Roughly a year ago, I started writing this column when Mumbai’s nightlife was going through a bit of a rough patch. Women were being queued up outside clubs, men were being dragged to police stations and hoteliers were rethinking their line of business. Twelve months have passed, things have settled, but the party crowd is still on high alert.
The sight of a police van outside a bar still causes a mass exodus. It happened at Bonobo last week. Some cops were doing their rounds and a rumour about a raid took less than a few minutes to circulate and frighten those who were on their way in.
But another interesting thing happened. While some men heading there insisted on avoiding the venue, the women refused to budge. “I’m 26; I’ve done no wrong. I have a permit and it’s well before 1.30 am. I’m going,” one said.
Some called her statement foolhardy. And in the larger scheme of affairs — the spate of crimes against women being brought to light — this observation may feel frivolous, but there’s something larger brewing here. She is one among the many young women who now refuse to be bullied, in any regard.
A female reader wrote to me several months ago about a party she had thrown for a few expats. Some cops arrived that night, and with the ‘phoren’ people present, they immediately suspected a racket. She was furious, but she refused to be apologetic for her lifestyle.
She eventually moved out of the apartment and settled somewhere better. Her expat friends continue to visit her.
Pubs, too, are glad that women have returned to the scene. Hoteliers had issues of their own explaining why entire bars were packed with men. Some places have gone the extra mile for their female clientele: iBar in Bandra started giving out cans of pepper spray to female patrons a month ago; bartenders at some pubs, like The Big Nasty, stand on the road post 1 am to hail rickshaws for female customers, so they can make a safe exit; bouncers have been directed to stay more alert and be less patient with miscreants. Things have returned to normal, if compared to last year.
Today might be Women’s Day, but there’s no denying that more than just one day is needed to celebrate them. And if you’re a woman, don’t accept being treated well only today; demand it every single day, because everyone knows how darned boring the world will be without us.