A North-East person's experience of Delhi
- By: Wornichui L Shimray -
I was staying at Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University Hostel, Kashmere Gate in Delhi for two years. It is one of the most male-dominated areas.
Kashmere Gate is famous for its automobile markets and travellers. Towards the right side of our university was the Interstate Bus terminal (ISBT) and towards the left, Bara Bazaar.
Walking alone during evenings in the lane connecting Kashmere Gate metro station to the University campus was very unusual. It filled me with an eerie and persistent feeling of being unsafe.
The lane was male-dominated. The shop owners, the coolies, rickshaw drivers and the busy crowds walking in the streets were all men. I had to go to Bara Bazaar to buy vegetables and stationery.
I dressed decently. I was fully covered but people never missed staring at me. It was uncomfortable. I felt offended but had no courage to fight back. How do I lodge a complaint of voyeurism, stalking and staring in a public place when the entire crowd is staring at me? How can I blame one single perpetrator? I have been called many derogatory names; but I cannot drag any one person to the police station for calling me ‘Chinky’ or ‘China’.
Delhi is one of the most aggressive cities in India. It is a place where no can escape from the peculiar nature of assumption and misjudgement by the local people.
It wasn’t long before I learned that North-Eastern people are more vulnerable to violence because of their physical appearance. This vulnerability is invisible. It is difficult to prove and difficult to express.
The feeling of being watched by a stranger or treated as an outsider because of distinct physical features, being stalked and being called humiliating names, the fear for safety after sundown, when walking to my hostel campus- many from the North-East region face similar issues. But, they barely recognize their experience as wrong done to them. They are unable to express themselves. This will only happen when someone shows them they have been victims of gender and racial discrimination. Even if they do, there is really no way to bring change until the issue remains invisible. Unnameable. Unlocatable.