Most days on our evening walk on a deserted road, we come across a lovey-dovey couple sitting on a scooty and romancing in the times of coronavirus.
The Indian two-wheeler is affectionately called scooty, and it must be for the reason that you can easily scoot on it out of delicate situations.
When they see us coming from a distance, the young couple (by the way, my wife and I have never seen an elderly couple romancing in Bengaluru, which was once upon a time called a pensioner’s paradise) adjust their face masks and scooter away to hopefully find some other spot where they would not be disturbed.
It is tough to romance in these perilous times, with cinema theatres shut, where you could not only enjoy the darkness but also buttered popcorn, crepes and ‘kulcha’. It was even tougher earlier before the pandemic as there are hardly any spots where one can woo their partner.
'Lung of Bengaluru'
One blogger advises going to Cubbon Park as the landscape is lush and in the cooler months, flowers bloom, adding to the romantic mood. But most of the time it is crowded with school kids or fanatical walkers who zip past you, checking their Apple watches.
Sundays is even worse in the Park. With the lockdown lifted, vehicular traffic has started going through the park and environmentalists who have been fighting long and hard to ban cars hope the authorities will see reason and save this “lung of Bengaluru”.
Earlier, you could go to Lumbini Park, where you could sit in a boat and paddle around the lake, cooing sweet nothings to each other.
All that has stopped ever since the virus outbreak and people are now scared to even go mall hopping or eat kathi kabab at the food court and stare into each other’s eyes.
But at a time when the health minister is warning people to keep at least two metres from each other, finding someone to lessen the loneliness or connecting with some other human being who is on the same wavelength as you, so to speak, seems impossible.
But happily, love has now gone virtual and online, and it is not as boring as it sounds. Experts say one of the ways to enjoy each other’s company is to open a bottle of beverage, play online scrabble or some board game and find out what social distancing is all about.
Long distance relationship
A Canadian counsellor, speaking to CBC, says “relationships can work through distance ... with each person being independent”. Even as Zoom takes off in video business conferencing, singles are using video chats for dating and there is an increase in the use of dating apps among younger people aged between 18 to 22.
There are tons of dating apps in India, and as the internet is now easily accessible, they are not only popular in major cities, but also in the villages.
Tinder is very popular app, the one with which you swipe right on the screen for someone you like, or swipe left if you wish to ignore someone’s profile.
There is TrulyMadly, where you have to submit identity proof documents, for everyone’s safety. Or. Woo, that has a voice call option but never gives out the numbers of women or their location.
Even as the situation seems grim and the pandemic rages on, some couples are still finding humour in the situation and whenever someone says something romantic like, “I wanna hold your hand “ (a famous Beatle song), they answer with, “I gotta wash my hands”.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi