Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Know your safety in Mumbai

           I agree I haven't been to many places. I still vouch that Mumbai is the safest of all places I have been to. Despite the recent rapes. You have to cut some slack. It is over crowded with people. People from every walk of life and every imaginable lingual and religious background. Mumbai is not just about the night life. It is also about the suburban middle class residential areas. It is also about the chawls where people are separated by paper thin walls. It is also about the slums that mushroom in the most impossible places. In this city of crores, you can either make your way home safely or go horribly wrong.

          I represent the average Mumbai girl. A college student living in suburbs in a middle class residential area. I do not go party hopping, I do not wear skimpy clothes, I do not roam about with guys and I do not take lift from random people. In short, I do not do anything that would invite rape. Yet I live every day as if it could be the day I run into danger. Frankly, I live like the million girls in my city. Free spirit yet perpetually planning an escape at the back of her mind. 

        With about 2 decades of caution with which I was brought up,  1903839 advices that I still get from N number of female relatives and some of my own rescue plans, I thought of writing my Smart Suraksha Tips for Mumbai.

1. Do not travel in empty train compartments: If you have been in Mumbai, you might fancy a train ride to boast of the unforgettable experience. If you plan to stay in Mumbai, trains are the fastest transport mediums. If you have been anywhere near a Mumbai railway station, I bet you have sweated profusely even looking at the huge numbers. In the face of such travel conditions, an empty train compartment is enticing. If you happen to see such a rare sight, you are either travelling too early or late in the day or in the opposite direction of the normal public. Beware! The train sometimes halts in between stations which gives ample time to hooligans living by the railway tracks to enter the compartment. Do I say the rest? Always make sure you travel in second class, even if you have a first class ticket, at such hours. If ladies compartment is sparsely populated, enter the general compartment. It is  much safer than the ladies! Trust me on that.

2. Do not discuss your travel plans on the phone: Do not give away any information related to your journey on the phone. You never know who is eavesdropping on the conversation. While travelling in public transport or on road, do not divulge the details. Text if you must inform.

3. Carry something to protect yourself: Remember, Mumbai is insanely populated. Not everyone who brushes against you is a pervert and not everyone who tells you sorry is a gentleman. During peak hours, use your bag or umbrella as your shield. If you have to stay out late, carry a spray or scissor.

4. Do not lock your mobile screen: I understand that privacy is important. If you must keep your phone screen locked, always put the lock off when you are travelling alone. You wouldn't have time to unlock your phone to dial a number or a smart app in crucial situations.

5. Keep your phone charged: If you are in a profession that demands extensive usage of your phone, please invest in a portable charger. Do not use up your battery playing games or keeping your data network on. If you cannot help that, buy a portable charger. A dead battery would be of little help in real crisis. Even with a smart Suraksha in it.

6. Do not eat or drink what is offered by strangers: We were taught that early in life but it is time to revisit the lesson. You will find some small children or a man with a cow offering you prasad. They might be near a temple and asking you to donate a few coins for the pooja. Do not act like a devout idiot. Do not accept what they give as prasad even if it looks normal and the people look decent. You never know what that is laced with. Do not accept anything offered by the aunty in train who looks all motherly. Specially if you are alone.

7. Do not sympathize: If you find a kid, who says he/she is lost and gives you the address, do not take him/her to that address. Take that kid to the police station. If it is a genuine case, they will do the needful. Sometimes, it is just a gang of thugs waiting to loot you at the address and the child is a part of the act. Do not give in to the cries!

8. Do not get into arguments: It is brave to fight back. It is reckless to argue when you know that the other person isn't of a sound mind. Applies to everyone. People are frustrated, specially those at the grass root. Ask for your change from the auto driver but if he uses slang, make your way out. Some of them are drunk or chewing mind numbing things at times.

9. Know how to scare a potential rapist: A rapist is a coward basically. He doesn't want to get caught and he doesn't want you to give too much of a fight. If you are in Mumbai, more often then not, you will find police patrol teams near auto and taxi stands. A traffic police at least! If it is dreadfully late at night, you will find patrol jeeps at crucial points. Approach them for help. They often ask the driver for his registration number and note it down and then make you get into one. Yes, I have seen that side of Mumbai police. If you are not so lucky, make sure you call someone up and give out the auto details loud and clear so that the driver hears it. He will be extra careful to drop you home.

Raise a voice if you find someone coming too close to you in bus.
Click his photo if someone is following you in broad daylight.
Run towards the nearest Noble chemist shop. They are open day and night and have people around. Cafe Coffee Day is another day and night joint in most places of Mumbai.

10.  Do not act scared: The nervous kind of girls who look too meek to fight back are the softest targets. Act like a bull. Stone your facade. Look confident and bold to protect yourself. Half your battle is won by your courage because remember, a rapist is a coward basically.

I repeat, Mumbai is much safer. I can still come home at 11 pm and not worry because the roads are full of people enjoying a late night stroll, of a million small chat shops, of  buses still packed with people and also because I know where I m headed. Know your surrounding. I wouldn't feel the same way if I were going to closed down Mills in some forsaken place plagued by drug addicts. That is another side of Mumbai. I wouldn't feel so safe if I were cuddling with a guy on the isolated patch of the rocks  that is a safe haven to slum thugs. Remember, no city has just one type of environment. Stay smart, stay safe.

 I am sharing my Smart Suraksha Tips at in association with Smart Suraksha App.


Keirthana said...

A very useful post. I shared this with my friends who are about to start their lives in Mumbai.

maithili said...

I m happy it could be of some use. I hope your friends have a good time in my city :)