Any man can be harassed by women while travelling in public buses in Delhi! In this city of extremes - weather and wealth wise - if men are generally brash and rude; the women are no less – they are abusive and immature. I know these are politically incorrect statements but nevertheless true. To check authenticity of these statements one has to simply board a public bus in Delhi. In a metro topping the list for rapes, eve teasing and bride burning my heart breaks for the harassed males who are regular passengers of public buses!
I have been a regular commuter in public buses since my university days. U-specials were heavens of bonhomie as youngsters of both sexes flirted, courted and parted. After fifteen years they are much the same. Though not public, in the chartered buses (the fast disappearing variety) the atmosphere is congenial as male and female office goers share juicy gossips and sort out family problems. But travelling in a truly public bus, privately or DTC owned, is a different experience altogether. You can undoubtedly see familiarity and friendship among regular passengers but strangers are always at the risk of being misunderstood. If you are a man and you look at, forget ogling, the fair and attractive chick in trendy attire you are definitely going to be yelled at for never having seen your ‘maa-bahen’! The uncultured woman beneath the fashionable exterior stuns you.
Delhi has more than its fair share of attractive and fair complexioned women travelling in buses than any of the Indian metros but beware they are touchy. If a simple glance can invite trouble, all hell breaks loose when one happens to touch a lady accidentally in a crowded bus. As if a single push in a crowded bus can violate their chastity! Common sense tells you that anyone who is not a trained acrobat is bound to shove some people unintentionally and accidentally in a packed bus. But majority of women of Delhi of any age, class or educational backgrounds do not see reasons. They suspect all male passengers to be womanisers and themselves to be the most sought after women!
I have seen young girls abusing men of their fathers’ age suspecting an imagined touch. So-called “educated ladies” hurl choicest abuses in English and Hindi on a hapless male passenger just because he could not stop himself from falling on a woman as the crowd pushed. Yesterday one man was almost beaten up by the “ladies” for such an imagined offence. He was simply saved by the sensible conductor.
It is true that all men are not sensible and this city is haunted by a handful of psychopaths who also board buses to get uncomfortably close to women. Such genuine cases need to be punished. However, it is simply unfair to paint all men with the same brush. Being a woman I feel embarrassed seeing over-sensitive women crying over imagined harassment. Even if law is perceived to be sympathetic to the woman one does not glorify oneself with public display of ones vulnerability.
I wish that in this age when adherents of every creed and ideology are becoming increasingly intolerant, women of Delhi would be mature enough to ignore imagined offences in public. For greater social respectability, they should be bolder at home and stop being servile to their menfolk.
Nandini Dutta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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