Breaking the silence

When I was twelve, somebody leaned over and said - don't attract attention to yourself. That's what I have been doing all my life. When I leave my home, I clutch my belongings, adjust my clothes and will myself to be invisible. I occupy the tiniest strip of space. I am constantly moving sidewards to let men walk by, because I know they will most definitely "accidentally brush".


From some unknown age, a verbal survival guide becomes your holy book. Don't take an auto when it's dark. Don't take a bus in the rush hour. Get into the crowded "Ladies" compartment even if the "General" compartment is half empty. When you sit in an auto, never sit close to the sides even if you want to feel the wind in your hair. Sit in the centre, so no passing hand can reach inside and grope. Don't smile at the autodriver. Don't smile at the shopkeeper.


By the time you're 18 you have permanent frown lines on your forehead. All your life, you have been biting your teeth and not smiling. In all public spaces.


I have never been able to sleep when on a train journey. Never been able to close my eyes for second when on a bus. Even on the most tiring of days. When I was in college - I used to carry a big bag and a folder. The folder would be clamped onto the chest, and the bag would be balanced on my back. My armour. I took to wearing salwar kameez in college for a while, wondering if it was about the clothes. It wasn't. It doesn't stop. I carried safety pins. A pocket knife. (Confiscated by the airport in Indore.) Another pocket knife.


At least for my generation, it didn't end on the street. Street harassment followed you like a slithering reptile inside your home. They found out your phone numbers and made obscene calls. P used to get a lot of those calls. She used to come home (invisible on the street) and cry. Her parents thought it was her doing. You don't tell anyone about all this. Because telling family members is admitting to your vulnerability. It could mean restrictions. Especially when you are 15.


One of my friends had acid thrown on her face. Because she refused to respond to the catcalls of a few boys. When they went to the Police, they asked her about her clothes, her friends, her behaviour, her habits. Then, they blamed her.


Coming back from college, if the bus was too crowded, I used to try and walk the seven kilometer stretch. Even in the bloody summers. Even when I kept away from the crowded bus, and walked - some asshole would drive by, roll down his window, and ask persistently if I wanted a lift. No. I'll give you a lift. No. Please come. No. Come you bitch. No. Walk. Five minutes later - another car. No. No. No.


In Bombay - the bus is safe as long as there is a critical number of people inside. If the bus felt a bit too empty, I would take an auto. I would have a pretend-conversation on the phone. So the autodriver knew that somebody knew where I was. Sometimes when bus conductors, autodrivers and shopkeepers try to hand back change - they squeeze your hand.


We are surrounded by movies that encourage street harassment. Follow a girl enough times and she will fall in love with you. On the road, it's okay to sing vulgar songs about someone's waist, walk, eyes, bosom. Shame her into burning helplessness.


I don't want to be protected by a man. No man needs to feel responsible for me. I don't want a man to spew venom on my behalf. I don't want to be left alone because I am someone's wife, sister, daughter. I don't want to hide in "Ladies-Only" compartments. I want to look at a city's buildings and take photographs, without dodging a biker's hands. I don't want to be afraid to go into a Police Station. I want to be able to go for a walk without swallowing my fear by the minute.


I refuse to believe that all male bloggers are not involved in street harassment. I don't think most men realize that they have the male privilege. Street harassment takes on different forms - digital, cellular and otherwise. But it is the same in essence. They don't respect personal space in a public domain. The line between admiration and street harassment is not thin. I've been reading a lot of "I never knew this happened" testimonies penned by men, but I am curious about the other lot? Do they read this stuff? Are they going to dismiss this as feminist crap? I get an avalanche of vulgar anonymous comments sometimes - are they the same kind who harass on the streets?


Of course, street harassment is not unique to India. I am sure London has its share. But I would be lying if I didn't say that London welcomes me on her streets. I take photographs, smile at shopkeepers and on some occassions even sing to myself.


What is unique to India is the apathy. The heartbreaking indifference. The SILENCE. Victims should not speak of being the victim. We should suffer in our silence. The "world" meanwhile, feigns ignorance. You process the blank noise in your head, and don't tell anyone. And hope that it will all go away. It doesn't.


Oh! What really gets my goat - is when somebody suggests that you learn Martial Arts to defend yourself. Right. So tomorrow if someone harasses me, and I get harassed, it's again my fault that I couldn't defend myself. Really?


Does Eve Teasing Really Exist?

Hi all how's everone doing?I found this site just yesterday and was trully horrified to hear such real bad experiences of teasing not only in New Delhi but all over India truly i didnt expect that such thing really exists or else it is such a big issue but after reading the posts of fellow bloggers i was moved and would like to know that are these stories by fellow members really true please do not misunderstand me i am just amazed to hear such stories of horror and also please let me know if any one has any sugesstions on how this menace could be controlled though i have taken a grass root level approch to root out this social menace that is by telling all my group of friends not to get involved into eveteasing.Though i am also keeping and eye over them while we are together that they dont do any indescent thing hope you understand the main purpose of doing this is that if some people get civilised then they can go on to civilise many more people so please let me know what all do you think will wait eagerly for your replies though i am new to blogs so do help me in achiving sucess.signing off Nishant Bahal.

- Action Hero New Delhi Speaks

Battle of the sexes

 I sat in the far end of the café at the end of the world, trying to ignore time and let my thoughts coil and uncoil in the dungeons of my mind. At eight in the evening on a Monday, the world, for all I cared, could march straight to apocalypse now and I would have strewn flowers in its way and smashed a bottle of champagne on its back. There is something manic about Mondays (as the song goes) that calls for a certain morbidity and snap-at-life-ness. However, here, in the sanctum of coffee fumes engulfed, in a snuck corner with nothing but a sheer wall behind me and the rest of the world stretching away from my toes, I felt the self sinking into a comfortable inertia.


On the table next to mine, gelled and calvin klined, sat five men – specimen of what globalised consumption, rich parents and good education can do to people – talking at the top of their voices, showering hi-fives to each other, laughing, roaring, making jokes, having a ball of a time wrapped in their indifference to therestoftheworld. It was the mobile brigade, their phones always on the beep and their hands punching keys even as they talked under the neon hued tree-scape. I smiled at them, over the rising vapours of my cup, with benign amusement – old age comes with tolerance for that which reminds one of one’s own younger days, when one sat on the roads, around an old wizened man strewing cups of tea served in thick glasses, and felt disconnected from the traffic that passed us by; the hours, the days, the years.


Time tiptoed around me, knowing quite well that one false step and I would have killed it with a flat note. And just when I was feeling divinely alone – like god in his heaven, flipping over pages in an old, old book – she walked in. I am not particularly sure how to describe her but if Byron were alive, he would have stirred out of his hashish induced stupor and poked me in my ribs with a familiarity that the Romantics had perfected, and issued a small whistle and said, ‘Now that’s what I meant when I said, ‘Walks in beauty like the night’ ’ before sliding back into his hallucinogenic world.


With quick unhurried steps, she climbed the stairs and made the entire room gasp – a thing of beauty joy forever – and with a smile that would have lit a couple of African nations for a year and a tilt of the head that could have changed seasons, she walked in. Her stride was unconcerned, her hands, covered in many bangles tinkled as they swayed. She punctuated her walk with a comma, perched, as if in mid-air, to sweep the room with her eyes and then traipsed along to the far corner of the triangular room that we were all entombed in. You could see that she was happy. She smiled at strangers – something you generally don’t do in big cities unless you are begging or waiting to be picked up, she irradiated a certain all’s-well-with-the-worldness around her that was infectious. The room felt a better place, now that she was there. In her eyes, one could see traces of a secret joy that she was fostering – nothing in specific, just the joy of somebody who was happy to be alive.


People smiled back at her; momentarily taken aback, but caught in the wave of happiness that she was riding, but eventually giving in. The waiters all watched with their breaths held up, to see which table she descended on. And as she walked certain steps towards where I was sitting, there was a sudden lull in her stride. A chance word or comment from the GAP Group, as I called them in my mind, stopped her in midair as if she was frozen in time. As she stopped, there was a huge roar of laughter and the more courageous man – one shall call him that for lack of a better word – stood up and walked quickly to where she was standing. On the pretext of going nowhere he brushed against her and let his hand hover over her back, closer to the legs than you would have liked to imagine. And then with a look of a hyena that had found its prey, sauntered back to his table, his head held high and his pants tenting in the traces of a power erection.


It happened so fast that the only spectator to this whole thing was me and the bastids who were flocked at the table, their faces split in indecent glee and their eyes covered with a sheen of machismo, now that they had collectively conspired against a single woman in a public place. Her face was registering shock, like somebody had suddenly slapped her with a wet sponge. Her eyes were wide with the unexpected and quivering in anger. Her nostrils were dilating and her body was erect, caught in a rage that had no defining. I looked in horror back at her, wondering what to do next. What does one do next? Does one get up and preach to the bastids – the sons of bachelors, the gutter rats? Does one avenge the woman’s ‘honour’? Does one get up and shrug shoulders and leave it at that because that’s how the world functions? Does one join in, showing camaraderie to the macho men that they are? Does one pretend that it never happened? Does one make a mental note in the mind, only to quickly pile it up with something else? Does one naturalise it because come on, it happens every day to everybody, right?


Questions, at the speed of hemp fumes, rushed in my mind as I half sat and half stood, unable to reach a decision. Our eyes met and silently I offered her any help that she might have needed. But before I could stand up and offer any help of any sort, she turned. Taking slow and calculated steps she reached the roadside romeo who had just violated her, swung her hand in a style that would have made Sania Mirza gasp in envy and gave one tight resounding slap on his cheek. Swearing in styles that would have immediately made the censor board issue an A certificate, calling upon their mothers and sisters to the oldest professions in the world, she emptied a cup of hot coffee on a gelled head and then quietly walked back towards where I was sitting.


The silence in the room was palpable. The entire populace was staring between the two tables, from her to them, as if it was a tennis match. The rug rats had visibly shrunk, their eyes wide in horror. The Slapped sod was on the verge of tears and the others were doing a fine imitation of a rabbit caught in headlights. One slap and an overturned cup was all that was required to deflate their hormone fed masculinity. In two minutes, they had disappeared, their lesson learnt, hopefully thinking twice before ever engaging in casual eve teasing…


It needs people like her to remind at least half of MAN kind that even Adam, when he had walked up to Eve and made a pass, had a red cheek and a kick in his balls for the action. Eve teasing is a crime and to let it pass of as a joke, perhaps even bigger. Sexual harassment is an act of violation and violence and deserves to be punished – sometimes informally and sometimes through the law, depending upon the nature of it. It needs people like her to fight it. And it needs everybody who agrees with it, to support the fight. This is not a battle of the sexes – men versus women; it is the battle between people who care and people who don’t. Whether man or woman, if you see an act of sexual harassment, no matter how miniscule it might be, no matter who it is targeted at, do not ignore it or detach yourself from it. What happened to her could happen to anybody we know – men or women. And sometimes just your presence or solidarity gives the victim enough courage to right things up.


It is women’s day today and as a part of the Blank Noise Blogathon, I endorse the need to fight actively against sexual harassment in public spaces around us.

 - Action Hero Nishant

The Street

I have been reading the Blank Noise Blogathon posts. They have only reinforced what I’d always known. Street harassment is something that women confront everyday, without fail, every time they walk out of their homes. (For the moment/for this post, I'm going to ignore the harassment of women within the 'home'). All of us have hundeds of stories to share. Teaching in a women’s college has at least given me this knowledge--that I am not alone in the constant humiliation of my Self. The humiliation that I have to face simply because I have breasts and a vagina and I haven’t yet learnt to walk with lowered eyes. My stories are no different from the stories that other women have to tell. The ‘accidental’ brush, the pinching of buttocks, the groping hands in trains, the quick squeeze of the breasts, the rubbing of erect penises against the body—the list is endless. I feel like I need a rant, but I’m too tired today and a poem (or poems) will have to do.



The Street: I


The street knows

I’m a sum total of body-parts


I’m flesh

in the marketplace

ready for the taking


The street grows

lewd hands

and sneering eyes

and slaps me until I shrink to a zero




The Street: II


When my friend

talks about riding

a nightwave on a distant

moon-drenched street


I want to scream.

I will never know

what it means

to seduce

the nightstreets





The Street: III

The street has inscribed

a frown inside me.


I can’t rub it off

And I wear it

emblazoned on my skin.



- Action Hero ~River~

A few incidents chosen at random

At age 13 I remember waiting at a signal daydreaming away when this guy caught my attention, so busy licking his lips and sending me kisses in the most lecherous way. I was so bewildered. It didn't make any sense to me. I remember my mother telling me to just ignore men like that.

Back home in Chennai to do my intership after a year in Bombay, I'm on the bus to Ambattur. The bus is so crowded, there are all kinds of things poking into me, mostly harmless, some veggies, an umbrella, a penis...I feel sick and I get off the bus right then. Everyone asks me why I didn't scream. He'd have been beaten up for sure they say. I can't even begin to explain how overwhelmed with disgust I was, I wanted to be anywhere but there.

Somewhere in Bombay on another bus a man pinches me and I do yell but no one reacts. HE gets off and smirks at me from the ground. I feel ashamed of my outburst. I'm angry, worst of all helpless.

On the train from Bombay to Cochin, there's a man I think is a cop. He was dropped to the station by a bunch of cops and they all looked like buddies. He seems nice enough but at night when everyone is getting their berths up I can feel him staring at me. The night is hot and I toss and turn and everytime I look up he's still staring.
I get up and go to the loo, when I get out, he standing right there, I move to the side so I can leave so he can use the loo. Instead he pushes me in a bit and asks me if he can come in with me. Before I know it I've run back to my berth. Everyone else is sleeping. I call Ro but I can't get through, so I call a friend of mine. She's like, make a scene, he deserves it but when I tell her I think he's a cop even she says drop it.

I stay on the phone till the man gets back, then I wake up the boy on the berth above me. I consider telling him what happened but in the end nothing did happen and it boils down to his word against mine. The boy wanted to use my phone sometime earlier, so I wake him up and say I have reception now would he like to use my phone. He's so sweet, so in love he doesn't consider the lateness of the hour, he immediately says yes and has a long conversation with his fiance. I'm just happy for the company, my other eye on the man. When the boy is done with the phone I keep him talking until I see the man is asleep or at least faking it.

The next day I didn't, couldn't get up from my seat till he got off at Shorunur.

Later I was rounding up all these incidents and more with friends and one of them a guy, tells me, "The problem with you is that you make eye contact with people, you smile at them, you don't look tough enough."


- Action Hero Rivka

Me 'running' for the Blogathon!

'So why do girls get all worked up with sleazy, or read it 'casual' comments or just- a- few- here- and- there pinches and feel- ups, I mean, can't you take it as a compliment or just simply IGNORE? Why get offended?', said one of my male- friends and a colleague, while I narrated to him how a guy started acting fresh when I was on my way to office in a jam- packed 461 bus. Yeah, right! Try saying this very thing to your sister/ daughter/ mother/ wife and you will know, I thought angrily to myself and didnt even bother to answer back to such insensitivity of a 'well qualified, highly educated' individual. And felt the anguish, the helplessness belongs only to me and nobody else and its just ME and nobody else who can fight for myself.


And lo! I stumbled upon the Blank Noise Project, something very sensible and constructive that's happening off late. This project speaks about street harassment and what all can be done about it, where all of us 'eves' get royally 'teased' by the wannabe Abhisheks and Shahrukhs on the streets and bridges and gallis and koochaas.
This project forced me to start blogging, just to be a participant in the Blogathon thats due on the 7th of this month, to begin with, so that I can just puke out all the experiences, the frustration and anger and free advices I had since I was six??!!
And of course even those few punches and a few kicks here and there on those demented guys didnt turn out to be as satisfying as it will be by participating in the Blogathon.
So people, I guess its high time we crib and rant and bray and squeal about this pestering issue too and come up as a strong force to curb or at least put it under strict control as its rising day by day at an alarming rate.


I will be writing a seperate blog for the Blogathon before the 6th, why not you too be a part of it?


Also, feel free to forward this little piece of info to anyone who you feel would be interested in participating.


Do make a point to visit Blank Noise and get inspired, get moving.

- Action Hero Say 'Cheee'



I say, NO!

There was something very creepy, something very uncomfortable about these two teenaged boys who used to live on the ground floor of her building, a place somewhere aloof from the Mumbai suburbs. She was just six then, a mind too tender to even understand the rights and the wrongs of the world. Almost everyday, one of them alternatively used to come to her house and gradually befriended the girl’s grand parents. They used to convince her granny for taking her grand daughter out for an ice- pepsi which was popular amongst the kids then, and instead took her upstairs to a flat on an under constructed floor and…….


The girl now doesn’t even remember how they abused her, but she remembers her turmoil and disgust that she suffered even then and later that the process of ‘going out for ice- pepsi’ coming to a screeching halt.


Maybe her grandmother who spent most of her life in the innocent villages and who was more than just a grandmother and a guardian of the little girl when her parents were away at work suspected something fishy and took stern action…. Maybe someone else caught those boys during the act…. Maybe something else.


I just vaguely remember this entire thing happening to me, but I was jolted with surprise when another friend of mine narrated a similar experience that happened with her, at a similar age.


She was sexually harassed by her own uncle.


As I grew, I realized this was every girl’s story.


Guess the old saying ‘charity begins at home’ stands right in such cases.


The disgust still haunts, still hurts and is relived day-by-day, everyday. It happens on the streets, school buses, on your way to office, crowded elevators and staircases, hospitals, police stations, you name it and you have it right there, happening in broad day light.


So who all are these ‘men’ who indulge in shamelessly harassing a girl who is also a living being just like him, just to pacify their raging hormones? Well, there are no categories; just anybody and everybody can qualify with flying colours. It can be your own mamaaji or phoophaji, the aspiring Post Graduates from American Universities living in your own building, the roadside Romeos, the overworked, under paid and overstressed conductors of the buses, any spitting passerby with boneless arms connected to his shoulders that swing so hard that they make sure they touch some girl’s breast on the railway station, a seventy three year old uncleji, someone who is generally least suspected too who would just murmur a lewd comment when you are passing by and act as if he said nothing, the highly qualified, White collared executives who bombard colleagues and juniors alike and known for their aggressiveness and competition working for MNCs, anybody, JUST ANYBODY.


We as townies, or broadly as Indians have been bricked and battered with the ‘Chalta hai’ attitude, which now runs in our blood.


More so in the case of girls


Folks and friends alike advise us that it is a time tested attitude that has avoided unwanted consequences that would pick up from your revolt. So the next time your galli ka dada comments ‘Gorgeous madam’ you tell yourself ‘chalta hai’. An uncle passing by tries to ridiculously sing ‘dhak dhak’ coming very close to your ears, you tell yourself ‘chalta hai.’ A rough hand wary of maneuvering the steering wheel of an overcrowded school bus slides into your skirt and caresses your behind when you are standing ahead of him as you, him and all other kids hurry to alight, you tell yourself ‘chalta hai’. You are late from office and you hurry to catch a rickshaw to go home and the minute you enter and settle in the seat, an unknown hand comes in, gropes your breast and disappears, you again tell yourself ‘chalta hai’.


But somewhere, deep inside, you very well know the repeated ‘chalta hai’ is a lie, an implicated statement on your otherwise infuriated, weepy, outraged mind. Who would want to get rough with these guys after all? What if they are not just mere guys who harass and abuse, what if they are something more than just that, someone dreadful?


The fear puts all the anguish, all the tears on hold, you feel OK to let such things go and life moves on.


Not forever.


So the next time while you are hustling out of a subway and a guy coming towards you falls over you, you push him so hard that he almost falls and then you turn and hit him on his back


You are waiting on the railway station for your 9.27 Churchgate local and the creep standing on the opposite bridge constantly stares at you occasionally making some lewd gestures, you show him your middle finger just about when your train approaches and you are about to lose his sight.


The conductor in an overflowing bus makes the most of the situation by brushing almost every organ of his body against you and you stomp on his foot with all the might of your four inches’ heels clad feet


The smartie who occupies a seat besides you in the bus tries to get too close, you ask him flatly and loudly- what is his problem. And if you both are on the ladies’ seat, you make sure he gets up and gives it to any other lady who is standing.
You hunch, draw both your arms in front so as to cover your chest and hide it from groping hands while you are going up and down crowded bridges.
You frown at everyone so hard so as to let them know they cant mess with you, that your forehead aches


You have an ever ready fist to fling.


Your dreamy, unaware friend while walking with you, is felt up by some passerby taking advantage of her absence of alertness, you give her a BIG piece of mind.
You glare back at your boiling point at a person who is staring at you sitting in front of you in a public place and make sure he looks away.


And the saga goes on. Sometimes you give it back, many a times you dont.


Somehow, the Superwoman image has been so glorified over the recent years that all of us aspire to be one, at some point of time. At least to prove to ourselves, we tell ourselves, yes we can handle these pests too. But it would be our sheer stupidity if we take things for granted.


The best and only way out is to ignore, when you find yourself, unfortunately, with a shady person at some secluded place and he tries to act smart.
Read people’s faces, it teaches you over a period of time who can be harmful and who is not.


Walk very, very carefully in public places


Don’t day- dream; avoid thinking of funny things that would unknowingly bring a smile on your face and send wrong signals.


Be curt, expressionless with guys who try to strike a conversation. Give them an impression you are the world’s biggest bore.


Its always good to have the phone number of your friend’s friend’s dad or brother who is a police or is a local political honcho.


Look away and not down, when a group of boys try to pass comments on you. Let them know you can’t give them the satisfaction of getting embarrassed by their comments.


Overall, there are innumerable dos and don’ts that any girl would have for her and would like to tell you too.


Also, sometimes the comments, the songs, the whistles, the murmurs and the touches might put you to shame, make you feel utterly helpless, enrage you like nothing else and reduce you to tears of anguish and self pity.


You might hate yourself for being a woman.


But then, deny.


Deny succumbing.


Feel proud that you are a woman and thank God you are not one of those jerks. Pity them as they don’t have the strength to put their dirty desires aside and refrain from committing such henious acts…


And nurture that anger, that pain, as that very anger and pain will help you to make a difference, maybe in your own little way.


Or, maybe, in a big way.

-Action Hero Say 'Cheee'

We will NOT perish without a fight

This is not about gender equality. It is about people. But about people with breasts and a vagina. Forgive my crudeness. So then, it does become about the whole 'redundant' gender topic now, doesnt it?


" Its not like someone is raping you, is it? Wonder why women make such a hullabaloo about it."


Well let me tell you why. It breeds a feeling of self disgust. "It is the girl's fault, of course." The whole psychology of taking responsibility for everything, being a martyr. So girls, women, ladies- stop blaming yourselves and ask the moral police to find a new job.


I remember this particular incident(out of the very many). I was 11 years old taking swimming lessons during summer. I was quite independent and used to get back home in ~6 in the evening after classes in a rickshaw. Quite a popular mode of transport in Bangalore. So I got into one of those as usual, with a chatty driver. In the first few minutes, I knew something was wrong. Well, no it wasnt because of the infamous woman intuition but just that I had a normal olfactory system. The guy had been drinking.


"So you go swimming eh? All little girls running around in swimsuits", said the rickshaw driver.


No reply.


"Are you in a hurry to go home? We could go somewhere else" and turns the auto in another direction.




I bolted out of a running rickshaw. I did!! I ran to a nearby bus stop and sat there. Thankfully, there were many people. I was trying hard not to cry in public. The driver followed me...trying hard to walk. The rickshaw guy was saying lewd things. There was a man sitting next to me at the bus stop who didnt budge and looked away. We dont see evil like the Gandhian monkey right?A woman spoke up. She yelled at the guy and asked him to leave the place. She consoled me and asked me to take another rickshaw back home. No more rickshaws for me that evening, thank you very much. She said she was going in the same direction and told me that I could take the bus with her. I reached home and burst into tears. Sobbed out the whole story to my mom and didnt dare breathe a word to my dad. Wonder why now.


After that incident, I am always on guard. Paranoid even.


At one of the girl 'pyjama parties', I was shocked to hear so many stories from my friends..being molested by relatives when they were kids! Apparently, it is not that uncommon. People just dont talk about it. And most girls blames themselves.


Women's day doesnt mean anything to me. But if people are going to become more aware of the world they live in because of one day 'dedicated' to women, so be it. That doesnt hurt or annoy. Unlike the lewd comments, stares, arse pinching, verbal absuses...oh the list is endless.


I just hope more women find the strength first.... in order to find their voices.


- Action Hero Searchinformrmojorising

A place of my own

In the bus?

the cafetaria?

the auditorium?


friend's house warming party?

the rock show?

cafe coffee day?

the footpath?

my photos?


when I bend down to pick something up?

on stage?

a relative's wedding?

the beach?

while shopping?

in the rear view mirror?

car parking?



Habitat Centre?

railway station?


Give me a place where I don't have to worry about my bra strap...


"Thus have I put down my thoughts- I may have deceived myself- I may be vain- I may be in the wrong. I try to examine myself- and such as I have written appears to me the exact truth."

--- Mary Shelley


- Action Hero Shivangi Misra

Benefit of doubt - not anymore…

Will the male groping ever stop?? I don't think so...

I still get a pain in the pits of my stomach when I think about how my best friend was groped in a very busy railway station back in school days or when my classmate from college was man-handled in a supposed-to-be-hip Shopping Mall or how scared we used to be (we still are) in any crowded place with lewd looks and lurking men.

I think I am a little ashamed of what had happened - not that it was in any way our fault or that we could have stopped it in anyway, but I feel that I could have atleast spoken up instead of shying and hurrying away from that place/person. But how much could I have done then?

I am a little too pulsed up now to write everything in an orderly fashion. So, I am just jolting it all down:

1) I think I was about 12-13 years old. My friends and I used to bicycle to school everyday. There used to be this street corner on our way, where irrespective of time of the day or day of the week, a gang of thugs used to be sitting on the compound wall of some house (like sea erne eagerly waiting for timely prey). Everything was going good until one day my friend had to come to school alone (we had left for school earlier) and the lurker-guys had stopped her, started pulling her skirt, etc... She came to class in tears and the result - the school management changed our uniforms from skirt-shirt to chudidhars. We were shell-shocked. Did no one ever question them or will no one ever stop them. What did our parents do - asked us to change the route to school.

2) The next incident was in a crowded Madras railway station, when I was in senior secondary school. The metro trains were not that crowded that day. We must have seen that as a stopping sign. We got in the 'ladies compartment' thinking we were going to be safe!! My parents always used to chauffeur me everywhere. So, the idea of going in a train with just my friends was too good to resist. So, anyways, people started getting in and out... By the time, we reached Egmore, it was packed. Then, we got down and the station was jam-packed = excellent ambiance for gropy lurkers. Don't ask me what or what did not happen then. Last time I went in trains with just my (girl)friends and without an escort.

Now, I am just too depressed to pen more.

When I was growing up, I sometimes used to think when I traveled by bus or train that it was just my imagination or over-cautiousness that led me to be suspicious of the others traveling. So, even if some ogling or leering or lewd-remarking did happen, I used to give them the benefit of doubt and not worry about it very much or just ignore it.

What is it with the male society that makes them do this - is it just the absence and presence of something biological? Has there ever been a woman/girl who didn't have to go through this in her lifetime? For a long time, I used to wonder if it happened just to some girls......No, I realize its a 30-40 year time-span process for all women.....

I do know that not all men are like this. Men I am friends with, I work with, I have known since school and college days - I can quote a whole bunch of them, (atleast within my sphere of my knowledge) - who have been good to me. So, what is it with the rest of the man world?

Someday, sometime, somewhere we have to confront them. If its not today, then tomorrow we have to stop giving benefit of doubt and actually say something. Are they going to change? Probably not.... But better do it now, than never! STOP GIVING THE LURKERS THE BENEFIT OF DOUBT!


- Action Hero Taruna

Take a vow

As I sit down to write for the blank noise blog-athon, I wonder where I could begin. Should I start chronologically from the age of 7, when a man servant felt me up in places I can still not get myself to write down? Or should I go ahead to the age of 14 when a guy rubbed himself into me in a not so crowded bus in Nepal, all this when my parents and sister were in the same bus, but I didn't dare to move, for the sad reason that at that age, I didn't know how have the guts to react in that kind of a situation. Or should I just jump past all those daily experiences of men feeling me up, pushing themselves into me in public transport, or staring at me or winking at me or passing lewd remarks or pinching my butt or singing songs or throwing balloons at me every damned holi or autodrivers offering me "lifts, jahan bhee jaana ho" or cars stopping by when I am walking alone on a main busy road, following me for some time, assuming that I am on sale or "boys" aiming small paper pellets at my butt or men hitting my butt by driving too close to me while I am walking my dog or guys speeding on a bike hitting my chest so hard that I almost fall with the sheer force (apart from the shock)... I am out of breath already and this sentence doesnt even seem to be anywhere near ending. Maybe I should just land up at the incident which happened at some new year party when I was 16 and at that age, like everyone else I had the humble desire a young girl would have - that of being asked for a dance (not even a ballroom dance, just a jam session). Little did I know that the request for a dance was a pretext for masturbation in a public place with the guy trying to make me fondle his dick. By that age, I was thankfully not so ill-equipped in terms of presence of mind (had enormous experience of such incidents by now) and I shoved him away with all my might. But till this date, only one person on this planet knew about it and she actually thought that I had imagined it all, since guys in those social circles are supposed to be "decent". Nothing really "harmful" (this term is so damn subjective) happened then. I tried dealing with that incident in an adult manner (in my mind i.e.) so that my self esteem didnt get hit ("did I really look the cheap variety or did I look the "unable to do anything variety" to attract the wrong guys" kind of doubts).


There are ways and means to tackle that colleague who talks to your breasts or that elderly relative who pretends to be fawning over you but is actually lusting (you can always tell). Of course, one needs to weigh ones options and actions a little bit keeping in mind all odds. One does not go ahead and take pangas with a gang when one is alone. But one can definitely be alert and quick (not just physically but mentally as well).


There has happened a particular incident of ballooning where the guy made the mistake of being visible while throwing the balloon. He happened to work at a local barber shop, which I immediately stormed into and gave him a piece of my mind and some of the choicest abuses I knew. A guy there (a client) egged me on to give him a tight slap as well. I quietly ignored him since I didnt want the situation to get so heated up and that guy seemed to be egging me on just for kicks. I cant say that what I did, would have made the ballooning guy stop it for his life. But it's always best to bring the "situation" into notice. The fear of embarassment is enough for some to at least think twice about it next time. There was another guy who tried brushing past me on a main road while I was waiting to cross it. The whole damn road was empty, but he thought that he would have a piece of my butt before I reached the other side. That guy was unaware that he was going to get the shock of his life. Though I felt like killing him, I merely held his collar with both hands and shook him so badly that he didnt know what hit him. He tried running for his life, but he couldnt. I was surprised with my own grip. Eventually he managed to pull off and ran for his life. It was only when everything was over and done with, that the "crowd" asked me what happened and if he was trying to snatch my purse.


There are umpteen such situations in everyday life and they would perhaps never end. Not only is it difficult to try and give such sick men their due, it is very much a difficult thing when you are left in a doubt about the intention of someone. At times things happen accidentally and unintentionally too. But at most times they are obvious enough to be brought to public notice. Even if the "crowd" does not react (and only watches) one should definitely make sure that one does not ignore it. In public transport one can always request ppl politely to stop pushing or plainly to stand a little away. The way one does it makes sure that even the ones who did it accidentally arent offended by your request and the ones doing it intentionally can not just go scot free. When it happens repeatedly in spite of polite requests, it's time to stomp that high heel onto his foot or to shove ones elbow into his balls.

The best way to actually try and reduce something like this is to spread awareness amongst women that they can actually protest against it. I have grown up watching things happen to me and around me and even though I knew it was wrong I didnt know what to do about it (till some point in my life). One needs to ignore minor happenings but one also needs to make sure that the ones which can be avoided, are. Things can get as ugly as molestation of ones own children or marital rape. There is no dearth of the levels till which harassment can go. Be aware, be prepared, be alert and be proud to be a woman inspite of the shit that happens.

- Action Hero Priyanka Sachar

Street Abuse, otherwise called eve-teasing

I was reading A Public Diary and hit upon Blank Noise Project. This really made me started thinking. Street Abuse, otherwise called eve-teasing.

Abuse is rampant, much more in the northern part of the country than in south, or so it seems at least, but yes I have been unable to come around a single friend of mine who has escaped it, be it public transport, be it by lanes, be it relatives, be it strangers.
Why this abuse though? what makes the guys do it ?? Is it their insecurity, do they feel threatened by female sexuality, and hence the need to control, force, enslave ?

Or is it the barometer of our cultural maturity.

I guess it is all, but what makes it all the more sick is the trauma that the victim goes through. those endless nights, where she questions herself, believes that she instigated it, holds herself responsible for it having happened to her, shuts herself off, or goes ahead to tame a break all the guys she can come across. In short the abuse leaves a permanent mark on one's psyche.

I guess the only way to attack this problem is to attack the roots, attack the decadence that has crept into our society, where we no longer value the originality of thought that we exhibited some centuries ago. The moral policing is not going to solve the issue, only thing that can solve this issue is demolish all the taboo's in the society.

Such was the magic all around

such was the bounty abound

such was the diversity and tolerance

such was the land where I belonged

there was a place for everyone

every thought had a pedestal

all were invited to be part of the the glory

and the live the glory to the max

and the land nurtured them all........

- Action hero Zyborg