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.