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A Woman Living Alone in India- 10 Safety Tips
A Love of Nature Led Me To Live in a Dangerous Place
Someone called me Lady Rambo once because I lived alone for several years after my father’s untimely death. I loved living alone and believed I was invincible. I believed there was some guardian angel watching over me till I got myself an apartment in a slummy neighbourhood. I chose it because the skies about it were unmarred by buildings and one could see the sun rise and set every day. A small distance away across an open field stood a forest of pine that belonged to the army. Here people took their dogs for walks. I immediately populated this forest of feathery pines with dragons and elves.
11 Tips For Women Living Alone in India
1. Try finding an apartment instead of an individual house. Don't choose a desolate area. Find out about the neighbourhood.
2. Get yourself a pet dog or two. They are the best security. They'll bark when someone's at the door.
3. After a night out, get a good and reliable male friend to drop you home.
4. If accosted by the cops, don't try to escape. Instead, stand your ground and explain.
5. When returning home at night, make sure you don't have alcohol on your breath. Which means, avoid drinking.
6. Make sure the front door has a good locking system and don't leave the door open. Use the door chain when opening the door.
7. Look through the keyhole to see who's outside before opening the door.
8. Save important numbers on your mobile including those of the police station, ambulance and download applications designed for the safety of women such as SOS-Stay Safe and Woman Safety Shield both of which are free. There's also an auto dialling facility for your friends and family. Make sure your mobile is always charged. ,
9. A good friend living nearby will give you an added sense of security.
10. Carry pepper spray. Or learn Judo.
11. One of the best things you can do for security is install a CC TV Camera in your home.
The Perils of Living Alone
The dangers of living alone in the wrong place dawned on me on the night I was returning home from the discotheque with a friend who called himself Urmila Devi. As our autorickshaw proceeded across the field, a couple of cops popped up from the dreaded Congress Grass, waving their batons.
"Oh shit!" said Urmila Devi and I. And then a third man with a sub-inspector's cap appeared among the bushes.
"Halt, I say!" he cried, raising his baton,"Where to Madam? It is very late in night, very dangerous in this parts."
"I'm going home," I said.
"What number?" he said, shining a torch in my face. I got out and he studied all of me in the torchlight- my black leather jacket that I had hurriedly zipped right up to my throat, my little leather skirt, my black hose and stiletto heels.
"I don't remember the number," I said,"but it's right there across this field...you can come along and check." I glared at Urmila Devi who was huddled like a speechless mouse in a dark corner of the auto.
"Come Madam, you can sleep in government shelter," said the sub inspector.
"I am not going to do any such thing- especially so late at night! Should I give you my office address?"
"No need to argue, Madam. Just keep calm and get in the auto. We are going to police station."
"Get in, Anita," said Urmila Devi. "Traitor!" I thought.
"I'm not going to get in," I cried and began to walk away toward the housing colony and then to run. I could hear them shouting. "Perhaps the sub inspector thinks I'm a tart," I said to myself, "and Urmila Devi a pimp."
Escaping the Cops
Stumbling on my stiletto heels, I headed for a colleague's apartment. Surely she would let me in. But she wasn't in and I was reduced to crouching behind her compound wall. My legs were shaking. So this was what being on the run felt like! I strained to listen for sounds of pursuit. Dogs barked from all nooks and lanes. I seemed to have incensed the entire dog population of Viveknagar.
After fifteen minutes I ventured from hiding, determined to get home by a short cut I hoped the cops knew nothing about. Lights came on in a few houses as the dogs, small and big, brown and black, curly and straight, barked at my ankles. A man yelled from a window:
"What hey you?" I yelled back,"I'm just trying to get home!" More lights came on. And there, heading towards me was the auto full of cops - and no Urmila Devi in sight! I ducked into the short cut and bumped into the sub inspector.
"There's no use,I say," he said with a slight smile,"my men all around." Now this really sounded like the movies. I managed to recover my breath and yielded with a giggle.
"Why you running Madam?"
"You scared me."
"Not to be scared, Madam. We here are for your welfare only."
"I am going home and nowhere else," I said, "You can follow if you like." The three of them walked me home.
"I come from a respectable family,"I told them,"Do you think me a ...a prostitute?"
"That boy in the auto pick up you somewhere?" said the sub inspector.
"Pick me up?! He's a friend and he prefers men." He didn't even look surprised. "But where is he?"
"He went. I said to him your house used to be bad place full of prostitutes ...and that Babu, landlord has bad name."
"But there's a very decent family living downstairs," I said. No wonder he had believed me a tart. I knew then what the trap door beneath my bed was about. The tarts must have been hiding in there during police raids!
Jasmine, the old man with long silver hair who slept outside my door, hobbled down the stairs to tell the cops about my stories in the newspapers -- a fact that would hopefully make me most respectable.
"Young women like you going in auto twelve o' clock in night in the area!" said the sub inspector, shaking his head at me, "I will put case on you, I say! It is our duty Madam to see you are not doing rash anything...you go up now, Madam."
Once a Loner, Always a Loner
Before I could go house hunting again, along came a guy I liked a lot. He was very impressed by my living alone and all that but he was so alarmed by the dubious reputation of the place I called ‘home’, he invited me to live with him. I did that for three years before moving out on my own again. Once a loner, always a loner.
Install a CC TV Camera
One of the best things a woman living alone anywhere can do is install a Close Circuit TV system in her home. I have a camera at the gate, hooked up to a monitor I keep in the living room where I can always keep an eye on it. It's a good idea to also put up a board at the gate which says: "You are Under Surveillance." That is sure to keep evil away! You don't even have to look out the window to see who's at the gate. God forbid, if some disaster does take place, such as a robbery, you can have proof because stuff is constantly being recorded. In the system I have, the recording gets automatically deleted every 30 days which gives me ample time to recover stuff.