It was past midnight as I left a friend’s house to make my way back home. No one offered to give me company, even Heiko, who was at home, didn’t seem to be worried about me taking the train (albeit just for one station) by myself. This was new for me- no concern for me because I’m a woman travelling alone past sunset. They are not worried enough to keep me company at that time of night. New.
I had mixed feelings about this. I made my way to the station with maybe half a dozen others on the platform, waited for 8 minutes (a little apprehensively) for the train. That five minute train ride was uneventful. I got out at the next station and just to give you context, it’s a 600 meter walk home, about three-four minutes for me.
I started walking. The streets were almost empty. I crossed our Rathaus (town hall), all the time looking around to see if there was anyone else, feeling a bit uneasy and overly- cautious, walking faster than my usual stroll.
Once I reached home, safe, not followed by anyone, in one piece, I raced up the stairs and started feeling ridiculous. I started thinking about how inherent it is and how conditioned I am, hailing from the IT capital, once garden city of my homeland, to be aware of my surroundings at all times, restrict my travel to specific places and during certain times, learn to ignore eve-teasing but not enough so I know it won’t lead to trouble, avoid wearing certain clothes otherwise I would be “asking for it”, sit a certain way, talk a certain way…I can’t think of any more at the moment but I’m sure there are a few hundred others.
My point is, here, I don’t get stared at if I wear clothes that reveal my legs and I don’t feel like I should be overly-cautious. That is new and weird feeling for me (not to say that Germany is 100% safe). THAT is my problem- why is this feeling weird? I know India is a certain way and Germany is a certain way, but why should I feel weird about feeling safe and the freedom to express myself, if it means wearing shorts or a skirt that shows a little more than my ankle? That’s a pretty basic level of security and freedom. None of us should feel like it is a privilege, penis or not.