lets start from kashmere gate station, delhi. though i would invariably board from paharganj, somehow my return trips would always dump me at kashmere gate. in a whoosh, autowallahs, cabbies and all sundry would envelop me. not unnatural. then it would come. every single time. "madam, kahan jaayenge? kahan, madam? majnu ka tila? chalo, hum chod dete hain" i would walk rod-straight. NO "nahin, bhaiyya"s and all. still it would go on. "koi nahin, madam. majnu ka tila hi jana hai na? sau rupai. bas. aap ke liye." i would just focus on the pre-paid counter, now a few metres ahead. "chalo, madam. majnu ka tila ke liye free. bas. aayiye." a peel of laughter and sniggers would ring loud. every single time. the ordeal of a woman on a street anywhere in india has started. it becomes tougher and nastier if the woman is a north-eastern to boot. double 'fun' for the men. double trouble for the woman. for the uninitiated, majnu ka tila is a prominent red-light area near north campus, delhi university. the sex workers of that area are invariably from sikkim, nepal, north-east india etc; in mainstream lingo 'chinkies'; in mainstream mentality 'cheap, easy girls'. jabberwock talks about the divorced women as easy prey. north-eastern women anywhere in india (except in the north-east) have to face double, treble, qaudruple the same 'easy prey' mentality. on streets, schools, colleges, offices, friends' houses, parties, restaurants etc etc.
: north campus. am standing at a divider. i have to pop in at srcc for some work. a maruti 800 is racing up, full blaring music. not unnatural. before i realize it, a mineral water bottle hits my right knee. a lusty chorus 'oye, chinki' follows.
: noida mod. am again standing at a divider. i have to cross the street and get a bus. it is dark. a black cielo pulls up. not very natural. window rolls down. a well-dressed man behind the wheels. he takes out a wad of notes and then, "oye, chinki, kitne mein aayegi?" full-throat laughter. zips away.
: coming back from iit. safdarjung bus stop. a man behind me. "do you want to go for dinner? five-star hotel?" i ignore him. its dark already. i take a mudrika. after an hour or so, i get down at camp. the same man again. "special dinner. five-star". i walk straight to the first traffic policeman i see at the signal. the man disappears suddenly.
this is just delhi. i have more to say about bangalore, mumbai, kolkata, agra, shimla...
- Action Hero Bem