Where are the girls?

We recently visited Khajuraho. Nothing we had heard or seen had quite prepared us for the beauty of the temples. They were simply breathtaking in their grandeur, and, yes, some of the sculptures are seriously erotic. Absolutely no holds barred.

The temples are situated in the middle of town, resplendent for all to see. The main commerce of Khajurao springs from the temple tourism that spawns hotels, guides, souvenir shops, restaurants and so on.

After we had completed our first tour of the Western group of temples, my friend remarked:  “I must say these Bundelkhand people must really be progressive and unconventional in their perception and knowledge of sex. These sculptures are quite different from anything I’ve seen in India and for people living here in Khajurao, sex must be as natural as it is meant to be, since it’s the center of their livelihood, so to say.”

‘I can’t believe that there is a society in India that is so comfortable with sex and sexuality. How evolved they are!’  My mother agreed.

“Yes, what an advanced society this must be!’ I exclaimed ‘Imagine living amongst all this Kamasutra”

The guide nearby who overheard us smiled and said:  “You are right. The temple are said to be a celebration of womanhood. The sculptures of the womanly form were supposed to be auspicious in the older days.”

We were at Khajuraho for four days and had plenty of time to absorb the ‘mood’ of the place. Opposite the temples is a small cemented area that we had titled ‘The Plaza.’ The locals and tourists came for chai and bread pakoras at the rehris set up there. A few plastic chairs were also put out by the chai walas for the convenience of chai drinkers to chat and relax.

It was on our last evening in Khajuraho, when we ordered our customary cups of tea, watching the sunset behind the temples that I asked the good looking young chai boy: “You know, we’ve been around for four days now but I don’t see any girls here.”

“You want to see girls?” he grinned cheekily

“I mean, in any other city, there are local girls going to and fro, doing the usual stuff, but we don’t see any local girls here.”

“Yes, where are all your girls?” My mother demanded

“They are in their homes” He answered, sounding surprised

“But why aren’t they around? Don’t they go to schools and colleges?” I asked

“Oh Yes, they do. They go for tuition also. But they go straight back home after that.”

What about hanging out with friends, just having fun, like you boys do?”

“No…that’s not allowed.”

“What happens after they’ve completed school and college?”

“They are married; preferably locally or into a family in Bhopal or Indore.”

“What about them doing some jobs?”

“No, our girls simply get married after their studies. They have to take care of their households.  Do you want some more chai? “

We ruminated silently at the strange dichotomy at Khajuraho where unashamed sexual imagery contrasted with the greatest conservatism.

The sun set.


This article appeared in the Tribune under the heading : Missing the girls in the land of Khajurao









Categorized as Articles and stuff