Feature Story

Play, the natural touch

Gents crossdress, men play girls in a local drama. Village folk art - Photo: Tamil Nadu, India
Indian boys holding hands: an act of friendship not a homosexual relashionship
How to jump a bike in Dhoti
Bhangra tailgate party, A warm Punjabi Sikh hug ਸਿੱà¨à© ਪੰà¨à¨¾à¨¬  ਭੰà¨à©à¨¾
Tamil man in Lungi/Veshti reading a letter at Kallakurichi ST bus stand, India
Tamil male friends in an arm-around hug walking down the street
Playboy is just that
3 on a 2 wheeler
Kerala men traditional dress
Flirting makes me happy
Dashavatar & Lavani - Gents cross dress as attractive women.  लावणॠphoto

The temples of south India are loaded with naked figures in any sexual position imaginable. Today's Tamil Hindus cross these gates peacefully: open eyes and no guilt. However in today's India sex takes the back seat and not literally.

In many ways Indian are yet ahead of western approach toward touch. When I saw male friends walk down the street holding hands I didn't know what to think. Later when a local friend held my hand I felt privileged to be considered such a close friend, but at the same time I felt inexperienced/comfortable: how close? how tight? for how long? it all felt as new almost as being an unsecured teenager again.

The Playboy bunny t-shirt is so popular, even in rural India. But here it got a totally new life. Locals are only aware of the literal meaning of 'Play' & 'Boy', like cricket etc... not to the brand history.

It was funny to see a teenager show up to a wedding wearing this as his best shirt. In traditional India by that age he would be signaling parents that he's to be trusted so he can get their daughter he likes. Where is a better place to see and be seen then a wedding. with time and context I realized american brands get a totally new start with a local definition.

In dramas (plays, usually traditional folk or Hindu scriptures), male dance and act dressed and madeup as women. The attention to details is such that they outshine young women present in the audience. Women seem to enjoy watching their men "make fun of themselves" in a very professional and valued way.

I suppose this touch is also a result of a less ego-centered, less machismo culture. Or that the testosterone violent implications are dampened by same sex friendly touch.

All over India men's traditional dress for home, field and temple are 'skirts' (Lungi, Dhoti, Veshti etc...) and the colors can cross into what's considered in the west feminine: Violet, magenta, pink, light blue, yellow, orange, vermilion etc...

Riding motorbikes in triplets definitely benefits and compensates the crowdedness by the absence of "gay-guilt".

3 responses

  • rekha nag

    rekha nag gave props (9 Mar 2013):

    Great story...

  • Frances DeMartino

    Frances DeMartino said (13 Sep 2013):

    You look quite dashing on that bike :)

  • Frances DeMartino

    Frances DeMartino said (20 Sep 2013):

    Wish you were here to ride me to the post office Monday.

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