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Auto Fear

December 27, 2011

Delhi is a heartless and unsafe city, that is the common belief. But one late night venture in the city revealed the other side of this vibrant city to me.

Looking for an auto after nightfall proves to be quite nerve wrecking for women, and riding in one too is no easy job. Having to wave frantically at every passing auto, as the clock ticks closer and closer to one’s curfew time, is a dilemma faced by every girl. The autowallas will stop, stare at you (from top to bottom) and them quote an exorbitant fare.

After waiting for a long long time, finally an autorickshaw driver stops and asks, “Are you alone?”, while staring in a very discomforting way and but agrees to go by the meter. Forced to stay out till late, a pepper spray in one’s hand seems to be the best companion. One wrong move or sleazy statement and your eyes will be burning for the next half an hour or so.

The driver deciding to take a short cut, which proves to be a lonely route, only mounts more and more pressure with every passing second. Soon a bunch of young men on two bikes start pestering the driver to tell them the route to Munirka, the driver doesn’t reply but mumbles something to you. Of course one isn’t really paying much attention to what the driver has to say for one is mentally calculating the number of boys (three on each bike, two bikes, and one auto driver) and the number of units one’s my pepper spray, nine. “Good will still be left with two more units for backup”.

Suddenly the driver, in a rather pissed of tone says, “These boys bloody well know the route, but the moment they see a poor girl alone in an auto they start asking stupid questions. Don’t I know these brats!!”, says the driver. That statement proves to a breath of fresh air and all the tension and fear just blows away.

Numerous incidents of harassment and rape have conditioned one to believe that after dark you can’t trust anyone, thus best to be cautious and armed. It makes read too much into statements and actions. One then realizes that the reason he asked “Are you alone” was because he didn’t want you to face any trouble. And contrary to the image of night-time Delhites he was just a jolly old chap.

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