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Friday, April 26, 2013

Side effects of being Indian, part 2

Or, The story with a semi happy ending.

For the first two side effects, see Side effects of being Indian, Part 1


3. You are afraid of school-kids. This happened to me yesterday. I need to document it because in these times of utter fear and mistrust, the Delhi police treated me with respect and concern, and that at least is something to celebrate.

Yesterday, 3 PM: We leave work early, and Rigveda drops me at the street corner, which is less than a 5 minute walk from the gate of my apartment complex. There's a school across the road, and I see the students for the first time - I usually return from work much later than this. They're done with their school day, and there's about 2 dozen boys in school uniform hanging around the ice-cream seller. Some of them stare and point at me, and I'm acutely conscious of the fact that I wore a skirt and high heels to work today. But they're kids, calm down, I tell myself. As I continue walking, the jeering starts - 8 or nine voices, saying various things about various parts of me. I feel an icy cold hand on my heart, which is part fear, part shock and part anger but I decide to keep walking.

And then a pebble falls on my back. This is unbelievable. I turn around, angrier than I have been in a long time, and yell - What the hell! Most of them have run away, and the rest are standing around, giggling. I may have used some 4 letter words, but mostly I called them ill-mannered and rude, I think. I continue walking back, relieved that I'm almost home, miserable because I hate confrontation of any kind...and then a pebble hits me again. But this time I am too angry to shout. This time I have to walk back to where they are huddled up, feeling secure in their numbers, the little monsters. I say to the guy in front, the one's who's staring at me. He's taller than I am. (Why is he angry with me?) - "Look, this is where I live. I'm going to walk back every day. And I'm going to have the police on speed dial, and call them tomorrow if one of you attempts this again. Get it?"
He says - "I didn't do it."
I say - "I don't care who did it. And neither will the police. They'll take away all of you together, and teach you all some things you need to learn"

4 PM: I have cried for an hour, called friends, recieved love and sympathy, and finished all the ice-cream I had in the fridge. Made resolutions never to wear skirts, or to come home at this hour - and felt ashamed at being cowed down enough to make stupid resolutions. And I continue to feel miserable. There's only one thing to do - I google 'women's helpline Delhi' and find these numbers: Delhi Commission for Women 23379181/ 23370597. I feel a little crazy, wanting to complain about kids, so I ask the woman what I should do. She's amazing - she seems to understand exactly what I'm feeling and tells me that a minor can be as dangerous to your safety as an adult. She advises me call the nearest police station and let them know. "And if you can't reach them, please call me back." Wow.

4.30 PM: I've been debating with myself if I should call the police. Will they tell me I'm over-reacting? But I call the police station up anyway (the numbers are really easy to find on Google). Once again I'm blown away by the sensitivity exhibited - apart from interrupting me once to tell me to speak slowly and in Hindi, the guy at the other end listens patiently as I talk to him. He asks me for the name of the school and the area, and tells me they'll post a constable there from tomorrow onwards. And he reiterates that minors can harass too. "Apko dobara aise suffer nahin karna padega" (you will never have to suffer like this again). Wow.

I don't feel great, but I feel a little safer.


7 comments:

  1. Wow.. This makes one feel a little safer indeed.. I'm glad they didn't ask u what u wore n instead fatak se said that they'll post a constable there.. Really hope we see some change in this overall attitude!

    Stay safe yaar..

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  2. Manjot, as far as I know you as mentaly tough Girl with strong resolution. Atlast, you took the right decision by informing police, but much required to be done to change the mindset of society, where nobody is spared including school going kids. Tough and exemplary measers are required to be taken by the law enforcing officers including Judiciary and police. otherwise chaos will prevail in our society, where people will take the law into their hand. Hope better sense will prevail and overall situation will improve

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  3. Manjot, I feel really sorry that you had to experience something like this.
    My bigger concern is that even though starting today your street will be safe, but there will be another street where those boys will huddle up and try and bother another woman passer-by. And this time try something even worse given that they got away with pelting a couple of stones at you. And every time they get away with an act like this (maybe because the next girl that they trouble is not as strong as you and hence doesn't report it to the authorities or maybe because they just target a different location) they will just try something even worse till they get caught.
    And what is most disturbing is that our media has powered them to do this. The way both the Delhi rape cases have been highlighted has given all these miscreants a benchmark - an extent only after which they can get caught. Therefore these assholes feel that doing something that is a tenth or a fifth of that is not going to land them in any trouble.
    So while what the media's intention may be is to keep the flame going till an acceptable measure is taken to ensure the safety of women, it is also indirectly fueling the courage levels of these miscreants to an extent that maybe in the future most issues plaguing our society won't be only of chain snatching and molestation but of acts just short of brutal rape because only that is what gets them arrested.
    Feeling really disturbed to read what happened to you.
    Be safe.

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  4. Hey manjot , I know u since the school the bold and The brave one,u did the right thing,Go a little further by just mind Jolting the Dear Mr.Principle Thingie in the School,that time that ice cream parlour and the usual suspects......
    Just imagine bout a little girl with the scare feel around and becomes prey to these buggers,wat about?..........u handled it wat about them who cant.....Help u can , i can , we can , all can.....More awakening,more sharing......more reacting,more retaliating.........we stand together now or its out of hands............

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  5. manu didi u should have called the police in front of them only. . . I just want to say. . You may think they are kids but they aren't. . . They would be 16-18 years old however mentally they are more than 20 good enough to be adults and do acts which are un imaginable. . . They already committed two crimes under ipc which can have punishment up to two years minimum had they been adults. . . So I just want to say whenever such things happen call the police ask the name of the officer. .

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  6. Sigh.. Feel horrible about this all over again after reading the story!

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