Anyone who has ever lived in a shared flat in India has played by these time-honoured rules and formulas of how to have sex, while flatmates make merry in the next room. While every group of flatmates devises their own rules and codes of conduct, there are some experiences universal to all of us who've lived away from home for any substantial length of time. If you have, you will recognise these 14 sex struggles and their uniquely Indian solutions.
1. Put a sock on the doorknob
If there's one thing we Indians learnt from American sitcoms, it is this ingenious, universal signalling sex. Who amongst us hasn't hung that embarrassing sock on the door to let a resigned roommate know that the room and, if possible, even the house is out of bounds for them for the foreseeable future? And who amongst us hasn't come back home from a long day of mind-frying classes/work only to be greeted by the cursed sight of a sock hanging on the door, shattering our dream of falling face-first on bed and passing out without having to make any human contact whatsoever?
2. Played music really, really loud
Even if it means that you've all but announced to your flatmates what's going on in you room, if the alternate is that your friends walk around the planet for the rest of their days with the knowledge of your sex sounds, you never had an alternate, really. You haven't truly lived until you've done it to the sound of Ila Arun breathily crooning Nigodi kaisi jawaani hai.
3. Bought noise-cancelling headphones for them
In India, houses have tiny rooms and thin walls. You can never be too careful. In fact, buy noise-cancelling headphones not just for your flatmate, but your neighbours as well, to be on the safe side.
4. Paid for their dinner and movies
It's a cost-intensive undertaking, but every once in a while, you pay for the buggers to leave the house so you and your special guest don't have to worry about being too loud or tiptoe to the bathroom for fear of an embarrassing run-in.
5. Run to a friend's house the minute their parents leave town
Indian parents are extremely suspicious and reluctant of leaving their homes in the care of their young, unmarried kids. But every once in a family friend or relative's wedding, they will be forced to trust their kids. Whenever that has happened, we've all exploited those kind, noble souls who would open up their parents' homes to space-crunched, sex-starved friends as soon as their parents left the premises for any length of time. Take a minute to appreciate the immense risk they those friends were taking only so you could get laid without a flatmate noisily pottering around the house. Imagine the horror if their parents found out what was going on in their houses as soon as their backs turned. These friends deserve a gallantry award, nothing less.
6. Drawn up elaborate schedules
When you're sharing a room and both of you have an active sex life at the same time, you draw up complex schedules that optimise every waking moment to such an extent that it would put project managers at Wipro and TCS to shame.
7. Kept an eye out for voyeuristic flatmates
When you've stayed away from home for long enough, sooner or later you're bound to cross paths with a slimy flatmate who manages to never get caught but always leaves you with the uncomfortable feeling that you're being watched. As if they are constantly spying on you, hoping to catch you and your partner in an intimate moment. Very creepy, this.
8. Had the "character" conversation with the flatmate
When you have multiple friends with benefits, you want to clear things up with your flatmate before turning your bedroom into a revolving door. You don't want their disapproving eyes following you around, or, worse, have them misidentify your partners accidentally-on-purpose.
9. Panicked and hunted for your partner's underwear
It's all very hot and sexy to have articles of clothing flying across the room in a sex frenzy, but once the haze of horny-ness recedes and it's time to be respectable again before the flatmates come back home, the search for that one stray underwear that refuses to be found as panic sets in, will be the death of so many young lovers.
10. Made never-to-be broken rules about nudity around the house
You don't want your flatmate to see your partner in all their natural glory. Neither do you want your partner to walk out of your room and be startled by your almost naked flatmate. When there is a constant "special guest" in the house, you must have rules about acceptable levels of nudity that won't result in future therapist bills for any of the parties involved.
11. Had a flatmate walk in on you
No matter how careful you are, at some point or the other, you will slip up and have a flatmate walk in on you at a seriously inopportune moment. Nothing can cement or break your friendship with a person more irreversibly than the knowledge that they know what your bare bum looks like.
12. Moved your bed away from the wall
It's just good manners, especially if you have an old, creaky, hand-me-down bed and thin walls.
13. Kept your clothes on during sex
This takes a special kind of sensitivity for your friends, and it only comes with having personally experienced the ordeal of knowing that your friend is doing it in the next room because you can hear the sound of their sweaty naked skin slapping against each other. Ew.
14. Sent a flatmate for an emergency condom run
The good thing about living with flatmates is that sex-time doesn't have to come to a screeching halt because you were sure there were still a few condoms left but didn't check to confirm. You simply prolong the foreplay and send your flatmate for an emergency run to the pharmacy.