Monday, December 20, 2010

Candid..err..Creepy Camera

A Spanish friend of mine is currently in India. She was there for a wedding and spent 2 weeks in North India touring Delhi and Rajasthan. I called her to find out how she was doing. She is totally frustrated with people there. She says every second person tries to cheat her or take a photo of her with his mobile anytime she bends to pick up something or just tie her shoelace! She continues almost in tears that this is true of even men with families who actually do this right next to their wife and kid. My question to such men: why are you such creeps!?! My question to their wives: why do you let these creeps get away with what they are doing??

In my best defense, I asked her if she had remembered to dress a little conservatively as I had suggested and she bursts out saying "I have worn nothing but jeans/cotton pants and t-shirts, I did not even pack any skirts or shorts". Then I was all out of words. What else can I tell her? I have spoken to her about how closely knit our families are, how we respect tradition and values....how can I talk to her again as a proud Indian?? I had already warned her about being ogled...as a tourist, it happened to me in Egypt - men whistling, making eyes, and they even said something in Egyptian that thankfully I didn't understand and I didn't mind it too much because I was used to these things and I never minded this harmless flirting. She said she found it weird but it wouldn't bother her either.

But being photographed by a bunch of cheap strangers is just pushing the limits too much. With the abundance of skimpily clad heroines and easily accessible pornography, one would assume that the deprivation limits would have been lowered and men would learn to control their animal instincts...but no…. it seems to be getting worse, thanks to the technology revolution that provides every pervert with a mobile equipped with a camera !

People always make fun of Netherlands because drugs are legal there and are sold at what are known as "Coffee shops". Ashok lived in Enschede, a small university town and I have been there many times. The day we left, out of curiosity I asked him “where are the coffee shops?” and when he said “no idea”, the friend who dropped us off said “you are 200m within 2 of them” and there they were right in the centre of the town and not once have either of us even noticed it because there were no junkies lying on the road, no cops and basically no fuss, it was just like any other shop – apparently only soft drugs are sold and there is a limit on the quantity ! The Dutch probably have the right attitude, if its out there, its not a forbidden secret anymore and you lose interest in it. But does this with work with male-female interactions??

In Europe, where they are nude beaches and parks, I have seen almost no ogling but every now and then you catch someone “looking” at you or someone asking you for drinks. In N.America, where things are a little mellow, there is a bit of subtle ogling and one gets asked out for coffee. In countries like India, Indonesia, Egypt etc. there is blatant ogling and in the Middle East, no woman is supposed to give you a chance to ogle and if she did, it’s not worth her life and yours. Which one of these scenarios would women prefer (I am not going to consider mens’ preference here, am far too annoyed now to give them a chance) ? Truthfully, I prefer the Europe scenario. Yes, there is the occasional embarrassment in seeing something you don’t want to see but that aside, I always feel safe and comfortable at all times of the day. It pains me to say this but I don’t think I could have lived alone for so many years in any other place, even in India!

Maybe this is just a reaction to the conversation I had with my friend, maybe I will start feeling better about it all soon, maybe men will grow up, maybe there will be world peace, maybe angels will come down to earth, maybe money will start growing on trees…

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