24.1.06

A testimony


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.

3 comments:

  1. yeah i knw what ur saying.its a different life out there which ppl who dont travel by buses have misconceptions abt.conductors being friendly,people offering u seats ( though i dont approve of 'ladies only' seats), one person even offered to hold my bag 4 me ..but then again, i knw friends who have had pretty bad experiences too..

    (btw,i take my bus frm two stops before noida mod. to lajpat nagar every morning :))

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  2. when i was still a student in delhi, i was standing at a divider at noida mod to cross the road for a bus. it was already dark and there was traffic on the road. a cielo slowly stopped where i was standing, the driver rolled down his window, showed me a wad of notes and said, "oye, chinky, kitne main aayegi?" before i could regain my nerves, he had driven away. furious,stunned, tears just welled up in my eyes. by the time i caught a bus,i was literally in tears. it was a jampacked dtc bus. when the conductor and the driver saw me, they looked at each other. they didnt ask any condescending questions. but the driver indicated the engine and softly said, "aap yahan pe bet jao."

    for every heartbreaking incident, i have a heartwarming one to tell of delhi.

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  3. hi bem
    thankyou for sharing.
    I am inDelhi and we a small group is meeting to initiate Blank Noise in Delhi on the 15th at Barista, south ex. would you like to join us?

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