BN GUY Shrikar Marur: street tales of love lust and possible misinterpretations

The street is one public/ transitory space that I have occupied with utmost consciousness or the absolute lack of it. The street it one space that I have always traversed the quickest and been most lost in thoughts. Every time I am on a street, depending on the purpose of my being on the street, my body language changes. When I am in a hurry to reach or leave a space and hence am on a street, I would not notice anything or anybody but just try reaching the required destination. On the other hand, if I were in a street like Brigade road or Commercial st, I would walk slowly, looking at the billboards, looking at people etc.

For the most of my time at public spaces, it is spent by looking at the whole space and not people in particular. Even when I do look at people, it is never to establish eye contact or to attempt conversing with strangers. This one time, however, I had an interaction with this stranger that I hope was a misinterpretation.

Domlur bus stop, 22:00 hrs.

After a visit to a friend's place for an evening, I decided to take a bus from Domlur to Koramangala in an attempt to save some money that I would have otherwise spent on auto and ironical as it was, ended up spending a little more than what I would have if I had taken an auto ride back home on the first place.Walking for about half a kilometer through dark alleys that eventually led to an ever darker bus depot that was so empty and ill lit, that I was absolutely certain that about half a dozen hired goons would surround me and I would, if Indian cinemas have taught me anything, would have to establish my worth by fighting them in the most unimaginable ways imaginable. Unfortunately, that did not happen and I just had an uneventful walk around the bus depot trying to figure out the duration of my possible wait for the next bus, only to notice that I was the only one at the bus depot which meant I had just missed a bus and the fact that the space was no longer accumulating people meant that the bus I had just missed was possibly the last bus for the day. Walking out the depot, I noticed this one man, in his early thirties, his attire clearly signifying his social and financial background, standing, leaning against the wall that separated the depot from the main road looking around, and this was noticeable as no one waiting for a bus or wanting to board a bus would wait against a wall as it would be visually challenging for him to follow buses that would enter or leave the depot. Not speculating his presence or actions or the lack of it, I just walked past him trying to hold an auto with no passenger that would probably pass the depot looking for the wise people like myself who planned their evening well enough to miss the last bus.

Answering a call from a friend and talking to him not-so discreetly, I was rather obvious about my ethnicity with my conversation in Tamizh and the dialect. Half way through the rather unimportant but very engrossing conversation with my friend, I heard a whistling sound from the man resting against the wall. Writing the first few calls off as attempts to entertain himself or trying to stop autos that I realized weren't around, I slowly reacted to the periodical whistles that were increasing in frequency and decibels. Turning around in response to the whistles, i realized the whistles were not for an auto as I hoped them to be but for me. Trying to get over my shock of such an act from a stranger, I saw him trying to usher me into a darker corner of an already dark space. Looking at his hand pointing to a bag, it hit me that he was probably trying to make a drug deal with me or was a pimp and misconstrued my presence there as looking for some action. Every elapsing second of my presence there and my responding to his very existence only made him presume I was interested in him and his deals and he grew more obvious and loud in his gestures of trying to probably signal to me something that I failed to comprehend. I knew it would be a terrible idea for me to be there even for a second longer and just walked at a pace that would not result in my running but fast enough for me to get to the adjoining main road that held the first rays of street lights that seemed a lot more to me than just rays of light to light up the street. Not looking back and not acknowledging his calls, I walked across the main road little caring for the oncoming traffic and crossed a 2ft divider to ensure I was in a safer space and contrary to my usual routine of getting into a long debate with auto drivers over the tariff, I just got into the fist auto that agreed to take me to Koramangala, not even questioning him about the charge.

Two years hence, there have been other instances that have surpassed this incident in terms of its "shock" value, but this this incident is one of the most unforgettable one of the lot as I as a spectator or a participant have always been better prepared and have managed to handle the subsequent situations better.

Shrikar is a student at Srishti School of Art Design and Technology. He wrote this while doing a workshop with Blank Noise. more here!


BN guy Kinshuk for ' street tales of love lust and possible misinterpretations'

After four years I saw a face in the market that truly resembled her, four years back she had left school and city due to unknown reasons. It was not as if we were good friends, boys and girls rarely talked to each other in school. But after four years, suddenly seeing her aroused curiosity and I felt compelled to talk to her. Without any second thought i started following her with a puzzled mind. She was not alone; an unknown face accompanied her, maybe one of her friends. With her fierce gaze the unknown face just turned to burn me with embarrassment. I wanted to shout and tell her “I am not following you, but just wanted to say hello to my classmate. “Anyway I felt defeated and decided to never repeat this mistake. But my heart was questioning what had I done so wrong? After an hour, when I was struggling to pull my scooty out, i noticed her again in a nearby cloth shop.

“should I”....”shouldn’t I”, “should I”....”shouldn’t i, “should I”....”shouldn’t I”...........

I finally decided not to directly confront her, but stand somewhere to make sure, she recognized.

I stood strategically at a place where she could see my reflection in one of the mirrors of the shop. And I am sure she did........ But before she could turn, I paced back towards my scooty.

Since then I have never seen her. I don’t even remember anything clearly about her, but I keep wondering why I left, what stroke me to leave all of a sudden.

Maybe because I really never knew if it was her, maybe because she had forgotten one of her classmates, maybe I was too embarrassed by previous incident to dare to stand there. Maybe.

Maybe, because we were strangers.

Kinshuk is a student at Srishti School of Art Design and Technology. He wrote this while doing a workshop with Blank Noise. More here!



From Anubhav in 2007:

When Vaibhav Vats, the President of my college’s ‘Literary Society’ told me that the Society was organising a talk on sexual harassment and concerned issues, I, frankly speaking, did not expect to see or hear anything new or different from all that I already knew about the said subject.

I was wrong.

For not only did that seminar expose me to the hard realities of modern, urban life-realities which until now I, even though aware of them, had not chosen to believe in-but also, by putting these ‘inconvenient truths’ right before my very nose, made me, forced me, to look out of the cocoon of my own happy life into a larger scheme of things. This, I suppose, is the only reason why I’m writing to you even though it’s been almost three and a half months since that seminar.

Like most people, I too had my peculiar set of ideas, ideals and beliefs, all of which are close to me and not just determine my actions, but also shape my outlook. One such peculiar and, in light of this seminar of yours, perhaps outdated belief is in the essential goodness of humanity. While I still refuse to let go of this idea, your seminar did weaken its hold on me in a way that neither newspapers nor statisticians managed, for while the former has a negligible and fickle impact on the conscience, the latter is easy to dismiss if one were to emulate Mark Twain’s notorious example and dump it in the category off the third and, presumably, biggest lie. Hence, inspite of being an avid newspaper reader and inspite of being well aware of the statistician’s alarming conclusion about rapes being perpetrated every twenty-nine minutes in Delhi, I managed to stay blissfully ignorant of the real situation. This is not to say that I am not appalled when I read or get to know about incidents of sexual exploitation- it’s just that I would feel shocked and then move on to the next news item…

Therefore, when Annie Zaidi, Blank Noise started talking about how a huge, humongous majority of Indian women have been sexually harassed at some point or the other in their lives, I was taken aback. But when all the female members of the audience raised their hands in affirmative response to the question whether they had been sexually harassed, I was shocked! I mean, well, OK, I knew these unfortunate things happen, but that they happen in such huge percentages was a revelation that shook me. Agreed that there are no more knights in shining armour, but is this the age of knaves and monsters?...

From your seminar (and not just your but also the great many that followed it) it seems that it is. I cloud not believe my ears when the speaker went on to spell out some of the words from a collection dubiously titled as the ‘Eve-teasing Dictionary’. So great was my amazement and disgust that immediately after the seminar I cornered one of my (male) friends and asked him whether he had ever heard such words, such deeply derogatory and shameful words, being used. I was sure that here atleast I would get a confirmation of my views, my beliefs…

It was the second time in that day that I was proved wrong.

What that fellow told me left me speechless. It seems that seventeen and a half years in this city had not exposed me to one of its most rampant evils…

However, past experiences apart, I must first congratulate you and so, Blank Noise, for its praiseworthy efforts in fighting sexual harassment and then request you to put my e-mail address [anubhav.p16@gmail.com] on your mailing list (your representative at the seminar told us about this facility).