Dear Delhi … Love Bombay: Say Hi To The Men Oftener

Several visits to the meat joint entrepreneurial guy i mentioned in the last post ( between the 2 articles has occurred and in one of the occasions i took this acquaintanceship to the next level. Was a specifically lethargic and chilly (yes i am from Bombay to repeat again) evening and i did not want to get into the trouble of doing the dishes – i walked into his space and took up a seat. At almost the same instant i thought everybody else was going to get up. Almost like how a king perceives his darbaris when about to take the seat. The co-eaters were skeptical and the serving boys awkward. And i pondered …

In another city, this is not very unusual and i wondered why Delhi seemed especially uneasy at the face of a woman being seen in places slated men’s den. This in conjunction to the spate of discussions around gender sensitivity that seemed to have creeped into my life oflate led me to an observation, albeit i run a risk of being liked lesser for making the following remark.

The men i have encountered in Bombay and in Delhi honestly are no different. What in fact felt different all along are the way the women of the 2 cities react to her men. After a couple of more i-will-sit-here-and-eat visits to my cheap beef joint now; he has begun to expect me; his servers giving toothy grins and co-eaters ignoring my walking in. So is the case with most of my Shahpur Jat to East of Kailash regular ricksawalas, other small stall owners; in fact most of the men i meet and have not shied away from being open and chatty with. Somewhere i feel my approaching them not as a ‘woman’ but merely ‘human’ breaks the wall – which also is the one that fosters fears otherwise. Often the rickshawalas are busy answering this woman passenger’s queries and the shop owners discussing their supply chain with her. Time and again i have been advised to be careful; i think equating carefulness to staying aloof and away from specific ‘spots’ and ‘types’ of men is helping no one at all.  It never can.

And so perhaps, something tells me, for her men to begin being less freakish and may be even criminalish, it is her women folks who will have to adjust the approach a bit. We need to say hello to the men a bit oftener …


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