The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Multiplication’s not the name of the game

Intercourse and interaction, sex and sexuality, physical postures and emotional posturing. But most of all, the discussion was about having sex for pleasure, not procreation. The campaign is Reading Kamasutra. The topic for the day was Sexplicity, a debate on modern-day sexual mores. The panelists were tabla maestro Bikram Ghosh, Manipuri danseuse Priti Patel, psychiatrist Rima Mukherjee and husband-and-wife team Rita and Kishore Bhimani, with film-maker Ashok Vishwanathan moderating.

Part of the two-week series of events, Day One started off on a firm footing, with many a clever repartee and innuendo flung back and forth. The Mahabharata is overrun with extra-marital affairs and multiple partners, Krishna had fun with his gopis and Indians of yore were a much more modern people. And the Kamasutra is all about enjoyment, power and game-playing — G for guile, A for attitude, M for manners and E for, of course, erotica. While all that is left of our glorious past consists of the world-famous book itself and the Khajuraho and Konark temples, the taste for exploration and experimentation is lost in the sands of time.

So, why the sudden need to educate the masses on changing sexual perceptions' Well, it is, in part, to fill the information void. “We ran a similar campaign last year, on our website,” explains Maina Bhagat, event manager of Oxford Bookstore. “It was a huge hit. We found that a lot of people weren’t properly informed. So this year, we decided to run a nationwide crusade in our stores in Mumbai, Bangalore and Calcutta. We organised several events because there are many issues to address. The panellists, too, were very enthusiastic.”

Bikram Ghosh was all praise for the event. “Sexual perceptions are changing with the times, and most people are still in the closet about such things. We need to bring them out in the open. I am very glad that these sorts of events are happening, because they are particularly necessary to educate and inform.”

The verdict of the evening: Kamasutra is the “most-browsed book” in Oxford Bookstore, but as a buy, it’s a favourite gift to send relatives and friends in far-away shores, as an example of the exotic and erotic culture that was once an essential part of Indian society. As for change, it is creeping in, but too much still remains hidden behind closed bedroom doors. The missionary position, however, no longer dominates the bed, and women are taking the pleasure stand. As psychiatrist Rima Mukherjee says: “I had a client who told me her husband hadn’t had sex with her in over three years. She wished she had a boyfriend, so she could satisfy her need. Even that attitude was unthinkable a few years ago.”

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