Tuesday, August 26, 2008


If you are a female its impossible that you haven’t been a victim of this very disturbing, extremely annoying ritual, if you are a male however I sympathize with you, though I haven’t come across incidences yet where there have been advances from the opposite sex. It starts off with your teens, the time when you are coming to terms with your body and are at the extreme low of your confidence, and then some cruel comments can destabilize your leftover ego.I remember this girl in my apartment who was constantly teased because of the somewhat extra fat on her chest. She was very ashamed of her body and refused to go out of her house for any other reason than school. I was however teased for being flat chested. But I was never ashamed. I was proud of having no girlish qualities that would get me noticed, and I could move around without getting pinched at all the wrong places when travelling in the crowded buses, and the guys wouldn't stare down at me when conversing. All that changed as I grew older. Ignoring catcalls and lewd comments is a daily routine for all girls, something we are groomed to bear from small age. As a girl, I have come across and been at the receiving end of this very natural, as many feel, process for a long time. And like every other girl I totally detest it. This blog is however not against males, its just a very general summation of some incidences ,all real, some narrated, that formed my views on the subject.

 I was travelling in a bus and like always I was standing at the front of the bus. The backside is generally full of men and any female with some brains, or given the option, would avoid the jungle. Before two stops to my place, a man somewhere in his middle thirties, entered the bus from the front door. I remember two aunties scolding him for coming from the front, and in the process of them squeezing away from him, I was pushed from my place next to him. I do not remember anything else about that journey. I got down from the bus at my stop. As soon as the bus moved away , the bus stop was really crowded, a girl came running towards me and took off her dupatta and put it on me. I was really shocked at the turn of events and scolded her. I thought she was a maniac. Then she whispered in my ear 'Your back is torn right through'.I was trying to comprehend the situation when I felt the sudden pain on my back. I asked her to accompany me to the nearby public restroom. It was only when I reached there that I realized what had happened. The man, I assume since according to me another woman would receive no sadistic pleasure at seeing my bare back, had cut right through my dress, also cutting my back at several places with a blade, tactfully though cos I never once felt anything. I was bleeding and very very frightened. The girl offered to accompany me home. Only when I reached home, and after hours of coaxing by parents, I was able to cry myself to sleep.  I was 14 when this happened. The incident however lived with me for years. I used to keep searching for that lunatic. And for months, I never took the bus. I can never forget how helpless I felt that day.

It was Diwali. I was visiting the mall with dad, weekend shopping, looking forward to emptying dad's wallet. We were at a Levis store. I saw this really pretty girl wearing a scarf as a top,coming into the shop. Everyone at the store was staring at her. She walked into another section of the store and I entered a trial room. I was still struggling to fit into the one-size small jeans when I heard a scream. Then I heard somebody crying. And many voices shouting. I quickly put on my clothes and ran out ,heading towards the sounds. The girl had been wrapped in a shawl and was being taken to the restroom. I went behind her. Two guys had untied the scarf at the back and it had come off. Before anybody could understand the situation, they had made escape. She was crying, and me and two other girls tried to pacify her. She was an NRI from Australia. ' Everyone had told me not to come to India. I was the one bent upon visiting this hell.' We tried to explain to her that India is still very conservative and her dressing had caused the commotion. 'What kind of excuse is that for this kind of treatment? How can somebody undress me like that just cos I don’t dress like the gals out here?'. Me and dad dropped her back to the hotel she was put up in. And she took the next flight from Delhi back home. I remember discussing this incident with many people, and most of them blamed it on the girl's callous attitude.

I was seven then. I was home alone. Parents had gone to the nearby market after administering long lectures about not opening the door to strangers. I was playing with my dolls.The bell rang. I went to the door and saw bhaiyya. He was a distant relative. Since he was no stranger to me, he used to come over quite often, I opened the door and let him in. After playing for a while with me and my dolls, he asked me to sit on his lap. Before I could fathom the rest, he started kissing me. I was too small to resist or stop him. He kept telling me that he likes me a lot thus justifying him touching me. Just then the bell rang and after talking to my parents for some time, he left. I was too ashamed about what had happened and very scared. Although too small to realize the gravity of the situation I somehow understood that something wrong had happened. I burst out crying and midst continuous and patient questioning, I told my parents everything. I remember the helplessness I saw on my dad's face then. My dad and his friends beat up the guy and I never saw him again. However many years later the incident still haunts me. Although much older today,physical intimacy still leaves me in jitters.

There are many more incidents, most of which are too horrifying to be narrated here, the point however is that are females always to blame for what happens. I agree some girls dress provocatively, but is that reason enough to strip someone's pride in public. Why do I have to walk around wearing clothes that I'm not comfortable in just cos I don’t want to gather unwanted attention. Why should I dress for anybody but myself. Why as an individual I don’t have the basic right to decide on something as personal as my dressing. I have often come across people who gasp and comment when a girl wears unsuitable clothes according to them.I did four years of my college in a very reserved part of South India, where all girls would wear were salwars, mostly very conservative. Such incidents are not fewer there. Who then is to blame. How could a seven year old girl woo a man. The problem is not with the clothes you wear or the way you behave, although sometimes, agreed, that could be a factor, but mostly the guilty are sadists or psychos. All I have to say to people who blame the victims in most incidents is that when it happens to you, its never your fault. Eve-teasing is not a story, its very real and its all around you. As girls when it happens to you, stand up and speak for yourself, and when it happens to someone near who cant handle it, take the responsibility to do so for them. Parents and friends might often advise you to keep quite and not make a hue and cry in such incidences, but if you are hurt, react. If need be, raise your hand. And as men, if you can help someone in distress who you know requires help go ahead, be a man and never never encourage eve-teasing. The incidents are forgotten , but the fear never is.

Monday, August 25, 2008


When you appeared
Storms raged
Sparks flew
And then our love eased them away..
And now the same love is causing the winds to blow again
This time stronger with our differences
But with time they will cease too
And then there will be only us..
With or without love..
Time and faith will tell

Thursday, August 7, 2008

On the train

It was the 21st of December in 2003. I was on my way home from Chennai to Delhi aboard the G.T. Express. We were somewhere between Nellore and Ongole stations. The route wasn’t very familiar to us as we were taking that train the first time. There were four of us, me and three seniors from the hostel. It was to be a two day journey, thus we were all relaxing and getting to know our fellow passengers as is the norm in a long train journey. We were waiting impatiently for the next stop as we were really hungry. At the previous station we skipped the dinner because we had had some hostel sneaked snacks .We were crossing a bridge and the train slowly drew to a halt. Our coach was on the bridge. I was looking down at the beautiful moonlight reflecting in the water. It was a mesmerizing view. I threw some chalk pieces down at the water. My purse was a virtual treasury of chalks. I was in love with the wonderful manmade tidbits in various colors. The moonlight scattered when the chalk hit the surface. I looked both sides. The river wasn’t as small as I had thought earlier. Bored , I switched on my walkman. The Kal Ho Na Ho era had just begun. I had seen the movie on the first day first show, like every true SRK fan. Though I didn’t quite like the part of SRK dying in the end, the movie was a true commercial success. I loved the title song. Of course I had no idea that I was to know the true meaning of those lyrics in the next few hours.

We had been stationed there for quite some time now. Everyone was asking around what could
be wrong, knowing nobody had the answer, but still bent upon coming up with an imaginative
solution . 'Maybe there's been an accident' one of us claimed. Horrified, one aunty scolded her. 'Arre nahi beta shubh shubh bolo. Aisa kuch nahi hua hoga. Ho sakta hai ki signal ki koi problem ho.' All the elders nodded to that explanation. 'Par aunty, itni der tak thodi na aisi signal problem ho sakti hai. Kuch aur hi hai, pukka.' my senior justified her point.Being a fresher of course I had no say in what was going on, so I decided to keep mum. I have travelled all my life in trains, in fact I can arguably call trains my second home, my second most comfort zone after my own home. So it wasn’t much of a surprise to be stranded on a bridge like that for a few hours. It happens quite often, if not always with the Indian Railways, but probably that’s why it is said ' If you haven’t been on a train, then you haven’t seen anything of India'. I can’t agree more with the statement. Indian Railways typically signify all aspects of India.. the economic and cultural diversity being the most well personified. Its quite heart warming at times to see a well-to-do businessman and a laborer squeezing against each other for space on the seats. Aunty started distributing sweets to almost everyone sitting around. 'Lo beta, mere bete ki shaadi pukki hui hai. Aur woh bhi mere pasand ki ladki se. Aaajkal ke bachhon ka toh koi bharosa nahi rehta. Bhagvan ki kripa se mera beta aisa nahi nikla.' she launched into an unending description of how many girls in their locality had been eyeing her poor son and how she managed to ward them all off. This is another very interesting aspect of train journeys. In a day or two, people share so much of their personal lives and problems, sometimes staying in touch years after the journey commences, usually though never crossing paths again. But the entire process is however very captivating for an onlooker. You meet people from all walks of life, people whom otherwise you might have nothing to do with, but somehow the knowledge that you probably will never meet these souls again makes it safe to blurt out your feelings and opinions that under other circumstances wouldn't have been an easy thing to do. You learn so much and share so much more.

I remember once I had come across a man who had been in prison for faking his death to claim the insurance money. It was unbelievable how much we had in common, in terms of thoughts and interests. In another incident there was this scientist uncle from South Africa who told me , to my horror ,about a poison spitting-snake that spits directly into the eye and blinds you instantly. He had been very successful in scaring a 10 year old me and I was constantly haunted by those nightmares for a long time after. I also have a long time friend Gopal in the Kerala Express who is a pantry guy and would make sure I had no problems whatsoever in my journeys when I used to travel alone from college to home and back.

Now getting back to my story, we had been stranded for almost five hours .We were all losing out on our patience by now. One of the uncles got up and announced that he was going to enquire with the TC and almost instantly the train launched into action, to everyone's delight. The lights were turned off and all proceeded to sleep. I was hoping the train would pick up speed in the night ,we were five hours behind schedule, and I had just a weeks leave. However, to my dismay within thirty minutes, the train stopped again, in the middle of nowhere. It was pitch dark all around. We were all really pissed off by now and when after some fifteen minutes the TC appeared, we all pounced on him. 'Arre bhai, mujhe kuch bolne toh do.Humari baal baal jaan bachhi hai. Sab bhagvan ko shukriyah karo. Hum log jis pul par ruke hue the, woh abhi abhi toot ke gir gayi hai. Hum 10 minute aur wahan ruk jaate toh pata nahi kya hota.' Shocked ,we were all shaken out of our sleep. The whole coach was now in chaos, urgent discussions started on what could have happened and how lucky we were to be alive.Ours and the adjacent bogie had been completely on the bridge so we would have definitely plunged into the cold river, dragging possibly another three four bogies along with ours.

It was then that I thanked my P.T teacher in school for forcing me into learning diving, something I completely detested. I couldn't understand why I should be under water when I could be very well on it. Although in a deep cold river with strong flow, it wouldn't have really kept me alive, but its often under such circumstances that you realize the value of small skills which seem totally insignificant otherwise. Atheists turn believers. You are not old or young then, neither students, businessmen or daily laborers, you become mere humans. You begin to think of yourself as small pawns in the game of destiny. Its when you realize your love for your parents, the need to hug them, to express love physically, things which you stop doing when you enter your teens. When all good and bad memories of your life flash before you, in a moment, you learn so much more about yourself. When you realize that all your dreams and ambitions could have been washed away in those cruel waters, you are humbled by all means. After an hour or so however, the excitement cooled down and everyone slept off like nothing had happened. The next morning was a new one, the experiences of yesterday only a memory to be talked or written about at a later stage. There were a lot more journeys I took on the train succeeding the same, but every time the bundle of experiences never ceases to amaze me.

If you have time to spare and money to save a train journey is definitely the best bet. Its
amazing how much you will have to take back home.