Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Monalisa Das| The News Minute| February 15, 2015| 10.00 am IST Valentine's Day in Bengaluru this year saw the group Coalition Against Immoral Policing (CAIP) organise an event called the Occupy Valentine's: A walk against (Im)moral Policing.  The event brought together people from all walks of life who strictly oppose 'immoral policing', along with couples who shared stories of their relationships which defied social norms.  The News Minute spoke to four such couples. Here are their stories.  A pure stroke of chance It was an SMS sent by mistake that brought Aamir* and Kanchan* together. The year was 2009. For the couple hailing from Gadag in Karnataka, getting into an inter-faith relationship hardly seemed to be a matter at that point.  "I was sending a message to my friend, but sent in to Aamir's number by mistake", says Kanchan smiling. They started talking to each other, became friends and soon love blossomed between the two.  Their families came into the picture only after a few years when one day Kanchan's brother found the two travelling together. "After that my family barred me from going to college", she says.  After around two weeks, the then 22-year-old Kanchan eloped with 28-year-old Aamir.  "Kanchan's parents filed a police complaint against me for kidnapping her. We were also scared for our lives at that point since everyone there was in a look out for us", says the soft-spoken Aamir.  They came to Bengaluru and approached a media channel because they thought it would keep them 'safe'. With the help of some journalists, Kanchan and Aamir got married in the Press Club in the city in 2013. (People holding placards during the walk) They say that the police called them twice for giving their statement. Aamir says they even approached the High Court which granted them protection for some time. After a few months of staying in the city, Aamir called his parents to ask if they'd accept him and his wife. They agreed. Today, Kanchan is happy and has adjusted well in her new family.  However, her parents and siblings have refused to even speak to her. "It hurts me that they never call or have tried to speak to me, to ask how their daughter is", Kanchan asserts.  Imran works in the cable sector and Kanchan is pursuing her M.Sc. She wants to start working as soon as she finishes her course. As of now, the couple seem to be a happy and contended lot.  (Names changed to protect identity)  Of challenging pre-defined roles  For Archana Soman, a pediatrician based out of England, marrying her now husband Matthew Belmonte, a researcher, was a smooth sail. Well mostly.  "We didn't really have to go through hurdles in getting married", says Archana, who hails from Kerala. "But wherever we went, we had certain experiences", she adds.  A few days before their wedding in Kochin, Archana went to meet Matthew in his hotel. "I went to his room and soon we got a call from the reception. The receptionist told him that they could not allow a lady in his room", states Archana.  When Archana and Matthew confronted them, the hotel said that it was against their policy. However, Archana feels that "If I was a white-skinned person, they would have no problem in allowing me in his room. They probably thought I was a prostitute".  (Archana and Matthew with their eight-month-old son Sahil) In another incident Archana took Matthew to the beach near her house. She wanted to show him around the place. It was dusk.  "Around 10-15 men surrounded us in the beach. They told us that they did not allow 'such things' in their place", says Archana, adding that the men then went ahead and took photographs and videos of the two.  "One even told us that we should go back since the waves there were dangerous", says Matthew laughing at the absurdity of the encounter. "I really thought that we'd get into a fight that day", he asserts.  Matthew, who has lived for a couple of years in India before he moved back to England, says, in the context of Kerala, that the social constraints here is such that people are expected to live and behave according to pre-defined roles set by society. "And it is not taken lightly if someone violates them", he says. Archana and Matthew met on the internet and got married around a year-and-a-half ago. They took part in the CAIP protest with their eight-month-old son Sahil.  Love cannot be an eastern or western concept- Love is human It was fifty-years-ago that Mr Nagaribabaiah, a now retired English teacher, tied the knot with his wife. "I was 22 then and my wife was 22. We got married in the backdrop of the India-Pakistan war", he says. They met through a friend, and the fact that she was Muslim and he a Hindu, never came in their way. "She is still a Muslim and practices her faith. In fact our family celebrates all festivals", he says.  Nagari (Mr Nagaribabaiah) Seventy-three-year-old Mr Nagaribabaiah feels that "fifty years ago the atmosphere was much cleaner". "People did not have such a degree of hate within them then. The tensions began after the demolition of the Babri Masjid", he states. The couple, hailing from Andhra Pradesh, had moved to the city soon after their marriage.  Speaking about why he chose to take part in the CAIP protest, he says "Today is Valentine's Day. And we need to give out a message to those who are against love or oppose the day saying it is a western concept".  "How can love be a western or eastern concept. Love is a feeling common to all human beings. If anyone could prevent love, there would not have been any creation", he states.  That the CAIP protest walk was delayed by almost two hours did not deter Mr Nagaribabaiah's spirits. He however could only walk half the distance since he had to return home to his wife who is unwell and so couldn't join him.  Love transcending borders For 27-year-old Wolfram, it was love-at-first sight when he first laid eyes on Diya Pinto seven years ago. A musician, he had come with his group to India all the way from Germany.  The couple however started dating only two years ago and Wolfram has now moved to India. "We recently got married in an informal ceremony", says 25-year-old Diya.  When it comes to matters related to love, the culture in Germany is very different that that in India, agree both. "For example, in a lingerie store in Germany, it is common to see men buying gifts for their girlfriends or partners. This is however very uncommon in India. The concept of a family is also very different there. A family could also mean a single mother or two men raising a child. You can also hold hands or kiss in public there and won't be judged for it, which is not possible here", says Wolfram, who now works as a product designer.  Wolfram And Diya "But that does not give any one the right to attack some one in the name of preserving our culture", says Diya. "We should not be afraid to love any body", asserts Diya, a designer and a student too. "We have a diverse culture in India, which is also our biggest strength, and no one specific culture can be imposed on anybody", she adds.  Wolfram moved to India because he feels 'India is a good place to be in'.  During one of their initial meetings, when Diya and Wolfram were friends, the duo went to Cubbon Park in Bengaluru. "Some one came to us and told us we should not be meeting in a park", says Diya.  One of the wedding wows of the couple, who were seen walking hand in hand during the protest walk, "was to defend our freedom of love". "We clicked because we are very different individuals. We are complete opposites", says Wolfram. "We are more like the North and South poles with a common Equator", Diya chips in. Tweet Follow @thenewsminute
Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.