There is a beautiful intimacy in India. In a sub continent of one billion people, this intimacy is necessary, but this does not make it any less heart warming. The comforting warm air carries all the rich odors of life from wedding flowers and sweating laborers to the more subtle aromas of fabrics dying and children shampooing in the Ganges.
Indians achieve public intimacy without its brother sexual promiscuity. Most women don sparkling and colorful saris or punjabi suits, while others prefer internationally fashionable skinny jeans and western tops. None of them show their ankles or shoulders. Contrastingly bellies spill out everywhere. On buses and metros, they press their bodies up against each other to let passengers on and off with grace an affection.
We watched a popular Indian movie inside Jaipur's first class cinema complete with reclining box seats and sweeping imperial staircases in the lobby. The movie, with all the pieces for a western block buster, was completely free of any physical contact between the protagonist and his lover. Instead we saw their love through a romance starring their families and of course a bollywood style serenade. The movie was Punjabi dubbed over in Hindi, but the story was internationally understood.
The most blatant display of intimacy, which never fails to put an ear-to-ear grin on face, is the man hand fondle. When walking in stride, men will often let ther dangling arms brush eachother and have their fingers delicately find their friends. At this point they may share a hearty hand holding embrace like strolling lovers back home, or mindlessly play with their fingers lacing in and out of the hand of their father, brother, friend or acquaintance's hand. I envy their unique way of connecting through touch and also in the expressive five minute conversations they use for simple transactions. I desire to improve my Hindi so I can fully understand what they share in the purchase of bus tickets and lassi.