Friday, September 20, 2013

I think this girl needs our help

It's a weird world we live in. I have not really visited any other planet apart from Earth but on any given day I think it's the most beautiful planet to call home. And I have great hope for humanity as well. I know I have not been around for too long...but I think being part of the human race is just spiffy. You can dance (I dance badly), you can sing (I cannot sign) and you can draw beautiful pictures (I have trouble drawing a straight line). Anyway, even though I am not quite as evolved as I would like to be, I would still say I am quite proud to be part of the human race. Which brings me to this morning when a member of the male species threw an object aimed at my face.

An auto driver in Bangalore got so angry with me that he grabbed my phone from my hand and threw it at my face. An auto driver. Male. Part of the human species. I hailed an auto to get to work in the morning and his meter was absolutely off its rocker. It was at least 30 to 40 rupees more than it should be. I was quiet. I had already told him that the meter fare to my work place costs Rs 133 because I wanted to avoid fighting with anyone early in the morning. Of course it also does not help that I actually do not like fighting and I am not good at it. We got to my office in Indiranagar and the meter read Rs 176. Absolutely insane. I have never seen a faster meter my entire life. Still, seeing as I was in a good mood (am off with friends for a mini vacay during the weekend), I decided to just tell him that his meter was too much and that he should get it checked. All hell broke loose.

The man starts yelling at me about how his meter is just fine and how I should pay him whatever it read. Then he yelled at me about the terrible traffic which confused me because it's not like I am the cause of the traffic in Bangalore. I was rummaging through my bag for money, he screams some more and that's when I told him that I would only pay him what I usually pay and he should stop yelling at me. Suffice to say he got angrier. So much so that a woman who was standing nearby came quietly from behind and stood along with me. He started throwing insults at me and I was losing my patience but I was still too scared to yell back or do anything else. That's when I figured I would pick up my phone and take a photograph of his licence plate. In the past, this trick has scared a ton of auto guys, who then proceed to go away. This man on the other hand got so incredibly angry at the sight of my phone, that he grabbed my hand, yanked my phone off of me and hurled my phone to my face. Now my hand eye coordination is terrible but looks like I can duck quite well, so I ducked away from the phone. Except now my brand new phone has flown across the road, hit a nearby gate and plonked itself inside a ditch. That's when the quiet woman standing beside me looks around the street, which also has two men on bikes standing nearby talking to each, and loudly proclaims - this girl needs our help. You want to know what those two men did? Nothing. They just continued talking to each other like they heard nothing.

The slap
When I used to be in school I used to get into a fair bit of trouble over fighting but since then I have become what some people would call a chicken. I don't fight. I don't like it. I think it's messy and I always end up backing down. I always end up apologising even if it's not my fault. Which is why I still can't believe what I did next. When I saw my phone flying towards me and then towards the ditch, something snapped. How does someone get to do that to anyone??? I got into his auto (the backseat) and I slapped him across his face. I had silenced both of us by my action. He could not believe that this tiny girl in front of him (he was HUGE) had actually slapped him and I could not believe that my hands had flown across the air and made contact with his cheeks.

The police call
Once this guy had mishandled me I knew I had no other choice but to call the cops (even though I did not want to). So, I did. Told the operator where I was. By then the auto guy was shocked at the state of events. I don't think he ever thought me capable to calling the cops, but then I don't think he thought me capable to striking him either. The people from my office came down and surrounded the auto. We were a quiet bunch. He apologised. He said he was sorry. He asked me to call off the cops. He begged me and called me baby at least a million times. I didn't yell at him. I politely told him that he could apologise to the cops. At first he looked like he would hit me but I looked at him back squarely in the eyes and told him no man has the right to strike a woman. In fact no human has a right to go in for an unprovoked attack. What he did was wrong. The cops came ten minutes later. He tried to spin the story about how I had attacked him. Thankfully, the quiet woman (Debra) came forward and explained everything. She had even fished my phone out. It was damaged but like me it was still chugging along. The cops immediately sprung into action. I went back into my office. I may have had an eventful and exhausting morning but a girl's still got to work. The control room called me 15 minutes later to make sure I was fine.

Stop blaming the woman
There was a woman who at every point tried to stop me from calling the cops and asked me to let him go. Why? Because he is poor, she said. The man who was talking into a cellphone all morning is obviously so poor that he has every right to strike at a girl. You are told right from the beginning not to make an issue. Do not call the cops. Let him go, he's made a mistake. At what point do we get to defend ourselves and not be blamed for it? I took a photograph of his nameplate and I posted it on my Facebook wall because if you can avoid this particular specimen, you should. I am scared. I am petrified and for at least the next couple of weeks, I will be looking over my shoulder but I will also know I did the right thing. The next time he gets angry and wants to lash out, this man will think twice. He will not do this to another girl...or child or man or woman. I think the ordeal of the morning was worth it for only that reason.

Back to the universe
This brings me back to humanity and earth. Sure the two guys in their bikes looked like they couldn't be bothered and yes it's never fun when someone forcefully throws a phone at you but the woman never left my side. The lesson I learnt today is humanity is darn amazing and that you find kindness in the most unlikely places. The good humans make life pretty swell. So, I am not going to focus on the auto driver. I am not going to focus on the guys who did not come to my rescue or the woman who tried to dissuade me and sided instead with the man who threw something at me. My focus is on that one woman. My hero. The woman who stared at the street and proclaimed - 'I think this girl needs our help'. When no one showed up, she stayed anyway. She was the epitome of humanity. Who never left my side. I think she alone makes this planet at least one of the top 3 planets to call home and the human species one of the better species to be associated with.

P.S My phone wants you guys to know that it's doing okay now too. It stopped working for a while but has since decided that it will also not be bullied by auto drivers, gates or ditches. I think my phone was quite brave.

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