Home >News >India >Romance reaches rooftops during covid-19 lockdown

Kritika Vaid looks forward to spending her evenings on the roof. That one-hour every day is for admiring the riot of sunset colours, embracing the cool summer breeze, and talking to her boyfriend, who stands opposite her some 40ft away on his house roof. Since the lockdown took away their night-outs and weekend movie nights, the couple, both in their 20s, decided to take the roof route.

“It’s like so near yet so far," laughs Aakash Arora, the boyfriend and an architect in Delhi. “We are looking at each other and talking on the phone about our day, about the birds, about which places we will go once we are finally free," he says. It’s funny, adds Vaid, a software engineer. “But what to do." It was her idea to meet on the roof. Since their families are not aware of their six-month long relationship, meeting in the colony lane was out of the question. Much of their day goes in working from home while simultaneously telling each other what they are up to through photos, videos, emojis, memes and gifs. “Our day starts and ends with a video chat. But there’s an old world charm to meeting on roofs in the evening," says Vaid, who got the idea from a Hindi film whose name she can’t recall.

This pandemic has certainly turned our life upside down but it has also made us more innovative, even when it comes to the dating game. Much like turmeric latte and the recent Dalgona coffee, people in the West have been inadvertently taking out a leaf from the India book to share their experiences of rooftop dates on social media.

At one point, the rooftop of an India house was more than just a space for clothes line and potted plants. It was a place where people went for a date, to dance in the rain, to eat oranges and peanuts while sitting in a charpoy, or to sleep on the same charpoy during summers when there was a power cut. Somewhere between busy lives and the grand emergence of apartment buildings, our intimate relationship with the roof faded, only to be visited during the kite-flying season. Strangely, it took an unprecedented event like the pandemic to make people, especially millennials, realize the freedom and the comfort this open space offers.

“It was a space that offered freedom which the crowded house below didn’t. You could leave the prying eyes behind and find your own space there. Now, you can go anywhere, restaurants, movie halls, anywhere. This lockdown has made us realize the many benefits of the traditional way of life," says social commentator Santosh Desai.

Anil Walia met his future wife at the age of 14 on the roof of a Paharganj house in 1970s Delhi. Mukta, then 10, had just moved in on the third floor of the building, and Anil lived on the first. “We used to play games and talk about the smallest of things," recalls Anil, now 64 and a retired government officer. Mukta, a government employee, says, “There were no mobile phones, telephones, nothing. That roof brought us together." They live in the same building, and see couples meeting on the neighbourhood roofs during the lockdown.

Sunil Jaglan, too, sees many youngsters on the rooftop in the buildings opposite his house in Gurugram. “By 6-7pm, there are at least 10 boys and girls talking to each other or on the phone. Sometimes they are wearing matching clothes or watching something together on their mobiles," says Jaglan, the former sarpanch of Jind, Haryana, who spends his evening exercising on his rooftop.

For Vaid, the rooftop meetings are also a way to understand her partner better. “Our relationship is relatively new. So this distance is good for us. We are still learning a lot about each other. Of course, I can’t wait to meet outside but seeing each other on the roof has its own romance."

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