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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Not a lesser woman!!!

I am not writing this down to create a riot between Muslims and non Muslims.  One of my majors during my MBA in finance was Islamic Finance and I had actually borrowed a Quran and read it to understand a lot of concepts.  I am someone who respects everyone's faith and religious views but that does not mean that some religious extremist can belittle my existence.  I don't wear a burkha but that does not make me a lesser woman.  I appreciate women who follow their religion and abide by it, but it in no way gives you any right to tell me that you are a precious one.  We live in a secular country, you cannot get into a public transport and demand special privileges based on your religion or sex.  I am Hindu I cannot be touched today by low caste people because I am fasting, I am Muslim and I cannot sit beside a man in a share auto, I am a woman so if you see me in a bus just stand up and offer me a seat never mind if the man standing next to me is ill and old. BS and nonsense has risen to new heights currently!!!

Some 3 months ago I started travelling by Auto Rickshaws here in Pune.  A very convenient mode and cool on your pockets, because they ferry passengers on a sharing basis.  So 3 passengers in an auto and you share the fare.  Pick-up is right outside my house and drops me exactly where I want to go, so it was a pretty good affair.  The area in Pune where I stay is a Muslim populated area. But it does not bother really because one hasn't heard of any religious or communal differences here so far.  

It all started simple.  At this spot where people get into the autos there is usually crowd from morning 7 to 10, mostly college going gals & boys.  One day during my initial days of travel, I noticed something strange.  I stopped an auto and asked him if he was going towards my destination, he looked in front and then said no he was not.  Just then I noticed he stopped again and took in some gals who were going to that same place I had enquired about.  The gals were Muslim gals and the driver also was a Muslim.  My initial impression was that maybe he was the relative of the gals or something.  This incident completely left my mind until it happened a couple of times more.  When I spoke to my MIL about this she said she had also faced similar situation on her way to work.  Though this incident bothered me I let it go on the pretext that some people just cannot be understood.

Lately there was another practice that started bothering me.  As I said earlier these are share autos and as soon as one comes which goes to your destination you get in.  So you cannot really choose where you want to sit.  I started noticing that once I am in with a second passenger (who sometimes happens to be a male), if the third passenger happens to be a Muslim gal this driver if he is a Muslim asks me to shift instead of asking that girl to sit in order.  First time one girl came to my side and asked me to shift I politely obliged.  But during another travel when I refused the girl insisted, and I got adamant and said a clear NO.  What crossed all the limits was something that happened yesterday.  The auto started with 2 passengers, me and a middle aged guy, on the way it stopped to pick up another passenger who was a Muslim gal.  I was busy tying up my scarf as it had loosened and just then my mobile also slipped down.  As I was managing all this, I saw this gal was standing at my side expecting me to move inside.  And let me tell you I was sitting on the wrong side not the side from where passengers are supposed to get in.  I looked at her and asked her to come from the other side, busy holding my scarf and getting my mobile.... 

Gal:  Nahi aap andar sarko, waha pe gents hai (No you pl move inside there is a male on that side)
Me:  No sorry mam this is the wrong side pl get in from the right side
Driver:  Aarey unko baitne do na waha se.... (Let her sit from there)
Me:  Why??
Driver:  It is uncomfortable for her to sit that side 
Me:  For me also it is uncomfortable
Driver:  You are not understanding
Me:  Yes I am not.... please explain
In the meantime the gal got in from the other side.  Till we reached half the way the driver kept arguing how right he was and what a sin I had committed... Asked him to stop the vehicle immediately and threatened him to call the police.  To which he calmed and drove us to our destinations...

Just to let you know not all Muslim drivers are like this.  Frankly in this area autos are driven mostly by them and I find most of them just normal without any bias.  But there is this group of drivers who I think should be banned from any such public jobs.  I do plan to take this matter up seriously and record any such instances in future to take it up legally.  

** Any comments abusing Muslims will not be published, since that is not the intention of this post.  


  1. An excellent post. Glad you did not mince realities of what takes place outside and glad you did not mince words on women's status. Kudos. The important question is how can this sort of attitude be changed?

  2. Well described truth, Though i am pune & got it from where she drown this write-up, well wrote

  3. First question, where do you get shared autos in Pune? Really I want to know :(
    Coming to your point, few people can never be changed and they will never understand. Just stop trying. I just hope that Pune does not convert to a place of communal maniacs. Its a peaceful place where all of us live together without any bias and I hope it continues.

  4. And you did just the right thing. Such a regressive attitude is simply unacceptable!

  5. very well written. hope more people are open to discuss these topics freely. keep going.

  6. God..such things enrage me to no end..unheard of though

  7. weird ppl, why shove religion everywhere?

  8. It happens and I can never understand why people behave like this.

  9. U did the right thing. There should be more people like you.

  10. senseless
    wahan pe gents hai! toh? will she stop travelling?

    like i said before,i hadnt heard of such weird cases till u mentioned it on twitter

  11. Oh god! Totally ridiculous. Which area is this in Pune?

  12. People are blinded by religion and when you look deeper the same is the situation within a religion among different castes.. We are divided and subdivided and still further divided..

  13. I have read your blog for the first time and found to be a very good write up, everyone of us travels in a public transport but i don’t think so, someone or even me have bothered to know, understand this kind of things happen in a free INDIA, may be we have not understood/learnt that religion is so personal, it should be practiced in our 4 walls, in a public place or once you are out, you are a fellow man/women to be respected .

  14. Crazy than ever.. Religion shouldn't be mixed with anything else.

  15. A learned man once told me that there is more blood shed in history for the sake of religion than anything else.
    It makes me think, would this be a better world without religions ?

  16. We are living in an era of individualism, where the worth of a person is judged by his/her inherent qualities and achievements, not by the family or religion he/she is born into. This kind of an assertion of religious identity, as you have described, will only lead to fragmentation and ghettosization, and should be discouraged and condemned in no uncertain terms.

  17. Surprised to read about your experience, especially in a modern metro like Pune which has always been a progressive city. I wonder whether we are progressing forward into modern times or regressing backward into the medieval ages?

  18. People are mad, religion or no religion, they are just mad!

  19. It is heartening to see courage of conviction!

  20. Isn't it heartburning, that even in this age, we witness such bias?
    Nice post!!

  21. Some auto drivers/ bus conductors assume this uncalled for responsibility. Also the thinking has to change- when one has come to level of sharing the auto, one has to learn to adjust with the co passengers. I think it is only a matter of time when the conservative girls will be able to think a little more freely.

  22. A bpo worker was assaulted in kochi at late night, the similarity there was that the area was predominantly Muslim and the girl was also a Muslim, (obviously not a burqua wali) and who on being questioned by the lumpen elements, asked them to mind their own business, resulting in the assault....http://deekayrites.blogspot.in/2011/06/moral-police.html.....any way good that u took a stand and remained steadfast!!

  23. Thank you all for ur comments... I really hope we are not walking into worst times..and every citizen understands his or her responsibility..

  24. Here for the first time.

    This is sad. There are lot of them like that. It is surprising that after a certain age something happens to them and some of the Muslims become religiously biased. Reasons unknown. But kudos to you for fighting it out.

  25. same situation cn be seen in seen bt here not related to any religion but the Male Female; many drivers will ask you to sit with male guys only and female with female only and if two female are there they wont let nay male to sit and go empty. Strange thing which i hv never seen in Delhi or anywhere...

    it happened in few buses also which go from chennai to blore etc. they will take 1 female seat empty but wont allow a male to sit with a female.. damn strange... WTF.!!

  26. A big scandal happened in my college yesterday.
    And a guy was targeted for no fault of his except that he was muslim.

    Its true, not all Muslims (or anyone else for that matter) are the same.
    Some beliefs only. Ufff!!

    Im so glad you stood up for it and the driver listened to you :)

  27. What you did requires courage and a stable head on shoulders. People especially in our country always treat women and amen like a flock of cattle who can't be together, you'll find segregation, no matter what its basis are.

  28. which area in pune? i stay in hadapsar but hearing this for the first time...so strange!

  29. This just shows the mindset of the people and they have to come a long way. In these AC buses in Chennai, we don't have that "Ladies Seat" separate, anyone can sit anywhere. 90 percent of the people in this country have come a long way, but a remaining few refuse to come out from the age old practices.

  30. It's not a question of religion, it's just some people behaving in extremely weird manner. I found Pune a great city when I was there, but there are times when you have to stand up for your rights and just say "no". I remember an instance when I had to say no when a private bus conductor wanted to move me and give preferential seats to other passengers. You would laugh if you knew why they were special. They were considered special because they boarded the bus from a certain posh part of the city. :)

    Kudos to you for sticking up for yourself and writing a cool-minded post on a topic that's fraught with controversy.

  31. I had this same question when I was reading your blog....
    "Driver: It is uncomfortable for her to sit that side
    Me: For me also it is uncomfortable"
    Since you are also a girl it's uncomfortable for you also to sit right..How do we educate these people, I wonder sometimes. Hope things change. Your new follower..:)

    Don't mind but the background is dark grey and the text color is also black, so reading makes a little difficult, just my opinion...:)

  32. it is so difficult to sometimes understand why these guys behave the way they do...

    @Prashanth: I wish I could change it..but dunno how..don't want to mess with the template


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