Dealing with Indian men

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Couple of months ago, I had to attend a conference call at around 7 p.m. I stayed back and by the time I was done, it had started raining. I reached home at around 10. My mother had gotten worried and to be honest I was quite shaken myself. Living in a city that goes to sleep at 8, doesn’t always make your life easier. Anyway, the next day I told the Project Manager that henceforth I’ll take all late calls from home because well, India is not a safe place for women. That she is a Dane and well informed about the rape cases here helped.

 

As a single woman having lived all my life in this country, I have come to ignore petty incidents that might surprise or even shock women in the western world. Drunken men leaning to make their dicks rub against my body on buses, middle aged guys using verbal profanities in crowded places or scary looking guys stalking me for days. Ya kind of like been there, done that thing.

 

So are all Indian men perverts? Well no, but some of them are most definitely are. But my issue is not their sexually perverse behavior. My deal is something that I feel is more serious.

 

You see, most of these rape cases involved attackers who belonged to the low strata of the society – bus drivers, cleaners, etc. Most people tend to think that it’s the illiterate men who pose the greatest threat to us. I kind of disagree. My biggest problem is with the so-called progressive Indian men who do all sorts of sexist things without batting an eyelid.

 

I remember in one of my jobs, my manager was this stern but nice lady who was bullied by a bunch of team members. Much later, I discovered that one of the guys had hoped for a promotion before this lady came in. To say that he didn’t like that would be an understatement. He ganged up with some team members and started humiliating her right in front of everybody.

 

I remember having a chat with the lady several months later. After hearing what all they did to take her down, I told her, “You and I both probably know that female authority doesn’t go down well with Indian men.” She just smiled. Every now and then, I hear men making random comments about women using too much make-up or not getting married. Funnily, they all claim to have some insights into the female psyche. Sigh, they have no idea!

 

So you see, it’s not just perverted men that we have to encounter and deal with on almost an everyday basis. English speaking men earning high salaries are not so different, are they? Just goes onto prove what I believe in very strongly that being an Indian woman is no cakewalk.

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Kannada Gothilla Saar

    So, you completed 2 years in Bangalore, eh? Have you been able to learn any Malayalam? A friend asked with a smirk. Took me 2 seconds to point out her faux pas and clarify that it’s Kannada and NOT Malayalam that one is expected to speak in Bangalore. Bangalore, you see, is in Karnataka and not Kerala, the land of cashew, coffee and Gulf money. My friend of course, couldn’t care less. She hasn’t been in South India for more than 2 weeks and Malayalam or Kannada is as alien to her as Swahili and Zulu. With me, it’s a different ballgame altogether.

    I can now safely and snobbishly call myself a Bangalorean. I stay here, work here, pay for BMTC bus passes and regularly update my Facebook wall with updates on how awesome the Bangalore weather is. Quite cool, I say. Unfortunately my Kannada is still not as awesome as the weather here and the only phrase I use most confidently and frequently is Kannada Gottilla (I don’t know Kannada). An epic failure in every sense of the term. The only saving grace is that most migrants settled here have rehearsed this phrase without feeling guilty/ashamed.

    If you wonder why most people who come here from other parts of the country show a great deal of enthusiasm to use the Kannada gottilla phrase but not so much interest in learning the language, there are some reasons.

    1. Kannada is a tough language to master. At least, it sounds like for most north Indians.
    2. Bangalore is not really the ‘home’ for most. It’s like, I’ll stay here for 5 years and then go back to my Gurgaon or Mumbai. So, no need for me to go through the pains of learning a new language.
    3. Why should I learn Kannada? Am I not in India? Hindi and English should be fine to survive here.
    4. And most interestingly. Everybody speaks in Hindi and English here! Yay! Look around, there are more Mallus in your office than Kannadigas. Your landlord is a Tamilian/Andhraite and quite a lot of Delhi wallas in buses.

    To be absolutely honest, I could never really learn the language well because I always found it a little tough. I mean, yes, it’s not as complicated as Tamil perhaps. But quite tough, nonetheless. There is also another reason. Bangalore is still a very cosmopolitan city. When in a group, Kannadigas are usually (not always) sweet and accommodating enough to have the conversation in English/Hindi. Kannada is not imposed on you! Ya, a big difference when you compare the city with Kochi or Chennai where you are treated like an alien if you have no grasp over the local language. To put it simply, there is no crazy obsession with the language.

    There is, of course, a section that wants to Kannadigize everything. But in a city where people are more concerned about the hikes, promotions and onsite assignments, these things are still quite petty. Plus, there are no prominent orators like Raj Thackreys yet in the horizon to jeopardize things.

    So, should I/should I not learn the language spoken in the city I live in? The opinion is divided and I am not too sure about what the future holds. But I do hope that one day I am able to converse in Kannada without feeling awkward. And you know what, I am really sure that day will come one day.

First Post

For as long as I can remember, I always thought I needed a blog. I did have one, which I hardly paid any attetion to. But this time, I hope I am serious about maintaining this one