Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stray and I will Spray!

Amidst all types of obsessive-compulsive disorders we can be diagnosed with in this day and age, where every blip in personality traits can be diagnosed to a personality disorder, I present to you something about me.

I hate walking on crowded streets. I hate being in crowded buses.

Now, don't write this off just yet, I'm not done. Let me explain. I, just like all of womankind, feel disgusted with men 'brushing' past oneself. Ah, now you know where this is headed.

I don't know how often, but I acknowledge that some/much of the time, the brush is accidental. There is really no place to walk on the streets. But just because there is a percentage of cases that are beyond doubt deliberate, I cannot breathe easy when I am out on the streets.

I trust no male I don't know. In a paranoid sort of way. If you see me walking on Brigade Road anytime, (before I see you see me) you would find me walking with my arms forming a barrier of sorts. I don't care. I'm paranoid about men just looking, even though I know that in a crowded street, the eyes eventually must fall on someone, unless you walk looking down, in which case you would definitely (accidentally or not) crash into someone. Of course, I digress, but you know the look I'm talking about, especially if you're a woman. Even then, the 'look' is nothing in comparison to the brush.

I've seen that many female friends are not really bothered by this stuff, they've learnt to dismiss, or be unaffected. I ignore, but I am not unaffected. And I'm sure there are many like me.

In the days when I traveled to college by bus, I spent 3-4 hours a day in the buses. Every woman would agree with me on the trauma that is the junction where the sections of the men and women meet, especially when the bus is crowded. I really didn't know, but it felt like the men were trying everything from the Subtle yet Disgusting Men's Handbook.
I'll give you a picture of the scene. When the bus is really crowded, there is not much place to breathe, let alone move an inch here and there. The rest you can imagine.

There was the time when I was riding my two-wheeler (my Kinetic Honda) home and a guy on a motorbike starting riding alongside. This was no crowded area where he could go nowhere else - he was deliberately doing it - and I still don't know what he saw in my jacketed and helmetted self or in my rather old Kinetic Honda. He was alongside for almost 3-4 kms. I picked up speed and so did he, but then I took a sharp turn at a road without losing much speed (and without indicating) and I'd lost him. Thankfully, he didn't put any more effort into that. I was terrified till I got inside my colony.
I remember another incident as I was returning from college one day. I used to park my two-wheeler somewhere near the Shivajinagar bus stand - so it was a short walk from where I got off the bus, to my vehicle. Short but on a relatively empty road. This man began walking alongside me. I slowed my pace, and he did too. I quickened up and then he would too. I decided to just walk as fast as possible to get to my vehicle and some form of civilization. I was terrified. I wondered if he had a knife. He then called out and said in an overly wannabe anglicized voice, Hey, hi, how are you? to I like your haircut. In that situation, these lines, which I would later laugh at, provided no relief. I just ignored him and moved as quickly as I could. Thankfully, once I zoomed off, I saw no trace of him.

These are just some of the (lighter) ends of the spectrum, where some guy was just trying to chat me up or maybe even asking for hairstyling tips, and I will also acquaint you with an incident on another end.

I lived for a short time in a hostel with 3 other roommates. This is an incident that happened with one of them. She was much older to me at that time, and was just engaged to be married. She was with her fiance somewhere in the Majestic Bus Stand area. A man brushed past her and touched her where he shouldn't have. She was enraged. She was one of those women who would speak her mind boldly and fight for what was right without fear. She screamed out loud at the man and he began running. She asked her fiance to catch him, I don't recall what his reaction was, but he definitely did not run. She then ran after the man in her heels, full of rage, but lost him somewhere along the way. At the end of the day, she felt violated, and not less, diasappointed with the reaction of her fiance and other men around.

This is a one-off case, and I have seen men in the same situation to run after and beat up the violator and bring justice. But is that the solution? To have a man around and have him ready to bring you justice each time?

Before I present what I have presented on this blog already, ie, my favourite Pepper Spray, let me tell you one final incident. I was in a bus, which was not really crowded this time. I had a seat and there was this man standing a little ahead. I noticed he was falling ahead rather unusually each time the bus braked, but I paid no further notice. I think I was reading when suddenly I heard a really loud noise. Like Thhapppp!! The entire bus looked up. It was a large lady slapping this man. Turned out he was drunk and falling deliberately on either her or someone near her. She was hurling abuses in Kannada and slapping him again and again. His eyes were blood red and he was trying to look aggressively defensive, angry that she could suggest he had done anything of the sort, but he was too intoxicated to pull that off. The conductor caught hold of him and made him get off the bus. He was drunk at 11 am in the morning.

That day for me, was like a big Hurrah! for all of womankind. I knew I didn't have the courage to pull off what that lady did, but I admired her for it, and hoped to atleast be able to stand up for myself.

Nonetheless, the first two incidents did inspire me to order the Pepper Spray and keep one by my side at all times. You can take a look at the available products here and order it here. Be extremely careful with it and use it responsibly. It is only permissible under law as self-defense. Read these FAQs before you order or use it.

And I hope the title makes sense now :)

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I joined this dance workout class recently. Despite the tragedy of waking up at 6 am (read that as 6.30 am - that would include hitting the snooze alarm thrice - consistently) every single weekday, I find myself enjoying it quite a bit.

Mostly he plays hiphoppy kind of music and then we do aerobiccy kind of moves, since of course this is a workout class. Oh btw, there is a poster at the class that says this about hiphop - that it stands for His/Her Infinite Power Helping Oppressed People. And I believe that piece of information actually traces its roots back to some (but, naturally) hip hop song. Politically correct, nonetheless, pliss to note.

But then on some days he plays Bollywood music, which I very much luurve, especially for a dance session. But then one day came a song that was a bit over the top, even for someone like me who allows for a lot. Remember Jodha Akbar and its songs? Most are ok, but picture moving, working out, if you may, to the trumpet that announces the arrival of the emperor. And then we go -

Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah


Ja-LA-llu-Din Ak-Bar.

All the time we're merrily practising Jazz moves or doing hip-hop (to Akbar's Infinite Power) or some jazz like that. I feel like we've all been taken over by aliens and are being hypnotised into doing this stuff, because, believe it or not, nobody minds! No one has a problem with the ridiculousness of it all. We all rather enjoy what might be role-playing as the emperor's subjects, hailing him and all the glory that he's brought us.

And then we promptly switch to celebrating the Race that life is. A race of our breaths, a race of desires, and of heartbeats. Ah, intoxication.

Six to seven girls (and one odd boy - i don't know where he comes from - he's a different one almost every time!) dancing to the shahenshah's tunes. We wake up early every day, arrive bright eyed and do the jig when are minds are most impressionable. Sounds like its part of some big-brother-ish conspiracy.

See this is why we're all urged to work out early in the morning - take in the fresh air - and experience some different other-worldly experiences :)