Category Archives: Disguised harassment

That big, brave world

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Reading this interview made me think how sterile a rape can be in reportage. There is talk of doctors, swabs, semen, DNA and many other technical things but none of them ever talk about what it is actually is, a power trip really. You might want to read this too.. it proves, at least, to some degree that women are the worst critics for women.

Though I have to be honest. When the Shiney Ahuja news broke, I remembered thinking he may be guilty of cheating on his wife but having consensual sex with any other woman cannot be construed as rape just because he reneged on promises he made to the woman. That was my initial thought but since the blogs and media have made the issue murkier and now I do not even claim to know what may have happened exactly.

Even the Madhur Bhadarkar case was fashioned from similar circumstances. It usually pisses me off when women claim rape or any form of abuse because some promise has been reneged on and they have already dispensed with the favours, usually sex. To give Preeti credit, she had filed a cheating case on him but it seemed (through the coverage) that she was accusing him of rape. It seems to be a favourite method to claim the slighting of the Indian culture.

There doesn’t seem to be a conclusion to this in my head but  it is upsetting to see how the real issue almost always gets buried in any form of journalism today, for a better headline, it seems…

An affair to remember

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My company shares the office with a sister concern of the same parent company.

Like any office, it has people dynamics that are difficult to hide despite the fact that we do not interact with them.

One such is the one of the bosses and his (presumably) secretary or assistant.

He is bulky man. She is positively dimunitive. He must be in early if not mid 40s. She can’t be day over 25.

I have overheard him telling her things about how she should dress, walk and talk so that “people notice her.”

I may be wrong and will go out on a limb and say he definitely looking at her charitably. What’s worse is he is all she socialises with –at tea, for lunch and exits with him on her way out of office.

I sense discomfort and under confidence in her body language. I sense arrogance and anger in his.

But what’s telling and noticeable is how much the boss glares .. apparently at everyone around. I say us because I noticed some colleagues mention this glare while I was with them. I have already been on the receiving end of many such stares.

“He keeps glaring at me,” one said.

“Oh I thought he only glares at me,” said another.”After all he is having fun,” second one continued and snickered.

Me. I only have a primeval reaction. Want to stop at his desk and give him one tight slap.

(Please don’t tell me she is doing this willingly.)

They say nostalgia is dangerous

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The reason this quote was coined was perhaps because you only remember the good, the rosy and the loved. The pain, anguish, heartache and mistrust — and every other thing negative — is all forgotten. That’s perhaps our way of retaining memories, only the nice, good things.

Does childhood fall under that ambit? Are our memories of childhood also coloured with nostalgia-coloured lenses? Because all I remember are the nasty things. Things I did, experienced, saw…

How I have said strange things to my friends (friends who are thankfully still my friends) — like I didn’t want to give water once because it would mean getting up and going upstairs, so I told her that water from home had finished. Or when Spider-Man came on, I told her I was going home because I wanted to watch it on a colour TV. Was I even thinking?

How, at least twice, I got to two friends to fight by deliberately creating misunderstandings between them. It was the beginning of the summer holidays and I remember thinking I would get each of them entirely to myself.

How I had a tee that said ‘My school only taught me from A to B’ [I still don't know what my mother was thinking when she got me that] and how mercilessly I got teased for it.

How a friend once squished my budding breasts and it hurt and even then I realised that being a friend didn’t entitle him to do that. Today when I tell him, he says sorry. But he  went on to get the dubious distinction of the being my only known molester.

How I never got the spellings of twelve, cycle and Andheri right and how people younger to me then got it right, and yes, the teasing.

How, as little girls, wearing a dupatta meant I had arrived. My friend and I would spend afternoons playing with pieces of cloth.

How, every year, my neighbour went on vacation to her native place and had an exciting train journey and then spend another month playing in open fields and orchards  with big groups of cousins and how I hated the fact that I had such a small extended family and how my parents insisted on taking us to new locations every year. Why couldn’t we have a ‘native place’?

How summer play did not stop because of crushes and chemistry and boy and girl. We just played. But then one day we stopped and now when we cross those same boys with their wives and children, nobody even meets the eye. Me included.

I don’t remember when I exactly grew out of it  but there have been times when I have won the Full House on Housie or even gotten the Best Dancer in the building Garba ( I have to add here the others must have been terribly bad as I have no grace on the any kind of dance floor).

And one fine day I left it all behind.

I’d give all wealth that years have piled,
The slow result of Life’s decay,
To be once more a little child
For one bright summer day.
~Lewis Carroll, “Solitude”

It’s an ‘Auto’matic reaction

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401935073_de4c5d9b65_mLast year (or maybe in was in early 2009), the Mumbai Road Transport Office (RTO) announced a way to curb errant cab/autorickshaw drivers. It asked consumers to report badge numbers of the guilty drivers anonymously (on postcards, no less) to the RTO so that action could be taken for refusing to ply.

The issue in Mumbai is that these transporters refuse  customers more than they agree to ply . Often the destination is too close. Or it is too far. Or too much traffic. Or no return fare. Or their favourite excuse — they don’t want to go.

It doesn’t matter where you stay. I live in Andheri West and my office in Andheri East. Distance-wise it is 7 kilometres but traffic and congestion-wise, it takes me an hour, in the least. In rickshaw-land, Andheri east is an absolute no-no.

Of course that isn’t the rickshaw’s fault but every morning I have to stop myself from from cursing them to hell and back because I have to go through at least 10 on some day and none on others.

Most just swing by, not even glancing at you and the few that stop disgustingly click their tongues and  zoom off. There is absolutely no scope to get their badge numbers. The few that I have actually asked drove off so quickly that if I hadn’t pulled back hand, I would be an arm short today. Some even threatened me for asking their for badge numbers!  I judiciously took down the rickshaw numbers but turns out upto 10 (!!) drivers share an autorickshaw and its relevant permit.

Turns out people taking autos from anywhere in Mumbai to anywhere in Mumbai face this problem. In fact, all you need to say, in a public gathering, is “three autos refused today to come here,” and I guarantee, at least two voices will chime in saying, “me too.”

There have been days when after sitting in an auto, he has refused to ferry me further. Even a threat of calling the police to the auto did not deter him. I sometimes wonder where do they get such arrogance? Tomorrow if we actually stopped flagging them, wouldn’t they suffer more than us. Because we have seen that when those two days when MNS threatened the autorickshaw drivers and they kept off the road and Mumbai rejoiced at the reduced congestion. So who will really suffer I wonder.

Some days ago I ran into a rickshaw driver who saw me flailing autos like a complete mad woman. As he approached me, I did not ask him but just jumped into the auto, and very aggressively said, “Andheri west!” To his credit, he did not say anything and started homeward. After I cooled down some, he asked me if I had been waiting for long. I almost had a tantrum. But he was a nice man and heard me out and even tried to reason with me saying that why they said no etc.

He even offered me to give  me his number and that I could call him whenever I liked. But towards the end of this ride, he asked me another strange question.  “Do you think they say no to you because they are Biharis and you aren’t?” I almost jumped up in shock. There was this mentality too?

Oh dear ..

I do occassionally (really rarely though) feel bad for these drivers because, after all, they drive on roads I gave up on long ago. But I keep wondering if that scheme did ever work. And what was the reaction of cab drivers to this scheme? Anybody has any idea?

I have to add here that despite all these complaints, I know that public transport in this city is still better than most other cities in the country but unfair is unfair. At least in Mumbai you do not have to negotiate for them to use the tariff meter.

Picture courtsey