So I’ve been holding off on writing this because I know a certain number of people will begin to fear for my safety, while certain others may feel the desire to assault the man in the story. Before people get huffy I ask two things.
1-Remember this happened back in October so there is no reason to get upset now
2-Read the whole thing before you pass judgment.
When I arrived here and was still staying at the field office/campus I placed my extra USD, Passport and Plane tickets home in the safe at the safe there. Around Mid-October I had run out of my stipend and needed to cash my travelers checks and since the CINI office people take their jobs very seriously and wouldn’t allow anyone else who was going between the two offices to bring my things, I was forced to make a mid day journey out and back.
To get to Poilan (where the CINI I campus is) One generally has to walk up to the main intersection of Gariahat (about a 5-7 min walk), take an auto-rickshaw to the Behala bus stand (about a 20-30 min ride) then take a bus to Poilan (another 30 min ride or so) and finally walk down the block to the CINI I campus. Or at least this the way I tend to go in the mornings, there are several other stops and buses one could take, but I prefer a minimal amount of changes. There are also 2 buses that run the whole way (76 and GL-3), but their running times are difficult to predict.
So I jump into an auto and (as always) turn on my shuffle and settle myself for the long ride. The back seat of the auto is about the size of a small loveseat and three people generally sit there. I generally wear Salwar Suits or a Kurta and trousers to the office, but when I’m going toward the field I definitely make an effort to dress more traditionally. I get less attention that way. But I hadn’t really planned to be at Poilan I was dressed fairly western, a full-length flare skirt and a t-shirt.
So I’m sitting in this auto and there’s some guy next to me who I’m pretty much ignoring. Then I realize that there is a hand on my breast that is not mine. As the auto is pretty cramped I give him the benefit of the doubt and re-cross my arms so that my hand serves as a barrier. At which point he re-adjusts so that he is again touching my chest and starts caressing me. I, not trying to make a scene, re adjust so that my hand is between his and my chest. So he decides to hold my hand. Just as I’m about to be loud and call this guy out. The auto arrives at Behala and we get out. I take out my wallet hand the driver a 20-rupee bill and wait for my change a bit agitated and still kinda pissed at the audacity of the guy next to me.
As I’m waiting for my change I see the bus that I need starting to leave. So I grab my change and my skirt and bolt after the bus. I do the characteristic Kolkata leap onto the bus while it’s still rolling and find a place to stand inside. At that point I look down at my wallet and realize my license, my other Ids and anything that was in the outside two sections of my tri-fold are gone. Because my wallet was open everything fell out while I was running to the bus. Someone handed the conductor two of the things from my missing pockets and they turned out to be my CINI-ARC card and a card from one of the food courts here.
Slightly upset but counting my blessings (My ATM cards were in the middle section and survived the run), I began to try to figure out how to go about getting new Ids. Suddenly the bus stopped and the creepy guy who was next to me in the auto gets on the bus and hands me all of my Id’s and cards that I dropped. He saw them fall, collected them and then ran to the next stop so that he could give them back to me. He gave a sort of wave and got off the bus again. So I proceeded to CINI I got my things out of the safe and got back to CINI-ARC with no further adventure.
I’m still not sure what the moral of that story is.