Text messages have invaded courtships everywhere. But the short messaging service, or SMS, is proving particularly revolutionary in India, where it is paving a secret passageway for the young around deep-rooted barriers to premarital mingling.
"The cellphone has become India's new organ of lust and love," said Suhel Seth, an advertising executive based in New Delhi who contributed to an anthology about being single in India.
The somewhat alien notion of free love is trickling into India. But for young middle-class men like Chettri, who still bear the burden of making first moves, the challenge is to seduce without the tools available to the Western male flirt...
Western-style courtship does not work for reasons that stack onto each other like bricks in a firewall of romance. Young Indians, and girls especially, are taught not to exhibit any interest in the opposite sex, regardless of their inner feelings. The prohibition extends to such behaviors as giggling at a man's jokes.