Action Hero Paramita Majumder

Location:Bangalore

I walked on the street , not very far from my house, around 8.15 PM.. Since it was a Sunday the streets wore a deserted look . Most shops, however were open . I walked the entire stretch of the street. I did not face any curious glances in my direction.. However, I did notice that hardly any unaccompanied women were on the street. There were people making last minute purchases from the the vegetable and grocery shops. Many young men were standing near the tea stalls smoking or drinking tea and chatting . No big groups anywhere....just two or three men standing .

Action Hero Gayathri Rajathiratnam

Location: Bangalore

I have never walked alone in India at 11:30pm, ever. That statement by itself sounds quite weird, since I tend to prefer walking and don't usually shy from it (during the daytime, at least). It’s not that I don’t go out at night; I do but it's always in the safety of my car or with friends and family who can “protect” me. So, this #walkalone was a first for me. At first, I admit that I had to force myself to not keep looking back every few steps or jump at every extra loud sound but by the end of the walk, it felt like freedom and victory. I felt encouraged and like solitary walks maybe one of the best way to connect with myself. Through this walk I learned to better trust my instincts, take courage to keep going and most importantly, put a little more faith in the goodness of humanity, I suppose.

Action Hero Sunayana Roy

Location: Bangalore

Interesting how much security I derive from having my phone in my hand when I’m out late at night. 

Sat down for a break on the kerb because I’ve been up since 5 am and my legs hurt.

Behind me, the lights of Bangalore’s Outer Ring Road.

Ahead of me a dark road towards big office Buildings.

Behind me is a bus park. Wanted to walk through it but decided at 10:30 was not the time after all.

Anu Karripal

Location city/ place unknown.

Usually I walk slower, my friends say. One, because I have tiny legs. Another, mostly I will be with a camera looking for details around me. But in the night, never.  I’m always in haste. With my tiny legs I sometimes have to run to catch up with friends. Once while in Mumbai, I went with my friends to Haji Ali Dargah and the photographer in me was like yayyyy!! I started clicking standing, sitting and jumping. And then suddenly, N (my friend) caught my hand, saying “not here Anu, not now”. And that’s the story every night I go out, I can’t click. I’m always running.

Last Sunday was different. I decided I would walk, slowly. I saw the city that I often missed out while running. I experienced late evening giving away to night, which I always saw from the side window of C-307. In the night, a new dawn.

Sayali Patwardhan

Location: Patrakaarnagar, Pune

First of all, I am very sorry that I am writing back so late. I am not usually so tardy; however, this time it has taken me a long time to get down to doing this. I had planned to do this soon after the walk, while everything was still fresh in the mind...but alas, that did not take place. I was looking for an opportunity of quiet and peace, when I could be by myself and do this peacefully and fully.

I really enjoyed reading about your experiences, Lijya and Shrishtee - thank you so much for sharing!

Here's mine:

Since I have a little one, and its been my husband and me that we take care of her - I was almost certain that I would participate in the walk for an hour or an hour and a half. However, after we began our event and started walking, time flew past; I was enjoying myself and was taking in the new experience, and didn't feel like leaving half way and going back...so I decided to stay...and I let my hubby know that I would return later.

The time of the night when we walked was not that late - people were carrying out their mundane, day to day things; and we were on a mission; at least that is how I felt it - I was out to experience and explore something new, completely novel, without any preconceived notions or expectations. This was in complete contrast to the busy life that was taking place all around us...that was a bit funny - in the sense that, I think because there was so much regular/routine stuff going on all over, we didn't get a real/fair chance to experience perhaps what we may have during quieter/later/wee hours. Do you agree with me?

Needless to say, doing the walk during later hours would be an altogether different experience!, including the fact that we would perhaps be a lot less comfortable, ready, willing, to participate. What do you all think?

Opposed to Lijya's placement in our ant-line walk, I was at the other end. I was the last one in the line. I was constantly trying to maintain a reasonably large distance between Kahini (second last in the line) and me. I was slowing down my pace (since usually walk quite briskly, that is my natural pace), starting later; trying out such stuff. At times this became a bit challenging. I had to remind myself of the distance - I thought that to an outsider we should not look like a group, so we had to be far apart and yet be able to see the person next in line...this is my interpretation.

On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I liked the bonding. I would definitely like to do more and more such things with you all in the coming days...

I also think that if everyone likes, we could also meet up now and then for talking, just hanging out, discussing things, and doing that which are not explicitly BN themes related. I think it would be nice to create and be a part of such a community. How do you all feel?

 

 

Lijya Periyal

Location: Patrakaarnagar, Pune

Here's how I experienced Akeli. Awaara, Azaad:

Being in the front I loved choosing which streets to take. Since nobody was in front of me for most of the time, I didn't have an eye on anyone, except when sudden gushes of worry would engulf my mind and I'd look back to check on the rest of you and be assured of your safety.

I didn't feel any sense of threat at all. Possibly because I knew the rest of you were behind me and mentally I was thus feeling reassured. Plus, while some streets in that area I was taking for the first time, largely I was familiar with most parts of it. While walking in Patrakaarnagar, I felt many curious looks coming my way, especially when I reached the dead end near the police colony and decided to sit on the corner bench amongst the groups of men hanging around on the benches. Telin was still a while away at that point and it looked like I was alone. I couldn't see her. Even at that point I didn't feel threat or scared. I felt onlookers around give me a look of concern and wonder. 

It felt absolutely great to reconnect and meet you and Kahini (after such a long time!) and I'm glad this Blank Noise project introduced me to a gem of a person that is Sayali :) I enjoyed all of your company thoroughly and it felt good to get out and do this with the action hero spirit in each of you.

And Yes, may we be able to do many more indeed! Cheers (clink** clink**)

Shrishtee Bajpai

Location: Patrakaarnagar, Pune

It was great meeting you folks last week. I had really good time walking not so akeli, not so awara and some bit aazad with you all. I say not so akeli because I did have a sense of security and conformity that I am not really alone. not so awara because I am still trying to completely be myself while I am on the roads.. and I did feel a bit Aazad because I did it, we all did it and we walked together doing our bit to reclaim spaces for women.

I think that is a really good start for me and I am glad that I could join you guys. Thank you Lijya for informing and ringing me up.

Let's do it again. more often..

Abhisikta Dasgupta

Location: Koramangala, Bangalore

I walked in Koramangala area of Bangalore, India, on the main road, on the inner roads, on the roads with street lights (for the selfies), and on the roads without.

Why you ask? Well, just because I wanted to.

This wasn't the first time I walked alone after dark, but it was the first time I roamed around on the streets without a purpose.

I wasn't scared, but I wasn't cautious as well this time around. I didn't keep my eyes and ears open to be ready for some unknown danger.  

I had my headset on, blasting music into my ears, and I roamed around singing, dancing, walking, jumping, doing a spin once in a while.

I passed a few late night chai shops on my way, mainly crowded by men with a few girls around, who had come out with their male companions. Most of them looked at me with an inquisitive curiousity, I guess they were trying to decipher in their head, what I was upto and it made me laugh, which I guess made them even more curious.

I felt no fear. I felt happy, I felt sad (Arijit Singh's songs always make me cry) and I felt liberated.

Rutuja Chitra-Tarak

Location: Majestic, Bangalore

I was excited to do the WalkAlone at the Majestic area, for it seemed quite challenging and interesting of a public space at night than the residential area I live in. I had a friend from Egypt to join me in the walk, who had gone through an extreme case of sexual harassment last year in India, so we had to take calculated risks as well. Ultimately we ended up  four women walking together, but since even that is not common, it was still something that needed to become the norm. Being together gave us enough fearlessness to explore those lanes and spaces that I wouldn’t have tried walking alone right in the beginning of this adventure.

We began walking from Majestic bus stand and then into the small lanes that led us into closely packed residential area, with at times 6 feet wide lanes. Lanes were lit with yellow lights, but at 11 in the night, only men were to be seen onto the lanes. One of the friends mentioned how only 3 women were found during the wholewalk—one was filling water outside her house and others were accompanied by men. The number of men had decreased as we moved from bus stand into the small lanes. It also became steadily quiet and with time. Groups of men were found to be chatting casually in the. To me we got relatively few stares than I was expecting and only one significant comment from a group of 15 men. But that’s all.

We were pretty relaxed actually, casually roaming about, stopping by to check out film posters, trees, almost 6 feet wide small lanes at times... it was quite fun actually. Those lanes with double storied chawls/houses looked quite something to observe. The area is not that pretty I felt—especially in the night, the cement concretish material of the footpath, when dirty and broken gets into you. And to see homeless people sleeping right onto the foothpaths. Great time to inspect the city nevertheless.

At the end of the walk wished to walk again, somewhere else, alone.