"It is an unwritten code that a woman standing alone at a bar in India is looking to hook up" said someone who is a part of the F&B industry, a keen observer, a reader of people's attitude and someone who is an insider to the world that revolves around revelers, singles who are out there to enjoy their own company, singles who are looking and people in general who go out to have a good time and by the time that time is up, are either going back after having a good time or giving someone else a bad time. Depends.
Did I agree to the statement? Was I angry? Did I take it the right (or wrong) way?
I was appalled, upset, angry, feeling misunderstood, feeling that my basic right was being given an entirely different angle, feeling really really bad. It felt that my simple pleasure and freedom to go out, enjoy a drink and some music on my own, without needing someone else to come up to me and make small talk or do those beery-leery rattles that rattle me no end, was being snatched away from me.
I was not angry at the person, I was angry at the code of conduct that is supposedly in place.
And after having spent quite a few evenings out on my own, with my own company, just enjoying myself at the bar, I have come to realize that there is actually some (or maybe quite a lot) weight in what that statement is all about.
It is ridiculous no doubt.
I have forever been the person who never likes to sit down at a pub or a club. Call me hyper or bursting with energy or what not, but that is not the idea. When I head out on my own to a bar, all I want to do is to enjoy the music, stand at the bar and check out the different drinks that are being made and the way the bartenders make magic with those flowing liquids. I love to see other couples happy and dancing and looking into each others' eyes and doing those mushy things that are oh-so-cute but are maybe past me now, those wonderful people who sit together and chat the night away. I enjoy the feeling that I am there with me, relaxing for that moment, letting all else float out somewhere else for those few hours.
What I wear when I am at a bar alone is no one's concern really. It's definitely my prerogative. That said, I have always been a safe dresser most of the time, and consciously push people away from me, so maybe that explains the clothes I wear, which are mostly not very experimental and instead feel relaxed on me. I know clothes don't matter, that people already have a perception in their mind when they see a girl alone at a bar, sipping a drink, not waiting for someone (remember that Anouk ad I spoke about earlier?)
Maybe that's why it felt so bad when I heard about the unwritten code of the bar. I was maybe naive enough to feel that wearing a regular jeans and button-down and not talking to absolutely anyone was hint enough that I wasn't looking. But turns out that is not true. And the person who gave me the code was right.
That night I was approached by a multiple number of guys, and it was definitely not pleasant, especially as barring two guys who seemed nice and decent, the rest were a pain in all the exact places. No amount of saying no and thank you but not interested and literally spelling out that I was not interested in speaking or sharing name and numbers was not working. Finally, I was left with a bitter taste and had one of the most horrible times of my life at a pub, and left almost shaken and vowing not to return ever.
I am over that now, I know that next time I go, I will most certainly not be sitting alone at the bar again, I don't want to even try and get back any hint of that night's experience.
But deep down? It feels like yet another loss of basic social acceptance and understanding, where the Indian male needs to still stand up and get that posture right, not just on his meterosexual body but in his mind, where he can understand that just like a guy can enjoy his drink without being bothered, a woman too can do the same, and that as a man, you should respect that and let her feel safe and happy.
Maybe someday that will happen with the Indian man? Maybe?? We are all allowed to have some amount of wishful thinking, right?
P.S. As of today, March 2016, I have gone out again many times, as usual on my own, and met those idiots too, but I don't think them being idiots is what should stop me from enjoying time with myself.... So what if I don't have someone to go with, I always have myself right? And it's good enough reason for me to carry on going...
- Debolina Raja Gupta
And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ
Debolina Raja Gupta