Monday, December 28, 2009

Chennai Stalkers Inc.

Something happened today.I am confused as to how I should classify it-it was equally funny and harassing as well.And every girl in India or I must specify, Chennai would have more than one first hand experience like this.
I was at Kilpauk. I had some work near Pachayyappa's College, and after I was done with it, I was walking to the bus stop, when Mr Hunk comes by. Now I wouldn't call myself very very great looking, but I can look reasonably good when I want to, and today was NOT one such day. You can picture me, after 8 hours of college and 2 hours of travel. My hair was a mess and with smudged eye make up, I was looking pretty yuck. I was wearing normal clothes-denims and a white kurta, AND a stole. I mean, how 'provocative' could that be?? I'm explaining in detail because I'm trying to analyze what makes these guys act so weird at times.
So this guy comes along in his bike.I think it was a Bajaj Splendor. He had this unshaven look (turn-off No.1),dirty clothes (turn-off No.2) and well..turn-off No.3 is something that Im unable to find words to explain..maybe I should say his demeanor was sort of..scary. Whatever.
This guy drives his bike close to the pavement, and says,
"Excuse me,miss..miss".
The goose that I am, I stop and turn and say,
Hey, I thought he wanted directions!
So he goes,
"Can I drop you?"
I mean, he said that!Just like that!! No I did not make eyes at this character. I did not even look at this guy!!
But with politeness that I cannot rid myself off, especially in such occasions, I say,
"No, Thanks" and continue walking.
But hey, we are persistent, aren't we?
The guy drives his bike at speeds ranging from 10kmph to 40kmph (It was varying proportionately with my walking speed), he multitasks.
Driving,Smiling and saying,
"Please ya, let me drop you ya, please ya" (repeat repeat repeat)
Now, I'm afraid and humoured and frantic and scared I'll burst out laughing. Oh, AND I'm looking beseechingly at any human being in the vicinity who is a spectator to this scene. Unfortunately, they were all men. You cannot get any help there. And any girl will vouch for this too.
I stop and tell the guy, "See.I DONT want a lift!!!"
And I amaze myself at how demurely I said that. I have a dictionary of swear words that I have picked from my brother and when I needed them, I went blank!!
It reached the next level, where he goes like,
"Please ya, I beg you ya, please, Im begging you"(repeat repeat repeat)
This tiny voice in my head, also called the female intuition, is asking me to run. But where??Then the one way road proves a blessing. I turn 180 degrees and walk away, to fading yells of "Please ya,come ya".
I call my brother and the moment he hears me stuttering and stammering he arrives quicker than usual, and only when I sit on the bike, I feel safe.
This might seem humourous, I meant it to be that way. But as I sit and type, I realise that a lot of other things could have happened too. This is not a take on the stalkers of Chennai. Or on some characters who seem to achieve some sort of gratification in giving lifts to unknown females who don't want them. It is more of a voice to the mute spectators who stand and watch while these things happen, and sometimes, they keep watching until it is too late. They have this notion that, when they don't know the harassed party, they don't need to bother. Wrong notion. Next time you do see something similar, Do speak up!! Who knows, you might become some distressed damsel's hero :)

Friday, December 18, 2009


It all started when I was a kid. Say around 5-6 years of age. The boys in the flat would play the royal Indian game- Cricket in the compound, and the girls would cheer. Note that I had no idea what the game was about. I only knew that when the ball came at you, you hit it hard. One day, I walk to my friend Karthik and tell him that I want to play too. He sizes me up and says no way. After a lot of cajoling (which involved giving up a few WWF cards and other things that I don't remember now) I was allowed to field.
"You stand here ok. When the ball comes, you catch it and throw it to me, ok? You must not move from here ok?"
The buggers made it look like fielding was the most important thing to do, and I lapped it up. And the ball just wouldn't come my way, and eventually I got bored of it and called it quits. If I still harbour hatred toward the game, it is because of this.
Then I do the schooling, and they teach us - Boys play with cars and wear pant-shirt. Girls play with kitchen sets and dolls, and wear frocks. Daddy goes to work and earns the bread. Mummy stays at home and cooks food. Brothers pull sisters' pigtails. Sisters always cry.
Through junior high, after heavy doses of Nancy Drew, Famous Five, Secret Seven and other similar books, my friend Anisha and I were convinced that we were 'Tom Boys'. We would play punching games, wear only shorts and tees, stand in the tables in the class and touch the fan, crop our hair real short, play with the street dogs, pooh-pooh at dolls and call the girls sissys. But we were still girls. We couldn't understand why then, but eventually we did, and became normal.
We were doomed to be girls for life. (realisation->horror->acceptance)
Fast forward to today.

"Ma, Ill be back by 10."
"Alone??Get someone to drop you!!!"

Peak hour traffic and the car is not doing what it is supposed to do-move. My brother gets out to push it. I get out too. And get blasted for it. "Are you crazy??You're a GIRL!Sit inside."

All of this is reasonable! But what got me worked up was the following incident.
Final Sem MBAs sit for campus recruitment. A renowned UK based MNC wants to hire students for the post of Area Sales Managers. 6 boys and 2 girls sit for the job. Aptitude test- cleared.
Personal interview goes thus:
Questions about the GD.
"You like bird watching? You know what is bird watching?"
"You are good at debating? How about an extempore?" Which included further cross-questions 'Oh so you have a Boyfriend?No?Why did you say you did?I can read emotions yaar!'
After a few more cases, the guys say they like me.(HA!!)
"But..The job is risky, it involves long hours of travel, game for it?"
What do you think?Of Course!
The good final list has my name, along with two boys' names.
Elation. Publicize it. Fix dates for treats. Its the joy that you experience when you are told you have clinched the job..You should be there to experience it.
The week end passes in bliss.
Following Monday, the Placement co-ordinator summons me.
"Gitanjali, These people called me up..They say they dont want a girl for that position."