Of fear and being terrorized..

I guess it was October last year when I was asked to travel to Delhi to get my visa done for an onsite travel.My manager had traveled to Delhi to get his visa done earlier. Getting the visa done for that particular country where I was going to meant waking up as early as 3 A.M and standing in queue from 5 A.M and waiting for your turn at the consulate . My manager , took a evening flight from Bangalore to Delhi and chose to spend the night in the airport lounge. Early next morning, he took a taxi to the consulate in Delhi and stood in line at around 5 A.M.

“I stayed at the lounge and slept there”. “But you can stay at the office guesthouse for the night and take an early morning taxi to the consulate ” , the manager said.

I knew nothing about Delhi. How far was the airport from the office guest house? How far was the guest house from the consulate ??

So when my turn to get my visa done , I was petrified. This would have been my first visit to Delhi on my own. My earlier stay in Delhi was in 2004 , I was with the husband then . And there is so much written on blogs and media on how unsafe the national capital is for women.

How on earth am I going to take a taxi at an unearthly hour in a new city at 3 A.M ???

Should I ask the husband to take a day off from work and accompany me to the consulate???
That would mean all 3 of us going to Delhi, the husband, me and the son . The very idea seemed so silly.

And then I really prayed and hoped that I would get to club my visa appointment with that of a male colleague. I really hoped that his passport that was stuck at another consulate arrived on time , so that if we ever did that visit to Delhi, I could travel with him.

By sheer luck, my papers were verified and I didn’t have to make personal appearance at Delhi. The visa arrived through courier.

I was reading this blog post at IHM’s today and I got reminded about this incident

Isn’t it sad when women feel traumatized and terrorized in their own country??

That you don’t feel safe about travelling to your national capital.A capital that is in news every now and then for gang rapes, murders and women going missing .


Security Champion

Clutching the jolna pai against my chest, I hurry my pace , looking left, looking right every once in a while. Its a busy road, dark , no street lights and its 7:30 PM and its pouring .

Many a thoughts run through my mind.

“May be I should have asked the cook to fetch the veggies”

“May be we should have eaten the brinjals again today, the only veggies left on the fridge”

“I will use my umbrella to protect me ”

“Can I even run ??its pouring and my sandals slip”

Just random varied thoughts .

Just too many men around me, From vegetable vendors huddled together to men visiting the local bar.

And with every running man on the street , my worries only multiplied. Would he misbehave and then run , .. the pouring rain making it all the more easier for him.

Very Very unsafe I mutter to myself.

And I breathe easy only after having entered my apartment gate

At work, I am the security champion for my division.I am supposed to make a list of assets and keep list of vulnerabilities , evaluate risks, calculate residual risks blah blah ….

Vulnerable , risk ….. all these words thumped on my mind , that 30 min when I went out in the dark while it was pouring.

What makes a woman so vulnerable. I was fully clothed in a modest salwar, a loud red pottu across my forehead, my hair held in a tight ponytail ..

But then it has nothing to do with your clothing . I reminded myself.

You are just vulnerable, being born a woman in this nation

Sad !!! ain’t it.

How safe is our country for women??

1)We take the evening office cab. Last evening, I see a guy very curiously peeping onto our cab.Ask me why?? Because my fellow colleague(female) was sleeping unaware that someone was watching her non-stop at the traffic signal.

2)My friend took a midnight volvo bus from BLR to chennai,gets a seat next to an elderly man.They chit chat briefly(1st mistake). She dozes off to sleep( 2nd mistake)!! When she wakes up , that elderly person comments that she might have an extra marital affair simply because her body structure says so !! Whaaaaaaaat The hell was that Mister???? what was he observing whole night?

Yes her fault again no?? how can someone be brave enough to take a midnight volvo .and that too a seat next to a guy. and then also strike a conversation with him. She must be definitely bold.So let me try my tricks on her . Probably that’s what the bas**rd thought !

3) I have had various unpleasant incidents travelling to and fro from Hyd to BLR a few years so much so that me and my husband decided if I had to travel alone, I will book 2 seats on the volvo. Buy both the seats so no one can sit next to you on midnight buses.

When I told this to the APSRTC counter,he was nice enough to give me 1+half ticket once.So there were occasions when I paid 550+550 Rs to ensure peace of mind !

4)I take the evening volvo at Marathahalli.I take a aisle seat.A guy who is standing on the pretext to balance himself , puts his hand at my seat handle.And I realize he is doing more than hold the handle. Why ??? Why I ask?? Can’t he hold the over head handle than slip his hands on to my hips???

5)Very many years back, I take a bus from Rajaji ngr to office in Malleswaram . The next thing I realize is that a girl creates a lot of noise and continued to slap a guy repeatedly .She continues to say” Ghar pe maa behan nahi hai”???? . I can relate to that anger.

Guess what the other passengers said “Sakku Bidi ma” (Enough!leave the guy !!)They couldn’t bare to see the guy beaten up by a girl

Women raped in moving cars in the capital city, rape victims being ridiculed by police and the C.M ( all for vote banks , ensuring they stay in power!.

Are we reaching a all time low ??

Silent Tears

Actor Darshan’s domestic violence case is in the news because he happens to be a celebrity.Turn to Page 2 of today’s TOI and you would know varying cases of domestic violence that ordinary middle class and lower middle class women are subjected to on a every day basis.

A years ago, when I just started my career in a software firm, a girl who worked with us was subjected to marital violence soon after her marriage.She was a very confident girl, who spoke her mind.Her parents got her married to someone that worked in the U.A.E.After marriage, he stayed in BLR and decided to take up a job.It so happened, that he was impotent and showed his frustation at his newly married wife.He even tried to strangulate her one morning, and she ran from his home to her parents home without even passing to pick additional clothes or money. She was lucky since her parents happened to be in the same town.She got a divorce , and when her parents started seeing new marriage alliances for her, her ex-husband started spreading false rumours about her. She did find a nice guy and eventually started a blissful married life a year or two later.

But the trauma and agony that she faced in her early 20’s will probably stay for ever.She was from a very decent middle class family, her brother worked in a famous software firm.Why then did they rush through her wedding.She did have a  job , so  she wasn’t even a liability to her parents. So, what made them rush into finding a NRI guy , for whom no background check was done?Unfortunately, parents rush into finding a groom simply because they believe getting their daughters married off is a big task that has to be completed when the parents, and other elders are still in the best of  their health.More so, pressure from grand parents who get emotional state “We want to see the potha/pothi getting married when we are still alive”

There is a thought deep down that a marriage makes a woman complete.

If this is the case with educated middle class, I shudder to think what lower middle class women are subjected to! And many of them don’t even have the support system .Most families would want their girls to adjust and give in because if they came home after breaking a marriage, it would mean , an additional stomach to feed and worst still, “a society issue”

I had read somewhere that in some remote villages in  India, women are taught how to behave after the marriage.Probably they teach how to keep silent inspite of marital violence, how never to raise their hands or voice in return, and how to raise kids, never think of their needs and independence, how to respect elders and so and so forth…

It seems many helplines don’t function at all.And if they did function, the counsellors get indecent prank calls from the callers.

Something needs to change and the change has to happen NOW!!