In the depths of my being, a strange certainty, deeper than reason, entirely animal in quality, filled me with terror. The same certainty which some beasts-sheep and rats feel before an earthquake. Awakening in me was the soul of the first men on Earth, such as it was before it became totally detached from the universe, when it still felt the truth directly, without the distorting influence of reason- The 'Boss', Zorba the Greek
Outside the New Delhi railway station stands a lone army javan behind a six foot high enclosure of sandbags- fully equipped with gun and bullet proof vest and helmet. Look around to find his companions, and there are none. He is the lone ranger, quite literally. He is placed about twenty feet from the entrance and most of the times, he gets lost in the crowd. He will protect us from all evil.
Indira Gandhi International airport. We drive in with a car full of little bags and big bags, wondering how it is going to be a pain to go through security. It's going to take forever! Drive through the main gate. A cop is hanging around- just peeking into the car (not even stopping us), looking to see if we are terrorist worthy or not. Apparently, we aren't. We flew through everything not stopping once for any kind of inspection. The car went to the parking and we went into the arrival lounge. Not so much of a metal detector. Our big bags (that have our whole lives in them) and us bought our enrty tickets, walked right into the arrival lounge. Going to the movies was more painful- I got body/bag searched like twice- my camera was taken away and all sorts of nonsense.
But at the international airport- nothing. Ridiculous.
How many people have the same name as me? Lots, I am sure. Not as many as a 'Pooja' or 'Divya' or 'Simran'. But quite a few. I know maybe three people, two who spell the name differently (it is spelt with an 'E' not an 'A', fool) so that makes it a totally different name. One though, spells it just like me and is literally my neighbour. Name stealer. I am a whole decade older, her parents know mine- they stole my name. Whatever. I dealt with it. I got over it (did I??).
As of thirteen december two thousand and eight, I have another namesake. Spelt with an 'e' , in a family close to mine (boyfriend's sister's baby!) and somehow I am not so irked by this situation. Okay, I won't lie- there are moments of when thinking that I have another me to deal with, it scares me. Seriously, born four days before me with my name- this is strange shit. But, the dad said this was his predetermined name for a daughter whenever he had one, and when I came into the picture (seven years ago) , he was actually shocked to meet my name. The baby came much later and the names they tried to replace my name with weren't good enough. So, there you have it. They named her. It will be weird, and I can't call her by name. She will be K2 for me. Good luck to the boy who now has a niece and a gf with the same name. BUHAHAHA!
It is hard to believe that it may happen. No, it will happen. My life will be different, forever. Our lives. Our home. *sigh*. Acha, but it also means many good things. Must look at the positive side of things. This is my new policy:positive thinking. It worked at Schipol- I had no trouble with my two twenty kg suitcases, did I? It worked then so it will work now. It is a good thing- change is. Many good things await us. We will leave behind things much better than the good things. Uff- sorry, it is GOOD GOOD GOOD.
In other news , I have been "stalking" people's blogs to see how to improve my own blogging-ness. I have added a music player, adopted a turtle, and stacked my library.Heh. Sometimes, I wonder if ADD is a friend of mine.I lose direction so easily.
Lots of great blogs out there. Slowly and steadily, I might reach there. Right now it is all random thoughts and ramblings. I am anonymous here.So I think!
If the crazy Leiden lady doesn't write to tell me about my acceptance/rejection soon, I will use it as an excuse to go visit again(the positive angle of the situation).This time my agenda will be to kick some butt! I cannot wait anylonger.It's unbearable.
My cousin is worried that her teenage daughter and Chandigarh are a bad combination. Not because she doesn't trust her daughter- she says the town is unforgiving. One mistake (considering she makes one) and the town won't let her live in peace. This is what concerns her. Really? Just that? It's pretty lame. She is growing up like we all grew up. If you screw up-deal with it. No small town ever forgets.
I am concerned too, dont get me wrong. Not for the same reasons though. I worry about the sleaze (read men) this town has accumulated. The ones that follow girls home, gape at them, don't let them live in peace types. You know the breed. She will grow up like me- always wondering if someone is following me, thinking of ways to deal with a situation if one arises and just wanting to leave this town for no other reason but this. Because the sleaze is too much to handle.
This is how this topic arose: I went to drop my niece to tuition. While driving away, my sleaze radar picked up on a follower. I was in for a shock because today's accused didn't "look" the part. He was riding an enfield (damn, i wish I had taken his number), wore a black vega helmet, was wearing fatigues and a floppy jacket. Something like what my brother wears while riding. Automatically, I put him into the category of "riders" who are altogether chilled out and never posed a problem. This is where the lovely old cliche,'Don't judge a book by a cover' comes in. He was following me and he wasn't chilled out at all.He was a sleaze. Obviously wasnt a pro yet cos he kept overshooting me and was forced to take a turn where I was going the opposite way and inevitably I lost him.Another skill I have learnt. Evading and losing the losers.
If there hadn't been so much traffic and I was a little more enthusiastic, I was going to try out a new manouver. Follow him. I was pretty excited about it but I wasn't so energetic. Next time maybe.
So this is what my little niece is going to face. No matter what they look like, no matter how they speak, what they drive, ride, walk- as long as they are male -they are all the same. Sleaze.
WHAT TO DO!
P.S. Sometimes I think it is the red big car that attracts these idiots, or my dark glasses or my height or my happy vibes (lol)- but I don't leave home without any of those things ever. Why should I ? Right??
Ten thirty and I get a phone call. Random shootings in Bombay. Watch NDTV. There it is, watch it for a while and go back to everyone. No one thought it would go on. But it did. One a.m.- Uncle S is in the Taj. Stuck.I go home. I switch on the TV.
One thirty: we speak to him- he is with a hundred other people.Safe he says.
Two a.m : Can't get through.
The Taj is on fire.
The army has been sent in.
There are bomb blasts.
People escape. They have seen dead bodies on the stairwell. Where is Uncle S?
Four am: Fresh fire breaking out. More gunshots, more bombs.
My eyes shut for a minute- I think I fall asleep. But I won't- I can't. He is in there. Seventy seven years old, all alone , in the middle of a WAR. He went for work- and he is a "hostage". Mum and Dad try to lure me into their bed but the chair is my friend. I have found my spot. I won't move. I can't.
Six am: Still burning, still fighting and still no news.
Scarsdale, Boston, Islamabad, Andheri west, # 51, #105 are sitting and watching- hoping against hope he will call.
Sunrise: Mum and Dad decide to go across to #51 -it's been too long. WHERE IS HE?
Seven a.m: I lay down, I fall asleep.
Eight thirty: I am up again. Call mum, no news. I call his number. Nothing.
I watch the news thinking I will see him maybe on TV.
Nine thirty: He is spotted!!! on TV (Headlines Today).
He is ok!!!!!! Well, physically ok. Twenty minutes later, we speak to him. He has spent the night in a six by eight foot bathroom with five other people with no room to move or sit or breathe. Spent six hours in utter silence listening to the battle right outside their door. At nine am, the army finds them.
On the twent seventh of November, he is sitting with us at the dining table- shaken and shattered but he is with us. Just like after nine eleven Bee masi walked out, scarred from what she had seen and been through, but eventually coming back to us.
Can we can sleep now?No, The war wages on.
No knowing when it will end.
This has been close, closer than ever before. Will we ever be able to sleep again?
Yes, I am back home. Trying to be invisible is not easy as the Fantastic Four make it out to be. You get sniffed out here- they come and crawl into all the little spaces you thought were your own. If they had a choice or the chance they would come and become a part of you. "Where are you?", "What are you doing?", "Who are you with?", "Where did you go?", "Are you coming out tonight?"..no no no forget the question, "We are going out tonight.", "We are coming over."
We are coming to crawl under your skin- we are you. You are me.
Waking up Sunday mornings to the stereo full volume playing "Sweet Caroline".
Sitting on the stairs , on the phone- the ones where the cords are entwined around the banister, the curtains and anything else that comes in the way and Neil Diamond playing in the background.
His double cd pack- The Best of Neil Diamond.
Diwali one year and the song, "Girl, You'll be a woman soon" playing in the background.
Memorising the lyrics to his songs from the little booklets in the cd case.
Mum and Dad singing his songs loudly and happily.
And now I can remember him at Fenway Park, Boston. My first concert ever. Standing next to my cousin and realising every one else was over 50 but we didn't care! We loved him as much as they did. I'm not the only one ND has special meaning for.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT/ EVE-TEASING- .
FAQ I) What is eve-teasing/ sexual harassment? Its’s- Walking out of your house wondering if today I’ll be able to drive around, go out without being harassed . It’s driving around and getting harassed (ofcourse it would happen)- by some shady boys in an even shadier car. It’s walking in the market, minding your own business and boys stopping to stare at you- up and down, left to right and snicker and nudge his friends to check you out. It’s sitting and drinking coffee and boys taking pictures of you and your friends with their cell phones. It’s standing in line to buy a movie ticket and random men brushing against you and then standing on the side and STARING. It’s your 10 year old niece going for a cycle ride and random men going up to her and telling her they will drop her home. It’s finding a website with pictures of girl’s from your city (some who you know) which some pervert has made. It’s walking your dog in your vicinity where you have lived your ENTIRE life and getting groped (like disgustingly groped) by two ch*%#as on a scooter. It’s being followed by two big ugly men on the Delhi-Chandigarh highway despite having two men in the car. It’s you and your Mum walking and men stopping and shouting lewd comments at the both of you. It’s walking in a park and having a shadow follow you through your entire walk. Walking should be stress free! It’s going out with your friends and one trying to make a move on you when he knows he shouldn’t. It’s finding a masturbating man behind your house, in the gully. It’s having a cycling + masturbating man past you and your friends in broad daylight once, then twice, then thrice… It’s having men drive past your house at all odd times, cos they have seen you somewhere- followed you home and decide to STALK you. It’s drunk uncles (over the age of 50) who follow you around in a bar saying “Hello” and smiling what he thinks is his best smile but is only full of his rotting teeth and halitosis! It’s whistling school boys. It’s frustrated Uncles. It’s pinching men. It’s rear-view mirror adjusting Autowallas. It’s someone from the village, it’s someone from a good family, it’s a rehri-walla, a college student. It’s anyone. Anyone who is male, that is. It could be you.
FAQ II) So, what do we do about people who sexually harass/ eve-tease us?
Ø For a STARER- We ignore them? No! We look them eye to eye and challenge them. We make sure they never ever have the chance or the thought to do what they’ve done again.
STAGES OF OUR CHALLENGE- 1. We stare at them, a nice long icy stare.
Now chances are the perpetrator will do one of two things- he looks away and moves on, OR he continues to stare without faltering for a second. The second is more common these days.I’m not sure why, but these days men seem to have a lot of bravado that is uncalled for- watching too many superhero movies I guess. Well, we must dispel this ridiculous thought from their minds.
Ok, so if he looks away and moves away, we don’t chase him because if we chased EVERY man that stared- we’d have no time to live our lives.
2. At the guy, who doesn’t look away. Ask him what he’s looking at (usual stuff- “ ghar mein ma/bhen nahin hai?”) .We ask calmly,let’s not get agitated just yet. 3. He snickers and continues to stare. Sometimes, he starts reaching into his pants. He can’t help it! I mean, come on, women are such a rare sight! Pshhhh 4. You can either take out a camera (your phone or otherwise ) and take a picture of him, which will either shock him or will anger him. 5. Or, if you’re in quite a busy place, like a market or railway station- start yelling and making a commotion and pointing at Mr.Stare-a-lot. 6. Better still call the cops/ women help line or the best would be if there is a cop around- just say EVE – TEASER and leave him to the cops.
Ø For a FOLLOWER (car/bike/otherwise)- call the cops. Don’t hesitate. Call them. Don’t forget to have their vehicle number! Always helps, if the followers see you noting their number down and making an obvious phone call to the cops. Ø For a PINCHER/ GRABBER- Turn around and PUNCH/ SLAP/KICK/SCRATCH whatever you can do. Yup. That is the only solution. Just don’t beat up the wrong person. Ø For the MASTURBATOR-Take garden shearers and cut the damn thing off. I got no other solution for this variety nor any sympathy. Sorry, if it’s a bit violent but when it comes to this stuff, controlling my rage is hard.
FAQ III) Do these methods/solutions always work?
No, they don’t. Sometimes, the cops don’t come in time, they sit and stare at you and tell them to call another number cos this isn’t there area. Sometimes, the perps can be scary and you can be alone in a strange,unfamiliar area. Sometimes, they run. Sometimes, they threaten. Sometimes, they go beyond reality and do things which are scary to mention- rape, rape, rape.
FAQ IV) So, then why do we try to do something?
Because if we don’t, things will never get better- they will only get worse. And we don’t deserve to be treated like objects.
NOTE- This is a note to all the men out there who think it’s their bloody birthright to lech at women and think they can get away with it. You better quit it asap cos we are going to retaliate harder than ever before. Just like every drop in the ocean counts, every guy you yell at, report and even slap/hit/kick (cos most of them deserve it) - makes a difference. No longer should we sit back and allow boys/men/uncles to treat us like we’re made for them to stare,grope at.