Women's only [in Pink].
I grew up hating pink, it was girly and then when I became a women I was told pink is cute. I do agree it is cute.
I see throngs of people rushing to the metro. I missed this rush of Delhi metro. I see thousands and thousands of them. I see a section of women only section devoid of Delhi men. Ah! Women's only, and that too in Pink. What a relief.
For people who are not accustomed to Delhi men, we do need some crash course. They are bit different. Little bit of hooting and a little bit of whistling thrown in. Delhi has a past for these men.
So I was new to this women's only section. I was used to travelling with people from other sex. I was used to being alert all the time. I was always defensive. There were always some hustle and bustle and I was always pushed. But it was nothing to do with men inside, it was just the part of being a crowd, a crazy crowd.
This women's only was different. Yes, there was a crowd, there was pushing and lack of space. But there was a sense of calmness. As though we were all united by a sisterhood, some sort of solidarity. I saw women dressing up, touching on their make ups in the metro now. I saw women generally being relaxed. I myself was no more tensed or alert. There was nothing to worry. I could notice it was generally used more by younger generation. The ones who were dressed up; Who had higher chances of being stared at, This was like a heaven for them.
So I made it a point to travel only in women's section. I ran to get to the coaches at time, I stood in for extra minutes even if there was space in general category. I enjoyed this freedom in this Utopian sense of coach for women. I was not aware how I was teaching myself a fear of the other sex.
I used to see the men section sometimes, it was always packed. Well Delhi metro was generally packed, so it was not like a new thing but this time the view looked different. Slowly the number of women in general category were reducing. Yes, more and more women were opting for women's only. We could see some men standing at the middle of the two coaches and staring at this Utopian world. Yes, it had loads of women of different sizes and shapes.
Michel Foucault, a French philosopher had once mentioned about a phenomenon called panoptican. Panopticon discusses about having a security vigilance write inside the victim. Its an art where instead of looking at the inmates from outside, one looks at them from centre, from within.
And never realized but Foucault's panopticon was inside me now. I would interpret him in my sweet own way. I was developing my own check system where the ladies coach was the safe world and the general coach was unsafe. No one said this, it was not written anywhere. There were no laws about it. Over time I just realized I had instituted a panopticon right inside me. I was scared, and I was scared of my own mind.
General coach was always an option, I could always enter it. But somehow with time, I could no more enter. Yes, a bit of schizophrenic identity might be thrown in, but I was not ready. I had started becoming too relaxed in my comfort zone. I could no longer enter the general category. There was a fear of those men, I started developing this fear that they would stare. I was becoming handicapped, I needed my social protectionism all along. Yes, I was all happy in the women's only section, but it never tackled the issue of woman feeling safer. I had imbibed the fear in me instead imbibing a respect in them .
So what was the need for the protectionist attitude? Did it really help protect me?
Was it not downplaying the purpose behind it?
I did not feel liberated, I just felt more handicapped.
With time I developed a fear of entering a general category where I was a usual commuter before. Now I feel like I am encroaching an untouched territory. I always feel like I am being gawked on. The protectionism played the other way round. The panopticon instead of being kept outside in the open; was kept inside my mind. The eyes I was trying to avert, were becoming my own eyes.
2 months and I still travel in ladies coach. There are moments in the rush of the day, when I am at ease, when I am not worried being harassed, or raped in these women coaches, and then there are moments I do look around to get a glimpse of a cute guy. And then I go out of that safety box and get mixed in the crowd.
Now days I spend some time of my life fighting with a guy telling him to go to the general category. Sometimes its one and sometimes I see half of the coach being taken over men. I ask them, tell them, fight with them and in some instances even resorted to calling the driver. I am always stared with a perplexed look. And the usual dose of questions thrown at me, Tumahara kya jaata hai, aapke paas to seat hai, there are other guys also?
I feel let down, when I see women giving me those stares, when women justify the men standing in the ladies coach. Their silence hurts me, and gets me thinking maybe I should just adopt apathy. One person will not be able to make a change, how long will you fight.
How do I instill the message in them and not in me ? How do I tackle this fear without foregoing my ease. These are questions I have been struggling to answer.
I want the other coaches to answer. The colours other than pink to respond this time.