alcohol peak in this period.
You’ve got this designated day when couples want to look good/hot/cool. I remember from my school days, girls wearing short skirts displaying their waxed legs as 14th Feb. grew close…That week used to be full of eve-teasing and fighting among the boys. Sometimes these tiffs – started off around Valentine’s Day – would linger on for a long time, even years. And I’m not joking. Teenagers, as you know, are the most enthusiastic about Valentine’s Day. Sometimes they tend to get a bit too carried away by the adrenalin. So you go to pubs, get drunk, dance and willingly or unwillingly get exploited. Young people often don’t fully realize the implications of their actions. That’s the problem. If they can be educated to celebrate this day while also taking full responsibility for themselves, then may be that’s a solution. Otherwise, the negative implications which have been highlighted can’t be wished away at all.
That’s interesting, coming from a youngster like you. I’m curious to know your own experience of Valentine’s Day… What was your experience of it as a child?
In my convent Valentine’s Day was “That day when the Christian girls wear very short skirts, roam around with their boyfriends and get naughty.”
I have studied in a convent. So I was aware of the existence of something called Valentine’s Day from as early as the beginning of secondary school, even though it wasn’t so widespread in India at the time.
I was your classic nerd – in love with nothing but my studies. In my school Valentine’s Day celebrations were limited mainly to Christian boys and girls. So the way I saw it was, “That day when the Christian girls wear very short skirts, roam around with their boyfriends and get naughty.” I was in 8th standard or so by the time it started to gain widespread popularity as a day for general celebration of romantic love. But then by that time I had also realized that girls would hardly be interested in me. Walking up to the canteen with a boy who walks with a limp in his left leg was not something you would want to be seen doing.
So you’ve never actually celebrated Valentine’s Day?
Oh yes I have! I had a girlfriend, you see. I did celebrate Valentine’s Day in my 2nd, 3rd, 4th year of engineering.
Ah…college romance. What was your first Valentine’s Day like?
It was in 2nd year of engineering 14 Feb 2009. My then girlfriend (or so I thought) had just said “yes” to me after we went out for two movies (I still remember – these were Ghajini & Rab ne Bana di Jodi) on two consecutive days after the start of the 4th semester of engineering.
I was on top of the world, because now I was the most hated guy in my batch. Yes you’ve guessed it right – she was one of the hottest girls of my class. Obviously no one felt I was up to her standards because I was disabled. So I wanted to make extra efforts & prove it to her & the whole college that I’m the coolest dude around and that I deserved her.
I have wandered tirelessly around the gullies of Durgapur, day after day, looking for her special Valentine’s Day gift.
So, coming back to the V-Day story – I got an expensive soft toy, a T shirt, chocolates & a dress for her. All giftwrapped. She came to college at 8 in the morning. We had breakfast & tea. We bunked college (of course!) went for a movie at the most famous multiplex of Durgapur (did I tell you I went to college in Durgapur?), followed by lunch at a good restaurant. Time slipped away as we talked about nothing till we were hungry again. Then we went to Café Coffee Day…then just when she was about to leave, I gave her all the gifts.
But I haven’t yet told you about the most special gift yet, which I gave her right at the end. I had wandered tirelessly for a week around the gullies of Durgapur, searching for it.
It was a nose ring.
It was the cheapest of all the gifts, but it was my deep desire to see her wear it, as I felt it will make her look really sexy. I had been visualizing her, fantasizing her wearing a nose ring of my choice.
That was special you know – a gift of my choice.
Frankly that was the only real Valentine’s Day gift from me to her. Other expensive gifts I gave her were meant only for making her feel good and a cut above all the other girls of my college. It was also to give her something to brag about, that would make up for my disability.
Have you ever tried a funny Valentine’s Day surprise?
She loved water.
Somehow the health benefits of drinking a lot of water had gotten to her head. She could drink water at any time and wouldn’t stop talking about how important it is for our body.
On our 2nd Valentine’s day, in addition to a “real” gift, I got her something special. A carefully & artistically packed gift – packed in multiple layers of wrapping paper which took her more than 3-4 minutes to open.
After opening it she found a bottle of mineral water from Bisleri.
After this whenever she’d get upset I’d get her a nicely packed Bisleri. I even got it for her birthday (apart from a regular gift, of course. ;) )
Have you ever received a Valentine’s Day gift? What was it like?
Yes yes I did receive my share of chocolates, t-shirts and college bags. ;)
But the best gift of all was when I asked her to dress up like a bride & get a photograph clicked & she got me a snap of her. I had kept it with me for a long…long time.
I could have kept it with me forever, but I didn’t.