Saturday, July 05, 2008

With Apologies to the not-so-bad Cops

About 6 years back, I and G, who is a mother of two boys and is far fitter than me, used to go for a walk in our upcoming locality in our then mall-less, multiplex-less city. I call my colony upcoming because the civic amenities of a planned city were still far from it - people still had septic tanks instead of the regular sewage; in the name of water supply we had our own motor pumps and water tanks on rooftops; and the roads were maintained not by the government but by the elected governing body comprising of the colony elders. The apologies of roads would be in perpetual repair. On the days it was not raining, it would be dusty all over, and on rainy days one would have to jump over puddles with extreme dexterity. But city it nevertheless was. After all our postal addresses proudly carried the name “….city.”

Adjacent to our colony was a village. Yes, a proper village with its buffaloes tied outside. Complete with a hand pump that blessed itself for not being in Pakistan and thus having been spared its life simply due to its invisibility in the times of Sunny (Deol) Bhaaji’s Gadar-rage, dung cakes neatly pasted on the house-walls, open drains running adjacent to houses, carefree people sitting on home-woven single beds (manjies) out on the roads and enjoying the dust rained by vehicles passing them by. However, this village had hopes of being converted into a city sub-urb. Since our colony had congested roads, I and G used to walk in the open spaces (read broken roads) offered by a newer colony ‘cut’ between the village and our colony. Still we were happy because we could walk for those wonderful 55 minutes in complete absence of heavy traffic.

Now in a small area, you get immediately noticed if you are a pair of fast walking females in your walking shoes - moving fast enough to look like you are rushing to outdo the fire engines to put out a fire somewhere. Also if one of the pair (not me :D) is in tight jeans- considered totally out of sync with the dress code of the area that inhabits women in kameez salwars and their heads demurely covered with dupattas. We knew that we were arousing uncalled for curiosity. It was their problem, so we would ignore them in the hope that they would get used to us walking past them every evening, and with time, things would be okay. However, as they say in the vernacular proverb, the cat can nevertheless see the pigeon even if the latter covers its eyes.

There were some chits of boys, about 12-14 years, who would hang around some recording shops, cheap salons (I mean naii di dukaan), or even by the wall of the gurdwara that fell on the way. Every time we passed, they would pass some unkind comment which we couldn’t hear because we used to be engrossed in our own chat. They would also, on their part, try to pass it in such a low voice as to give them a perverse satisfaction of having passed a comment to two ‘females’, and at the same time the pleasure of not having been heard and thus saving them the reprimand from us. One of them went on to declare rather boldly, "go on walking, you wont slim down.” (ਜਿੰਨਾ ਮਰਜੀ ਤੁਰ ਲਓ, ਪਤਲੀਆਂ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੋਣਾ) I felt like turning back to give him a nice heavy slap on the face. Did it matter to them if we were almost their mothers’ age? However, we thought that we could not stop walking if their attitudes were different, and even with our Amazonian looks, actions and spirits, we could not go on fighting every offender on the road and thus waste our precious walk-time and much needed energy.

However, you cannot go on pretending everyday that you are not bothered. And we were bothered big time! One day, we saw two Punjab Police cops armed with wireless devices, perched on a white bullet patrolling our area. Those were the days when the PCR (Police Control Room) bikes had just started to do rounds of the cities in Punjab. I think my eyes must have had that shine of hope when I looked at G, and suggested, “Girl we can go to these PCR cops and report about those boys; at least they can warn them.”

G is the older and wiser of us two. She cut me down with, “Yeah sure, they will take care of those comment passing boys, who will take care of them?”

By 'them' she meant PCR Cops.

(ਆਹੋ, ਇਹ ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਰੋਕ ਲੈਣਗੇ, ਫੇਰ ਇਹਨਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਕੌਣ ਰੋਕੂ?)



Sidhusaaheb said...

I suppose the boys would've said the same thing, if the two of you had been replaced by a pair of portly middle-aged men, wearing sports-shoes and tight jeans and trying to walk as fast as they could, ostensibly to lose weight i.e. "Jinnaa marzi tur lao, patlay nahi honaa!" :D

I see a lot of folks around my place too, both men and women, brisk-walking every day, and never seeming to lose even an inch off any part of their bodies! :D

Why is that so? It's probably because losing weight requires changes to be made in the diet as well, along with exercise.

If one were to eat even more than before, as the appetite is likely to improve with exercise, one might even end up gaining weight, I suppose, especially if one were to eat foods full of fat-content, like parauNthhe, for instance. :D

Mampi said...

SS- The contention was a little different. Still I get what you are saying, thank you.

Jasdeep said...

Nice post.. Boys will be boys.. It would have been better if you had turned back and hurled some abuses in traditional Punjabi way :" marjaaniaa, anna julaha te maan nu mashkariaan , dassan tainu pata tutt painiaan" :)

mathew said...

being from south india..i have always wanted to see the north..i mean not the cities...This post although is not related somehow rekindled my wish..:-)

dipali said...

Sad fact of life- any female dressed differently from the norm in a particular area, and doing something different, is invariably noticed and commented upon. Your friend was wise- most cops are also products of their own milieu, and are unlikely to be of any help. Best avoided:)

tejbir said...

dont mind but i too have a comment to make - not on u but on what u allow me

I can understand that those walks were wonderful, but i am not able to make out how were the walks precisely "55" minutes?


Anonymous said...

Nice posting,
but I feel that-
passing of unwanted remarks on the passerby female folk is a mentality of sick minds.

They are found every where (like stray dogs).

Beware of them!


Mampi said...

Jasdeep-No, boys will not be boys. It is not acceptable to me, or for that matter any conscientious female any age, because they are boys.

Mathew-I m sure you would like the Northern part of India whenever you visit.

Dipali - yes, you are right. The psyche is changing painfully slowly.

Tejbir - curiosity granted. We had just about that much of time to spare from post tea and pre-dinner time in the kitchen. And in those days too, we had watches. :)

Mama-But those stray dogs need to be kicked or rendered ineffective for ever.

Anonymous said...

Oh! In Bombay we always saw policemen as a pesky nuisance perhaps, but I never thought they couldn't be trusted to help!

I remember there had been a rape case in a Mumbai local sometime back and a policeman was posted in the ladies compartment after 8PM thereafter. We girls (traveling back home after college) were always reassured by the sight of the policeman in the compartment.

Was I too trusting then, I wonder?

And what's the mystery behind 'mampi', eh? I think I missed it! :)

Manasa said...

Completely agree with you. Compared to earlier years, eve teasing has reduced to a great extent. Yet, not only teenage guys, we find middle aged men commenting on young gals... Its really disgusting sometimes. We can ignore for a day or two. But what can be done about this in a long run?

BTW, have blogrolled you!

Anonymous said...

In Hyderabad we had the very famous conversation going...

Guys comment at a woman passing by in a burkha. The woman turns around and says

"Sharam naiyye tumku. Ghar mein maa behan naiyye?"

Guy replies..."Ghar mein koi bhi naiyye, tum hi aa jao naa" and then run off before she would raise hell and the boys get whacked ;)

Monika said...

i can totally understand what u have written and trust me its not just teh small city thing, it happens big time everywhere and u will really be thankful that it was only a verbal comment (though that is very bothering too)... check out this incident that had happened to me and i know of one similar incident that happened to a much younger, almost a child by a auto driver all that poor girl could do is run away from there

Pinku said...


I think all girls everywhere especially in North India know the feeling...

One place devoid or almost devoid of such cat calls and wisecracks I found was one seems to bother there whatever u do...

Mampi said...

Devaki-No, trust is never too much. Life goes by that. You were right in trusting them. I would trust the police too and I know they would listen. This was just a memory that came back. Not to be generalized.

Manasa-I feel honored to be blogrolled by you.
As for the eve-teasing, in the long run, the best thing is to retort.

Philip-Why the social anarchy? Wat right do they have to say ke "tum hi aa jao naa"? Why this unsolicited invitation?

Monika-You experienced a far more scarring experience. Again the same question, how far does it go? And why?

Pinku-Yes, this evil is more prevalent here in North India. But again, it is not the area that defines the psyches, it is the socio-familial atmosphere that has been given to a boy that stops or encourages him to do stuff like this.

Mampi said...

Devaki-Mampi is my childhood name. Just using it for a few days. I might come back with the original soon.

How do we know said...

oh i loved the last comment!esp the way it sounded in Punjabi.

Also, i really really liked the nimakh post, but have been unable to comment bcs i access the net on a data card, and my connection hangs on ur blog, bcs of that embedded song.. :-(

Anonymous said...

well i totally agree wid u bhabs i mean guys today r not scared of being bashed up o smething its der routine like shave brush...eve tease..slepp uu noe n aftr da annerix display on tv of size zero n all even da worst lukin guy wants a kareena kapoor to marry forgetting dat dey arent xactly saif material euther.....well v talk about quality of women where as the truth is we r fallin futur down rather den rising up because the mre we rise the more men get insecure (my bro nt included in dis race.i mean xception r always der)lossing weight is n essintial thing to do for r health nt r luks v luk r best da way babji has made us every1 is beautiful its just a matter of lukin n whearas dos boys r concernd u shudev given den a peice of ur mind

love ya

Ramanujam said...

Nice post, enjoyed reading it. It was nice to see the gentle undercurrent of humour running through the post. I am nevertheless, very much disgusted by the conduct of the boys, which is of course, a common occurrence in most parts of the country. Downright shameful.

Anonymous said...

the solution lies somewhere else. strict laws are not going to be the solution. we need to have an education system that emphasizes that there is not much of a difference between a boy and a girl. healthy intermingling of the sexes should be encouraged.

the problem today is that in the crappy guise of morality, we keep the boys and girls apart. the boys grow up thinking that the girl is something exotic and needs to be violated or won upon. and when that cannot happen they look to tease and molest the woman.

in our society, a boy and a girl can only be brother/sister or husband/wife. there are no other relations possible. they cant be friends just like two guys or two girls. and the moment such a relation develops, character assassination starts.

i dont think the guys know what they are doing is wrong when they tease the girls and the blame squarely lies on the elders/parents who bought them up.

the problem is only going to increase especially in north india as the female infanticide happens even today inspite of all the education. punjab, haryana etc have some of the worst sex ratio skewed ridiculously in favour of the males.

i dont see any changes in the male behaviour in the future towards the woman and iam indeed sad and ashamed about it.

Gurinderjit Singh said...

It is going to take some time before this culture will get bleached by the progressive interactions. I guess there are many different varieties of these folks, some of them are habitiuals, others do it for fun, once in a while (even girls do some times!) - 2 examples:
1. I just joined GNDU in 1988 and we were walking on VC road when a group of Physical education girls (stronger than us) lined up across the road and forced us to the sidewalk, started singing: "Mere yaar ne gali de wichon Langhna ..nee kuriyo Rah shadd deo"

2. Ramgarhiya College for women Ludhiana: I along with Jaswant Zafar, Mr Bhatia went to participate a poetry competition and we were welcommed with hurrahs and taunting cheers & jeers, This was the day I realized the pain of being the target because of you being a boy or a girl.

There is no one other than Manpreet who can help Punjab Police to improve. The rest of the bloggers will take care of the guys standing in front of the barbarshop!

Mampi said...

Ramanujam-Glad you liked it.

Philip-To some extent I agree with you.

Guri-Well, one thing, The Physical education girls sang a nice song, nahi?
Ramgarhia college, LDH is a girls college. They still indulge in cat-calls and stuff. Well, You and Zafar are a deadly combo, dont blame the girls.
I mean blame your talent. ;)

Anonymous said...

i like the way you have described the village...
n yeah, the cops in our country are sometime totally useless..they are the problem and not the solution to the problem!!even delhi had some of these great cops...

Gurinderjit Singh said...

Your posting also reminds me of a twisted song by my friend Avtar Butar:
Maye ni maye
Ni main ikk Pulsiya Yaar Bnaya
Choor devan ta oh khanda nahi
ni main murge nu tarrka laya
Ikk glassi uhne aisee marri
jive sadian da tirhaya....

Indian Home Maker said...

Yes, G was wise to advise you not to approach the Policemen. Most Policemen also come from the same background that believes every Indian male has a right to 'correct by commenting' every Indian woman who 'asks to be corrected by not dressing the way THEY deem fit'. And when boys grow up thinking they will be excused with 'Boys will be Boys' what else do we expect? It may be just a little comment or 'time pass' for a boy, it makes life difficult for girls. Many girls are not even allowed to go to school because their parents fear they will be harassed by boys. I hope you did not stop walking? I know many women who walk long distances through/close to villages on city outskirts and they are really fit.
These boys do get used to seeing urban clothing and lifestyle after a while :)
jottingsandmusings, I also find it amazing how Mumbai, despite odd cases, is a safe, decent city even now.

Anonymous said...

ਆਹ ਧੌੜੀ ਦੀ ਜੁੱਤੀ ਦੀਅ-ਦੀ ਆਹ,
ਧੜੀ ਛੌਲੇ ਪੈਦੇਂ ਨੇ…
ਸੋਅ (100) ਮਾਂਰੂਗੀ ਤੇ ਇਕ ਗਿਣੂਗੀ…

Mampi said...

HowDoWeKnow-sorry your comment got missed out when I responded earlier. And its bad that your connection hangs upon opening my blogpage. All the time I kept thinking you were enjoying the music. More on Nimakh soon but I will try to email you the contents so you wont have to come here.

Avna-do you remember my sprint at the Hawa Mahal market?

Mandira-I agree with you. I have had the Delhi experience too, about 10 yrs back.

Guri-PP tey ina tawa? Koi dushmani hai kee?

IHM-You are so right. It hurts so much to prepare little girls to fight eve-teasing in the society. Again, its blame the victim tendency. And BTW I dont rate Bombay as a safe city for women anymore, with the shameful new year incident that took place there.

Anon-Loved the Punjabi comments, wichkarla sentence samajh nahi aya, but i got the general spirit.(I m sure you are S.S. Gill, I would have liked if you had written your initials.)

PARRY said...

You were a target of discrimination and that may be
because of your gender or your physique or both. May be it was your attire which made you into minority and they were uneducated village brats who needed your
attention to release whatever frustration they had against you. And if you think that 14-15 yr old guys will see you only in an asexual way or whatever think again !!

Mama - Mia said...

sigh! it is kinda crazy, nahi?!

i have trusted Mumbai police often enough! whether it was an errant cabbie or something else!

ofcos eveteasing is something SOOO common in Mumbai, that you learn to take care of it yourself!

in bangalore, the police is the wimpiest i have ever seen! :(