Problem Poke-man?

I live in New Delhi.  Fondly known as the Rape Capital; the situation here is beyond pathetic. Reading about cases of lecherousness, eve-teasing and groping where the woman/women quietly bear the brunt of male brutishness made me sick and furious at the meekness of womankind. I always felt affronted at the thought that in a nation that worships woman in the form of a fierce lion rider; the woman herself is afraid to land a kick in the crotch to a crotch that cannot behave. I believed myself to be an educated, vocal and brave woman. Silly me. Reality struck home a few days back. While travelling aboard a jam packed, sweat filled bus I realized I am not the ass-kicking Goddess I believed myself to be.  This particular bus that I am talking about had absolutely no place to stand properly even. I had given my seat to an old man and he returned the kindness by holding my heavy bag. As I next to the seat, ear-phone jammed in with Adam Levine crooning at a very high volume I found myself to be the recipient of a poke in my lower back. A trickle of unease dripped down my spine. I chose to ignore it, telling myself it was because of the sharp swerve the bus had taken. The poke came back. I swallowed, a pool of dread formed in my stomach, maybe the intestines too. Through the screen of my phone I looked at the reflection of my poke-man. A volley of insults in a bevy of languages queued up in my mouth and died in my lips. I wanted to kick him, hit him and get him beaten up by the crowd but my limbs simply refused to move. I felt violated and revolted. I resolved to give the man a piece of my mind the next time he did this.  Right on cue he poked. I removed my ear-phone, managed to turn around and gave that filthy creep what I think was a look of absolute disgust. Mustering all my courage I said to him in a reasonably loud voice to move his body away from mine or else I would have to slap him. His only response was to grin in return and say “Madam, where’s the place?”.  In an equally sickly sweet voice I retorted in Hindi “Make some place or I shall make it by getting you thrown out.” The smirk on his face launched me into a tirade of abusive language that would make a drunk trucker proud. People standing around us heard the melody in my voice and fearing public wrath he got down at the next stop. The momentary happiness that I felt at having faced my poke-man was soon replaced by shame. Shame at my cowardice in not being able to slap him or protest at the very first instance.  I was saddened by the knowledge that if an “educated , vocal and brave” woman showed such hesitation; what hope did a meek woman have in a country that is full of pigs of the male chauvinistic variety? I returned home with a humbler mind and a perspective that was now enriched by personal experience.  I no longer haughtily sit atop my pedestal rather empathize with what a woman goes through. I hope to God that if not the first, we stop these rascals the third time at least. I hope we don’t bear the ordeal in silence. I hope we all find the courage to raise our voice.

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37 thoughts on “Problem Poke-man?

  1. I’ve read about the rape situation on several blogs from those who live it. I can understand your hesitation – I’ve been in instances where I would tell myself it wasn’t what I thought it was…mainly because I didn’t want to cause a scene.

    I’m glad you did find your voice- his demeanor says it was exactly what you thought it was. I’m also glad that personal experience gave you some understanding and makes you more sympathetic to those who cannot speak up. It is so easy to think that *we* would react differently 🙂

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    1. 🙂
      Thank you for taking the time-out to read and comment. The whole “not a cause a scene ” leads to such tragic events. If only this perpetual “scene” would leave our minds and we’d react!

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  2. Thank you for speaking out and telling your story. That shows real bravery. We all need to be brave enough and summon enough courage to remind those who cannot remember that our bodies are our own. (I say this as someone who would also probably wait until the third poke, if I opened my mouth at all.)

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    1. Thank you for reading and appreciating!
      I am glad you could somehow relate, it means a lot. I wish we were braver but sadly we somehow prefer a poke or two rather than bringing attention to ourselves.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. It’s so heartbreaking to read and hear stories like this. Such a beautiful country, our India. What a pity it has now become one of the most dangerous countries for a woman to live in.
    Hope you never have to go through anything like that again.

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    1. I don’t know if it’ll happen again or not but one thing I DO know for sure is that the next time I shall take swifter action.
      Thank you for reading and commenting. It means a lot.
      Why don’t you participate at this challenge too? I am sure you’d love it!
      🙂

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  4. ugh, holy crud. reading this made my stomach turn. I was so afraid there for a moment and am SO glad the pig got off the bus when he did. I can’t imagine having to deal with this day in and day out.

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  5. It is a difficult and scary decision to stand up to this. I have been to India 2x, and will go again next year (I take each of my children, when before they graduate high school). It is a very complex culture, and the current situation is deeply troubling. I realize it is not a “current” situation, but things have definitely amped up. For the first time ever, my husband questioned the safety of me going…

    Frankly, I don’t know what I would do in your situation. I am a fairly bold, outspoken woman. I am older, and not as unsure of some things, as I was in my youth. And yet, it’s not always easy to gauge the crowd, and how it will all go. The savage rape of that young woman on a bus, was done by many, and witnessed by many. While it sounds like you were in a situation in which the crowd/the other passengers, would be on your side, I understand your trepidation. I would not want to insight violence against the perpetrator. If I was assured that he would merely face social ridicule and learn a lesson, it would be easier. But I too would worry about potentially turning things very ugly.

    It’s brave and a statement, in itself, that you did say something. You did stand up to him. Perhaps, it will make him think… perhaps you gave one other girl on that bus the courage to do the same. I hope India will learn to stand up to it too… such a sparkling country, that would benefit from that growth. Sorry for such a long response. Powerful post!

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    1. Sorry? I am so glad you took out the time to write such a heartfelt response.Yes, I do fervently hope that the men learnt a lesson and the women gained some courage but the overall condition of society here is sad.

      You have a really nice tradition of coming to India. Where do you plan on visiting? Unfortunately, I agree with your husband. Do come, visit, but please carry with yourself some form of self defense.

      If only society here responded more in favor of the women on a daily basis rather than when something unthinkably horrific occurs.

      Thank you so much for reading and your appreciation means a lot.
      🙂

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      1. I agree! It is always too little, too late, when a young woman is raped and killed. It is too late, when a woman is stoned, or burned or maimed because her husband owns her. It is too late when the poor have no hope, and young girls grow up knowing that. But, I continue to hope for better… I love India, and I hope for better.

        When I come again, I’ll let you know. It would be fun to meet. I always include Delhi on the itinerary. Delhi, Agra and Varanasi (my favorite city)… then we explore another area. I think next time, the north west.

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      2. Delhi?
        Wohoo! We could meet up, I’d show you around all the cool local areas. Agra and Varanasi are exotic and beautiful cities. Jaipur too is a hot tourist favorite, you could include that maybe.

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      3. I’ve been to Jaipur two times, and loved it. I was thinking we’d skip it this next time, to see some other things… but Delhi is a definite, and when we finally figure out when, I’ll let you know. I love meeting bloggers in person, and how wonderful to have a tour guide for a city I’ve come to love. 🙂

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  6. Good job!!!! I’m so happy you stood up for yourself and confronted the disgusting man! You are so brave and I hope many women can follow this.

    Christina

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  7. It is amazing how men can invade a woman’s private space and if thankfully stopped from physical violence — can cause mental violence. Fight back as best you can when you can. I had a situation turn very weird with an online acquaintance. It occurred to me…I’m in control. I don’t have to feel violated or let things start to turn in the wrong direction. Stay strong and know that ultimately you took charge in that situation.

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    1. You made such an amazing point, WE are in charge NOT men. I am glad you too stood up for yourself.
      Thank you so very much for reading and sharing your thoughts, it means a lot to me.
      🙂

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  8. At least you said something. I find it baffling that some men feel they can invade a woman’s personal space, as if it were there for public consumption. I once got groped on a subway, and felt so embarrassed I pretended it didn’t happen.

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    1. Pretending and desperately hoping that it was not happening was my instinctive reaction. It felt horrible.
      Thank you for reading and sharing your experience.
      I hope that if at all, God forbid, anything like this happens ever again, you too blast him off.
      🙂

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  9. To raise your voice means to stand out — to take a stand. It means to get involved, whether for yourself or for others.. What you’re saying is applicable in many situations where silence = passivity = assumed assent. But I also understand that moment where you weigh whether it’s worth it to fight back. Clearly, this was one of those moments to do that, and I was silently cheering during that part of your account. I guess what I’m saying is — bravo! — and also, that it makes me think of other times that are maybe less clear, when you might either stand up or choose to stay out of it. That decision point where you choose to be present — to stand for who you are — and how we almost always have to fight against our own inertia and fear to get there. That’s what bravery is all about. Thank you for this post.

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    1. Thank you, for reading and then posting such an absolutely wonderful response.
      I am glad and heartened to see that you understood and hey. thanks for cheering. I did feel brave and victorious after the incident. Thank you again for such a warm response, means a LOT!

      Like

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