Due to family obligations I have to spend the next two months in India. I am living in a big city called Kolkata that is inhabited by people of a particular community called Bengalis. However, Kolkata has a big mix of people from all over India.
My current move to Kolkata had me a little anxious right from the beginning when plans had been made to stay here. Since the big rape news in India 4 months ago, and the subsequent deluge of news of horrific rape attacks from different parts of India, I have been mentally preparing myself to constantly remain wary of men, and protect myself the best way possible. From what I understood of the various attacks, any group of men seen being together in the late hours of the evening, is a sure sign to stay far far away.
Luckily for me, I live in a neighborhood that has a good security system. There are security guards all around, watching with eagle eyes, and I am satisfied when I see them so alert. However, my own guard is always up high. In the dead of night I wonder sometimes if I remembered to lock my front door twice and the three latches to it (no, I am not paranoid, this is a Kolkata thing, and most people usually do have many locks 🙂 ).
Since moving in, to my new and bare appartment, I had to keep myself busy buying the essential items to fill up the house. For all bulky objects like TV, fridge etc, there are a set of men who come deliver it home, another set of men who will arrive to explain to you how it works, and if there has been any part missing or found broken, they schedule another appointment with you the following day to come fix the problem. My front door- bell rings a minimum of 10 times a day with the comings and going of such men. (The only time women enter the appartment are the help).
Since I occupy the appartment with female family members, I am quite cautious. When I look at the men who come with various reasons, I have a tiny bit of fear wondering what might be going on in their heads. One time, I was alone at home. I had a freaky experience. The door bell rang. I peeped through the peep hole and asked “who are you?” The man replied saying he’d come to give a demonstration of how to use my new fridge. I looked at the man, and finally decided I would take no chance. I politely explained to him that the owner of the house is out and would you please not mind but return later? The man looked surprised and a little annoyed, and kept persuing to be let in! I was glad I hadn’t let him in at all, his attitude just seemed a bit wrong!
Another time when the doorbell rang, I decided not to have any conversation at all, so I silently padded about the house doing my things. About a half hour later, just out of curiosity I peered through the peep hole, and was appalled to see a different man still waiting for the door to be opened! I told him to come back later and he went away (thankfully!)
When I told my family of what had passed, once they returned home, they just looked at me incredulously. And seeing their attitude, it was rather me who was taken by surprise! After all that has been in the news lately, should not a woman in India be ultra careful of who she opens her home to?!