Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Freedom and Women

Growing up in an Indian hick town with cosmopolitan pretensions was a mixed blessing. Everyone knew everyone so you had to watch your step. Good and bad news traveled at equal speed. A kid that did well in school became a local celebrity, the neighbor's uncle's mother-in-law knew his score in the last math test and made sure to inform everyone she knew. If a teen had a crush, the pressure from news mongering would uncrush it in short order - one less worry for the parents.

On the upside, you just had to walk twenty minutes from where you lived to sample almost every culture in India. Even in the dark ages pre-MTV, we did not have to play catch-up with style and fashion because women went home to metros they grew up in during holidays and brought back it back with them. I did not have a single friend that spoke the same language as I did at home.

For as long as I remember I never went anywhere un-escorted. All failing the trusty milkman would follow me on his bi-cycle with cans jangling until I reached my destination safe. I could go only as far as I my legs would carry me and curfew was in effect from the moments street lights came on. I yearned for freedom with every pore of my being - actually escape. It may well be symptomatic of growing up in a place like that. My high school buddies are in scattered in several different continents and none are in mine. The freedom urge must have been fairly strong to have caused such wide spread dispersion.

Girls in their teens had highly sensitive receptors for eve-teasers, perverts and the like. We would know the roads to avoid, read body language at twenty paces and make detours on the fly. Even with such sophisticated defense mechanisms we often found ourselves frequently and unsuspectingly "eve-teased" - the blanket euphemism whose only purpose is to dampen the seriousness of the problem.

There are still towns like mine around the world where women have to pay a price for freedom. The non-contact jacket is the logical evolution from pepper spray. Interestingly when we were in engineering school my buddies and I had thought of something very similar and our first concern was abuse of the devise by men and next someone coming up with a mechanism to discharge it remotely. We obviously missed an opportunity just like years later I missed yet another.

5 comments:

Sumita said...

HC

I grew up in a similar town, not too far from a big city...and your blog sounds like you were my next door neighbor...

WoW!!!! do I know you?

buckwaasur said...

yeah...eve-teasing my ass...more like eve-groping-fondling-pinching-slapping...can't believe such an innocuous sounding term is being used for such an abusive act...

sorry to go off on a tangent hc...was a nice blog overall...:-)

buckwaasur said...

hc...i've noticed that if u post multiple blogs a day, at least one or more of them will get lesser attention...i've suggested this to others before you as well, but i think it may be a good idea to post only one post a day so that each most might generate enough interesting feedback...

however, if ur intent is not really comments, ignore what i just said...:-))

Priyamvada_K said...

The jacket is a nice idea!

Paying price for freedom - sure. But with the gossip networks keeping kids away from mischief, sometimes I think it may not be a bad idea to raise a kid there :-)

Priya.

Chay said...

Crossings...
nice trip down memory lane...for me as well. :-))

Buck...that indignation about eve 'teasing' is so welcome!! :-))