Since yesterday, I think at least 50 of my Facebook friends have shared this article on their walls, many agreeing with it. When I read it last night too, even though I’m a guy, I could relate to it immediately because many of my female friends had gone through similar ordeals here in India.
The article I’m talking about is this - “India: The Story you Never Wanted to Hear” at CNN blog, written by an American student called RoseChasm, where she described about the horrible experiences she had during her short 3 months stay in India.
What is really sad is, such things do happen here. I’ve read the comment section where chauvinistic Indian men angrily and defensively comment, “Don’t exaggerate. Nobody masturbates at women in public, you should be ashamed of yourself for lying and giving India a bad name.”
You’re a guy so you’ve probably never seen a guy masturbate at you. Neither have I. But I’ve been hearing about such incidents from my female friends and cousins since… forever. Yes, there are indeed many sick men who do that in public.
Still don’t believe?
Just a few freaking days ago, there was a case of a man publicly masturbating in front of women traveling in the first class compartment of our Mumbai local. Here’s the link:
Mumbai rail employee caught pleasuring himself in front of female commuters on train
A 30-year-old employee of the Western Railway was caught pleasuring himself in public on the Churchgate-bound Virar fast local train at 8 am yesterday. He started masturbating after waving to grab the attention of women travelling in the ladies’ coach. He was arrested by Dadar GRP and will be produced in court today.
Yes they do happen. It’s not a myth or propaganda to taint India’s name.
Now the experiences Rose had to endure were extremely unfortunate, horrible and sad. Makes us all ashamed to be Indians. At the same time, there are also many instances where foreigners had a really great experience. That’s the thing with India. It’s a land of contradictions. You will meet both the Good and the Bad (and if you meet my friend Vaiva, then the Ugly too) here in India.
There are many articles online where foreigners have written about their wonderful and memorable experiences across India. But then, as is the case with most things, negative news usually overshadow the positive ones.
While going through the comments of the above mentioned CNN blog piece, I came across this comment by a user called technovite:
Well done, technovite.
His comment immediately brought back memories of those Goa vacation days. Yes, I too have helped a stranded foreigner, a damsel in distress, in the middle of the freaking night, and I didn’t take advantage of that situation. And I’m sure there are many other Indian guys out there who have done a similar thing too. The thing is, such activities never make it to the papers or blogs. Maybe the foreigners we helped didn’t bother to write about it or they weren’t as articulate as Miss RoseChasm… and even if they were, I don’t think many people would be interested in reading about it.
I still remember that night so well. April 12, 2010. Around 3 in the morning.
We had just returned from Goa Fest Abby’s Award ceremony, held at Cavelossim beach, where we, Webchutney, bagged three awards! We partied hard after that (GoaFest tradition), and by the time we reached our shacks, located at Palolem beach, most of us were sloshed or had passed out. I helped support two of my bosses Tarana and Meghna back to their shacks, and then saying goodbye to the others staying there, I made my way back to my shack, Big Fish, which was located around 200m away from where my bosses were staying.
Like I said, it was around 3 in the morning. The entire place was deserted and the bright moonlight was the only source of light. The only sounds that could be heard were the wailing of the winds across the palm trees and the waves thrashing the shores of the sandy beach.
Up ahead in the winding road, I saw a taxi stop. Somebody got down and then the taxi took a u-turn and left. As I passed that place, the person who just got down didn’t move. I couldn’t make out who it was as all I saw was a silhouette of somebody with a strolley.
As I passed that person, trying to mind my own business, a meek voice called out to me, “Excuse me please. Please help”.
I was like, huh??? And so I turned around and walked back to that person. She was this really cute foreigner, in the middle of nowhere, looking quite terrified.
She was holding a piece of paper. She looked at me in all earnest and said, “Russian. No English”.
I was like, “oookaaay…?”
She pushed the paper towards me with her trembling fingers and said “Help” once again. I looked at it, and there was a Russian name written on it, and the name of a Shack.
I pointed at the name on the sheet and then pointed at her and asked “You?”
And then she gave me this really sweet smile and said, “No no, friend.”
I was like, “Ahhh, you’re here to meet a friend called (name on the sheet) who’s staying at this particular Shack?” I smiled at her.
She gave me this extremely blank stare.
And then it suddenly occurred to me, I had a freaking smartphone (Samsung Omnio Pro, this was before my Android days). Excitedly (but at the same time slowly, in order to not freak her out) I pulled out my phone, opened Google Translate and typed the same sentence above. Translated it to Russian and showed it to her.
She hesitantly glanced into my phone, read it, and then suddenly she grinned from ear to ear. She excitedly said something in Russian, grabbed my phone and typed in Russian, translated it back to English and showed it to me.
And just like that, I was in her comfort zone.
As we searched for her Shack together in the middle of the night (I even offered to drag her strolley along, lolz), we kept passing my phone back and forth to each other and laughing at what the other had written. She apparently landed very late in Goa because her flight got delayed and she still decided to go to Palolem beach at that hour because she had promised to meet a friend. I told her about how dangerous it was for women, especially a foreigner to be wandering alone at that time of the night and she said she didn’t know it was unsafe and that she actually thought there would be a lot of people partying on the beach :)
Finally we found her shack. I woke up the… shack-boy or whoever that person was supposed to be, and he went to summon the manager. When the manager came a few minutes later, I showed him the name of the person written on that paper. He shook his head and said there was no such person there!
When I translated this to her, she took my phone, did the Google translate thing and we asked the manager if there were any firang lady staying all by herself in one of his shacks, as her friend was definitely that person. He said there were three firang women staying alone, and of course we didn’t want to take the chance of waking up the wrong person at that time of the night/morning, so I booked her into one of his shacks so that she could find her friend easily in the morning.
As I walked with her inside her shack, using Google Translate again, I told her not to open the door for anybody once I leave, even if it’s the manager. She said she understood, and then suddenly kissed me on the cheeks. I blushed like hell and said good night to her.
When I reached my own shack, my shack-mate Jonathan Sreekumaran was pissed-off as hell because I had the keys to our shack (since we were traveling as an Agency, we were all on a shack sharing basis). He even did all his toilet stuff at the adjoining shack where other colleagues were staying. Of course he didn’t believe in any Russian damsel in distress “bullshit” so I told him I was actually helping our bosses back to their shacks because they were quite drunk, which was not a lie anyway.
I slept with a wide smile that night.
The next morning, we had to leave for Mumbai, so, the moment I woke up, I ran back to the other shack.
The manager greeted me with a smile and told me my “friend” had found her friend in morning. The problem was that her friend was staying in a shack under the name of HER friend who had left the previous day… ah complications. He told me their Shack number.
I knocked on their door meekly, heart pumping a bit, and when she opened the door and saw me, her face lit up. She hurriedly called her friend while speaking rapidly in Russian. Her friend, thankfully, could speak in broken English. I told her how foolish it was of her to arrive at that place alone at that time of the night, and her friend told me she had actually mailed her, asking her to stay for the night in the airport since her flight was delayed and that it was not a good idea to travel that late, but unfortunately she didn’t check her mail.
We talked for a few more minutes, and then I had to go because my bus was leaving.
And then she took out a camera and asked her friend to take a picture of us together. I too took out my phone and asked her friend to take a picture of us together, lolz.
Just before we said our final goodbye, I told her I blog and wrote down my blog address on her small notebook. Well, I really hope she visits my blog one day and sees this. I don’t even remember her name anymore. Here is the blog post I wrote of the goa trip mentioned above, except of course without any mention of my Russian escapade – GoafEST 2010 – Webchutney wins three
I have never mentioned about this on my blog before because I thought my girlfriend back then would get jealous! :D And also, of course, one should never “brag” about a good deed one had done, except in this case, I just thought it should be mentioned now, to prove technovite’s point and to tell people that everything is not all sex, rape and molestation over here in India.
Just as the Russian girl had a good experience, I’m sure there are many other cases like this across India too. Yes, what happened to RoseChasm was extremely unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean all of us are bad. There are many good men too, men who respect and treat women as sisters (Happy Raksha Bandhan by the way!). I really hope Rose’s article will not deter foreigners from visiting our country.
Cheers and have a great day.