Men, Women and Public Transport

Last night after covering two music concerts for Rockand Raga , (one at the Unwind Center in Adyar and a Jazz concert at the Gandhi Nagar Club) on my way back Sathya and me decided to take the bus back home. So waited for a while to catch 29C in Adyar.(This is one of the oldest and probably the longest route in Chennai. Starts from Beasant Nagar and ends at Aynavaram.)

So in the meanwhile we entertained ourselves by stopping autorickshaws and asking them how much they’ll charge for a trip to Kilpauk. They quoted anywhere in the range of 180-200Rupees. And when I refused to go for the ride they wanted to take me for. They would ask me to quote my price. and I’d quote in the range of 50-70 Rupees. Yeah it is a game I often play with auto fellows and I love seeing that pissed off look on their face.

So finally the bus got there and I had to stop playing games with the Autorickshaw guys and got in with Sathyanarain( Yeah the same guy who has decided to moderate the comments on his blogpost) and while there were hardly any women and the entire bus was filled with men. Narain and I were totally tired and there was this lady occupying a seat. The seat next to her was empty and there were so many men standing. I asked Narain to occupy that seat and he was like “Don’t know how she will react?”

Yeah and I have seen women give all kinds of reaction. Most of them get aggressive and ask the men folk to move away from what is rightfully theirs. I have seen some of them shove school children out of the ladies seat. But let me tell you my story.

I was sitting in a bus in the last row because other places were filled with people. (Last row is for ladies in most buses in Chennai) I was the only one in the last row no one else. At one of the stops a lady climbs in and comes to where I am sitting.

Lady: Please get up I want to sit here.

Me : Well, the entire row is empty and you can sit anyplace.

Lady : No I wanna sit here.

Me Ok if you want to. ( So I move to another place in the same row)

Lady : No this is a Ladies only seat so please get up. Men should not sit here.

Me : Oh alright. Fair enough. Thanks for telling me. I am really dumb you know

(I was really angry by now. I still got up not wanting to fight with the lady and was moving away)

Lady (In a loud Voice) : Men are such Bastards.

Me turns around walks upto her gets really up and close and demanded an apology. While she refused to apologize, I gave her what she did not expect, a toffee. She was completely embarrassed and got down at the next bus stop. Infact everyone was shocked. They expected something serious to happen. But I just wanted the world to know that women can behave like that too. She took the heat, not me. I hope and wish and pray that such abusive women are shown the right path.

What would you have done in a situation like this men and women?Please leave your comments.

13 thoughts on “Men, Women and Public Transport

  1. wow! I am extra careful when I get on a bus…especially a crowded one. I have to make sure i get the physics right, calculate the momenutm of the bus, the retardation when it comes to a sudden halt, I factor the tilt when the bus swerves around a bend, all to make sure I do not by any chance bump into a women passenger. The cold stares you get, and the comments are a piss-off. If have better things to do than place my hands on things I do not not desire. And occupying a ladies seat? I don’t understand what the fuss is about especially on an empty one. What’s the deal!

  2. @Narain Dude I wish I had a clue about what makes Chennai women so special that we have to think twice before occupying the seat next to them. It is not the same in Delhi. Women actually adjust and sit wherever there is place.

    Yeah as you said it is really complicated.It is as if men have just one aim in life. We men have more than that on our minds. Especially in crowded buses.

  3. I so agree with you on this. I am a lady, all right but in this regard I am totally with you. Firstly this whole 50% of seats being reserved for ladies is rubbish. While the ladies can conviniently sit on the general category seat the opposite is made such a big deal of. Ridiculous! Another very unique Chennai concept this. As far as public transport is concerned it should be a case of first come first serve. But you did a fantastic thing by giving her a toffee. Hopefully she will think twice before she does something like this the next time 🙂

  4. “Gave her a toffee!” Wow! I would have cursed her back, but your reaction was splendid! I was warned by people to avoid the ladies’ reserved seat well before I came to Chennai. I prefer standing compared to sneers and cruel eyes from women.
    And in Mumbai too, women are pretty cool about sharing space with men in the bus. If you’re standing, they even take your bag to make you comfortable. Actually, this reminds me of one incident in a bus.
    Wrote about it here –

    I sleep in buses even when I’m standing! Once in a queue (yes! Mumbai has queues everywhere!) I saw a really cute girl & wished she sat next to me. I got in the bus, took the window seat & dozed off. When I woke up, I found my bus stop was long gone, but right next to me was sitting that girl!!! I wish I was an insomniac!

  5. One cannot really complain, Chennai(tamilnadu on the whole) in the name of being conservative installs sexism in everybody. Men, Women and transgenders too.

    We make girls and boys not talk in schools/college’s and dismiss them if they break those so called disciplinary rules. Now what do you expect? The women think they are too precious to be treated like even for somebody to occupy the space near them. The men are totally starved and just cant wait to grab a woman’s arse at the first meek sight of opportunity.

  6. In 2008, I was a clueless 17 year old in a new city. I boarded a bus that my cousin had written down for me from Besant Nagar to T Nagar. I was told to wait a couple of stops, ask the conductor for T Nagar and get off. I assumed that this would simply somehow work out. The minute the bus came and stopped in front of me, I knew instantly that I was going to be crushed and jostled and that I must somehow rally on with this concept that thus is life.

    But there was a man with a large bag, traveller kinds who struggled with his luggage and happened to be pushing people inadvertently. As I entered he again shuffled, adjusted and kindly moved around and offered me space, In all that jostling and shuffling, I was pinched and pressed against by other men. Around the same time, in the same space, there were two kinds of Indias. The one that you think you are a part of, and the one that is dangerous to your wife. family and children. In order to protect as many from the second, they reserve seats.

    You walked up to the woman, but why really close? Were you trying to scare her?Playing on her fear and vulnerability? Or was it just a statement that there is more I can and I am simply not doing so? Shouldn’t you have politely told her to mind her own business and sat by yourself on that seat? How have you made yourself less abusive of power? Everyone holds power. Some of us exercise it righteously whilst others abuse it without understanding it.

    • 🙂 hey I just meant to embarrass her. Not abuse her. But you know what? you are right. Not.

      I did not mean to intimidate the woman and I had no hatred towards her. Just wanted to give her a toffee and I just did that.

  7. Excellent reaction. On one bus-trip (when I was going to Kanchipuram), there was one vacant seat. A man and a woman entered the bus in a bus stop. There is no reservation in this kinda bus. The man went and sat in that seat. The woman came behind him and asked him to leave the seat because she had thrown her hand-karchief from outside the window! That cloth went and landed somewhere else, but she was adamant. The man was reluctant to move away because he had no reason to.

    Then the lady used the ultimate weapon in her hands – ‘You are trying to misbehave with me. I am going to report this’. Everyone around knew this was not true. At this point the man got up.

    Women can (and do) get away with such things easily. The best thing to do at such situations is to smile, offer the seat and ask, ‘Are you comfortable now?’ (or do like what you did, if one has a toffee).

    Destination Infinity

    • Ah! Placing a kerchief is like capturing the flag. It is something very unique to our country. Wonder who came up with such an idea.

  8. You actually gave a toffee? Did she take it? Quite a ‘bulb’ moment. Come on, if seats are empty, then anyone can occupy them. Some women can be real pests. It’s easy for a woman to get away with things like this, you see. We have powers like that and some times some women tend to use the same for their benefit.

    BTW, me thinks there’s something wrong with your face which can make women think otherwise (Escape).

    Joy always,

    P. S: Were you wearing those killer shades by any chance?

    • Nope, she did not take it. I was being nice to her. Feeling up women/girls/ladies in public spaces is horrible. I hate when someone touches me even by mistake. I guard my personal space really well. I would expect everyone to do the same.

  9. Yeah, Susan, I too had the same doubts. 😉
    Man that was different move. Usually when you are irritated and angry your brain stops working, your human instincts are really fast, that was a good gesture and good lesson to that lady.

    • Unnaku ennapa doubtu? This happened when I was in college. But I have since realized not argue with a woman. NEVER. They are far more clever than us. They have immense public support. It is just like when a Metro water tanker runs down a biker/pedestrian. The tanker is the one who is wrong, by default. 😉

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