By Nidhi Batra, Sehreeti
I am a Delhi girl, come with my conditioned reflexes of how to behave and interact with the city. For me, taking a cab alone at 10 p.m. is a scary business, to be sitting in a public place alone is a dangerous affair, to enjoy with girl friends without being eyed and mugged is an unimaginable event.
I recently went to Mumbai, the city that never sleeps. I met my girlfriend at about 8pm for an early dinner and drinks. At 10ish we thought we should go out clubbing. We booked a cab all the way to town at 10pm. And I kept wondering is it safe. Can women do that? Can I really go clubbing, at this hour? And we can book a cab? When will I come back? How will I come back?!
I thought ill go with what she says. We took a cab, reached the town, sadly the club was shut on a Wednesday night. We decided to go to marine drive and loiter around and catch up on all those years since college that we hadn’t been in touch since. We hopped on to the kali pili this time, and reached the marine drive at 11pm. And not even for one second did I feel uncomfortable.
At the marine drive, it was almost like the whole city was there. Everyone seemed to be there, in their own little groups along the promenade. Some sleeping and enjoying the breeze, others jogging and walking, some just taking a leisure walk after dinner, some lovers, lot of families with toddlers.. all enjoying this amazing respite space that the city offers. People of different economic classes, just being in one same space. No one was questioning the right of the other. Women in shorts were jogging by themselves (In Delhi, you would be ‘asking’ for it ,walking in wee hours and that too in shorts!) .
We two girls sat till about 1 am with not one ‘guy gang’ disturbing us. We booked a cab and left, with the life at the marine drive still buzzing, the children were also awake and I was wondering don’t they have school day tomorrow.. I entered my hotel at 1:30am, the guards outside said good morning! I was just amazed that I had spent a night in the city, being out in public places, using public transport and not once had even one uncomfortable moment, not one moment that I felt scared or intimidated. I got the opportunity to enjoy this city, like any one …. like a man, if you must.
The next day I went on with my meetings in Mumbai,took cab all across the city. Spoke to different cab drivers, none were from Mumbai. I had a late evening flight to Delhi. My flight landed at 10:30pm. With a little hangover of Mumbai, I told my husband ill take a cab. I entered the cab and with a pop entered the ‘fear’. The driver throughout the drive kept talking to different people on phone. It was all dark on the roads, I sat on the edge of the back seat, always ready to jump off if need be, shared the cab details with husband. Reached home by 11:30 pm. Took a deep breath. Welcome to Delhi.