Unless you drive yourself or have a private car to take you around here in Mumbai, you risk bumping into a lot of pervy and creepy men. The kind of men who ogle at women just because they can. Trust me, this happens very much in ‘Aamchi Mumbai’, and the women here are no strangers to it all. You either fight back or choose to ignore it. Or? you could change your attitude towards it…
A little about me - I'm a girl who is from the suburbs and often my work requires me to be in South Bombay. The fastest way to reach there on time is travelling by train. Since I work in a fashion-conscious industry, looking your best every day is simply expected from you. There came a time when I had enough of wearing pants and trousers. That's when I made the big switch. I started wearing pretty skirts and dresses to work events. To be honest, on the first day of travelling by the local, I felt extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable. Men at the station not only shamelessly kept staring at my legs, I was also subjected to cat-calling. I was disgusted to the point that I wanted to give up my job because I didn't want to put myself through this every other day. After giving it much thought, though, I realised one thing. Why ignore or fight it when you can look at the whole situation from a different perspective?
I mean, it's my body and the only person who can put me in an uncomfortable spot is myself. I can't change my lifestyle or career choice because of them! People will stare no matter what - your role is not to give in. As long as you dress responsibly, don't get into unnecessary altercations and get home before it gets too dark, no one - I mean no one - can touch you.
Till today, I travel by the western local sometimes, wearing a dress or a skirt to town. I really don't care what people think or say about me. This is me. This is my style. This is who I am. Why should I change myself for people I don’t even know? I'm going to live my life and dress the way I want to because this is my city too. I have every right to be the person I want to be here. Living in fear for the rest of my life is not something I fancy. I want to be a liberal woman and I urge other women to think and feel the same way.
Don't feel threatened or embarrassed about the comments or stares you may attract. Mumbai belongs to you too. Let nothing anyone says or does restrict your happiness. You are a strong and an independent woman. Be attentive about your surroundings and do your own thing. This form of positive thinking has helped me so much in life. I've learnt to not get stressed out too easily or get into fights. Because you may not have control of everyone's thoughts or actions, but you are certainly the master of yours. This not just goes for travelling in Mumbai, this is an attitude you must carry with you anywhere you travel in the world. Hold your head high and make your happiness as priority. Good luck, ladies.