Monday, May 25, 2009

A journey to Chennai - My mobile court

It was 8pm when I boarded Train No. 2624. Trains on Sunday evenings are always stuffy but the rains made it nauseating. I was told by my friend that we would have to share our berths with two girls who were her sub juniors. They were coming to our institute for PhD Interview. The compartment was tightly packed with local passengers too. It took an hour to reach Thrissur and that's when my friend told me one of those girls was RAC 1.

I looked stunned. Chances that her seat would be confirmed was high since they boarded from Kottayam. "Why did you people not sit there and check your seat"? , I asked out of curiosity. "Chechi they were men all around and we didn't want to sit there"?
That was the first bomb thud!!! "Men ? so what? are they aliens? And you left your seats"? (And women talk about reservations). It didn't bother these girls that they were sitting on someone's seats and would be taking someone's berth to sleep. Had they been on waiting list I would not mind but this what crazy they had a seat.

"Get up and follow me we are going to look at it right now", I said. I am sure my friend would not have intervened unless I suggested this. This is the problem with us women. The adjustment bug has caught us so well that we are willing to give up what we have and call it adjustment, You pay for a full ticket to sleep cramped somewhere else.Wow ! that's adjustment.

I sent the girls first to see what happened. They came back and told me the seat was confirmed but since they were not there it was allotted to the next RAC passenger.

I stared at them,they were least bothered. It's high time they learned some action, I thought and said "lets move". We walked up and down the train twice each Ticket checker send us to next one and finally we found the allotted checker.

"Where were you when I was allotting the seat", he roared. "I called out your name and it was two hours since you boarded". There was some truth in what he said and the men around us grumbled "these women are stupid". We were bound to listen to them because we had wronged. But I of all people could not listen humbly ,I thought of lying they missed the train and boarded with me but when I looked at their faces they stood so nonchalantly I was worried if they would agree to my cooked up story which I was saying for their benefit.

"Ok S9, 36", the checker said. I was happy as if I won a case in court and I smiled at the guys there, who did not like us fighting for a seat. The RAC fellow who got the girl's seat told me "why cant you accommodate these girls ? Gone are the days when people shared". "If there was no alternative I would do that but we don't pay full fare so men in waiting list can sleep on our berths and we adjust with friends" I said.

Throughout this episode what upset me was the attitude of these girls.They were silent, they never spoke where they should have, whats wrong with these people?, they don't believe they could ask for a seat and its their right. And we are talking of PhD candidates. Is this the education we mallus boast about? Are our women really empowered. I have seen illiterate women fight better? Does life skills act inversely proportional to education? I know it's just one incident to you people but I have been through many to conclude this is how our women think.

Why was I fighting for them? I thought of my mom who would have done the same?What happens to women like us ? We are labelled 'show offs', 'Arrogant' and obviously 'Feminists' , maybe ' Social out castes' after all who needs women who talk aloud?

Why do parents bring up girls like this that they whisper rather talk? That girl has qualified JRF and GATE my friend said. WOWWWWWW !!!!! I said , I wish they had some personality or attitude test too, judging by how these so called PhD scholars handle crisis.

No being weak is not a crime.... not fighting a situation is one.

As Adaina commented how do you of all people land in such situations, Teena?

I dont know da, Adaina? but this is what I call an exciting journey.


deeps said...

Yea, I think, it s not only women who have to go through this ordeal .. just about anyone will … but I would say, south is much better in this regard .. you board train from chenai to orrisa or bihar and you will be frozen…it doesn’t matter even if you have a valid, confirmed ticket …

However, the mumbai local trains quite different … women either just don’t bother, or men better keep their distance …

Wel..well… quite heartening to see some brave women fighting and not freighted …
Keep going …

Not sure if you are there are defend your thesis or something else.. niway, all the best..njoy ur stay …

The quirk said...

Deeps the concern is not what happens in Indian Railways my concern is how women think and act. PhD is part of my life that should not stop me from living.

You dont expect me to do review of literature in the train do you? well I am not that dedicated then :)

~moonstruck~ said...

Teena, I can totally relate to what you've written. I too have seen girls do this.. a lot of times.. and it irritates one so much... and the worst part is that in such situations one wouldn't even know the girls to advice them.. which I nevertheless have done!!!!

The quirk said...

Bravo, Bravo happy tht a woman has finally commented to this.... thanks dear....

Unknown said...

now don't tell me tht just " all men are bastards"......women act on ther on ways, n dont blame all d mn for tht :).....(BTW ther is no 5. business this's 7.3 gpa)

deeps said...

yeha Teena, thats why said about mumbai local trains, i wonder if there is any woman there who will be bothered about the men passengers around ... dont worry, you arent alone! :-)

i still didnt get, if you are in Chennai to defend your thesis (or you are already a Dr)!

nihow, i love reading while travelling by train, doesnt matter what, even if it is a review!

The quirk said...

hey titoos proud of u dear atleast noone wud blame u for being a 5 pointer coz of ur reading habits and tht makes me really proud. Well reg my fav slogan " All men are bastards"
they are some are cute bastards and sme sweet and sme dumb, u can pick ur choice :) waiting for u guys to get back to campus.....

umesh said...

with all my feeling, i will support your concern but alo the girls who went through the incidnet. Me and one of my close friend Rebecca are doing research on women and public space in Kerala. Eventhough we are doing diffent areas, our concern is same. She is doing on Law and publc space and women and i am doing on participatory democracy and Public and wommen. With all my experince and studies i will stronglly diagree with you. These girls are trained in that way only. When they born, their mother told to them that since you are a grils, your sound should not be echoed outside home. Should not empraise your brother, should not paly with your neibour boy etc etc. Thay have been trained throug out the peroid. Their smile, answers, reaction all are turened by some one else. I may say inernalised subjugation. I m traveling for some times now becuse of my interest and as part of my acadamic work. Compared to all India, Kerala is the worse case. If you are intrested, i could share some studies in this regardes. Pls sympathise with them, this is not their mistake. It is our mistake

umesh said...

some comments are also very bad in words and intention, i may say. Do you thinh we are bastards becuse of us. We are product of your action. We tought that "sholud not cry like a girl". If we are bastards, people who prodused are also bastrards. So my mother is also. My mother is a woman. "Ther is nothing called absolute rationality, it is a social production"

bhasha said...

u were very considerate to the girls.... i would have at least given a scornful or an indifferent luk !
But I'm sure none of this cud have helped..

The quirk said...

Umesh I am happy u disagree with me and u put forth a new point too. Let me tell you something. Things need to change and we cant keep blaming social conditioning, every rebel was born when he or she disagreed with the existing system be it the lower caste/class/gender.

We are rational beings not some passive systems definitely opportunities and environment facilitates this change. I wont sympathize with the girls I showed them things can change and I demonstrated it by sorting their mess that day.

Its called sensitization, empowerment watever u wanna term it sociologically.

Well he bastard thing thts my quote it has a diff meaning frm wat u think. Sorry if any part of the blog upset u but then again it brought forth ur comments .

SK said...

We have always said that "it is not my fault if the system is like this". The point is we are all part of this system and the only way to change it is from within. We know the system, so why not change it? As far as your blog goes Tee, education in fact is an oppressor when it comes to women. From childhood on, we are taught to "behave like ladies" both at home and in school - a massive propagation of a gross stereotype which entails not talking, not laughing, not raising your voice, and a lot of other "nots". Nobody is denying the entrenched nature of the problem. However, people who realise it, like Tee, need to fight and I am very proud of you for what you did in that train. Adjustment!! Hah! More like "give me your food and go hungry cos you are the model of sacrifice as a woman"! These ideas need to be remodelled and I feel that Tee you have definitely made a good start, I shall strive to add to this effort of yours. Woman is Karuna but also Shakti - Keep it up!

SK said...

Please send follow up comments to me

deeps said...

thank you bhuji .... :-)

Yeha many adjectives … we cant xpress all in adverbs!
But I guess I am not nasty with my adjectives! :-)

still in chennai?

deeps said...

you are going to have more No fans following you now on ....

umesh said...

Thank u. I found lots of typing mistakes in the earlier comments i posted. Sorry for that. In fact i was in hurry to move, but the writings prompt me to post some comments. I will certainly like to respond to your comment....let me read a little bit about that issue first..Will write soon

Anonymous said...

A small mistake in your tittle

ca·thar·sis [kə thrsiss]
1. emotional release: an experience or feeling of spiritual release and purification brought about by an intense emotional experience
2. theater emotional purging through Greek tragedy: according to Aristotle, a purifying of the emotions that is brought about in the audience of a tragic drama through the evocation of intense fear and pity
3. psychiatry purging of complexes: the process of bringing to the surface repressed emotions, complexes, and feelings in an effort to identify and relieve them, or the result of this process
4. medicine purging of bowels: cleansing or purging of the bowels

[Early 19th century. Via modern Latin from Greek katharsis , from kathairein “to purge, cleanse,” from katharos “pure, clean.”]
Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003. © 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

The quirk said...

Dear excited anonymous reader,

Having passed a degree in psychology and masters in MSW with med and psych the meaning and spelling of catharsis is not unknown to me.

I love the word. An extra 'A' is intentional it is for my dad .......

And nothing is wrong in revealing ur identity unless this was a show off to point my mistake :)


umesh said...

i appreciate your concerns. But i need to ask again and again tha same question. What you mean by change?
How will bring change?
What kind of change we want?

I hope you know the Madurai case, people often describe as a symbol of Re billion and surceases of the rebellion. Ultimately what it bring is another set of oppressions.
I hope you remember what happened with Vidura and Sooriyanelli cases. It was also a great rebellion form some people. What happened ultimately. Need to think seriously.

Let me explain one of my personal experience. JNU is known for its political, academical and social activities ( Remember once Narendra Modi told in one of the press conference that JNU should demolish because of this die hard intellectual it given against Godra massacre). We have one institution called GSCASH, which meant to deal with any kind of gender issue. This was a result of long fight. This is one of the first attempt in India to constitute a legal body to deal gender violence.

But what happened is that one of the student representative to GSCASH happened to face a molestation incident in one of the JNU road in the night. The perpetuater was a outsider. So the security called police. Apparently some big lots stepped in and saved him. He was a son of one of the Minister from Orissa. How will you fight this incident?

This could not be solved by just a mear empowerment
It demanding a strong political action
Production and reproduction structure nneed to be changed
Independent resistance is good if it can transcend to a social action, that led to a change in the system. Otherwise it will be a futile.
There is work of Nivadida Menon on Gender problem in India in feminist review. It can shed light on the concerns you raised......

The quirk said...

Nobody is talking abt ultimate freedom so what do you suggest we be silent and suffer. Its not abt gender alone as I told u, y did holocaust happen, asking y and intellectualising and printing thesis after thesis never solved an issue ..... It is upto u to decide. I fought for a seat, Wat abt Jessica lal case? Justice was bought. Because of Bhanwari devi case, women like Phoolan devi issues of rural women came to fore front, u r correct sooryanelli and kiliroor was misused but that was done by media and politicians and again it was in Kerala. We can debate both sides.

I live as a woman proudly in a society which is heavily male dominant and my existence is my celebration. Each day I fight for it,
I wnt be silent.

That's the change.... instead of saying sympathise , society is this and that... be the change u want to see - Gandhi said this not me

umesh said...

we certainly need to fight, only with sympathy and consistency. Otherwise it will be a west.

I don't know how to argue with you. But one thing i am very sure, arguments are not going in the right direction.

Again one should say, every human knowledge had been produced through some kind of intellectual activities. Some way or other your own experience shaped by ur knowledge only, that is why you are arguing for oppressed.

One last word: My argument was something very different. We are living in a place gender violence is never recognised as violence. For them it is a ordinary thing. Jasica Lal case is right in the case of upper middle class. It is not all true in the case of 80% of poor Indians. Yesterday morning i was attending a hearing of rap case in Delhi high court. I am very sure that particular girls never go to get justice since the defence council is a well known lawyer and his Clint is a affluent man. Whom should i blame?

Organised force can change the order. But it is not simple.
When you talk bout food, dress, marriage, chapel, road, dad, mother, employer, fiend etc one way or other the institution of gender will come in. This all need to change. How?
Answer is system need to change.
Answer is production process need to change.
so on

I never meant that you should keep silence. Rather i was saying that it is not the girls mistake

On Gandhi: Once a girls had been harassed by two boys in Gandhi's ashram. People bring the boys and girl before Gandhi. Then Gandhi asked to the boys "What did you attract in this girl"
One boy replied that"hair"
then Gandhi told to the girl's father "remove her hair"
This is the change Gandhi proposed.

I am sorry if it hurt your feelings.
I am not concerned about those who are living in the villas.But i am very much worried about the girls sleeping in the footpaths.

Deepak Pazhayamadom said...

This incident is purely a reflection of the culture with which they were brought up. Of course Mumbai have a different culture of it's own reasons were it is expected that generally girls may not need to bother about men in similar situations. Certainly marking out the qualifications/ or getting qualified for them i.e, JRF, GATE, PhD won't stand alone for what we mean by the "Education". It's an overall compilation of lessons what we learn from different experiences of life (which includes the parents, teachers, relatives, friends, society with which we interact and may be also an element of spirituality).

deeps said...

Interesting ..
Let me also chip in..

Existentialism beginning with Søren Kierkegaard and went on to take flights in Jean-Paul Sartre is evident in your arguments Teena .. I feel so ….

read Nausea?

Change, progress .. has been happening because of the protests, rebellions …
French war … Marxism …Indian sepoy mutiny …which religious leader has had peaceful time?

Ultimate freedom has always been the goal … but hardly anyone knows, from what and for what!! Power? Ehem and the battle goes on, winning or losing no war!

The quirk said...

I am sorry Umesh ur comment travels like KK express all the way from one place to other. I can not understand your concern for women on footpath and not in villas they are both women.
Well Jesica lal case was affluent. I quoted Bhanwari devi, kiliroor, sooryaneli and they weren't affluent.

I can quote lot of stuff from gandhi which wud confuse u his stand on mercy killing, chastity and stuff so what's the point u r trying to raise through the hair cut thing? We should not provocate men? gimme a break please should we all wear burka's and cut our hair so we wnt invite trouble , now I get your sympathy part..... I am sorry it's more or like the religious dictum imposed on women after all that's male dominated too.

umesh said...

sorry i forgot to comment on your question on the villa/street woman question. Of course there are difference in both cases. First person is aware about the law, freedom, and the way to attain their desired goals. But in the latter case, they have only one thing in their hand. Their body. That is all. Rebellion is not a passion for them. That is there life. They could not be a feminist at the age of 13. Because they haven't heard of some thing like that.
Through their life struggle they are understanding the necessity of the opposition. In that way it emerge.
Of course both are women. One is a doctorate fellow and other person has had any experience of schooling.
So the difference exist.

I would like to stand up for genuine concerns not for hypocrisy.

Edwin Fernandez said...

teena. ..all said and done... what does a woman want?
1) do they want reservation or equality??
2) if its reseravation is what you guys want, then should the men treat you like equals?
as far i know, reservation is only for the weak and helpless..!
and i would beg u to go easy on ur comments( ala the bastard).
Teena.. read Umesh's comment once again ( i agree his points are all over) but he has a valid point. some of rules put forward by most of moms in kerala (not necessarily the bastard dads)as follows
1) u are not supposed to hug or kiss ur brother or father.
2) dont make urself heard above a few decibels.
3) always look down or be as mellow and yellow as possible.

do u think these woman who are taught to act weak and hepless can fight for their rights. well, some of my neighbours send their girls to govt schools and their boys go to public schools( i am talking about middle and upper middle class families here)... and the moms are responible here.

The quirk said...

I did a study on domestic violence for a world bank study few years back. Rural and urban women were subjects. It was interesting to know irrespective of the class dowry probs, marital rape, physical and verbal abuse, forced abortions existed in both classes. Women thought it was natural to go through all this.

Now can things change? Can men of our generation think different? And avoid the above mentioned issues in their lives?

what do men think abt it? ( abt marital rape or domestic violence , abortions, )

Maybe if each one of you who read this can think differently you dont have to grant women equality like some god granting nectar.... freedom is already given by birth, let us try seeing the other as an individual alone.

There are women who try fighting for day to day issues be it dowry or water issue let us be hopeful that attrocities change and voicless needs to protest . I know I might be crushed but that does not dampen my spirit.

You can call it anything hypocrisy or what not, I wont prove my worth to anyone here. People who know me don't need it and for others lets stick to basics.

deeps said...

the big fight still on ...
winner gets an interesting prize!!

so keep fighting ...

Sunflower said...

I am not surprised Teenas....If you travel in a Bus you can realize the pitiable condition of these womenfolks........Some girls are very courageous like you...but some are not because they are brought up in such a way. Now a days it is very difficult for girls to respond immeadiately, because they are afraid of the crude ways of the men, the medias, mobile cameras etc...Now U can blame them for not travelling in the midst of men, or later you can blame them when you see their bad pictures in the net ....which is the best???
I am neither a feminist nor a male chauvanist...but, it is the terrible condiion of Indian
Wat we can do?...think...think...

Sajit M Mathews said...

this is the way i think too.
slap when its needed.
Because, some in this country (including me and you)need a tight slap or two to realize that world is not 'mine' alone...

catherine said...

Courage, which you showed in the
railway car, in rare. People are
envious of your bravery, and will
not support you, or they are afraid
of other peoples' reactions, and
will not support you. Keep close
those friends who will stand with
you and lose the other ones.