Fighting like a girl


May 2017

Musings of a Newbie in Mumbai


Photo Credit: National Geographic


“Job Offer” read the subject of an email I had been waiting to receive for over two months. I finally had a job in Bombay- a city I’d wanted to move to for two years. I was ecstatic, and then of course, terrified. You see, I have a special knack for always finding the bad in the good, but never vice versa. How would I ever pay rent AND afford to eat on my salary? What if I don’t make any friends? What if I’m terrible at my job?

A month into my stay in Bombay, I don’t think I’m too bad at my job, but I continue to worry- about money, the future, relationships…to name a few. Though I have to admit, the city is slowly wearing my cynicism down.

Every evening after work, I take a short walk by the sea (yup, I live close to the sea- thanks to some VERY good luck and an extremely kind landlady). It’s the favourite part of my evening- the rest of which is spent Netflixing.

I look forward to the walk every day. I’ve learnt to appreciate sunsets (!), and it’s also a great time to people-watch and play with some dogs. The best part, however, are all the couples. Young and old, I get to see a lot of hand holding and hugging (and sometimes quite a bit more…).

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to sound creepy, but there’s something so refreshing about seeing two people in love, in public, and unafraid to show it. In a country that’s in denial about anything to do with sex and sexuality, where there are “squads” specially formed to humiliate consenting couples in public, public displays of affection become profoundly political acts. It makes me so happy to see couples find their own space, out in the open, to just be in love- a little act of resistance.

Often I still find myself wondering if I did the right thing by moving to Bombay. Should I have held out for better opportunities, moved to a less expensive city (I walked into a juice store the other day and it cost 200 bucks a glass…guess I’ll just stick to drinking water)? The doubts come and go. But, at times like these I remind myself of the good things (a principle I’m trying very hard to follow in my life in general).

I remind myself, of the many auto wallahs who didn’t lose their patience with me whenever I lost my way. I remind myself of the popcorn vendor next to my house who was willing to give me a free bag just because I didn’t have any change. I remind myself of the many times I got home in the middle of the night, unafraid, of the times I walked down the street in summer dresses, unafraid.

Or, I just take a walk by the sea, and that’s all it takes to remind me that in Bombay, love truly is all around.

“Living Responsibly”: Only for Women?

“Live Responsibly or Anticipate Death and Destruction” reads the title of an article on the death of model Sonika Chauhan.

“We want ‘equal rights’ – we want to be able to go out late at night as men do, bar-hop, drink and relax, have several rounds of drinks. It’s our ‘right’. We too need to relax. Do that, but why not do it in the safe confines of your friends or your home? Why do parents abdicate on their responsibility – do you feel if your unmarried daughter is earning in lakhs or whatever, she can do what she pleases as it’s her life, she has earned the right to do with it as she pleases and you should not interfere?”

This is just one of the many obnoxious excerpts from this article where the author blames everything from Bon Jovi (?!) to Feminism for her death. Could Sonika have said no to getting into the car knowing her friend was drunk? Of course, she could have. But does bad judgment imply she deserved to die? I don’t think so.

We’ve all been in situations that could have gone either way. A lot of us have let friends and boyfriends drive us home after a few drinks. This could have been any one of us. Sonika just got unlucky. It wasn’t her fault.

However, apparently women (and women alone), do not have the right to “go out late at night, bar hop, drink and relax”. The author even brings up the murder of Saumya Viswanathan, the Delhi journalist who was shot dead in the middle of the night as she drove home from work. So, I guess women don’t have the right to work either.
We should stay at home, never touch alcohol, never relax (?), because those are things only men are allowed to do. However, if we get raped, assaulted or murdered at home (as many women do), that’d be on us too. There’s no winning.

Seriously, fuck you. Fuck you for using a tragedy like this as yet another justification in restricting our right to public space.

She didn’t deserve this. No one does.


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