From urban to rural, India’s attitude toward romance differs wildly. Unmarried couples may be forced into separate rooms, or given tips on where to catch a quick moment together. While unmarried couples, however discreet, may be vulnerable to stigma, married couples are heartily embraced by a the country that loves to tie love up into a neat little box. It’s very complex and the general rule, especially when it comes to PDA, is to be sensitive to the atmosphere around you. It’s a country with endless opportunities to showcase your love and discover each other, as long as you do your research right. When you’re out, watch how other people in general, and other couple in particular are behaving and simply follow suit. You may even learn a thing or to on clandestine loving from our attention-weary youth!
#1 Booking your rooms
While some of the smaller hotels may refuse to admit unmarried couples of Indian origin, they usually make an exception for foreigners. There’s a stigma attached to booking a room for a couple of hours in the afternoon, but the days of being questioned about differing last names is in the past, particularly in the metropolises. If you feel you’d rather play it safe by slipping on a ring and explaining away the unshared last name on your passports as a cultural difference or bureaucratic delay, you might feel a little more comfortable. Married couples, feel free to flaunt your wedding rings. The attitude of homestays is usually far more accepting, as they’re used to a certain kind of traveller, the one that breaks the rules and travels young, who may or may not believe in the institution of marriage at all. Rest assured that if you’re doing your bookings through us, you won’t have to lie.
#2 Being yourselves
There’s no shame in holding hands or taking a brief nap on your partner’s shoulder, though anything beyond that may make those around you uncomfortable. Please try not to think of it as people judging you and forcing their rules down your throat. Yes, it would be lovely to have the freedom to express your love openly, but the current cultural reality is that it’s considered as discomforting as flashing. So hold the passion in check until you’re behind closed doors or learn from the couples canoodling on street corners and grab a little peck when no one’s watching.
#3 Using public transport
Be more careful about your intimacy, especially on overnight journeys. While it may cause a little heart ache to skip the goodnight kiss, remember that as a liminal space without any police patrols or specific rules, you’re more likely to attract unwanted attention. Stick to your berths and follow the age old Indian tradition of ‘behaving decently‘. You don’t have to completely ignore one another, hugs and hand-holding will turn no heads, most Indians tend to give foreigners the benefit of the doubt. It’s not your fault, they probably say to themselves, that you were raised in a soulless hedonistic culture. More fun for you!
Your safety is immediately heightened by having each other, so there isn’t much to worry about here. Cover your basics, be aware of your surroundings and carry pepper spray, have your embassy on speed dial and do your research. With all your homework in place, you can push all the nagging worries to the back of your head and throw yourself headfirst into this splendid country and the one you love.