In public places like DTC buses in Delhi, boundaries are defined by men. They define the safety (or lack of), the enjoyability, the convenience of your bus ride.
I take my bus from NOIDA Mod to Lajpat Nagar. It's cold and clammy when I take the bus, usually beyond 7:30 p.m. People raise eyebrows when I tell them I'm catching the cycle rickshaw to take the bus.
"A bus? In Delhi?" - Shudder -
But I love my bus journeys. The bus is bursting by the time it reaches. The conductor leans out, beating the side of his bus, beckoning me in. The conductor-assistant shoves men out of the packed aisle so I can get a bit of space near the top step. Above the roar of the engine the driver asks me if I'd like to sit on the engine with some other women he has accomodated similarly.
What could be a jostling-pinch-filled journey takes on other tones. I can feel the cold breeze, enjoy the lights across the bridge, bump along to the loud film music blaring from the drivers' seat speakers. Because on this bus the defined boundaries are protective ones, breaking stereotypes of the "typical Delhi bus ride". I'm sure other people have had worse experiences on Delhi bus rides, but thankfully mine are limited to these.
Not all public places are hostile to women. Some are friendly, welcoming and protective in an uninhibited way and this is my testimony to one such space.