I had been meaning to write this post for a while and specially in the wake of the Delhi rape case. The incident not only made me go wild angry, after eons, but also reminded me of the “constantly look over your shoulder” times I spent living in Delhi. All the three years I lived there, were a constant struggle for personal safety. I learnt abusive language (to counter the road romeos who think passing lecherous comments is their birth right), hitting without thinking (those sporadic incidents where I actually took my sandals out and hit overly enthusiastic men on roads) and living in constant fear!
Then happened Bangalore, a city far far from what I was used to in Delhi. Bangalore is MUCH safer relatively and one doesn’t have to “live with” being stared at. But now, it’s Pune!
I’ve been here almost a year now and I truly felt the need to write about the city. No other city in India has ever given me the feeling of safety the way Pune does. I have yet to understand what makes Punekars so respectful to women whereas their Delhi cousins just refuse to learn the word itself!!!!
The mere thought of visiting old Delhi fills me with dread. The areas are crowded and one can’t even keep a count of the pinches, the ‘rubs’, the accidental collisions…..not to mention, the comments and stares.
Thanks to Aadyaa, I spend half my working time hanging out in the old city areas of Pune. The crowd scenario is ditto but men? Couldn’t be better!!!! One can see respect and professionalism oozing out of them. Be it the printing fellows, paper cutting fellows, sweet shop owner, kutchi dabel wala or even nariyal pani wala, no one stares, no one leches and comments? Absolutely absent! I’ve never felt as “equal” to men as I have in Pune. There have been times I’ve biked home at 10 pm, driven home at 11:30 pm, alone. And the city definitely has the most women bike-riders I’ve seen in any other city.
I’ve yet to understand this phenomenon of respect for women but am I complaining? No! I love the city, for how it has a thriving lifestyle, for how it functions (in spite of unending traffic snarls!), for how it treats Art as something worth revering, for how it allows you to be the trendsetter (or trend-breaker)……for how it allows you be whatever the hell you want to be, whether you’re a male or a female! Never thought this day would come but one city has come close to being as loved as Bangalore is, in my eyes! 🙂
This is my tribute, to Pune, to Punekars, and specially, to all those guys in the old city who have treated me so well, it’s like being in the middle of equals. I wish I could express my gratitude to them all, in some way. But they just refuse to treat it as anything special. “Ye to hamara kaam hi hai Madam” (this is our job) is what they insist on 🙂