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 :)


AjAy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AjAy said...

Hey Rachs,
A very well written post and lots of facts, unfortunate but true, that we have to live with(out).
I have been in such situations with my friends (gals) and family. Many a times my reactions have been violent and I have also in some cases suffered the consequences.
However I would not agree with you, if you say all men are like that. There are some jerks, who I feel should be bobbittized in public. That should teach all the other jerks a lesson.
I would like to say that it is not only pepper spray that u can use. You can also use safety pins or a small pen knife. If in a crowded bus, you feel someone is getting too close and trying to touch you (I am sure any girl/lady will distinguish between a involuntary contact and a lewd contact), then just use the above items. Rest assured,that chap is gonna move as far as possible. ;)

Also I feel, that you will definitely do what that large lady did!!

Anonymous said...

Am scared to come back...

The Mad Hatter said...

Why do people of "that" sort behave like they do? Material for another post, I think.

Interesting story about your friend and her fiance. Given the propensity of the Indian mob to side with the "lower class" person in a fight or dispute irrespective of merit, I can see why the man wasn't too eager to start a fight for something like that.

However, in a similar situation that I remember, a couple of us were able to react slightly better since our female friend *began* proceedings by loudly slapping the creep involved (on Brigade road, no less). It was easier for us to take over from there. A woman-initiated action seems to override the mob's class sympathies somehow. Something to remember. Also, did the fact that Brigade road usually has a different class mix than Majestic also have something to do with it?

We do not live in a fair, gentle world.

Ivanhoe said...

I will come to thy rescue fair lady, i.e, if my steed makes it there on time.

Piyush Sethia said...

Well written, and I think the pepper spray is a must in today's world.. However, it must be used with extreme caution :)

Also, Karthik, you raised a very good point, about social profiling.. Need to think more about that..

Prashant Sree said...

An outspoken article... I second ajay on the fact "that one cannot blame all the men" yet for the few who are there, unless you(feminine gender) voice out, they are going to take you for granted.

Surprising considering the fact that everyone knows about it, yet no one bothers to do anything about it. Kudos to you in tat sense in openly discussing the defense tactics...! Pity the state of the person, who has to bear the brunt of the Pepper or the pen knife ;)

Vinni said...

well its something very serious u have touched upon here. i sometimes really begin to wonder what kind of perverts wal the streets of india. not to mention the buses and other places.
they should do the same with these people what they do with stray dogs. :)

shail said...

Boy, could I empathize with this blog or what!! I wonder if you read the news about the ruling that a Judge (no less) over in Rusia made?!! You can read it here:
You will find it very interesting and instructive (:P)!! I wonder if we can courier one of those sprays and have the courier boy do the spraying for the sender's sake??! If so I would like to order a crate for our good friend the Judge Saheb of Russia for his oh-so-wonderful logic!!