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)
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.