Sunday, July 20, 2008

Groping Tales

Statutory Warning: Long, serious post ahead

It’s a pity that the first entry I’m typing from my super sexy XPS (see, I was never known for my modesty:P) is perhaps my first ‘serious’ post. Literally! I actually wanted to write about something totally different (will duly do that one after this) but this topic sauntered in my mind from no where. While I was at work (haha), this topic sprung up in my mind..perhaps this is what ignited it. Anyways, I was shifting to another floor today so decided to go back home and write it in peace..Though, on second thought, that was a better time as I was seething with anger then..Anyhoo, let me get down to my thoughts or rather experiences..

I am a female. Brought up in Delhi, moved to Cochin for graduation and presently in Hyderabad for work. Why the intro all of a sudden? Well, I don’t know..Perhaps to show that wherever I’ve been, in whichsoever environment, I have been targeted because of my sex. And when I say this, I say this for all the millions of women all over the world. I’m most definitely one amongst the luckier in this group cause I’ve heard and read of so, so much worse happening to poor, naïve, unknowing women. I could perhaps make a record for the longest blog entry ever by adding links to horrific stories on demonic actions carried on women. But I shall refrain myself and stick to something which is a stark reality and something that needs immediate attention. And by immediate I don’t just mean that this is a recent trend.

My house was walking distance from school, so I used to walk back from school with my sister. I was in the 4th standard and used to have my ‘monitor’ badge pinned on my blazer. We used to live in government quarters back then and had to pass this shoddy local school on our way. A boy, with a group of his friends*, perhaps in the 10th-12th class range would start a chant of ‘maneater, maneater’ each time I would pass. I can’t exactly remember how I felt at that time. All I know is that I would just scurry past that area and wish to be away from those big boys blocking the way. My sister is just 2 years elder to me so I don’t think her presence/absence made any difference. I thankfully went home and told my parents about this and they talked to a classmate’s mom who would then accompany us till beyond that sad school. I had briefly written about this here. When I go visiting Ruby’s family there now, I pass that school. Its’ now affiliated to CBSE supposedly (eyes rolling!)..This was the first incident that I can recall of ‘eve-teasing’ for me.

I grew up, got used to comments being passed on the roads and mastered the art of keeping the most perfect stoic expression at all such times. I guess it would be disarming and most disappointing for those a%&holes! Fast forward to IIT coaching time. 11th standard. I started taking public transport to go for my coaching classes after school. I used to be so scared to miss my stop that I would get up approximately 3-4 stops ahead. I have this memory..I’d gotten up really early as always and was standing near the exit. This guy, not too old, came and literally stuck himself behind me. There was hardly any rush and I was wondering why he was standing so close..pressing himself against me..I was too dumb not to realise then..not to turn around and slap him so hard that he could could have heard bells ringing..oh, it makes me so, so mad..One month in Gargi College(before my admission in B.Tech) had me using the buses again and I think not a single day passed without an attempt to touch, to grope, to tease..But I had become wiser (with experience eh?!) and knew how to avoid being touched. Once I got on an RTV(mini-van) to go back and there was just the driver, the conductor and another male passenger on it. We had reached half-way and this guy started asking me questions..’Tumhara naam kya hai?’(What is your name?)..’College mein padti ho?’(Studying in college?)..’Ghar kahaan hai?’(Where is your house?)..I ignored him. Totally. Didn’t flinch and stared right ahead. My heart inside must have died a thousand deaths. I was shit scared..and there still was quite a distance to where I had to get down at. I prayed..harddd throughout that journey. But all through this, the conductor and the driver didn’t even turn back.And this in a mini-van! They did a better job of ignoring than me..and I can tell you..am goood at it! Bludy (swear)! How, how can someone be so thick skinned as to not come help out another fellow human being..a girl who’s all alone? I was lucky that the loser who was trying to ‘befriend’ me was not a rapist. What if he was? I can only imagine the driver and conductor joining in. I shudder. And thank God.. I never told my parents any of this. Was too embarrassed (can you beat that) and also didn’t want to worry them sick about going alone to college. I can only try not think about what my sister must have gone through in the years she had to travel in jam-packed buses and that too on awful routes.

Happy Story: My school friend C had a petite friend who some guy tried to grope on a DTC bus. She turned around..said ‘Saale dash dash’ and gave him one nice tight thapad(slap!) across his face. Ah what joy..yeyyy!!(Accompanied with little dance of joy)

Moving on, after a much sheltered life, I find myself in Cochin. Near my hostel, on the way, there was a junction called TD (Take Deviation) which had to be inevitably crossed if we had to go out of campus. Now my ‘local guardian’ (lets’ call him LG) warned me that ‘good’ girls are not to pass TD after 6.30 pm. I was like..WTF! But being new to the place, I meekly agreed. What made me burst with anger was when the LG tells me that I should not wear jeans as it would not help my reputation and just attract unwanted attention. That was it..I was used to wearing jeans..and how on earth would that make me ‘characterless’?Bullshit! Mujhe yaad karte he gussa aa raha hai (Rembering it only makes me angry)..To add insult to injury, I was branded as a ‘Dilli waali’..this very quickly and quite logically equated me to being immoral. Well, honestly speaking, I was more naiive than some ‘seedhi-saadhi’(simple-looking) naadan(native) girls. But I really don’t need to justify this to those hooligans who I had as classmates. Respect for girls is something they weren’t born with and could not acquire in all the years they re-repeated to get into IIT.

My group consisted of four of us, all of us had studied outside and were convent educated. We spoke our mind and were not ‘shy and meek’ as the other ‘good’ girls in our class. This I guess was how we were awarded the title of ‘Chameli’ in college. There are some people who ask me why I say college was NOT fun for me..and why I do NOT like talking about it. Yes, I made some friends for life and yes I shared some very good times with them..but if you want to know if I felt even an ounce of pain when I left college..I left smiling..and took very quick steps too. I’m really glad to be out of such a place which had a pack of narrow-minded bas*@#%$. I think I ceased to interact normally..not because of me..but because there was noone normal to interact with. It’s a pity yes, but I believe it made a stronger, bolder person. To f*** with those losers! AC (the only other boy I used to talk to in class) was sitting with me one day and he asked me this question:’Ek baat bata, tumhe log chameli kyun kehte hain?’(Tell me one thing, why do people call you Chameli?)..I pretended not to have heard right..I still remember how my face had flushed that day..could feel it becoming redder and redder..but I remained poised..For those who can’t understand the ruckus behind ‘Chameli’..well, a movie of the same name had been released around the same time where the central character who was a prostitute was named (no prizes for guessing)..Chameli..Then I don’t know how it spread, who propagated the whole thing..but we were known as Chameli by our batchmates..all bunch of losers, with inferiority complexes who had to resort to such cheap measures to attract attention..We were the achievers in college..and quite obviously, this didn’t go down quite well with the MCPs..Apart from the fact that we were hot;-)..and didn’t hang out with them. Case of sour grapes you see:P! DK (one of the four in our group) was ill once and had to be admitted in hospital for a week. The story that was doing the rounds that time was that she went in for an abortion. Now tell me, how gross can it get? Apparently it can. But lets’ not talk about that nowJ.

You know, I’m really happy..I wanted to get back at them..someway..and I guess this is one, small way of doing it..And I feel vindicated today..truly! I didn’t know I had the courage to write about any of this..but hey, I did it..lalalala.. And I’m mighty proud of myself. I did no wrong and its’ not a ‘fault’ to be a girl. IF only, each time a guy felt that it was his ‘birthright’ to tease a schoolgirl, molest a child he’s supposed to be take care of or a family friend (yes it happens..alllll the time) or rape an innocent woman, God would strike him dead with a bolt of lighting..I would be at peace..and so would the entire female population..Anyways, I guess that’s like an impossible wish..but what we CAN do is make ourselves aware in a more active way of such horrid truths. Such things would not cease cause the world is not a perfect place to live in. What we can do is confront such situations. Do any of you have any ideas or suggestions? And please don’t give me bullshit about dressing appropriately because a girl in a salwar-kameez or a girl in capris n a tee..is essentially a girl. I know a colleague of mine who has twins..both daughters..aged 7 years..she was telling me the other day how she’s told them to tell her everyday how their day went and they are to tell her if anyone ‘touches’ them as such..which I think is a really good thing..and at the same time something so sad. Sad cause not even a child is safe. Sad cause it can happen when you don’t even know that it is wrong. Sad cause it could happen at any age..and at anytime..Sad cause even ‘well-educated’ people like me can be ignorant..a case being of my close friend from school who was in a relationship with her sister’s friend..After they broke up (thank God for that), she told me that he would make her lie down and press his thing on her..And you know the worst part, I didn’t realise the gravity of what she had told me..I was that silly! OMG..poor, poor thing! Inspite of topping classes we are unaware and ignorant if someone is violating us. Inspite of working at MNCs we let some men (read dogs) get away with outraging our modesty..Because at the end of it all, all that matters is you are the girl..and you will be the one suffering eitherways..Read this..

Decency and respect towards your womenfolk is something that cannot be taught even after being a professional. I personally, unfortunately encountered this fact at my workplace too..not that I needed much convincing anywayJ..

I have no idea how to conclude this post..writing it all down (I had more things to write you knw..train travails..but didn’t want to go on for eternity) was supposed to make me feel lighter and better..but no, it did not..cause I know this thing is going to continue..if only there was a way out..

* Akele chuha..jhund mein sher (Like a mouse when alone, like a lion when in a group)

PS: I’m scared to have children. How will I protect them and keep them safe at all times?

18 comments:

The_Wanderer said...

every slap counts. keep tht chin up, girl...dont ever let anyone else make u lead ur life in a particular way...

Deepak said...

Couldn't agree more with "the_wanderer"...

I have always been of the opinion that this whole groping business goes on coz of the fact that the gals naively let these bastards do what they want; Why? - I do not know; maybe coz of fear of humiliation if they object or make a scene. Let me tell you, there is no one going to be more humiliated than the guy doing it if you make sure that the world know what a bastard he is...

Rashmi said...

Well written....I still remember those "Maneater" days...Love you...

!~Maverick~! said...

You knw wht? ths bastards shud be shot on the spot! I agree with deefu! in mst cases gals dnt react and they hide ths frm thr close ones! Ths perverts shud be humiliated in frnt of evryone! and trust me noone wud pestr the gal abt this if she reacts rt thr! its only whn you hide tht ths thing continues! I wish every gal reacts!
And abt college- does it really matter wht those ****heads thnk abt you? Let 'em crib! ppl who r close to you knw wht you r! you live your life by your rules and nt by anyone els's! Do only thos things tht you belive in and nvr let anyone else dictate your life! trust me the rest will follow! :-)

Nambiar said...

Strong post.. There are zillions of such things rather worse things happening.. The point is what is it that we can do to if not stop it, at least reduce the discrimination.. I believe in action rather than words.. Lets start something for fighting this, What about a forum to start with, a community where people can atleast voice this.. We don't need NDTV or CNN to report it.. We ll have a forum where young girls can report this kinda things..Think about it, one post is not going to change this, but something bigger can.. Lets the use the power of internet to atleast spread the message..

Jambavan said...

I chanced on your post while searching for something else. Very strong post. I urge you to write more about this so that people can be made aware how widespread this malignant behavior is. Girls should react everytime the line is crossed so that these a-holes are humiliated and put in their place.

ps: took me more than a min for my dimwitted brain to figure out ".I was too dumb not to realise then..not to turn around and slap him so..", too many negatives :)

Anonymous said...

Jhakkass likha jackass'on ke baare mein.. :-)

General comment - Very soon red Label or tetley would want to sponsor your blog ;-)

Anonymous said...

brave post.totally go with yur hatred for such men,personal exp. wid them has not been much better.i too have been groped,in busses,trains,etc,though i was a grown-up on most occasions by then and yet i only dared confront them twice or so after half a dozen such incidents.i can understand how it is for yur lot since i m a male myself.only wrote this to let u know it's not just the fairer sex that is victimised,for such perpetrators only look for helplessness and timidity in the victims,and in our poor society,it is mostly women.

estrella said...

I am from Gargi too, and the years there were some of the best I had. Except the first year and the buses. Oh man, a couple of horror stories I have too! Once there was a man jerking off behind me, and the bus was so crowded. It was my first week at college, and I had a friend with me in the same bus, but there was so much crowd she couldn't help. You know what...I was trying to kick backwards at the man's legs, and the men around were looking on and laughing! I felt shocked and violated. It was rape, in a sense. Now, of course, I know what to do and how to avoid men like these and when to raise my voice. I guess most girls have had some bad experience or the other.

Just chanced upon your blog and I can totally relate.

Caliph Obi Hint Jump said...

Loved your post.

Perhaps you should post something here:-

http://blog.blanknoise.org/
http://blanknoiseactionheroes.blogspot.com/

Oh and it's not just women that are victims of sexual harassment. Even men can be. Parents should talk about "good-touch" and "bad-touch" not just to little girls, but also to little boys. Perverts are not always heterosexual males, homosexual males can also be perverts. (Oh and even women can be perpetrators of sexual harassment - but I digress.)

I agree, a lot of men are pigs. And I mean this from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of all the men in the world, I apologize that some of us are uncivilized pigs. Hope you don't come across any pigs in the future.

Uma said...

indeed a gr8 post..landed here by chance..totally agree with your college experience..working in south these dayz and get the same feeling in office.

Dip Tea said...

@ all: Thanks. Its such a pity that so many can relate to this post. It hurts.

Joey said...

holy cow.... dint know it was dat bad for u @ college... we'll talk about this...

sanely insane said...

talk about women's day and all

sometimes i wonder what do these people learn at home man...and then what are they going to be teaching their own kids...

if u have kids...teach them karate i guess

AppS said...

HAHAHAHAHAHA... real nice post... v strong feelings, shared by a majority if not every modern day woman. But hard as it is, we have to realise the various faces of human nature. On one hand, I know guys who seem to derive pleasure by touching a gals foot (true story. n everyone says gals r sensitive) and then I've seen guys who are more outraged than women when they here of a woman getting harassed. I guess finally it i a question of getting over some sexual frustration. Now a every day guy like me would choose to groom myself, dress well, smell decent, by heart the latest lines from the latest chick flick and hopefully with right timing and some luck I could get a gal to have dinner with me. Atlease that's the plan. Now what does a crude cultureless bugger with a pidgeon's IQ, a beaver's sex drive and so filthy that a woman "wudn't touch him with a 10ft pole" do. touch a woman in a crowded bus with his pole. Now don't get me wrong here, I don't advocate guys even looking at a gal without her consent. But the fact of the matter is, in every society, there will be frustrated guys who won't get any consentually. But I've seen that a woman who is proud to be one would thrash the living lights out of anyone who dared touch her. Anyways, I'm not going into how most ppl turn a blind eye to eve teasing. I think that's the real curse, that ppl don't react even when something wrong happens. I think that's wat's made women scared to get into a bus, to walk in her jeans or to slap back. Well, its a fucked up world and maybe I can't change it. But the 20 feet around me, I could try changing that and I will try. So cheers to all the brave women.. Adieu

Rahul Hari said...

:o ... had heard rumours of stuff like this happening around ... but did not know that it was this worse ... Forget about crowded places, these buggers don't leave girls even in places of worship (http://sofhard.blogspot.com/2006/10/what-do-you-prefer-doing-at-place-of.html)... I might be a bit naive here, but the only solution to this, I believe is to either bypass getting into such situations or have a gun to shoot the bugger at sight ...

Anonymous said...

Hey there!
I am strongly of the same opinion. And have my blog entry also on similar things. I had been thinking of writing for quite sometime but ur blog probed me to write it right away! I should have it up in a day or 2. Read it if you have time



Hope u like it! Will be looking forward to ur comments

saran said...

You can only depend on yourself. The cavalry ain't coming... u have it in you. and as Wanderer says.. "Every slap counts!!"