Travel
2 min

Let’s talk about sex in India

Sun Temple in Konark depicts group sex, gay sex and the 69 position

EROTIC. The Sun Temple in Konark, India has many erotic sculptures. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Polygamy. Polyandry. Prostitution. Orgies. Oral. Anal. Adultery. Even bestiality.

The Indians were into some pretty kinky stuff in the 13th century. That’s when the beautiful, massive Sun Temple was built on the country’s east coast, with statues depicting 84 positions of the Kama Sutra, and a whole lot more. (Check out this collection of Sun Temple photos on Flickr).

Back then, sexual acts were put on public display because they were something to celebrate. Today, the Sun Temple is still taken very seriously in India. It’s now a UN World Heritage Site, and Indians come from all over the country to admire it. They don’t snicker at the sexual imagery, either. Even my guide, Shankar, was methodical when it came to explaining what each statue illustrates.

“This is the 69 position,” he told me matter-of-factly in front of an engraving. “Man and woman pleasuring each other in the genitals.”

Another time, he stopped to point out man-on-man sex. “This is homo,” he stated, with no editorializing.

A little further down, Shankar showed me the lesbian engraving. “They are under a mosquito net so it must be night,” he instructed.

There’s even a statue that depicts a couple demonstrating sex to a child. “The man is teaching the boy,” Shankar said. “Like father, like son.”

Back then, Indians were pretty up front about sex. They are today, too.

When I first arrived in the country, I found one of the social networking sites that Indian guys are using to meet each other. I posted an innocent message explaining that I was looking to meet guys and learn about the local scene. What I didn’t expect was the frank talk about sex.

Half an hour into my first coffee date, in the middle of a weekday afternoon, the guy I was with announced that he was “very good at lovemaking.” It’s a lot like working out, he added. He asked if I wanted to join him.

The second guy I met put it right out there, too. It was 9:30 in the morning and he was on his way to work, but that didn’t stop him. “Are we going to go back to your place now and have sex?” he asked. When I expressed surprise at his request, he said, “I just think it’s a fun thing to do.” I have to admit that it sounded like a perfectly valid argument.

Those two encounters took place in the big city of Kolkata, and both guys were pretty confident and out. But my latest date, a closeted guy who lives in a small town an hour away from the Sun Temple, was equally blunt.

After he chatted about his motorcycle and I told him about life in Canada, he looked right at me and said, point blank, “Do you want to have sex with me?”

As a modest Canadian who’s only a little less sexually repressed than the rest of the country, I had no training for these honest, forthright social interactions. Where I come from, most guys get all angsty and uncomfortable about expressing their desire, unless they’ve already negotiated everything online or over the phone. But in India, face-to-face conversations about sex are refreshingly straight up.

All that being said, I haven’t actually got laid in India yet. I just wasn’t into any of the guys who asked me. And the only guy who didn’t ask me turned me down. Not that I took a chance and raised the subject of sex head-on. That would have been far too un-Canadian of me.