Tuesday, September 2, 2014


‘Why would this girl lie? After all she is taking the blame on herself’, said the police officer to the criminal infront of me.

                          It was a Saturday afternoon I had lunch with a friend in Gurgaon before I decided to head home.  The metro for those who do not take it or belong to Delhi can get crowded and air tight to an extent that the Tupperware guys could take inspiration. I luckily managed to find a seat till Rajiv Chowk metro station (Connaught Place) where I had to change my train. The doors opened… Btw I was in a regular and not the women’s only coach – why is this little detail important for this post? Well the answer lies ahead.

So where were we? Yes, the doors opened and people began to flood in. I tried to push and nudge my way out but no luck. With a huge sigh I decided to get off at the next station - New Delhi. As I positioned myself close to the exit door I felt a sense of unease run through my body, like someone has pierced their gaze on me or someone is watching me. Suddenly I felt something touch me from behind. With half my mind on trying to get off at the next station I turned thinking it was someone’s bag or hand touching me repeatedly. I turned to see a man in a white kurta (long shirt) staring right at me and he had no baggage with him. In fact both his hands were clenching the railing next to him.  But if both his hands were up there what was it that… I got my answer as soon as I lowered my sight. There beneath that long shirt I could clearly see that this man was UNZIPPED. I felt the blood rush to my head, boiling and fuming and fury ran through every nerve in my body.

Within that fraction of a second every single eve teasing incident, every darn face of those guys who had the guts to molest someone I know flashed in my mind. Before I knew my voice escaped my lungs and there I was screaming at the man who dared to mess with me.

‘KYA problem hai?’ (What is your problem?)
‘Kya samjh rakha hai saale?’ (What the hell do you think?)
‘Himmat kaise huyi teri?’ (How dare you?)

These were some of the things I uttered looking right into his eyes. He was startled and started blabbering that he is sorry and insisted that it was his hand that touched me by mistake. Your ‘HAND’ that comes out from your pants? How the hell was your zip open? I was screaming in a coach full of men and women. Did anyone come forward to help or even displayed basic courtesy to ask me what was wrong? The answer was a big unsurprising NO. I turned and spotted two men in fact smirking at me. Their silence tried my patience and ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.

I held that (namesake) man’s collar and dragged him out of the train. He was on a loop mode ‘It was my hand, it was a crowded train’. The moment we set foot at the platform he managed to escape. I ran, with all the strength and courage in me, I ran after him making as much noise as I could. A few saw (the tamasha), the others gasped while one man in the uniform began to chase him. I went towards the other side and we managed to get hold of him. I yelled again How dare you? How did you dare to touch me? People like you make Delhi a nightmare for girls? You make us question every time before we step a foot outside. HOW DARE YOU?

People watched the guards dragging a man to the control room and a girl screaming at him. They only watched.

As we took him to the control room he told the police that I am mistaken, it was his hand that touched me by mistake and it could happen to anyone because it was a crowded train. “Ask her… it was my hand”, he said. 15 guards, all men turned towards me as he tried to shame me. But if he had the guts to do it I had the spine to say it. You see anger brings out the strength you never thought you had in you but in my case anger brought out a language I never thought I could use. I was outright and I had all the right to be – “Lift up that kurta and you will know exactly what touched me”. There. I said it out loud and clear. The guards felt outraged and charged at him. Within seconds he begged for an apology and suddenly the hand in question transformed into a part of his body he wished he never had. “Why would this girl lie? After all she is taking the blame on herself”, said the police officer to the criminal infront of me. He committed the crime, I raised my voice and yet somehow the shame was on me. That statement reflected the thought process of our society, in fact it said much more. I argued with the officer and told the man in question that I have lost NOTHING in this entire episode and in fact I will make him pay for this. He immediately begged for an apology and I instead, insisted to file an FIR. After a few calls, 5 friends of mine reached the station to back me up and how? They were equally angered and showed no mercy.

We moved to Kashmere Gate police station and I slapped a sexual molestation case against him. He was arrested and put behind bars immediately. I decided to not let this one go and appeared at the court on Monday to record my statement in front of the magistrate. Meanwhile this man has been moved to Tihar jail and will spend his time behind the bars until he gets bail.

You see there are several measures being taken to make our public spots and transport safe. Someone asked me as to why I did not take the women’s only coach? But honestly that’s not a solution. These reservations in fact paint the idea that it is not ok or safe for women to be in public spaces. It's debatable, I know but are reservations really improving the situation? Then what would?

I think the answer lies within us. Unless women put forward that is not OKAY for someone to touch and get away with it, nothing will change.

I could just bite the bullet and accept that I was eve teased or molested. Or I can raise my voice and instill the fear in the criminal instead of victimising myself.  If this man has the guts to unzip in a metro full of people, he probably started off by doing something less offensive to another girl. Her silence was his encouragement. Remember every time you choose to ignore or walk away, you put someone else in danger. 

So I urge women to respect their body and know that it’s okay for you to say that someone touched you without your consent and you have to muster the courage to reach out to the police. I insist please for the sake of womanhood – SPEAK UP!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Inspired By Anurag Kashyap’s That Day After Everyday

On a recent work trip outside India, I met some great people, got to know about each other’s cultures, languages, accents and so on. One night we all wanted go get some dinner after a long tiring schedule and it was a beautiful night so we decided to walk it. Walk through the neighborhood of the non stop city, pass through streets trying to get familiar with buildings and wall arts. Suddenly a fellow woman journalist wanted to call it a night and walk back to the hotel alone while the rest had other plans.

My first instinct - was to walk with her. While the men in the group seemed at ease with the idea, I wanted to walk her back through those unfamiliar streets. There, that very moment is frozen in memory.  Because it wasn’t until then that I realized, no matter what time zone I am in, I carry this strange sense of fear. Being in the capital, where we are poured with horrific news stories and almost 99.99% of the women(considering how there might be that one 00.01% still in the womb)  have experienced instances of eve teasing. This feeling of being at constant guard the moment the sun dips or the clock strikes 9, the sense of wanting to protect my loved ones,  trying to be strong at all times and ready to battle down those little leeches on the streets. I somehow carry this bundle of emotions with me, almost like a scar.

We tell our women to be careful if you are on the liberal end or decide to put them on a curfew if you are more of a control freak. As a woman you will get free valuable advice from your fathers, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, male friends, colleagues, relatives you don’t really know…  on how to protect your body. Cover it, don’t take it on the streets, don’t walk alone, dress decently, carry a pepper spray, take martial art classes, come back on time, btw what is a safe time, really?

No, I am not irrational! I understand that it is good to be alert considering how one cannot control external forces and trust me, no one is worried more about my safety than me. But, what are we ultimately telling our girls? What is the message we are trying to convey? If to protect is to hide and to be conservative is decent, where are we leading? I know we aren’t surrounded by Edward Cullens (thank God for that) who would appear the moment you tip toe into trouble, but what is the point? It took years around the world to get women out of their homes, to make them believe that is more to life, a more versatile role that you need to play. And now its like we are moving forward only to step back into the past. In our attempt of trying to avoid the misery, you sir are instilling fear in me. And I don’t want to live like that. You want to help women then watch out for every jerk you spot on the streets, trains, bars and raise your voice for me, even if you don’t know who I am.

Now, considering I am in a situation like this, what will I do? Well… I have done a lot of things in the past like run, scream back, create a scene or even knock down someone. But I am no hero, I am barely 55 kgs, I trip on the every 100th step I take… forget watching out for myself I can barely cross the road sensibly. But at least I wish to walk free! Someday i will, without this scar. Hopefully!

P.s. I saw this short film and words started spilling out of my head. A Must Watch!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

She Dint Say And Neither Did He

She was at the park next to his house, waiting as usual. Rattling her mind, going over all the rights and wrongs, the good times and the bad times, thinking if this was the best thing to do.  She sat down by the bench, taking deep breathes and suddenly she realized it was their spot. It was the same bench where she once sat as a teenager with for him, the same spot where he decided to drop the L bomb, the spot where he asked her to be his girl.  Her phone buzzed and she was brought back to the present with his message flashing on it, “Will be there in 5”.  She jumped up from that bench and decided to walk instead.

He sent a message to her and ran to his cupboard. He knew he took way too much time in the shower and was late as usual.  Throwing the towel on the bed,  he grabbed the first thing he could find from the heap of clothes.  Her voice began screaming in his head, “You need to be more organized, no wonder you get so late  all the time.  How can you find anything in that clutter”.  He smiled for a brief second, until his eyes fell on a dry rose stuck on his wall, a rose that she bought years ago.  He shut his mind, grabbed that letter on his table and walked towards the door.  He was wearing her favorite tee shirt. On any usual day he would have lied about wearing it on purpose, just to make her smile.  But today he simply walked back in and threw a fresh shirt on himself. 

“You’re late”, she said. “I swear I left on time”, he sheepishly replied.  She loved his sheepish face but today it meant nothing. They stood in front of each other, avoiding eye contact and awkwardness became the third person in the picture. 

They sat in that park,  staring into space without saying a single word. There wasn’t much left to say anyway.  Just the thought of being away from each other seemed like the end of the world once upon a time,  but today it is was the right thing to do. “So what happened?”, he asked her,  knowing there wasn’t a simple answer. This is it, she thought to herself.  She got up and turned to him, no tears, no smile, she carried a straight face, trying hard to hide her broken heart. He handed her that letter he got before leaving home.

They both walked way from each other, no hugs, no goodbyes, no regrets...
She opened the letter in the train, smiled to herself till her station and left that note on her way out. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What My Words Told Me

At the peak of my so called good times, when I am bursting with happiness, all I do is live the moment and emote best, with a big wide smile. And when my heart is sinking the most, the writer in me suddenly emerges out. Strange theory isn’t it? Maybe words have that magic of not letting you feel alone, of telling you constantly as to how they are a mirror. A mirror, to your true self.

Human emotions have always intrigued me to great levels. What we do, when we do it, why did that/a particular thing happen sometimes has no reason, logic or explanation to it. Despite being a cheerful person, I would surprise my own self as my anger would plan to ambush my patience every now and then.   Or my naturally impulsive instincts would simply take a back seat at the most unexpected moments.

On my 10th birthday my Dad gifted me a Secret Diary. It had a little heart shaped lock on it, which managed to completely thrill me, as it was my first encounter with concealed emotions. I began writing what I truly felt, ever since. At times, I spoke to my Diary in the most contented spirit and sometimes in a servile tone.

Reading it now feels like doing a crash course on myself. 
The conflict of two minds within yourself, what is right and what is wrong, what is acceptable and what is not (to you/ your loved one/ society), from what makes you happy to what angers you, from what can hurt you to what it takes to win your heart. There is so much depth in each of us and yet we are busy figuring out everyone and everything else. So much drama! I learnt about things I had forgotten and decided to forget about things that I held onto, pointlessly. That is when I realized that how; sometimes writing almost becomes a shield. Luckily for me I grew up to be an outspoken person yet a part, like everyone, was reserved just for me and my hidden words.  

Always been too scared to make mistakes and obsessed with doing the right thing. It is like an addiction, to be perfect. And if I stumbled, forgiving myself was the hardest thing to do.

Now, my own words made me realize that there would always be a difference between whom you are and who you wish to be. With the passing years and a handful of mistakes I realized that it is not all that bad to falter at times. Because when I decide to question myself as to WHO is it that I really wish to be, I would not have to speculate. I WOULD KNOW IT.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Red Light

Once upon a time…
What a perfect start to each story. But this story would begin a little differently.

At this moment, she believed a new journey was about to begin. Windows, have always been a source of fascination to her. Just the concept of a window, has always intrigued her since she was a young girl. When she moved away from her folks to a house of her own, she picked the room she lived in now, not because of its size or storage or luxury or comfort or color but because of that one window she saw and fell in love with. After a long day of chirpiness and randomness which comes to her quite naturally, she would wait to spend some time with that window in her room. Nobody knew that she spoke to herself sitting beside it; nobody knew that she spoke to her window about everything while she gazed out it.

It was her best friend.

It showed her the world in broad day light. A world filled with clarity, crowded with everything which seemed right, a world painted in white. And then it would introduce her to the night stars which were far from where she was. A world filled with so much darkness, yet in that grave black sky, the window showed her the distanced lights, giving her hope. She lived in a life of either light or darkness and slowly began to realize that both wanted to own her. There was nothing in between, there was no mid way, is what she believed. And she knew she couldn’t live without this stability. She would tell herself that she would never let go.

After years of living a life wrapped in perfection one night, while gazing at the shiniest star, she couldn't help but notice a twinkling red light on the terrace of a distant building. She began to notice this red light each night from there on. While she continued talking to herself with her head rested on her best friend her eyes would constantly drift towards this light. It intrigued her so much that, she slowly began to stare at it for hours and eventually began to talk to this light, revealing every bit of herself. With each passing night the time they spent together kept increasing. Everything else would become dull when she spoke to this red light. It brought in a rush of a strange joy and she dint understand what it was. She tried looking for it during the day but would always fail and so waited for it to come to her each night.

And then came that one moment when she lost count of the passing hours. As she poured her heart out the night traveled. The red light began to fade and she saw that transition for the first time. She looked up, the sky was breaking into dawn, and there it was, neither white nor black. IT WAS GREY.

Her red light took her where she had never stepped before. She did every possible thing to fight it. She shut her eyes walked away from the window. She tried looking for her light but it was gone. Maybe now, forever.With time things began to hit her and she now knew that life as she knew it, would never be the same. The window in her room reminded her of old memories but she took a deep breath and looked at it hoping it would wait for her to return. She mustered all the courage in her to spread her wings and leaped out the window, in search of light but this time, within her own self.

At this moment, her journey has already begun.

Friday, September 3, 2010


It is natural to develop prejudices. It is noble to rise above them. 

(Inspiration: 19 years of receiving and witnessing loose comments)

Ever wondered who exactly came up with the phrase ‘black beauty’? Think about it. 

Maybe it was a black man tired of the discrimination coming his way cause of his skin color. Trying to build up a superiority complex for himself and his clan?
Or maybe a huge hearted white, sun bathing with sun tan lotion rubbed all over. Visualizing a beautiful tan on him?

In a country as diverse as ours, communities survive on ‘stereotypes’ created by the other. It’s a way of classifying and ordering an otherwise anarchic world. In this wealth of comforting pre-judgments, the vein of South - Indians in particular is golden. Replete with the generalizing all four southern states poles apart from each other as ‘ Madarasi’s’, followed by an accent everyone imagines bringing about a perfect imitation.

When we meet someone or merely see someone (in case of our dear countrymen), out of spontaneity immediately jump to a conclusion. The person in question is typical South Indian or Punjabi, Gujurati, Bengali, Bihari etc (in case of amateurs) or Baniya, Sindhi, Iyer etc (in case of experts). Once a collective school of thought is put together, there is just one motto ‘LET THE JOKES BEGIN’.
But my question, ‘Who exactly draws the basic guidelines of typical?’
Is it our over exaggerated experience and intellect or the perception that has managed to flow down several generations? No matter what the era we live in, the perception refuses to evolve. 

Let us highlight on a particular community. 

If you are a shameless believer in the utility of STEREO – TYPES, you would agree that South – Indians are black, weird accented and the sole consumers of coconut products in country. Some of you at this point might be nodding in approval. This simply adds a grin to my face and leaves me stunned. Stunned at the pride we Indians take in being merely two – tones lighter than the other.

Well we are huge hearted people; we haven’t simply used the understated crude irony to cut the oily sheen of sincerity. But we have managed to spread the pangs of racism and prejudice against people from the North Eastern India and Bihar. Chinkies, Non – Marathi’s, Madarasi’s, Bihari’s, Bong’s etc. To create categories and sub-categorists is the order of the day.

We have always learnt one principal in life – The one in majority is the bully. Including people down south. They are masters in out casting anyone from the North, labeling them as PARDESI’S.

It is a give and take game, but till when??? Whichever way you look at it, this is only tip the iceberg of the culture of racism. But in reality it is deep, rooted in India and in our educated minds in particular.
So the next time before you pull off a comment with refferance to somebody’s cultural background even if it is in good spirit, remember you are being party to segementing our “Incrediably Racially Prejudiced INDIA”.


I had a beautiful bird,
The bird chose me.
He adored and loved,
Every little aspect of me

I developed strong emotions,
Towards the beautiful bird
His beauty had smitten me,
Every time I look, I wouldn’t utter a word

Now we loved each other,
More than anything and anyone around
I pampered the bird so much,
That it started feeling bound

I caged him with my commitment,
And trust all around
All I could see was his face,
And just listen to his sound

With the passage of some years
My bird was troubled,
With so much love being showered,
The pressure on him was doubled.

Unconsciously I expected too much from the bird,
That his silent plea to be freed was always unheard

The bird broke the cage and flew far away,
I was shattered and destroyed
And for my dearest bird,
I prayed night and day

The world hated him is what he thought,
He quietly slipped in back the cage that I had bought

I thought the bird came back because he loved me,
But something about us was missing,
I always wondered,
What it may be.

My bird’s love for me had faded away,
I still held him back
With a hope to recreate that magic between us,
Which I believed was MEANT to last

My bird hated me now,
Deep down inside
But he still stuck by me for reasons unknown,
But I knew what I had to do

I had to pull myself together,
And give up on the most precious thing to me,
I knew I had to