Some in NCR find joy in baring their body to the elements. They are not exhibitionists but look for private spaces to experience public nudity
Nudity has become a radical way of self-expression as clothes have become a second skin thanks to thousands of years of conditioning to be dressed in public. However, there are few who seek play of elements on their bare bodies like our distant ancestors used to in times immemorial or the other denizens of the animal kingdom. They live close to nature.
Clothes—worn as a certificate that we are civilised—over the last few millenniums have become an integral part of self, almost second skin, and a tool to project one’s complex identities for public consumption. To hide is virtuous and it makes us humans extremely vulnerable to bare our real self to others like us. Not all, there are a growing number naturists, here in India as well.
One of the key arguments in favour of nudity is that it prevents children from developing an attitude of shame and guilt about the human body. People all over the world take a break from clothing in camps, holiday resorts and cruises. In many parts of Europe and the rest of the West, they are allowed to live the way they choose in large numbers in secluded places close to nature—this has become an integral part of the alternate culture, almost iconoclastic.
A lot of literature has since come up that explains the idea. Even those who don’t practice it venture to write about it, like Naked at Lunch–The Adventures of a Reluctant Nudist by Mark Haskell Smith. This book was much appreciated by Rahul R, a software engineer working for a multinational in Gurugram.
Rahul R, 37, has lived in the US for five years, followed by a year in Berlin before returning to India in 2016. In Germany, he for the first time experienced free body culture and was fascinated in the way he felt—comfortable about his body vis-a-vis others, and nature.
Rahul explains, “You feel close very to nature. But it did something even more significant to me. It meant the end of body shame for me. I grew up disliking my dark complexion, was therefore very shy and acutely conscious of myself. But now I feel so comfortable in my skin, I don’t feel like hiding it.”
He narrates the profound joy he feels lying naked in the warm sandy beach as the cool breeze from the sea gushes past him. “It’s not about me, it’s about being part of something larger—the whole universe. You feel it. Almost surreal!”
He now lives in a high-rise building on the 16 floor in Gurugram, often travels abroad to be part of various naturist camps but also enjoys domestic travel to hill stations, sea coasts and his favourite backwaters of Kerala, places where he can be himself.
Original publication 15 December, 2020
Posted on NatCorn 28th December 2020
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