i haven’t been terribly impressed with the men in this country.  disgusted is a better word.  of course my male colleagues are all perfect gentlemen, but the other men – the ones on buses and streets, at touristy places like ruins and beaches – those i could do without.  liz attributes it to cultural repression of natural sexual urges, the hiding of women and the eternal separation of the sexes on buses and at school desks.  keerthi assures me that there are lots of perfectly decent guys here, but yes the country has its share of perverts like any other.  but in all my travels never have i encountered to such an extent what i’ve been calling the horny-geek-boy factor (stolen from thora birch in american beauty for those of you who don’t know the reference).  by way of definition, let me share some jewels of the sub-continent’s less fair sex.

there was the man from mamallapuram who took pictures of me on the beach with his camera-phone.  he and a few friends in their mid-20s came out to oggle the foreign females in their bathing suits (indian women do not swim, it seems, or at least not in public).  there was the man on hosa road last week who stopped dead in his tracks in the street and when i passed by reached his hand out to grab my breast (i only just avoided it).  there are the guys at the gym who either stare unabashedly or pretend to use the machine next to mine while secretly watching me sweat.  these aren’t peeping tom 14-yr-olds either.  in gokarna last weekend on the beach we tried to ignore the leacherous looks of full-grown men who sauntered past, some stopping to drink in the view of a couple of girls reading their books on the beach in tank tops (i had earlier given up on the bikini the oggling was so bad, and liz was actually wearing a skirt).

what gets me is that a) no one seems at all ashamed or embarrassed by their horny-geek-boy-ness nor by our disgusted looks or comments (a sample: go away, you’re disgusting, why are you staring at me, what’s wrong with you, stop taking picture of me you freak).  and b) not once has anyone, any other supposedly decent guy, been chivalrous enough to stand up for us.  no ‘is this guy bothering you miss’.  no ‘hey man leave the ladies alone’.  not once.  ok yesterday on the bus the ticket-taker-bus-man smacked a guy around for being drunk and standing in the ladies’ section.  i imagine some groping had occurred but i was a few seats up and didn’t notice anything till i heard yelling and a loud smack.  where was this bus-man-in-shining-armor when we needed him sunday night?

i haven’t told you what happened sunday yet.  sorry.  sunday night liz and i took an overnight bus from the beach at gokarna back to bangalore (and missed the world cup final, sacrilege, i know).  a few minutes into the ride, liz jumped up in her seat as if she’d seen a snake and hissed ‘there’s a hand there!’  the man behind her (who will henceforth be known as fingerman) had reached his hand through the gap between the seatback and the window and with the tips of his fingers gently nuzzled her (fully clad) shoulder.  like a tickle.  like a small child trying to make his sister think there’s a spider on her shoulder.  over the course of the 12 hour bus ride, this 30-something wiry little pervert proceeded to creep his hands around the seat to nuzzle liz every half hour or so.  at first she moved her shoulder.  when he did it again, she brushed the hand off.  when that didn’t stop him she swatted it and said assertively ‘get your hands off me’.  the next time he nuzzled she pulled the hand forward and twisted it hard.  next she blocked the gap with the arm rest.  that only made him grope her head and then go for her other side (where he discovered my also fully clad shoulder to nuzzle as well).  finally, at around 6:30am, at the end of her tether, she jumped up in the seat and turned around, slapping him repeatedly and yelling ‘get your ?!@# hands off me you animal! stop touching me! you disgust me! you’re an animal!’

the whole bus heard her, easily, and in perfectly comprehensible english.  the sun was up, people were awake and listening.  do you know how many people asked her if she was ok?  one.  me.  do you know what happened to fingerman?  did a bus-man-in-shining-armor smack him loudly and kick him off the bus?  did any of the people sitting nearby make disgusted comments or scold him for his repulsiveness?  did they tsk their tongues and complain to their neighbors about the number of perverts in this country?  did they offer to switch seats so she would no longer be attacked by this terrible groping animal of a fingerman?  no a whit.  no one said a word.  fingerman stopped his nuzzling and got off the bus at the station scot-free.

~ by aliciawolcott on July 14, 2010.

One Response to “unimpressed”

  1. so funny! and gross.

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