Monday, 13 October 2014

On Sex in the Snow

The Himalayas 'encourage men to search for something as exalted as the summits he can see.' For some, the ultimate exalted summit is love. Love that can not be found in the plains, at training academies etc is sought to be found at high altitude. From my observations I can only say that love is as elusive at 4000 m as it is at sea level. Then there are searchers like me, content with sights of the craggy peaks, forested hill sides, moon lit valleys and a million stars in the sky. I am a plainsman who grew up in the flat lands of the Godavari river delta. The highest point I had climbed in my childhood was a guava tree. Therefore, it is with wide eyed wonder that I view these glimpses of the Himalayas. I can identify with the Lama from 'Kim' by Rudyard Kipling who when he steps in to the mountain region in his quest for the River of the Arrow says of the mountains, "These are the hills of my delight! Shadows blessed above all other shadows! Here are my eyes opened on this world...out of the hills I came- the high hills and the strong winds. Oh just is the Wheel."

The mountains can evoke many passions in men. And women too. A common theme I used to find odd was the constant recourse to mountain backdrops for picturization of 'love' songs (duets, group songs etc) in Bollywood and Tollywood movies. Many melodious songs have been picturized in the mid-Himalayan region and this phenomenon has been explained to my satisfaction in this scholarly article, "Sex in the Snow: The Himalayas as Erotic Topos in Popular Hindi Cinema" by Philip Lutgendorf of University of Iowa. The plains man hero- hill woman heroine romance has been examined and explained in this article, building up on the mythological and cultural depictions of the hills as areas of liberal (liberated?) sexual atmosphere. Since I am constrained with regard to time, allow me to copy paste the synopsis of the article here.

"Fantasies about life beyond the front range of the Great Himalaya have been a trope in lndian literature since at least the period of the Sanskrit epics. The demi-divine beings believed to inhabit the high country were famously sexually active, and even the human "northern Kurus" (as residents of the region have sometimes been called) were rumored to have long, happy lives unburdened by inhibitions, especially in sexual matters: their women were allegedly free to enjoy multiple extra-marital liasons and polyandrous marriages. Such legends appear to persist in popular 20th century narrative through a much-used trope in Bombay cinema: the depiction of the Himalayas as a realm of uninhibited romantic fantasy. Although this trope is often confined to virtually extra-narrative song sequences that whisk the hero and heroine to Himalayan (or lately European or even New Zealand alpine) locales, a number of highly successful films have given it much more extended treatment by romantically pairing a plains-dwelling hero with a Himalayan heroine. This article briefly traces the history of this scenario and then considers the contextual and cultural implications of its use in two notable films: Raj Kapoor's Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1984) and Mani Ratnam's Dil Se (1998)."

Source: Lutgendorf, Philip (2005) "Sex in the Snow: The Himalayas as Erotic Topos in Popular Hindi Cinema," Himalaya, the Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies: Vol. 25: No. 1, Article 7.
Available at:

This article makes for an entertaining read, please do go through it. Apologize for using a classic bait and switch tactic with the use of a titillating title and then sticking a research paper to you. Though one did hear of PDAs in the hills, that is about all I can write here without venturing into tabloid type speculation and outright lies. Let them who search for love find it where they will and those of us unrequited with the mere sight of the exalted peaks may yet summit them someday.

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