Sunday, 5 October 2008

The Bitter Half

As N, I and I hitched a ride from Surajkund to college hostel one evening in a tempo, that had transported chicken to what my imagination always recollects as some sunny farm, little did we know our passage was marking the end of an era. It was a transition that affected all the people living in Delhi and those yet to live there but not many had such a memorable image to mark the event. True, we still had some meaninglessly hitched rides to Kamla Nagar left, a few on a dare but most because no one had anything better to do that particular evening. But the ride from Surajkund to North Delhi was epochal.

Flash forward to Delhi of today or even of five years ago or even twelve year ago (yes, I was in college ages ago) and try imagining three teenaged girls doing what we did and surviving to tell the tale. Just two years later on graduating the three of us shook our heads at our incredible stupidity. What were we thinking! That is how suddenly Delhi changed to such an unimaginable extent.

One night you could return from a SPIC MACAY concert at Delhi College of Engineering when it was still housed in some derelict buildings at Kashmere Gate with no one in the bus giving you a second look and the next morning you hear of someone in a DTC bus to IIT Gate getting assaulted. That is how low respect for women in Delhi fell in such short a time period. And then there was no looking up. Ever.

As far as I can recollect the city always had open and porous borders but life for women once they stepped outside the four walls of their houses wasn’t so fraught with danger. We could still walk all the way to North Campus from Pandara Road on a not yet chilly but pleasantly cold November morning unmolested. Or go out to get a bhutta with nimbu masala after sunset without people at home worrying how we were faring on the streets of Delhi.

So, life moves on. A City changes. A Nation imagines itself to be a superpower. And a people applaud their new found sense of well being.

But when not yet teenaged girls start walking to school with safety pins and chili powder in their pockets someone somewhere surely must know that though the lark’s on the wing; the snail’s on the thorn- still all’s not right with the world.

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