Independence and women may not have complemented each other in the 20th century.
However, as far as Kolkata goes, the city has always welcomed gender equality in the true sense with women in Kolkata always having the city’s support for clipping the chains off and spreading their wings into a progressive dimension rather than succumbing to prejudices and pre conceived ideologies.
Off late though, no matter how unorthodox an environment we come from, ‘babas’ still cannot pause the worry button instilled in them, quite understandably due to the national uproar with the issue of women safety in the country.
Call it mass molestation or everyday travel hazards, a few swines in society often strike the chords of fear in all.
“Akeli larki khuli hui tijori ke jaisi hoti hai”
Sounds familiar? Hell no! The modern day Kolkata woman has taken it in her stride to abolish such jargon, buckle up and walk out by herself clutching on to her Shantiniketan bag, beautifully clad in the Benarasi saree.
“I’m not afraid of storms for I’m learning how to sail my own ship”- Mary Louise Alcott.
So let these safety tips be your anchor as you set out on a journey into the ‘City of Joy’ so that the perils seem almost negligible.
GPS the BFF
GPS or as most women think of it as the ‘Guide in Problematic Situations’ should never be seen as just another addition to your smartphone. While the shopaholic in you may land you up in the crowded alleys of Bara Bazaar or Chandni Market, keep your GPS handy at all times. To be aware is always an astute decision than to be lost in the maze called Kolkata. A heads up- A lost expression attracts unwanted attention.
Avoiding the “phone tulli na keno?” drama
When shutterbug in you knows no bounds on seeing the sunset at Babu Ghat or it is just one of those ‘good hair days’ when you can’t stop clicking selfies with your friends, take note that the battery in your phone is not as long lasting as your excitement.
In short, keep a portable charger handy so that you are not on tenterhooks. Having your phone by your side can always aid and abet in times of ‘beepod’. This also prevents mother’s from having panic attacks and posting questions like “phone tulli na keno?”
Share your Uber/Ola contact and ride status (Ensuring your driver hears you doing it)
While travelling may be enthralling in Kolkata, you can never lay your trust in anyone entirely. After all, the one at the steering is temporarily in charge of your travel. It is always wiser to instantly share your Uber/Ola status with a close friend or a family member.
As beautiful as North Kolkata may be, a wrong turn in the maze-like streets of the otherwise bustling Manicktala, Amherst Street or College Street can land you in a deserted alley. So always tell your folks back home, who is driving you back and when.
Bulging bags vs metro barbarians
If the bustling Kalighat metro station and the Rabindra Sadan metro station has ushered in bafoons and has put you in dire straits as someone conveniently tries pinching your assets, it’s best to use a bag as a shield from the metro barbarians.
Pepper spray to spice up the attackers
So you like budget shopping and often find yourself landing up at Fancy Market or Metro Gully, but the ‘chengra’ there makes you uncomfortable?
Two sprays of this magic potion and you can stand back in glee as you let the view of the ‘chengra’ writhe in pain and let a sense of relief run through your veins.
Eye contact is a no no
‘Ankhion se goli mare’ does not really shun danger. Ignorance most certainly does.
If the nuisance at Park Street at night kills your vibe right after you leave Roxy or Myx, always ignore the snide remarks and get your way out of the area. The lesser you let the harassers comments affect you, his attempts will ultimately be futile.
If being followed, take a detour and never enter the right destination as you do not want your harasser to know where you live. Wait up a few seconds and always be alert.
Fake calls to outwit the aggressor
When you are being followed and the person is within hearing distance, fake a call and weave out a conversation with an imaginary relative or the local ‘thanas’ in Kolkata so that your harasser can hear you and wander off in the opposite direction- a foolproof trick. Dial 100 to alert the Kolkata police if situations go out of hand.
Be a ninja!
Trust is a feeling one cannot commit to easily and it’s best not to when outside.
Yet trusting your instincts and always having your guard on will be more fruitful. If you see danger lurking ahead, avoid it, but if you are posed with it directly, there are always self defense classes and fitness nutrition programs waiting with their doors open for you.
Lastly, communicate with your male associates, as the more you talk, the more you educate and instill in them a sense of responsibility towards the reincarnation of Durga they see around them everyday