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A tight-rope walk in Delhi

So, Delhi managed to sink to new depths! Parking your car is the latest “adventure” that women in the city must avoid, writes Damini Purkayastha.

entertainment Updated: Jan 09, 2009 16:29 IST
Damini Purkayastha

So, Delhi managed to sink to new depths! Parking your car is the latest “adventure” that women in the city must avoid. Just as they must also avoid driving, holding hands with boys, partying, smoking, walking... altogether avoid living. Because in Delhi, women are unsafe, always.

Just last year I had the opportunity to experience what it felt like to live in a society that was not always judging your gender. I walked along the streets of Tokyo at the oddest hours of the night, all alone, looking for food in convenience stores. I asked our tour guide if it was safe for me to do so, and he laughed at me. Literally laughed and said, “This is not Delhi.” I wanted to sock his face, but his taunt was valid. Wasn’t it?.

I just walked to the ATM, that’s 5 minutes from office, and I counted the times I averted my eyes from strange men, just incase they got the “wrong” idea. In jeans, a coat till my knees and layers of clothing, I was stared at by six paan chewing, scooter-driving, beedi smoking, pot-bellied men. It was 11.45 am and despite the glorious winter sun I could not wait to be back in office.

A walk in Delhi is a tight-rope walk between getting choked by fumes, run down by Blue Lines and, if you are a girl, becoming an object of exhibition. The gaze is always upon you, assessing you — what you wear, how you walk, if you make for a sexual conquest and so on.

In a city where simply parking your car in front of a mega mall can spell doom, we’re better off locked inside our cars moving safely at the speed of 50 kms per hour, that too only in broad day light. But this is something we all know. Every three months or so an incident occurs, even worse than the last one, and makes our hackles rise.

The feeling of helplessness abounds and we are left waiting for a revolution. But nothing ever changes.