Towards the end of our interview, Dr Mahinder Watsa takes a telephone call. He is trying to tell the man at the
other end that he cannot tell him whether or
not he should take Viagra because he isn’t
familiar with the man’s medical history.
The caller keeps pressing for an answer.
He wants to know how many hours before
the intercourse should he take the pill and
whether he should take it with water or milk.
The 91-year-old Watsa is exasperated and
keeps reminding him that the best person to
answer his question is his own family doctor.
Finally, after much back-and-forth, he
agrees to see the caller and asks him to make
an appointment. As he hangs up, he rolls his
eyes and sighs.
This has become an everyday thing, especially since his fame has reached dizzying
heights thanks to the Internet.
Watsa, a gynecologist and popular sex
columnist whose columns appear daily in
the Mumbai Mirror and its sister publications, has gained reputation for his cheeky
and honest responses to reader queries on
matters of sex.
While the column itself is just a little over
10 years old, Watsa has a long and illustrious
career as a gynecologist starting in 1950.
He was closely associated with the Family
Planning Association of India, even serving
as its president from 2004-06.
Besides establishing sex-counseling centers in almost every capital city in the country, Watsa has conducted several workshops
not just in India, but also in Bangladesh, Sri
Lanka, Egypt, Indonesia and Mexico.
The good doctor begins his day around 6
am and is at his desk by 8 am, researching,
consulting and taking questions via email
His clients come from all walks of life and
across all age groups, but their concerns are
Questions about masturbation are shockingly common with men who often wonder
if they could contract AIDS or if they could
Then there are those, like our caller earlier,
who are in their 60s, but want to keep at it
with the help of supplements.
Every once in a while, Watsa rolls his eyes,
takes a deep sigh but proceeds to address
everyone’s concerns. And on a cloudy monsoon evening, with the Arabian Sea stretching out before us, he settles down to answer
some of our questions too.
The last 10 years have seen great socio-economic change in India. How has that been
reflected in our behavior under the sheets?
When we speak about socio-economic
change, we often disregard the fact that India has a large population of rural and semiurban people. While there’ve been a great
deal of changes over the last decade or two,
the fact is that it has largely affected only a
small minority living in urban areas.
So, while those affected by that change
may run into a few lakhs (a few hundred
thousands), fact remains that in the larger
context the percentage is relatively small.
There has been a great deal of change in a
particular group: the urban college-going
crowd that is more sexually active than the
previous generation was. A lot of it is
because young women are now more open
Boys start experimenting early on in life,
but most girls 15-20 years ago were not keen
on having intercourse until they were much
older. Their sexual activity would be restricted to kissing and hugging etc. ‘Going all the
way’ was not very common. Since women
are now more open about the idea of having
intercourse, boys are only too happy to take
It will be interesting to understand how the
behavior of those in the age bracket of 50 and
above changed in these last 10 years. Could
you shed some light on that please?
Again, a lot of it depends on the kind of
socio-cultural and economic backgrounds
that they come from. But, broadly speaking,
earlier a lot of people would believe that after
50 they wouldn’t be sexually active. But now
I get people who are in their 70s and 80s
who want to know how long they can go on
and if there is any scope for improvement.
While this is particularly true for people
whose partners are still alive, even those who
have lost their partners don’t mind looking
out for newer partners either for just sex or
simply to cohabit.
Are men more anxious about their performance now than before?
Men have always been anxious about their
performance. That hasn’t changed. But what
has increased is that now there are all kinds
of tensions that are adding to the stress lev-
els. People work longer hours; several of you
spend as many as 15 hours away from home
because you are travelling at least four hours
to and from work every day.
This is an overworked generation and it
isn’t unusual for married couples to not meet
for days together because they work in different shifts!
Have the concerns of the teenagers/20-
somethings changed in the last two decades?
While this generation is seemingly more
liberal and promiscuous, I don’t believe the
concerns of the youth (with regards to sex)
have changed very drastically.
What has changed though is that there is a
lot more experimentation among schoolmates; some 20 years ago that would not
have been so frequent. If a young boy wanted to have intercourse, he would have to visit
a sex worker.
By and large, we’ve opened up as a society.
There are more opportunities to meet (
potential partners). We’re now actually talking
about sex, which itself is a big change.
The queer community has become more
vocal, which has added a new dimension to
You receive a lot of queries but has there
been one that has flummoxed you?
There was this married man who wanted
to know what intercourse was. He was very
religious and he had no clue about sex. The
fact that he was so completely unaware
about sex flummoxed me.
What also flummoxes me is the number of
questions about masturbation. More than
50 per cent of questions that people ask are
related to masturbation. I feel it is ridiculous
to ask such questions but I get them very
often. All you can do is try not to be repetitive with one’s responses.
I read that every three out of 10 queries you
receive come from women. What are their
One major concern is the sudden lack of
interest by their husbands in them. There
have been several occasions when, after marriage, their husbands don’t seem to want to
have sex with them. This becomes difficult
for women to deal with, especially if they’ve
been sexually active as a couple before the
The lack of interest in sex on part of their
husbands after the birth of a child is another
problem that women face and it is quite sad
that it should happen this way; it tends to
We seem to be living in times of a highly
sexualized media. Do you see that as being a
troublesome trend or just a sign that we are
becoming sexually liberated?
An argument that filmmakers often put
forth is that they are only portraying what
exists in the society around them. Sure, some
of it may exist on the fringes of the community but the fact is that it exists.
And are you comfortable with that?
It is inevitable. Whether or not I am comfortable with it doesn’t matter.
What worries you most about Indians and
their sexual behavior?
Every day I get queries about unprotected
sex; these come from people who are fairly
educated and know that if they have unprotected sex, they can get pregnant or get a disease. But the questions keep coming.
What is also worrying is the liberal use of
the morning-after pill. People don’t understand is that it can lead to complications in
the future and there is always the possibility
of it not working.
Porn addiction is another worrying trend
because it has relegated sex to the point
where it is a mechanical act and not one that
is an expression of love and affection.
How big a problem is porn addiction?
Oh, that is a big problem and it is across
ages. It can be severe and is known to lead to
a lot of break-ups. Some young people don’t
even want to have a partner or cannot find
one so they turn to porn and become habituated with it. So, when they finally have to
(have sexual intercourse) they are unable to
do it without watching porn and getting
excited about it. How to rid men of their
pornography viewing habits and make them
go back to their wives is one of the biggest
problems we are facing today.
Finally, what is the one most important
thing you’ve always wanted the average
youngster to know about sex?
Sex is not just about sexual intercourse.
Emotions play a very important role in it.
When you see a woman, you cannot just
think of the intercourse or ask yourself how
and when you can take her to bed. I don’t
fancy that attitude. Sex is a lot more than
just that. n
THE NONAGENARIAN WHO IS STILL TEACHING INDIA ABOUT SEX
India Abroad August 7, 2015
THE MAGAZINE M11
Arguably India’s most famous sexologist,
Dr Mahinder Watsa sheds light on how young
(and old) Indians behave between the sheets in
this conversation with
Abhishek Mande Bhot/India Abroad.