Sexual abuse awareness


In an earlier post, I’d mentioned about a flyer distributed in Vyas’s school on ways to keep themselves safe, cautioning them on signs of sexual abuse. A similar flyer was circulated this year too by http://www.tulir.org and here is the online version:

http://www.tulir.org/images/pdf/children-eng.pdf

And while on the subject, I thought I’d share an experience I had about 4 weeks back, something am still having trouble getting over with!

On my way back from work, I prefer to walk home from the bus stop where I alight, covering a distance of appx. 2 kms. The other alternatives would be to hop into a share auto or another bus. It felt good to walk that stretch in the evening. The last 3-4 mins stretch is through a pucca residential street where kids are usually seen riding a bicyle and people are seen chatting in groups, and quite a few cars and bikes are parked on the road as most houses on this lane do not have a built-in car-park.

It was around 7.00 PM when I was on this road when my FIL called on my mobile to check where I was (a norm because of the unpredictable traffic jams in Chennai these days). I answered the phone and on my other hand were a book and a bag. And then it came- a hard, intense, violent slap on my back by a speeding motorbike with 3 guys on it! I lost my balance and the mobile, book and bag were strewn on the road and I almost banged my shoulder against a parked car. The bike was not in sight the next second and I only heard a distant vrooom! I had a throbbing pain where the slap landed for hours after that. But even after days of this episode, the pain I still feel within is worse. How much ever I wish that the goons should have met with a deadly accident in the next turn, I know that it would not have happened and instead there would have been other women and younger girls who have been subjected to this pain or worse!

What makes people capable of such malice? How does a person capable of this filth have a night of peaceful sleep? How does inflicting physical pain on a unsuspecting fellow human being produce any pleasure?

After a tyrst with a stalker, I have been careful on the road. Sexual abuse in crowded places like buses, theaters, bus stops, railway stations etc is quite common. You’ll find scopophilic morons in such places. Few things to watch out for:

1. Ogling is a very common form of sexual harassment. Its sad to see some small school girls subject to this torment very often, specially in the buses. They’d find it difficult to express discomfort and are often doubtful of the intent of the abuser. Constant awareness lessons in schools will be of great help.

2. Watch for morons walking up to you and hurl themselves on you or feel-up where possible.

3. Stalkers who will pretend to accidentally step on your feet from behind and attempt bottom pinch/slap, or brush shoulders.

4. Its a really really bad idea to attempt getting into a bus when there is a crowd trying to get in at the same time.

5. Advancements made by an acquaintance- a relative or such- is not unheard of. I, for instance have had the bad fortune of listening to a 40+ year old moron, trying to tell me that hugging is the American way of saying good-bye or hello, in my early teens. I had sense enough to tell that neither he nor I was an American. Later, some whistle-blowing among our relatives kept the fellow at bay!

6. Watch out when you are walking on public roads after sunset, specially if there are many 4-wheelers parked. While you run the risk of being whisked away if there aren’t people, the parked vehicles also shield the abuser from view of common junta on the road like it happened in my case. By the time you pull out the chilli/pepper, the guys would have vaporized!

7. Being nudged from behind in theaters/auditoriums is common too.

Am trying to think of ways I could have avoided the mishap. Not answering a phone call on road does not seem convincing- goes against the ‘walk as you talk’ marketing:) Never to walk down that road feels like a surrender (but that is the truth. i have not taken that road since then)! The hubby said that I should have shouted like crazy to seek some attention at least. Maybe. But I was taken totally unawares (yeah, I know all such instances don’t always come with a warning. still….) and was too shocked to react.

There must be many more preposterous ways of harassment. Do share some tips to avert such encounters, or do a detailed post on your experiences please. Feels cathartic to have shared it here, like having offset some load. While I would like to believe all is well with the world, a closed introspection has a different story to tell.

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Parenting gyan in a bus


Another of those ‘bus-conversations’ that I cannot resist posting here:)

This time a mommy instructing her daddy not to take her child to a birthday party. Ahem, and the party was in her S-I-L’s place.. I did not bother to find out if it was her hubby’s sis or or brother’s wife:-) Nosy, I know! But when people talk for the world to listen in to their parenting skills, I think there is no harm in contributing an idea or two!

So, our lady reasoned that the child (referred to through out the conversation as ‘adhu’ or ‘idhu’, the reason why I could not make out if it was a sad son or a deprived daughter), might end up eating chocolates, chips, cakes or pastries, or maybe even some fruit juice. So what snacks does one other-wise arrange for birthday parties? Tell me something other than veg sandwich and french fries please because the child cannot have these items too. The butter/cheese/veg/sauce filling is hazardous to the child’s health..

At which point, am assuming the grandpa on the other end was all empathy for the grand-child and seems to have mentioned there was dinner too and maybe he offered to take care to see that the child does not have any of these other than dinner. Rearing two brats at home, I know how hard it is to hold back a child from going to a b’day party (or from hosting one )if they already know its happening! And they have a blast! I’m restrictive too- chocolates, pastries, chips are not a part of everyday meal. No Lays chips, no Bingo/dingo, no cream biscuits. The regular variety of chips/wafers, chaat, tandoori, anything home-made, hotel-cooked is fine for me. Weekends, parties, when we have visitors, during travel – are all occasions to indulge… How can you deprive your child what every other child the world over loves and has? Well, I digress!

The biggest gyan was yet to come: “No dinner please. Am sure they’ll have a biryani and curd-rice and more chips. “adhu” cannot have curd rice because “adhu” can catch cold!” Give me a break!!

The grandpa made the mistake of saying ‘paavam kozhandai’ on the other end and there ensued a macro lecture that lasted a full 4 minutes. I’ll just give you the gist: “Paavam (sympathy)” will do no good. And she would go home and make ‘koottu (some dhal with veg- hopefully)’ and rasam and feed the child. Amending her ‘parenting’ style is not an option it seems!! Shabbbaa! ‘Paavam thatha and ‘adhu’, is all I can say!!

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Excuse me! Ladies Seat Please!


One of the innumerable blessings Chennai has is the PTC bus service. Between, is’nt Chennai one of the best cities to have a wonderful local transport system, both by road and rail? I personally think so.

Coming to the bus transport, you are doubly blessed if you are a frequent user of this service. Am one. Besides being let into interesting conversations, you also get into interesting situations. Like the other day, which like every other day, was eventful. The seats on the left, reserved for ladies, was fully occupied and few were seen standing. Still, hopped into the bus because I’d already skipped two buses because of the crowd and was running late. The little one at home has a biological timer set and goes off as timed if he does not see his mom moving about inside the house at that hour.

The last seat was occupied by a few ‘gentlemen’. Good. I walked up to the seat and requested one of them to give me the seat. He gave me ‘that’ look and turned away. I then ‘gently’ reminded him that it was reserved for ladies. And showed him the text written in Tamil which was a little over his head (pun intended). He made a face and reluctantly got up and I caught him muttering, “vandhuruvalungalae ladies seat nnu sollikittu” (a sarcastic comment to the effect that these women come demanding as if.. I don’t know how exactly to translate this ). I simply glared at him for it was not in me to pick up an argument with him at that moment.

Just as I sat down, I heard a lady standing there sympathize with the men-folk in general, and a rant aimed at me in particular. ‘Kaalam kettupochi’, she said. Which loosely translates to ‘Its a bad world’. “Do you know that men also have a hard day at work? They are prone to sickness and sorrow. They also age like women”! Wow! I mean it was a revelation. I had a good mind to ask her if men had their bottoms pinched or their person groped as often happens (read everyday) with women, specially in a bus? I ignored her rant and call me selfish, was happy I got a place to sit. I have a feeling she was irked because she had till then not requested anyone to move and give her a seat. And as if this was not enough, the men next to me got up one by one and made way for the other ladies, the silent spectators, who for some reason thought that it was the right moment to demand the seat. And this woman, who was uttering blasphemy, was one of them to occupy a ‘vacated’ seat!

Touting for women’s rights is not on the agenda when I demand the seat which is actually reserved for ladies. I understand that an old man deserves the seat more than I do. Am not saying that every women gets ‘feeled-up’ in a crowd, or that all men are bad. Sexual abuse is common in a crowded bus and is very very annoying. Every other person appears decent and the culprits have a knack of becoming invisible. Given a chance, I’d even sit on the right-side which is ‘common’, if all the seats in the left and the last row are occupied that is. And it is not that I don’t travel standing. I do, but avoiding a crowded bus to the extent possible seems to be the sensible thing to do.

I often sulk and curse the buses and the routes like every women does. But there is a bus every few minutes and 9 out of 10 times, you’ll have a comfortable ride home. And that is the positive, wonderful side of public transport in Chennai. A blessing even if there is a price to pay.

What say you gals and guys?

PS: Edited a typo.

Family history shared in a bus


Bus travel is an experience. But never knew that it can be so very interesting. Come to think of it, the conversations we overhear (this is not intentional mind you!) are excellent bloggable materials. And am sure this deserves a special section in the blogs and am going to add special tags.

The travel time last evening from work to home was just over 35 mins. Between, ‘time’ is a tricky thing and I have a feeling it customizes itself according to people’s mood, place, or circumstance. Otherwise how could I have learnt the family history of 3 families spanning over 3 decades in about 30 mins? Many such conversations have made it to our lunch table discussions and then forgotten. They are worthy of being recorded for posterity. Precisely why am going to jot them down here!

Claimer 1: All characters, names, incidents, events cited below are real and have not been distorted.

Claimer 2: Hey you all women reading this. Don’t you ever believe when the guys say that they do not gossip or indulge in small-talk. They do it big time. There will be few smart guys who will attribute that gossip also to the presence of a girl or two in the group!

Disclaimer: Am not sure of the authenticity of the tales spun (err.. facts discussed) by the characters though.. And I mean no offence to you guys who traveled, if you chance upon this blog. Which I doubt..

Disclaimer: There might be mix-ups of conversations of B and Mani. Read on to see who they are..

A girl and two guys, all in their 2nd yr Engineering, were occupying the last seat and D70 is the bus route (in Chennai). They got to ‘know’ each other a little recently (this is my inference from the conversation that followed). For convenience, let me call the girl G and one of the boys B (for I did not figure out their names). The other boy is Manikandan and is brilliant. He himself made that claim and B vouched for his academic brilliance.

(Starts from where I picked up)

B ( to G): What’s the model number of your mobile?

G: Not sure da. Don’t remember actually. I shelled out 7K though.

B and Mani: Too bad you don’t know! Ok, what songs do you have?

G: Eei,check the file storage. My brother only knows da. He listens to the songs as I have pain in my ears when I plug the ear-phones in.

Mani: Why?

G: Don’t know. Must visit the ENT.

Mani: I mean, why don’t you know which songs are available?

G: Oh that! (giggles..) I told you I don’t use it. My brother does.

B: You have two brothers right?

G: I have a younger brother and 3 cousin brothers who are older than me. But they are as good as my own brother and are very fond of me.

B or Mani: Do you fight?

G: Yeah, we fight and forget soon too.

B: Yeah, that’s the way to be. I and my elder brother fight too. We are still close.

G: Do you both have sisters?

B: We both have an elder brother. Do you know something. My brother’s name is Karthik and so is Mani’s (it was at this junction that I got to know that Mani is Mani). And both did IT in Jerusalem college.

G: Same class?

Mani: No, my brother is studying while his brother is [some year]-passout.

G: So nice no?!! Do your brothers take care of you (unga annanga ungale nalla pathikkuvangala?).

B: Yeah. I told you we also fight.

G: You know, my brother takes his studies too lightly. He feels that he should have been born a year later.

B or Mani: Why?

G: No exams for 10th std from next year. That is why. He is in 10th now.

B or Mani: I heard that the exam ban is in effect from this year?

G: No No. I do not think so.

G to Mani in particular: I heard that you study very well?

Mani: See, I just listen in the class. I don’t spend hours studying like how others portray. But somehow, I manage to score well. Just listening in class matters.

G: I don’t know about that. I can’t make sense of half the things taught. Who do you think teaches that well? Most of them (i guess it is the faculty) are recent pass-outs!

B & Mani: Yeah yeah, you are right….

B: But what this guy says is true. I’ve never seen him with books at home. He is either watching TV or playing cricket or talking to me or other friends. His brother is even more brilliant. He was the District 7 (or similar rank, don’t remember) in 12th.

G: Wow! Your parents must have been very happy.

Mani: Yes, specially my dad. You know, my dad has struggled quite a lot when he was young. Very much!

B: Hey tell her about how your dad started da!

Mani: He (the dad) started working in a bakery at Red Hills when he was just 7. His dad ditched him after his (the dad’s) mom’s death and married someone else. He has struggled his way up since then.

B: His (mani’s) mom’s a great support. You know, their’s was a love marriage.

Mani: Yeah, my mom is very broad-minded. My parents still have not been accepted by my grand-parents (must be the mom’s side- my brilliant inference).

G: Sad na?! But it is nice that your dad has made it and has also managed to educate both his sons in professional colleges!

B /Mani : True, true! Really great.

G (laughs): Mani, I then don’t see any objections from your parents when the time comes…

Mani: Yes. They are very open to it.

G: I sometimes tell my mom that I’m going to find my own match. And my mom is too easy on that too. She says she’ll happily save the money to be spent on 50 sovereigns gold and dowry if i elope (laughs again)!

B: Hey what photo is this? (presumably the one in G’s mobile)

G: This is our college symposium. And this is when I went to Coimbatore for [something to do with college].

Mani: We should plan an outing with all our friends. Maybe Ooty or some place. It will be fun.

G: No way. My parents will not allow for more than a day or two at max. Maybe beach or ..

It was time for me to alight while their interesting journey must’ve continued. While the three-some discussed their families so loudly in so public a place like a local transport, what was heartening was to hear them speak highly of their family and there wasn’t a trace of vulgarity!

Life sometimes doesn’t seem complex at all. It can be run as a 30 mins slideshow…