Delhi says, welcome back!

It’s been almost a month now since I’m back home. I have been hogging on all those missed food items like crazy and my Punjabi family is just contributing to it with their extensive breakfasts and dinners. I re-visited all my favorite places in Delhi which I missed much. But life back home also means I have to reluctantly bring some changes in my lifestyle. Things that I could care about least are now top priority.

The first and most important change that I made as soon as I was back was to put some “extra” things in my bag. These “extra” things are my self-defense weapons whom I also fondly call “mere do anmol ratan” (okay, I’m just humoring myself). These are: one, a pepper spray which I have since December last year for obvious reasons. Second, a Swiss knife that I recently bought which is pretty handy. I occasionally also carry a scarf with me because I don’t drive (read: I can’t drive) and therefore travel a lot via public transport. I have the scarf because you see, exposing your neck, arms and shoulders can be too provocative for some and after all as we have recently learned “It’s our fault”, it is better to be safe than sorry (Fyi, heavy sarcasm involved here).

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There are two incidences which happened shortly after I came back. One was of street harassment and the other moral policing. I would like to describe these two in detail, I hope you will bear with me.

As mentioned above I usually carry my defense weapons in my bag whenever I go out, but this time as I was only walking in my own locality, I didn’t bother to take my bag and neither my weapons. But, you see, as soon as you step out of your Laksham Rekha, danger hovers over you like a fly hovers over a box of Haldiram’s sweets. So it was daytime, I was walking in my locality and there came this big white car (sorry, don’t know which one, it can be a City or an Accent, I’m really bad at this and I hardly care) with three young guys and drove past me. They were really young must be between 18-21. At least they looked younger than me. The driver slowed down the car and ogled at me through his side-view mirror. I ignored for the first time. I walked further peacefully. As I was on foot and they in a car, they drove past me twice and repeated the entire procedure again. I ignored them again. Β But this didn’t deter their high spirit of scoring and they tried their luck for the third time. They drove past me again and stopped their car nearly a meter ahead of me. I lost my cool and showed the driver the “middle finger” through his side-view mirror. As expected his big inflated hot air balloon male ego deflated as if someone has pinched it with a pin. He stopped the car, got out and waited for me. By this time, even I was very furious and decided to take on the rage. The conversation went on something like this:

  • He: Why did you show me the “middle finger”?
  • I: Why the fuck were you ogling at me and driving your car past me after every two minutes?
  • He: I did not stare at you and I was waiting for my friend.
  • I: In that case, I did not abuse you. I was motioning to some stranger on the street.

Before he could conjure up any other accusations on me, I walked away and the entire drama ended there and then. Also, I guess because it was day time, there were people on the streets, the guys didn’t dare to take any action against their recently hurt ego. Now imagine the same incident at night. A woman walking down the street, three young guys in a car, dark, and fewer people around. They would have very easily pushed me into the car, silenced my wails and took me away. Further what would have happened, I will not dwell into as we all very well know. Next morning newspapers would have flashy headlines and my family would supposedly go into shame. I would be blamed for walking alone at night and ruining those young boys’ future.

The other incident which is on a more lighter note left me both angry as well as in laughter. Β So I was in mall wearing a top which had a deep cut at the back. I was looking for some stuff in the woman’s section when this middle-age woman comes up to me from behind and touches me right at the open slit of my top (creepy).

  • Woman: Ye aapka top yaha se fata hua hai kya? (Is your top torn form here?)
  • I (with a stern face): Nahi, ye aisa hi hai. (No, it is like that.)
  • Woman (shocked and amused): Aisa hai? Par isme to peeche se dikh raha hai.. (Like that? But your back is visible.)
  • I (furious): Aapka bhi to pet dikha raha hai saree mein se (Even your tummy is visible from the saree.)

The woman is highly offended and is about to say something but her friend interrupts her, shushes her down and asks to get away. Fortunately for her, she is saved from my wrath because I sure had some more very interesting and offensive things to say. I look around, there are a few witnesses to the incident who are just staring back at me, in awe or in disgust, I couldn’t tell. With a cold face, I find my mom who is in some other section and narrate her the entire incident. She laughs it off and as compensation I get treated.

I don’t understand why people can’t mind their own business and how can one just come and touch a random stranger that too from behind. One can’t give the excuse that you belong to the same gender or that it was for your own well being. I mean, if somebody touches me from behind, the first thought that will come to my mind is that the person is eve teasing me and my instant reaction would be to turn around and slap the person black and blue in the face.

It is very interesting to know how the keepers of culture have taken their own eccentricities for granted and normalized it. So when it comes to a saree, a lehenga-choli and other such traditional Indian dresses, it is totally normal to expose your tummy, back, cleavage and what not. But if you’re wearing a “western” Β top with a slit at the back, you automatically become “carrier” of western culture which is infiltrating our very pure and pious Indian culture. Now I think I should have also poked her tummy. It would have been more fun!

What did I learn from these incidents?

  1. Carry your self-defense weapons whenever and wherever you go. It doesn’t matter even if you are standing right outside your house.
  2. People who don’t mind their own business need a taste of their own medicine.
  3. When walking on the street, don’t look down, walk confident, shoulders out. Don’t give the impression that you are scared. Better, if possible, walk with a pissed off expression on your face especially when walking past a group of rogues.
  4. No matter what you do, what you wear, how you walk, talk, etc, people are going to say something because that’s their work. So don’t give a fuck about “log kya kahenge” and continue to stay amazing!
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25 thoughts on “Delhi says, welcome back!

  1. Right, if an Indian woman exposes herself/looks sexy in Indian clothes, she must be using her body to pimp ‘Indianness’ which is okay, but promoting non-Indianness with a sexy female body is a waste! Ridiculous! I still wear my hard Oakland look on my face while abroad, it’s a habit that’s hard to shake. But necessary in more than a few places.

  2. Dear JP,

    I felt bit jealous U have such mom 😦
    but then am happy (very) that U have such mom πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Any suggestions to make this place “LIVABLE” (extra stressed), I mean something our selves, so that we can live our own life how we wana live.
    except becoming an extremist to exterminate these sadists and hypocrites πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

    Learning points are superb (clap clap clap), but I don’t think U need to carry a “pissed off expression on your face” on UR beautiful face. I mean on any face.

    Damn, am becoming more N more fond of U N UR posts… N I really LOVE UR boldness πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    PS: can U increase frequency of UR posts please (am on my knee)? Need not from UR real experiences, ideas N imagination can be more BOLD N BEAUTIFUL.

    Lots of Love,
    UR fan
    Neo.

    1. Hi Neon, thank you for stopping by. I’ll pass on that compliment to my mother, she will be happy! πŸ™‚ And I’m glad that you like my posts. I’ll try to be more frequent. Hope you enjoy all of them as much as you liked the earlier ones. Keep posting feedback! πŸ™‚

      1. It’s “offensive” to a and b-type people and might be some caretakers of the society. We really need such offences. You slapped them on the face and we appreciate that. Sorry if I sounded too satirical. 😦

  3. Hahaa your mom’s awesome! And being confident on the streets is the key. No matter what you’re wearing they’ll leer but if you look them straight in the eye, they hardly have the nerve to stare back.

    1. Hi Sia, I’ll pass on that to my mother, she will be delighted t know. Although, she doesn’t think highly of my blog. 😦 And thanks for stopping by, highly appreciated! πŸ™‚

  4. You often become offensive while conversing. But I must appreciate your witty reply and courage. I can foretell that you’re going to set an example. And both men and women definitely have to learn from. And your writing style too. Light and natural. Just like you were sitting next to me and talked this a few minutes ago. We’ll look forward to more such writing. All the best. πŸ™‚

    PS. You sound like a soldier who’s fighting for freedom of dignity.

    1. You mean offensive in those two conversation? What do you expect how should I behave if a. people are eve-teasing me and b. some random woman is giving me lectures on the sanctity of Indian culture? Anyway, thanks for stopping by, every feedback is highly appreciated! πŸ™‚

  5. Nice blog dear. Yeah the boys in that car incident is scary. You should always carry your weapons with you.
    We know things like guys don’t have the right to rape us and all. But the media and the dumb society still say things like you mentored. By the time they are convinced and gender equality is 100 percent time will pass.

    There was another incident in my friend’s life I thought I should mention. She was sitting in a bus stop. A middle aged man took her pic in his mobile camera without her permission. She was enraged.
    Not the point he has his 5-6 year olds son with him.
    She politely approached the man and asked him to delete the photo. He ignored she asked him again nicely and said “sir you have no right to take my pic”.
    His ego centric mind obviously exploded he jumped up from his seat and sarcastically spoke “how date ask me to do things. You are just a girl, stay within your limits. This is my camera.”
    He further added and I quote “you are a girl, you know what I could do to you, if you further push me. How I could ruin you”
    He grabbed her and she slapped across his face. Thank God just then. Her uncle and cousins came there. She told them the story. They confronted the Mann in a way he will never forget. They made sure that he will respect here and any other woman he meets.
    But… my point is, he was saying all that in front of his son. He is a married man and as one he should the value of girl’s dignity. And his son who is supposed to see his father as a role model had no idea what was going on between him and my friend. If his father is like this imagine what he will grow up to be.
    I thought I should mention this. Anyway nice post.

    1. Hi Karthu, thank you for stopping by, highly appreciated. I’m glad you liked the article. If you don’t mind, I would like to share this story on my page. More people should be aware of such things. Keep up the effort! πŸ™‚

      1. Actually I am writing a fresh article based on that indecent on my blog. I will send you the link once it is published. Please do post it. If possible on Facebook page also.
        Thank you

  6. The incident of the boys in the car, as disgusting as it is, doesn’t surprise me, since newspapers and channels are reporting such stuff all the time. I am glad you gave those louts the response they deserve, and that you could walk away safely after that.

    The second experience of yours, however, has left me dumbfounded. A random woman came out of nowhere, touched your back and tried to give you a lecture on what you should wear? What is the world coming to? What next? Actually stripping women down if they are wearing something ‘objectionable’ and wrapping a sari around them?

    As for the dichotomy of attitude vis-a-vis Indian and western dresses you mentioned, I am afraid the situation is even worse than you have described. Even lehenga-choli, sari and suchlike are often frowned upon if they do not conform to the unwritten dress code of the “society.” Let me tell you about an incident. A former classmate of mine was waiting for a bus. It was raining heavily at the time, and she wasn’t carrying an umbrella, so she was completely drenched before she could take shelter beneath the bus stand. As she is standing there, a few guys come along and start making lewd comments. At first she tried to ignore it, but when they started talking about undressing her, she turned around and slapped the guy who was saying it. This led to a huge ruckus, leading to a police jeep coming and taking my friend as well as the guys to the nearest police station. The officer-in-charge reprimanded the men, but let them go without filing a complaint from my friend. When she protested, the officer said, “Madam, I have already scolded them for what they did. There’s no point in troubling them any further. After all, they are young, you see, and young people make these mistakes. Plus, you cannot entirely avoid some responsibility for what has happened. Look at yourself, standing in a wet sari that clings to your body. You can’t go around like this and expect nothing to happen to you.”
    My friend was at a loss for words. She was dressed in the most conservative manner possible, with barely any part of her body exposed. And even then, she was told she had dressed improperly, for the dress was wet. You don’t even have the right, I guess, to be drenched in rain, for if you are, you are liable for anything bad that happens to you afterwards.

    Another friend of mine was similarly reprimanded for wearing a lehenga-choli because, as the uncle who warned her said, “This kind of dress makes you look like a woman with loose morals. You can hardly blame a guy for accosting you if you wear something like this.”

    I could go on, but there’s no need; I think I have made my point. I only wish people were less idiotic and vicious when it comes to women, their dresses, their ‘behaviour’, and such matters. I won’t even begin describing what the LGBT community of India has to go through, by the way, for simply being who they are. Men and women who opt for any non-marital romantic relationship, such as live-together, are also often on the receiving end of scorn and harassment. And even some of the supposedly “liberal” and “highly educated” people endorse such discrimination and harassment, while simultaneously insisting how open-minded and reasonable they are. A former English teacher of mine, whom I had regarded a good human being thus far, revealed these shocking biases of his of late. I have pretty much decided to give him the middle finger the next time we come face to face, as unpleasant as that is going to be for me because I did respect him a lot earlier. But he has proved himself to be unworthy of that respect.

    Thanks for this blogpost. Keep writing, and stay safe. May that pepper spray and Swiss knife of yours teach a lesson to all the scoundrels in Delhi.

    1. Hi Abhirup, I’m disgusted by both the incidents but not shocked. That is the sad reality of our state/nation. The only answer is to answer/fight back. More power to your friends and all the women out there. πŸ™‚

  7. Seriosly dude, In Saudi Arabia women are banned driving and entering the public library. Compared to that we have respect and salute this nation (unless they comply on taking women backward policy). This is why we still need feminism.

  8. Choli ke peechain aur chunri ke neechain hai “Sanskaari Indian culture” and aapke top ke peechain/ neechain or wherever hai “Corrupt WESTERN culture” πŸ˜‰ Can you not understand something that simple? Actually your mom deserved a treat from you and not vice versa.
    [SARCASM ALERT (for some of your readers)]

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