Monday, December 15, 2014

"Bharat ka rehne wala hoon, Bharat ki baat sunata hoon"

My first overseas trip and that too to the land of dreams, the U. S. of A! California made up in their lifestyle for what they lacked in landscape. I had gone to attend a couple of workshops and a symposium. I met a lot of people, made friends with quite a few and had a great time. Not surprisingly, everyone was very surprised that I was an Indian. “You don’t look or sound like an Indian!” had become part of my conversation with everyone. And quite graciously I did my part to educate many about the north-eastern region of our country.
Bar hopping in the downtown area was one activity I indulged in thoroughly. One such evening after dinner and a few rounds of fancy cocktails, we decided to finish off with a tequila shot each. I ended up doing three shots! But that’s another story. Where we had our shots was a nice small bar with groovy music and some clear space by the tables which served as the dance floor. We ran into another group of people from the symposium, awesome people from different South American countries and one Indian guy, led by one of our hosts, a friendly latina working in the host university. We drank, danced and had a lot of fun. We talked to each other about science, America and our native countries. 
Just then I overheard one of the Brazilian guys saying to the Indian, “She is also from India but she doesn’t look like an Indian at all!”. To that my countryman said, “Oh! She must be a Tibetan or a Nepali”.  I hadn’t expected that coming from a man who’s traveled all the way to the USA to pursue the highest degree in academics. As an alien in a different country, my us-against-the-world camaraderie with every other Indian I came across lay in irretrievable pieces on the dance floor. What had become a mundane occurrence in the streets of Delhi, to which I had grown insensitive pinched a lot inside that American bar. 
My initial shock of disappointment was overcome by a wave of anger but before I even reacted amusement washed over me at the fact that he looked ridiculously stupid! I went back to my dancing and my pleasant English company. I couldn't help wondering if another century or more of British rule could have knocked some sense into the racially exclusive and culturally bigoted Indian psyche and had they knocked up a lot more, we could have been one big happy family of bastard children of political harlots!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Bus Diaries III

I was going to work. I boarded the usual bus and sat down in one of the seats reserved for women. It was pretty crowded, as usual. The bus moved along at an idyllic pace that day (quite unusual) and everyone settled in their positions. It was a spring morning but the days were getting hotter by the day. Thankfully, the woman by my side stood some comfortable inches away.

There was a young girl sitting in the seat just in front of mine. Two men were standing near her. The younger one of them was standing uncomfortably close to the girl, who fidgeted in her seat visibly uneasy with the proximity of a man’s crotch near her face. He bumped into her shoulder, again and again. Even a blind could tell she wanted some space and a little respect.

The other man, who was older, and I witnessed what was unfolding in front of us. I looked at him and then at the younger man. Then something happened. After a few seconds the older man stepped in, moved to his side forcing the younger man to step away from the girl. Not a word spoken.

I felt like clapping and giving him a thumb-up. I thought, “We need more of such people.” I felt delighted and gave him a smile. He made my day!

I so wish my story had ended at the last sentence. But it continued. The girl stood up and escorted by her protective father and savior, got off at the next bus stop. I was almost disappointed.

I still wish my story had ended four sentences ago.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Bus Diaries II

Today, in the morning I got onto a crowded bus to come to work. Taking advantage of the crowd, a man behind me touched my buttocks.

An indescribable mixture of anger, disgust, hatred and shock came over me and I asked, “Haath kahaan jaa raha hai tera?” Feigning innocence, he refused he did anything wrong. I said I could call the police and then no one would reach anywhere on time today. He mocked at me asking me to go ahead. His thick face with cheeks hanging heavy on either side, he contorted his thick lips, which looked like the labia of a whore’s cunt. And for the first time in my life I shouted “chuttiya” in public. I didn’t intend to call the police, though I could have, because I was going to work and I wanted to reach there on time. Just like anyone else.   

Today, in the morning I got onto a crowded bus to come to work. Just like everyone else. But a man behind me touched my buttocks.
And I wonder why.