Recently my Facebook friend Lalit Kumar wrote very wonderful and thought provoking post on his blog related with this subject (http://dashamlav.com/1637), I highly recommend this post for readers who can read and understand Hindi. I found this post very interesting may be because I myself faced this dilemma or question. This subject is not something very new but the issue discussed in post is still very relevant and affects all of us, the question is very real and many people have very strong and different opinions about it. Many people feel that there is strong physical attraction between heterosexual males and females which overpowers simple friendship that's why it's not easy for them just to be friends Many think that except some very close blood relationship (like brother sister) all other relationships between man and woman are bound to face the problem or challenge of physical attraction, many fear that no matter what society will always look with suspicion to any man-woman relationship outside immediate family, many believe that it is indeed possible to have pure and healthy friendship but it needs lot of understanding, maturity and commitment.
I was born and raised in very conservative atmosphere where normally friendship between boy and girl (or man and woman) was not approved by our society, by today's standards it was very narrow minded and restricted environment as far as man-women relationships were concerned and this was till I graduated from college. I could never make any female friends because of this, unwritten rule was 'stay away from girls'. I always felt it's not appropriate thing to make female friends and people in my neighborhood will laugh at me or think that I am a person of loose character if they see me with any girl. I think all those restrictions and taboo was because of strong belief that male-female relationship (whenever I use this term I mean relationship between them outside immediate family) is always for one reason, and this relation is always physical in nature. May be society is scared of man-women relationship because it is related with creation of new life, that is why many times it seems that whole burden of morality or character of society rests on man-women relationship. This belief was so strong and dominant that it took me lot of time to shook it off and I am sure many people living in India and many other countries during that time (or even today) must have felt the same, because it was not my family or parents but whole society forced this belief on people like me, and this included many movies, books, etc. There were very few and rare examples of pure man-woman friendship around me that time and this whole thing contributed to my belief that they can not be just friends, either they have to be related or lovers there can not be any thing else.
But then as I grew up I started reading many books, met many new people from different cultures and backgrounds and slowly got to know about world beyond my family and neighborhood. I met with some very good friends who showed me other side of life where there was possibility that boy and girl can just be friends and very good friends, it took me some time to understand this beautiful fact but finally I am very glad that I could get over my inhibitions and won that battle. But I know that there are many who can not get over these inhibitions and still think that pure friendship is not possible between man and women. This not only creates lot of problem for them but also creates lot of trouble for people around them. The real problem with this mindset is not only the person who thinks like this can not form friendship with opposite sex but he/she also looks with suspicion towards all people around him/her who have such relationships and this approach pollutes the environment for everybody to some extend. I am telling from experience that its good to get rid of this inhibition and there is beautiful world around us. Friends and friendships are very important part of everyone's life, friends are friends it doesn't matter what their gender, race, caste or sexual orientation is.
This narrow mindset also to large extend contributed to the thinking that women should behave and dress in particular way so that they don't provoke any unnecessary feelings of men around them, so men who can not control their own animal instincts blame it conveniently on women. This world is a beautiful place because of all men and women in it, we all make this beautiful society and we only give different names and meaning to all relationship. Let's give new meaning to the word "friendship" by removing any restrictions of gender, race or anything else, lets believe in our ability of just to be friends and enjoy true friendship, because it's very beautiful thing and believe me you won't regret it.
(Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)