>And some days, I wish I was a man

>I love being a woman. On most days. Other times, I feel frustrated, angry and very helpless. Because I am a woman.

A few days ago, I got free early from work and decided to take an auto to the closest decent eating place. I learnt a long time ago that trying to make friends at office is futile – and anyway, that’s not what I am there for. So there I was, all alone in an auto, happy at the thought of digging into a plateful of pasta and chicken. I got the auto right oustide the office, and we were speeding off to my place of choice. At the first red light, an SUV stopped a little away from my auto – black tinted glasses, blaring music – the vulgar signs of money, brazenness and danger in a city like Delhi. I didn’t pay much attention to it, till the guy in the passenger seat opened the door and signalled at me. The door shut when I averted my face. I glanced back. This time the guy in the rear seat had opened the door and was jeering at me. I ignored, because in that situation it was the best I could do. And prayed the light would turn green and the monster SUV would zip away and not chase me.

And that’s what happened – they drove away, after rolling down the windows, staring some more at me from their moving cars and laughing, as if it had been some kind of cruel joke. Those guys in the SUV, perverts obviously, were probably just enjoying the stricken look on my face when they opened and shut their car doors menacingly. They probably were getting their kick by just scaring a girl. And I’m supposed to thank my lucky stars they didn’t intend any worse than that!

A little way ahead, about half a kilometre, another car slowed down next to the auto. A sedan, this time. There was no one but the guy in the driver’s seat. By the looks of him, you’d call him decent, almost suave. But he peered inside the auto several times, giving away the truth behind that face. Unlike the men in the SUV, who seemed physically threatening, this guy was just checking me out. Not just checking out the way a guy would harmlessly check out a girl, but probably, trying his luck. You know, if I would give him the cue to stop the car, haggle a price (or maybe not) and get in with him. And he probably thought he could think that because I was alone in the auto at, what, 8.45 pm? I’ve never been looked at like that. And some part of me felt shamed for having given such notions to a man. Some part of me felt absolutely disgusted. And all of me felt miserable.

There’s no justification for a man to treat a woman like that, to make her feel so vulnerable, so frighteningly unsafe, so helpess in just a glance and a gesture. I felt stupid thinking I had plans of enjoying a meal! I felt stupid for being a woman! And I felt frightened at the thought of coming back t’he 2.5 km stretch – yes, that’s all the distance there was between my office and the market – in an auto.

I wept. Scared to call up anyone, because either they would scold me for venturing out alone or they’d be too scared for me – as women, even though we can’t shield ourselves, we always try to shield the people around us. And that minute, I hated being a woman, hated being so powerless to defend myself. What precaution could I have taken to make myself invulnerable to those men on the street? On a crowded street where everyone’s too busy with their lives to stop and stand up for you? On a busy road in the country capital? Is safety really a luxury for women?

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35 responses »

  1. >Its terrible to go such ordeals and can really shake one up…but most Delhites like me would tell you this is very common and we all go through it. One has to learn to deal with all this, and make sure that you are safe, carry a pepper spray (most of us do), carry emergency contact numbers including cops and put them on speed dial.And unfortunately Delhi is very unsafe for women, especially after dark. Please reconsider when traveling alone late in the night/evening. I know this can sound stupid or regressive…but safety for oneself should be prime

  2. >@How do we know: Do you think carrying a pepper spray would make me feel better? That's no match for a car full of boys!@MindfulMeanderer: Thanks. There are no tips to make women on Indian roads invulnerable.@Piggy Little: I know! Pathetic!@Maria: I've been in Delhi before, lived here and gone through it all. This wasn't the first time I felt so insecure. But knowing that doesn't make me feel better, does it?

  3. >I don't know D… there is no precaution one can take – coz its not upto us, we dont cause the eve-teasing with our clothes or looks or travelling alone. Those guys might have behaved the same way even in daylight, coz THEY are the perverts…Which makes me think if and when I have a daughter, she will be taught some kind of martial arts, if not strength, she'll at least have a sense of empowerment…

  4. >That really really feels awful does it not, and thank god! you came out of it unharmed, because such men, esp the ones in the SUV, are quite capable of pulling women into their SUV, having their'fun' and then just dumping her on the road, when they are done. There have been many such cases. D, my sincere request, please stay safe, no matter what who says, having grown up there, I can tell you Delhi is not a safe place, for anyone, besides the rich n powerful, who constitute a huge part of the population there. Please stay safe. And always carry something for self defence with you!

  5. >Sorry that this happened! I can understand your feeling of not calling somebody lest you scare them. Sometime last year, I was in a car, with my brothers in the front seat, in broad daylight, and 2 guys on a bike cutting across from the wrong side. They threatened my brother that they would do me harm if he doesnt let them go first. I was shocked and told my brother to just ignore them and move ahead as such jerks dont understand any language. I let the incident pass but later got to know from one of my cousins, that my brother hated himself for not having done something to those guys.I guess nothing can stop these incidents. Take care of yourself!May be get a car with tinted glasses and a driver to take you around.

  6. >I feel really really sorry for you. As a person who grew up in Delhi(went to school, college and work there) I can so understand what kind of perverts roam around there!! And on those, even I so wished I didn't have to face all those things !! All I can say is keep your defences and heads high.

  7. >isn't this so typical of our capital city? And didn't one of the recent surveys published in one of the national dailys pronounce New Delhi as the best and safest city in India? remember laughing my ass off when i read it. I shudder to even think of myself in your place. How terribly helpless one can feel. How awful. 😦

  8. >I dont travel after it gets dark in this region.. and its only because this city scares me every day… but I know this is no solution.. Just a way to pacify myself.. such things happen even during day time and I have experienced them.. its just sad that its always us, who are at the receiving end.. 😦

  9. >hey dear, take care while travelling alone,keep pepper spray or some kind of self defense thing and i don't think that just by being in a city like delhi you face such a thing. Eveteasing is reality in almost any city.

  10. >Oh dear!! Sorry that it happened to you.Same this side as well. The day when it happens, I am just shocked, feeling all alone and ofcourse isolating myself. Next day I am the strong woman. 😦

  11. >WTF!! Dude, in times like these, just ignore. But if the SOB comes closer, just kick him in the nuts with all the Mumbai power you have got. Thats got to keep him down for atleast 5 mins. And then you can kick him again. Sorry to sound so violent. But the mens' behaviour just pissed me off.

  12. >So unfortunate !! happy it ended up woth that.. But thats the case in all cities irrespective of metro or not.. The attitude has to change and no other prcaution ..

  13. >you said you got free early from office and it was 8.45 pm ? whoa..the work is totally taking it on you..but yeah I remember you like the work load 🙂 so i'll leave it at that…coming to the main point of the post..stocking red chilli powder,pressing the ignore button-which is placed remotely in some corner of our brains,being cautious,telling at least someone before venturing out some where alone,noting down auto numbers/car numbers,keeping the police station number ready apart from other SOS speed dials..ahh..all the efforts by a woman..I know..but that's how the society is build up..since ages..and the best we do is to be prepared to ensure our own safety..the world will change when it has to..for the moment it's we,women,who can be the change !Almost a post ! Swwary !

  14. >Hey D…So sorry girl but pls do b careful…Unfortunately Delhi and a lot of India is that way…Lit roads, dense populations…thats the way to goBut yes do list to How do we know/Goof and carry a pepper spray or something.Thank God those guys drove away…Hmmmph we always need male company dont v…frustrating

  15. >@celestialrays: Exactly! How do I fight an attitude, leave alone the physical power of a man?@Goofy: I know… I never forget I'm living in an unsafe city. But nothing shields you from feeling so small!@Tina: Oh yes! Men aren't really a deterrent when it comes to men who'll use a woman to wield their physical power.And getting the car? Ah well, I wish!@Dil se: What optin does a woman have but to keep her defences high at all times?!@Ketchup Girl: Really? Safest, eh? For whom?@Lavanya: Does it not happen in other cities?

  16. >@Soulmate: I avoid too – travelling after dark. But sometimes there's just no option! I need a life outside of office as well and office ends after sunset always!@Neha: I guess so. Someone asked me I'd experienced this feeling of insecurity only here, and I told them that back in Lucknow, I didn't have to be out alone… so I never had to face the same stuff.@Bindhu: True. That's the irrepressible spirit of a woman!Or the helplessness of the situation…@Childwoman: I'd be violent as hell, if I had the physical strength to fight a group of boys!Tara: Really, the attitude must change!@Nu: Valid points. About my work, yes, that's how it is!About the conditioning women get to fend off danger, so true! And yes, we will have to just wait for the times to change – perhaps, mother sons who will be better men!@dropzofjupiter: Yes, it is sad how we depend on men just to make us feel secure. That's such a basic need!

  17. >A Heart felt postTo be honest, I don't understand why some men behave in this way; which does nothing then scaring the shits out of a women making her feel threatened. If one wants to approach women there are better ways to do it.Even in the second case; the guy was doing more than staring shows his desperation. I strongly believe if one is checking out someone it has to be done in a way that the other person does not feel offended.No words to say how you must have felt that day but makes me wonder how some men can act like a total jack ass not giving the women the respect and dignity that she deserves…

  18. >God!! This was so scary!! I am so sorry that this happened D… hugs. Do carry Pepper spray and something that makes a loud noise. Keep the cell phone charged and ready to use – talking on the phone can make you feel safer. Such things can happen during the day too. Once, many years ago a group of men on four motorbikes passed us – I was frightened even though I wasn't alone and it wasn't even night.I agree with another commenter – a car with tinted glasses is better. Makes you feel safer. Hugs. I am so totally shaken.

  19. >I am sorry you had to go through it. Though I have no experience living or traveling alone in Delhi, I do think most of India is unsafe for women. And I HATE it that we even need to think of taking precautions to keep ourselves safe. I hate that we don't even have the right to feel safe in our own country. I had a huge discussion on this very topic with a friend some time back and I know my comment will ruffle some feathers here as well, but THIS is one big reason I wouldn't move back to India as long as I have an option. Not for myself – I grew up there so I know I can handle it – but for my daughters. If I have an option to live someplace where they can have the "luxury" to be (and feel) safe, I wouldn't move back and subject them to this 😦

  20. >oh good lord! You must be very careful, D. All said and done, your safety is far, far more important that trying to assert feminism on a couple of imbecile A%#^^$^! I`m so sorry you had to face this. Hugs

  21. >How did I miss this post?!?I would say that this happens everywhere in India. I think sometimes the most educated & cultured looking men are the lowest of low lives.There is no dignity for a woman when it comes to her body and her presence. We will b stared at, leered at, passed comment on – regardless of being in a burqa or a bikini.I guess, we just learn to live with it and along the way learn some tricks to our survival like, looking away, dressing modestly, being demure etc. 😦

  22. >So Delhi hasn't changed at all. You know, some of the tips given here are sensible. I don't think you should assume that they won't be effective, because while most men leer and stare, a great many of them also do not have the, well, testicles, to convert thought into action…and some slight aggression or signs of precaution taken by the girl will usually make them move on. These are the Indian males who sit on the fence. They're easy to handle.The other bunch is not so easy to handle. They have no qualms in converting thought into action, and when in numbers and in a vehicle, like the SUV, are actually dangerous, especially on deserted stretches. In this case, unfortunately – and it really makes me feel ashamed and angry, both as a man and an Indian – to say this, until we become more civilised, a woman has no other option but to be careful. ..which means a ride alone at 8.45 PM wasn't a very smart thing to do in Delhi. In a state where the CM – herself a woman – feels that women stepping out of the house at night deserve to be killed, what can one expect?Take care.Quirky Indian

  23. >Hi Let me be me.. This is my first time here.. I am glad that your safe and the SUV guys did not do anything else.. But Honestly, I cannot understand why being a women gets us into soo many issues.. Being safe in some cities have become a luxury by the looks of it

  24. >Ouch. I get what you're talking about – I've been propositioned (is that the word?) myself, right in front of my office, when I was waiting for my cab, quite a few times. Like IHM said, you should carry a pepper spray or something 🙂

  25. >@The Survivor: Makes me wonder – how they manage to do that to us!@IHM: Yes, the cell phone is God sent, it seems. I did brandish it at some point during all this, and probably that’s what shooed off the single guy in the sedan.@GettingThereNow: I can understand. If anything would keep me away from my country, it would be the same reason.@Piper: Asserting my feminism? I did none of it! I just wanted to eat food. By any stretch of imagination, that’s not feminism.@Dee: And none of those tricks will work when someone makes up their mind to have us!@The Quirky Indian: You’re right – a lot of men don’t actually even (and thank God for it!) intend to go beyond the letching and leering, but that’s demeaning enough. And is 8.45 really that late? I mean, what other time does one go for dinner?@SR: Luxury, or luck!@Chinkurli: Yes, that is the word. @Sirop: Yeah, me too.

  26. >@ Gettinghtere now – Just after the Mangalore Pub attack on women in Jan 2009, I seriously considered sending my daughter abroad – I am sure a lot of us have given this a thought.

  27. >Been reading your blog in my reader. It's so unfortunate that it happened to you as well. But I would say, you are not alone. It's happening around every where and definitely every woman might have or will feel this way at least once in their life time. I'm really happy for the lucky that you made through this and out and safely. tc

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