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Monday, October 13, 2014

Threatened Just By Night Or Day Too?

Ok so for this post I don't really need to put up any image. It's a very basic post, especially something that is very common all over India, and in many parts of the world as I know is true.

The reason I chose to call this a basic post is that this is something most of us girls go through almost on a daily basis. I am talking about the situation where guys stare and leer at women, sometimes taking it to a little more, or keeping it within the boundaries of 'staring' and end up making women feel threatened or uncomfortable.

It happens to all of us.

And if you've lived in Delhi like I've been born and brought up and lived through the majority of my years, being stared at and feeling uncomfortable is something you go through on a daily basis - you kind of are already prepared that that's what you will get once you are out there.

My ramble of this particular post has nothing to do with Delhi though. I am talking about good old Mumbai, but yes, there is still a connection, as you will later see.

About 10 days back I was dropping off a few friends to the airport. We were in an event-provided cab and this guy had also taken us to the event earlier in the day. However, I definitely did not like him, as did my friends, who were all guys. They found him a bit weird. So, when it came to me dropping them to the airport and heading back home alone at night with this guy driving, we were all feeling a little uncomfortable. I in fact was feeling so uncomfortable that I was thinking of taking a different cab instead. But I finally decided to go ahead. So by the time I reached back home, it was 1:30 am.

Let me tell you - this guy was actually perfectly fine. Yes, he was talking a lot. And also looking at me through the mirror while talking. Initially I wasn't very happy with the invasion of privacy, but later realised he just wanted to talk.......that's all...harmless....he dropped me home safely and wished me a good night...

I felt bad about the way I was thinking he was.

The next incident happened last week.

I was returning from work with a friend in the evening. It wasn't dark yet. I dropped her off and then headed home in the cab. This was a TabCab, a pre-booked one. This driver was a native of Delhi and a middle aged uncle. Throughout the way he was speaking very politely, and once, when he spit out his tobacco stuff on the road, we actually admonished him, to which he seemed quite embarrassed. But he was behaving very nice.

Now once I dropped off my friend, I asked him to move the cab and drop me home. That's when he started acting funny. He stopped the cab and stared at the building where I had dropped her. Started asking me questions about whether she lived here, who did she have back home, who did I have back home and all that. I told him to start the car and move as I was tired and needed to be home.

We reached home, and throughout the way he kept staring at me from the rearview mirror. I was getting majorly irritated and angry now, and I am sure it was evident on my face, as the b%@$^ kept staring more and more. Finally we reached home, I took the receipt and handed him money, waiting for the change back.

He sat there on the driver seat and turned around to look me full in the face, and then gave a leering smile. I asked him about the money back, to which he said he didn't want to return my change, and why don't I tip him some more. I was furious now, and told him to hand me my change immediately. Sometimes, I do let go of the change if the person is especially nice, but with this man I would rather take back all the fare than give him a few free money. The man did not wince, and instead gave me a good full on stare. Finally, I told him he was asking for trouble, and did he want me to create a scene. He handed me my money, all the while his eyes on me and his stare in place.

I got out of the cab and was waiting at the lobby for the lift. But I could see his reflection in the mirror lobby, he was sitting right behind in his cab, which he had stopped, and was staring constantly. I thought of filing a complaint, but then decided against it as I was worried he had seen our workplace and home, and I thought it best to let it go there.

I won't say I felt threatened by him, but I did feel disgusted. I'm sure you understand the feeling. It was just not right.

There are so many things at home and at your work that make you feel good about yourself and positive and powerful, and then something like this happens and it does make you feel low, if only for a while. I did feel like that.

I know if this was earlier in my younger days, I would have reacted in a very different way - aggressive and violent and a slap back, but this time, somehow knowing that he knew where I lived and that I have kids at my place, I wasn't too sure. So I let it go.....I still have this nagging feeling that maybe I chickened out and did the wrong thing, who knows....

- Debolina Raja Gupta
And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta