Write for Siya
If you can write, you should do so on SiyaWoman.
Send us a note on Contact@SiyaWoman.com.
I am a member of a running group in my neighborhood. Â Itâ€™s a very organized body, offering structured program for those who already are passionate runners or want to become one.Â We meet thrice a week at a large playground at 5 am, commence with core exercises, then stretches and by 5.30 we start the run. We even have our own app and the dayâ€™s distance and route are broadcast five minutes before the run begins.
A couple of days ago, I woke up late and missed the session. But I saw the broadcast on the app and decided I will go for a run on my own, later. I waited for day break and at 6.40 am, I left home for the run.
Already there was plenty of traffic on the roads. The shops and restaurants were being opened. There were children and their parents milling around in groups to catch the school bus. TheÂ IT guys with their signature ear phones, ugly laptop bags and bored expressions were hanging around at various points, waiting for their pick-up.
The first two kilometers were fairly uneventful. I ran and was very conscious of the hustle-bustle of a city that was just waking up. I am one of those who runs focusing only on the run, so you will never catch me listening to music as I run.
The catcalling began as soon as I hit a main road. The first set of guys were in an auto. Then came a couple of guys on bikes. Even the guys vending milk decided that I was easy picking, so they came straight at me. A car whizzed by, and obscenities were hurled at me.
The native Bangaloreans have always maintained that it is the influx of outsiders that has ruined this pensionerâ€™s paradise. Let me dispel this myth once and for all. All the abuses were in Kannada and because I happen to be a Kannadiga myself, I understood every sordid word of them.
Let me share a sample. Why do you want to exercise woman, come to me, I will give you lots of exercise. Believe me, in Kannada it sounds much worse.
I was wearing shorts and a halter top. I was running, sweating, and keeping to the side of the road. And I am a 57-year old woman.
Why am I telling you all this? Since I was dressed for running, I obviously was not demurely covered from head to toe. So I must have been asking for it, right?
And I know I am a 57-year old woman, but because I donâ€™t look it, I was as much a target as a 20-year old. But even if I didnâ€™t look 57, I definitely canâ€™t pass off for spring chicken. But respect for me as a woman, respect for my age, – no no, these things are alien to the men of our city.
I cringe at the sexual innuendos even as they are pelted at me but I continue to run. At one point, I thought may be they were misbehaving with me because they thought I didnâ€™t know Kannada. So, it occurred to me that maybe I should stop and hurl abuses back at them in Kannada. I thought may be that would stop them in their tracks.
But I didnâ€™t because I was scared. There were people and vehicles and noise all around me, but no one came to my help. In fact they all looked away as if I didnâ€™t exist. Not the parents. Not the bored IT guys. No one.
I continued to run. And, just when I rounded up a corner, I caught sight of a policeman bumming a cigarette from a security guard at a multi-specialty hospital.
I went up to him and told him what had happened. I said I had memorized the last digits of the bike and car numbers, so can I make a complaint? He gave me a full body scan with his eyes and said, Madam, if you dress like this, that is bound to happen, no? Â So I asked him: do you expect me to run wearing a burkha?
And then this is how the rest of the conversation panned out in Kannada.
Policeman: Not burkha, but proper clothes.
Me: Isnâ€™t it your job Sir to keep the city safe for its people?
Policemen: If you want safety, sit at home, no.
Me: Can I have your name and badge number please?
Policeman: Madam, just go home. You donâ€™t want more trouble.
And that is exactly what I did. Feeling sick in my stomach, fuming with helplessness. Wishing I had a taser in my hand to incapacitate them all, even if only momentarily.
I am a firm believer that each one of us is responsible for our safety. That is why I waited till day break before I left home for my run. That is why I stuck to busy roads. That is why I didnâ€™t lose awareness of my surrounding. I wasnâ€™t listening to music, talking on the phone or obstructing traffic. I was simply running because that is what I left home for.
I donâ€™t know what else to say. I donâ€™t know how to end this piece. I have left it in a limbo, exactly the way I feel right now.
AVERAGE READER RATINGS>
RATE THIS ARTICLE
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nandini Vaidyanathan is the founder of Carma Connect (www.CarmaConnect.in) which mentors entrepreneurs, teaches entrepreneurship in ivy league business schools across the world, writes on entrepreneurship (has written two best sellers), climbs and treks. She loves to live life on her terms, using her discretion and not someone elseâ€™s.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
5 min read
You said take me where no oneâ€™s gone with you. All I could ask was, youâ€™ll come with me? Lame. And then, I put in a disclaimer. I donâ€™t like to go from where I canâ€™t come back, I said. Beyond lame. Close your eyes, woman. Rewind. Listen to what he said, again....
I used to bad mouth marriage thinking it is marriage that writes the epitaph on all relationships. And, I thought I was super smart in side-stepping it and opting for a live-in. And, after four years of it, this is my epiphany. Relationships rot and stink to high heaven the moment you live under...
Why do we give people second chances? When I started this piece, it was more about, why do women give second chances (second represents multiplicity here) to their partners in relationships. And then, I realized that it is not just women. Men do too. Maybe not as many, but do, nonetheless. And not just...
Hubert and I are holidaying at a beach resort. It was Hubertâ€™s birthday yesterday, which was a Monday. So we arrived at the resort on Saturday and we plan to check out today. I woke up this morning with the feeling that my whole world will come crashing down on me. Not just that. That...
I know there is a lot of noise (yes, NOISE. Not buzz, and certainly not chatter) around this whole business of work-life balance. And everyone including his mother and aunt advise that the key element in this whole work-life balance business is going off the network. I was at a panel discussion a couple of...
I should have been named Mary. Guess why? No? If I gave you a nursery rhyme as a clue, youâ€™ll obviously guess, right? Â Because, Iâ€™m a bag of contradictions. Iâ€™m old – world in some ways and bohemian in others. For this piece, we shall not go to the bohemian side of me; letâ€™s confine...
Inequality of gender. Lots of buzz. Inequality of sexes. Nada. Curious to know what I mean? One burning billion dollar question. For which I havenâ€™t found an answer. Why do women stop enjoying sex the day they stop feeling good about their bodies? In what way are the two connected? Havenâ€™t we all said, at...
9 min read
The context: It was probably in my fourth standard Geography class that I first heard of Tenzing and Hillary. I remember I felt awe that they could climb the worldâ€™s tallest mountain called Everest. The mountain in itself did not cause any major ripples in my imagination as a nine-year-old. But the two men grabbed...
Loneliness is a very un-lonely word. Forever and ever, its companions have been Betrayal, Fear, Pompousness, Malice, Low self-worth, Insecurity and Thwarted ambition. Pretty much like King Arthur and his merry knights. And they all sit at the table, only this one is not round. So it is presided by Lord Loneliness himself, accompanied by...
I have been following up the media hype on the Egyptian woman called Eman Ahmed. The headlights of her story, till date, that I have gathered from media reports are as follows: At 500kg, she was billed as the fattest woman on earth. She was born in 1980, so that makes her about 37 years...
I am borrowing the title from a song in my favorite movie, My Fair Lady, and given it a twist in the tale. In the movie, Rex Harrison sings it in a mood of self-righteous indignation (why canâ€™t a woman be like a man). So am I, make no mistake! Why are we women hell...
Dear youngsters, At the outset, let me say that I have no problem in admitting that it is the worldâ€™s worst job to be a parent today. Because, we are living under the shadow of several gigantic question marks. Who are we (there seems to be a lot of difference between who we are in...
If you can write, you should do so on SiyaWoman.
Send us a note on Contact@SiyaWoman.com.
How would you rate this article
We are sorry to have disappointed you. Could you tell us what went wrong?
Thank You !