Last night I was returning home late from office. I wanted someone I could hold and kiss. My bike took me to my regular cruising spot, near a public loo. I parked the bike away from the loo. I didn’t go inside the loo, as I spotted a nice bloke outside (let’s call him Mr. X) – 18 years, slim, rough-looking, simple – my type! And he was looking at me.
I took him to a dark corner and kissed him on the neck behind his ear. He smelt sweet. As I moved my hands inside his shirt, he said in the local language – “Let’s go over there, I know a spot.” So I followed him.
After a few steps, two policemen arrived on a bike, stopped near us and started asking questions, “Where are you going ? What were you doing here ? What are your names ?” I answered the questions politely, as I was confident that they had no proof against us. One policeman took Mr. X to a corner and the other one tried his best to intimidate me, checking my pockets (maybe he expected to find condoms), asking me where I lived. I told him I usually come here to meet my “friends” and since they had not come tonight, I had started talking to this new person. By that time the other policeman came to us and said, “Stop lying, your friend says you were kissing him and taking him somewhere to get fucked by him.”
I was shocked. Why the hell did Mr. X tell them all this ? Is he stupid or what ? I started off in an angry tone, “There was no such plan ! He is lying. I agree that I kissed him, but it was only on his neck. I had no intentions of fucking him or getting fucked.” I stressed on the part of clean intentions because I wanted to make sure that they can’t blame me for planning any sexual activity. Still one of them said to another in local language, “Let’s apply 377 on them.” I asked, “Why 377 ? We were just kissing. We had no plans of doing the activities that come under 377.” To which the policeman replied, “Kissing openly on road is considered as indecent activity in public place. Don’t you agree that this is a public place ?”
Now I was trapped. They started their game of threats and concessions by saying things like – “Let’s take him to bade-sahab (main officer)”, “Do you want to solve this here ?”, “How can we let you go without a fine ?”, “Tell us how much fine you can give.”
I realized that the new word for rishvat or bribe is “fine”. So the bargaining started. They said, “A court case and lawyer will cost you 10,000. You can give us 5000 and go.” I told them I can give only 100 rupees. They got angry, “Do we look like traffic policeman to you ? Do you understand how grave your offense is ? Let’s go to bade-sahab.” At this point I started wondering if kissing on neck really counts as indecency. I know that lip-kiss in public is not allowed, but kiss-on-the-cheek is allowed, right ? Then what about kiss-on-neck ? I was not sure.
The haggling went on. Mr. X was taken to another corner by his policeman. The one with me started checking my bag. Luckily I wasn’t carrying my laptop. But my wallet was in the bag. I was frightened they will find the wallet and see that I have around 10 thousand. They went through my books, deodorant, hair-fixer, medicines etc., each time asking me, “What is this ?” They looked at the medicines suspiciously, as if they were prohibited drugs.
By now, I started getting bored. I wondered how it would feel to go to their bade-sahab? I will get an opportunity to learn how police stuff works out for people who are caught for public indecency. Also, I’ll see how police behaves with gays when they cannot apply 377. But what if they keep me in lockup? My parents who already don’t like that I’m gay, will now be introduced to the concept of cruising! They’ll be shocked. Also I will be outed to all relatives and co-workers with zero effort! For a few seconds, I really wanted them to arrest me !
But they were back to the same question, “So, how much fine can you give?” Thankfully, they hadn’t found my wallet. I made a sad face and told them I have no friends around who can come and give me money. And that 200 is all I have right now. Finally they got convinced of my poverty. I secretly pulled out two 100-rupee notes from my bag without showing the wallet. Handed them the precious notes, turned around and left. No sorry, no thank you.
I made sure to take the long way around the building, so they wouldn’t see me taking my bike. On my way, 2 guys came up to me and asked, “What did the police say? Where is the other guy?” I realized I had totally forgotten about Mr. X. These two must be his friends. I told them I don’t know where he went. Poor guy. He was just 18 and had panicked so much.
I reached home, silently had food with family, told the story to close friends over chat. I got all sorts of reactions – sympathy, shock, laughter and advice.
There were also some doubts- Could Mr. X be involved with the policemen? What happened with me seems to be lifted straightaway from Onir’s movie I Am Omar. Was reel life replicating itself in real life?A friend remarked, “Cruising places are dangerous because of extortionist gangs operating there. Their modus operandi involves interrogating the guy you were with, making you feel guilty for both of you. You can’t even be sure if they were the real police.” And this reminded me that the police didn’t have any badges. Was it all a scam?
I am sure this incident is very small compared to what other people have to face. I have read that people get humiliated, beaten, raped and looted for huge amounts of money by police in the name of 377 and/or public indecency. The reason I wrote this article was to remind people about the risks of cruising. If at all you go for it, remember this
- Stay alert, keep looking around
- Choose partners carefully, don’t trust them
- Don’t tell much about yourself, don’t flaunt your money
- Never panic, stay calm and confident
As for me, I’m done with all this. No more cruising. Ever. Thank you very much