I love Mumbai for many reasons but one of major reasons is that I can be out at anytime of the day without worrying about security. Somehow, many of my friends who’ve lived in different cities especially up north say that Mumbai is designed for the independent woman.
I’ve explored the streets of Mumbai at every odd hour of the day. I’ve lost track of time thanks to an engrossing conversation on the Shivaji Park katta at 4 am. I’ve walked alone after sundown and if some guy tried acting funny, all I’ve had to do is confront and create a commotion, a handful of friendly Mumbaites have always rushed to help. That’s the beauty of this city. Every person is your friendly neighborhood hero.
Every once in a while though you see how some guy or a group of guys acted smart. Be it the indecent behavior at Gateway or the New Years Eve fiasco at the Marriott last year, these instances almost always end up with fingers pointing to the girls. ‘They were skimpily dressed,’, ‘They spoke rather brashly’, or ‘they were rude and dressed suggestively’. Are you kidding us? It’s like a murderer saying, ‘He irritated the shit out of me, so I just shot him.’
No matter what clothes I wear, nobody has the right to behave in such a disgusting manner. I want the freedom to wear what I want to. Wearing a salwar kameez will not help keep these pervs under control.
Why am I writing this? Recently I saw a man sitting right under my house and something about him was strange. As soon as I walked past him, the guy started to walk with me and suddenly came real close and tried to talk to me. My instinct caused me to yell at him. He didn’t stop walking behind me. He actually followed me to a cab! I got in the cab and got on my way. See the other thing about Bombay is that you have to go on and get to work. Bombay doesn’t wait for anybody, not even for a girl who’d like to beat up a puny little guy who was unnecessarily following her.
Saturday mornings are beautiful. I wake up slightly late and laze around a little before heading out to walk in Parsi colony. At 7 am the place is swarming with fitness freaks, but at 9 am on a sunny Saturday morning, there’s just about a handful of people. I like my solitude (yeah so nobody laughs when I break into a momentary jig to ‘Desi Girl’ on my iPod). But lately five gardens is sort of a psycho central. I keep an eye out for any funny things especially since some git tried to grab my phone and run. The weirdo who’d tried to talk to me, was actually standing at the corner and followed me for an entire round before I walked too fast for him and got home. The next day the same guy is waiting under my building.
I’d screamt at him, given him angry stares and yet the guy kept following me. Time had come to tell Dad and then a police complaint was made. The guy was new to Mumbai and apparently couldn’t deal with the culture shock. But is that an excuse to be acting all weird? He probably didn’t mean any harm, sure, but does that mean you tolerate someone following you around? Do you continue to tolerate a freak who tries to talk to you even after you have scream at him?
Does a culture shock disillusion you from identifying the appropriate from the inappropriate? How many times are we going to discount these guys for their lack of respect for women? Whether they are in a culture shock or they suffer from humungous egos, nothing justifies acting odd with a woman. And we Mumbai girls will not let these losers dictate the way we dress or the time we get out. We will hunt you guys down and kick your ass- Mumbai style!