01.12 love

pyaar, mohabbat, ishq... all mean the same thing. love.

i was just thinking about the man of my dreams.. and must comment on expressions of love in india.

in pondicherry, over lunch with three friends, vik, hari and patrick, this topic came up. they were annoyed at the "hassles" that single female travellers (sfts) in india inevitably had to deal with. it wasn't obvious any time i was hanging with my parents or inside hotels or going around with drivers. i've been pretty lucky. but there were moments...

tibetan bowl massage, my lady?

i had asked raja, a lousy squat pondi shopkeeper, about some tibetan bowls i saw in his shop... a trained healer, raja decided to "show and tell" me their powers with an impromptu tibetan vibrating bowl massage in the store. cool. at first. but in minutes, good vibrations turned into a pervy groping session à la pepe le pew. just to be clear: he was groping me, not the other way around.

the risky business of mumbai trains...

rather than a nice, neat "grope and run" on the street, today i was full-up fondled in a man-packed mumbai train. i felt fingers mashing up my left boob, and noticed a dude's left hand, which he had snuck across his chest, peeking from behind his right bicep, rubbing me up. sensing the laser rays from my pupils burning a hole in his knuckle, he quickly removed his hand.

excuse me, i say to the guy standing on my left
EXCUSE ME - my face right in his. everyone is looking at me. silence.
his guilty eyes still avoid me. two other dudes claim his innocence: he can't touch you with that bag in his right hand. they continue campaigning after i explain he's got two haath and one was just on me. some old man is now yelling at the dude. bingo. yes. now i get it. sad. but true: this is what women-only sections are for. swelling with anger at this fact, and this guy's cowardice, i finally boom in his ear:
DON'T. TOUCH. ME. i consider snapping his photo right there but suddenly feel sorry for him. probably never seen a girl like me this close up in his life.

wheel you maarrry me?
in india you will get asked for your hand. that's just how it goes. even lovely old aruna from the school for perfect eyesight had been chatting to me all week, and finally asked me my last day whether i was single, would i marry a man in india, and was i ready to get married... but by far the funniest marriage proposal was on the street yesterday in bandra: "maadaam... yoo soo beoootifool, moowie shtaaar! are yoo maaaried? i will like to maaarry yoo!" he skipped alongside me as i walked, telling me he'd do anything i ask, but didn't leave me alone when i asked him to.

it's a bit of a shame, because i write all of this off, but i can see how an sft - especially western women - would get really mad. it's an adjustment coming from a society where people don't even look at each other walking down the street to a place where everyone and everything is out there, on display, and up for grabs. boobs included.

ranjith, a really decent, stand-up guy in pondi had warned me about mumbai. i remember him shaking his head, and telling me how embarrased he was. that this kind of behaviour from some indian men gives all indian men a bad reputation. sadly, he's right.

but that's india for you. wherever you turn, in a park, train, museum, peeking at you like in a bollywood flick from behind a tree, eyes burning through your salwaar, there it is: love...

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