Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Not an halpless woman anymore-Article published in HuffintonPost India.

This Article was first published in HuffingtonPost India.
It was 6.30 in the evening but it looked as if it was midnight. I was sitting on the night bus from Guwahati ISBT bus stop to my hometown in Arunachal Pradesh. My sister and I were visiting home after nearly a year, and naturally we were excited. I had always liked this bus drive to my hometown. I knew I would be fast asleep in sometime and with the first ray of sunlight, I would be home--sipping the early morning tea with my father and brother.
I woke up in the middle of night as I felt something on my leg. I looked down to find someone's hand on my leg. I was shocked. There was a guy sleeping in-between the isle and it was his hand. I was alarmed for a second. Were his intentions nasty or was he an innocent soul accidentally touching my feet? It could be either so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and removed my leg quietly.
I dozed-off again only to be woken up with a tingle on my thigh. It was again some hand hunting for something. I knew it was the same guy. I knew very well now that he was not a poor soul as I had earlier thought. I was annoyed at myself for not warning him at the first place. I knew he was the culprit, but do I have the guts to speak up for myself? I wasn't sure. My sister, all this while, was sleeping besides me, blissfully unaware of the turn of events.
Molestation like this is not the first I have experienced in my ten years of life as a single woman living on her own. In fact, this was the nth time I was touched without my permission. Be it the man rubbing his private parts against me in the MTC bus in Chennai or the man rubbing his elbow on my neck in Varanasi. I was always too ashamed to talk about such incidents. I have cried alone in my bathroom after the excruciating pain caused by the biker on a moving bike who hit my breasts in Bangalore city. I was embarrassed enough not to mention my agony and anger to my roommate or family for that matter. I have crushed, abused, yelled at the culprit in private, in the safety of my room, but never on his face. I was too scared to do that. What if he turns back and does something even more dangerous? What will the people around me think of it? Will I be portrayed as "Just another helpless girl crying for attention?" What if nobody helps me? It would be humiliating. My throat had always dried-up at the thought of it. I have never spoken a word about the humiliation and the mental trauma I have gone though all these years, something that always made me feel guilty--guilty of not standing up for myself.
That night, it was yet another incident in my long list of abuses by strangers. I looked down at the guy with the light of my mobile phone. He was acting as if he was fast asleep, which he wasn't. The light of the mobile phone was flashing on his face but he was daring enough to keep his hand still on my thigh. I alerted my sister about it. She gave me a look "What are you going to do about it?"
I didn't know what happened to me at that moment. I took out my slipper and started slapping this guy's face left, right and centre. I felt rebellious as if someone has set me free. I'd had enough of these jerks. I thought that this guy would wake up horrified and apologise for his deeds. To my utter shock he didn't. He shoved my hand as if I am some mosquito dancing over his face. He was obviously unaffected by my rage at him.

My sister and I were staring at him in disbelief. He was least bothered by our presence. We were the physically weak human beings trying to take on a 'Man'! We were the weak species called 'Women'. It was our fault that we travel alone in a bus without the security of a male companion. This was bound to happen. 'Men will always be Men'. We shouldn't have ventured out in the dark.
His overconfidence irritated me beyond words. What I did next was unbelievable for my own standards. I got down from my seat and gave him a real hard kick at his private part. YES! I did that. The guy finally woke up and curled himself in pain abusing me in Assamese. I was least bothered. I'd had enough of the nuisances of these monsters leaching on woman as and when it pleases them. I landed another kick on him. His voice grew louder waking up few of the fellow passengers. Before they could do anything this guy leaped into the driver's cabin.
People asked me "What Happened?", "What he did he do to you?" I narrated the incident to them without being bothered if i would be judged. I wasn't scared to speak up anymore or if someone will stand up for me. I went to my seat secretly hoping this guy would come up and confront me for trashing him in the most painful way. I waited for the next five minutes, ten minutes and fifteen minutes. Nobody came. I slowly drifted in the arms of sleep not before the bus stopped at a location and I saw the guy getting down from the bus. I had a smile on my face.
Confrontation was not that difficult as I had imagined. It was rather easy. I felt much at ease. I was not a hapless woman anymore!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Thailand: A Backpacker's Paradise.

You know what they say "you have not backpacked enough if you haven't been to Thailand". 
True to the gentleman who said that. 
How much ever you read about this country is less untill you visit them.

                                                          A day in the life of Patong.

One disclaimer you need to keep in mind, any city in Thailand looks different during the day and dramatically switches itself to be the nightlife capital of the world with the last setting ray of sunlight. Patong was one such glorious town. We got to know about that later on. we were on a mission to take the day as it comes and had not booked any accommodation beforehand. We hunted for a backpacker friendly accommodation suiting our pockets and settled for "Silverresortel" hotel for 700 Thai baht a day, an affordable and cosy property two minutes walk away from the beach. We were two hungry souls devoid of food from the past 12 hours, we decided to be little easy on our wallets and settled for the scrumptious breakfast buffet available at the hotel. Vegetarians travelling to this part of the world need not worry about the food habits as you will get numerous Indian restaurants offering the humble Daal-chawl, Aalo paratha or Masala Chai without robbing you off your bank accounts.

After cat-napping for a while, we headed out to refill our stomach for lunch at a roadside restaurant with the modest Pad Pak Bung Nam Man Hoy (stir fried morning glory), Pad See Eiu (wide rice noodles), Gai Pad King (ginger with Boneless chicken) served with white rice and few rounds of Long island and Cosmopolitan. Yeah, we had no intentions to wait till the evening to quench our thirst.

Though we were backpacking, it was extremely difficult to be in the shopping paradise of the world and do not shop! Our motto was not to shop but it became shop till you drop and then shop! There is so much to shop and such drop dead gorgeous prices! Bikinis, Maxi’s or accessories, you name it, they have it! Thailand is indeed a shopper paradise! Now, if you are in Patong or anywhere in Thailand for that matter, always bargain with the shopkeeper and quote one third of the offered price. Follow this golden rule and trust me, it works every single time.

After doing so much of hard work it was bound for us to head towards one of those tempting spas! We opted for a relaxing foot spa at one of the roadside massage parlours and if you remember the rules mentioned above, bargain on the rates. We got an hour of foot spa at just 200 Thai baht! It was such a steal!

 The sunset was enjoyed in full glory while lazing around on the beautiful beaches of Patong gorging on yummy chicken satay as a side dish was supplied by one of the beach side restaurant shacks. When you are in Thailand, eat like a local, drink like a local and make merry “like a local."

We had our dinner at the Patong night market and the menu included delectable Por Pia Tord (Fried spring rolls), Gaeng Garee Gai (Yellow curry with chicken), Pla Pao (Grilled fish), basil fried chicken, Khao Phat (Fried rice) and Itim Kati (Coconut Ice cream) for deserts.
If you are thinking that we called it a day after dinner; Hell! No! We did not! Our Thai rendezvous had just begun! As we were impulsive in our travel plans, we didn't have the slightest clue what Patong nightlife was all about unless the walking street decided to amaze us. It was bright, loud and flashy everywhere, something for which Thailand is known for and shall always be!

Travelled from: Bangalore
Airlines: Airasia(cheap and best)
Currency: Thai Bhat
Travel time: Any time of the year.
Sightseeing: Mainly the beach and Islands nearby.
Must do: The road side pancake stalls and the street food.