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Business News/ Opinion / Online-views/  Can the Puritanical city go back to pub city?
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Can the Puritanical city go back to pub city?

Can the Puritanical city go back to pub city?

Holed in: The façade of Hard Rock Café in Bangalore (Photographs by Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint)Premium

Holed in: The façade of Hard Rock Café in Bangalore (Photographs by Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint)

In an ideal world, stilettos would have massager-inserts in them; French fries would do what the Ayurvedic Triphala powder (the cure-all triumvirate of amalaki,bibhitaki and haritaki herbs) does: scrape away “ama" or toxins from your body and make your waistline shrink; and ministers could watch porn in state assemblies without having to resign for their transgressions.

Holed in: The façade of Hard Rock Café in Bangalore (Photographs by Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint)

It is a question that arises every time a politician gets caught in a sex scandal: Are we being overly puritanical in our judgement of them? People watch porn. It is only the truly foolish who watch porn in a public setting. The ministers probably thought that they wouldn’t get caught and it is this hubris that causes a downfall time and time again—for men of many stripes, whether it is Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, Tiger Woods or Laxman Savadi. The more interesting question is the tug of war between two moral temperaments in this city that I now call home.

As a relatively new Bangalorean, I don’t relate to the lament from old Bangaloreans about how the city used to be—about how the city was “air-conditioned outside" and the boulevards were paved with flowering trees planted by the German horticulturist, Gustav Krumbiegel, under the reign of the Mysore Maharajah; and about how pubs flourished all over the cantonment. For a newcomer, the weather still seems cool—global warming and rampant construction notwithstanding; the rain trees still cloud the sky and the moniker “Garden City" still seems apt, in spite of environmentalists protesting the number of trees being cut to widen roads for the Metro. The last title, “Pub City", however, seems particularly inappropriate for what has now become a Puritanical City. On the one hand, you have a populace that is liberal and cosmopolitan and on the other, you have a government that seems to be getting prudish and repressed by the day. How Bangalore resolves this tug-of-war will determine its future.

A busy evening at the pub

I am quite okay with drunk youth getting home by midnight.

The shrill moral policing that has become the norm in this state is a recent phenomenon. Although relatively unknown, a 15th century work in Kannada literature is Janavashya, written by (or ascribed to) Kallarasa. Janavashya follows the tradition of a number of works that tried to make the aphorisms of the Kama Sutra, Vatsyayana’s treatise on the sexual arts, accessible. Ratirahasya or Secrets of Rati, the wife of Kama, the Hindu God of love, is a famous Sanskrit work, written in the 13th century by Pandit Kakkoka. Janavashya is a Kannada work that falls into the category of ancient Indian erotic literature. In it, a young wife asks her husband about the various arts of lovemaking and the book is a conversation between them. Kallarasa describes 12 ways of hugging and 12 ways of kissing. It describes women as Padmini, Hastini, Chitrini, and borrows postures freely from the animal kingdom as a means of getting sexual pleasure: postures named after bulls, elephants, deer, hare and frogs were used. This syncretic approach is a hallmark of ancient India and it is something that we have lost in the race towards specialization and compartmentalization of our lives.

Harking back to a glorious past is no solution to Bangalore’s current woes.

What can be done to liberalize this city? Easing the 11.30pm curfew is an oft-quoted solution but I am not sure that it will change mindsets. Frankly, as a parent, I am quite okay with young children getting home by midnight. My solution would be twofold: This state’s elected representatives have to factor in the urban populace that they represent. I understand that politicians have to please a variety of constituencies. Issues that may seem sacrosanct to an urban voter such as staying out late at a pub will have no relevance to the lives of the sugar traders of Mandya district or the mine worker in Bellary. But in no other state, including neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, does this chasm exist between the city and its politicians. Perhaps the way for urban citizens to bring our city back to its liberal roots is through conversation: to actually attempt talking to the politicians that we scorn or malign.

Shoba Narayan was kicked to discover that Ratirahasya has a Facebook page and that five people “like" it. Why only five? Write to her at thegoodlife@livemint.com

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Also Read |Shoba’s previous Lounge columns

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Published: 17 Feb 2012, 09:58 PM IST
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