The Solo Traveler in India needs a bad ass brolly.
There are two things you totally need to have either in your hand or within reach in India if you are a single woman moving around India alone.
1.A cellphone. Look around and see how many Indian women walk with a cellphone in their hand. Yes? This is so that people know while the woman is alone, she still has people to call so really..don’t!
But since it is increasingly difficult for women travelers to rely on a cell phone connection in India you need back up.
2. A brolly can be the solo female travelers best resource in India. Not only is it useful to create a personal space around you on the street which may help to discourage local fellows walking straight into your breasts as some weird and unexplained greeting ritual, brollies are also helpful in offering shade and shelter from the more obvious natural elements such as sun and rain.
Deciding which brolly to carry with you is mostly dependent on personal circumstances. Until recently I have managed with an inexpensive fold away brolly that I can keep in my handbag only removing when required such as arriving at Rajiv Gandhi Chowk Metro station……
…………OR strolling in crowded touristic areas and sometimes even when it actually rains. The portable brolly is a very convenient device for discouraging random gropers who try to cop a feel in crowded places but please make sure that the extendable handle is in fine working order. That way when the groper thinks he has gotten away with a free grope you can turn and with one practised and swift movement BAM him with your brolly (extendable handle out) without having to suffer the indignity of chasing the chappie down. And then go on nicely with your day.
The advantages of having a humble little fold away brolly are many. Because its discrete, it is not immediately obvious that you are carrying a weapon of self-defense. While random attacks on women are a simple fact of life in India, we do not approve of women defending themselves against possible assault. Carrying a weapon can be seen as provocative behaviour. Which makes the fold up brolly the perfect solution for use on gropers who operate in close areas..city streets, metro and train stations or walking to your local shop.
A fold up brolly also works well for negotiating crowded city streets when the thing is open and being used for its original stated purpose, you end up with a nice little island of space around you.
Once I was walking in a relatively respectable suburban area of Jaipur with my handy-dandy portable brolly opened against the sun when a young man riding a motorcycle passed me heading in the same direction. A guy obviously on his way to Office.
He turned to observe me a few times as he rode past and before he turned the corner, something about the way he did this sent the hair on the back of my neck into high alert mode so I switched my shoulder bag to the side NOT facing the road and prepared myself. So that when he returned to drive on the wrong side of the road heading directly towards me
I was ready with the brolly and poked him hard with the thing foiling his attempted drive by breast grope. This move broke the spokes of my brolly but kept my breasts unbruised and unassaulted at least for the rest of that morning walk.
My only regret is that I didn’t push him off his motorcycle as well but I was so caught up in trying to figure out the mentality of a guy who would decide on his drive to Office that he would just make a U Turn into a womans breast.
I mean what was he going to say to explain his lateness at the Office. “Sorry Sir, I had to make an emergency breast attack on the way to Office, please excuse?”
If you are traveling during the monsoon season, it is perfectly acceptable to carry a bad ass brolly, a brolly that The Penguin would be proud of. You don’t want to be caught out in a monsoon downpour with your brolly down so to speak. Monsoon season comes with an unknown subtext (unknown to foreign women) which was rather perfectly and succinctly put by a friend of mine recently…”If a drop of water falls on you in the monsoon, men look at you hopefully like…”
So if you think you are walking around looking like a drowned rat ladies, please think again. You are actually being as provocative as a woman can get with her clothes on and jolly well ASKING for it.
Whatever It is. Please refer to Bollywood movies.
The advantages to having a bad ass brolly are innumerable but let me list just a few. Firstly for elderly women a bad ass brolly can double as a walking stick (this increases your assumed vulnerability but conversely increases your chance of a successful surprise Self Defense attack). As you advance in years you may foolishly think that age renders you as invisible in India as it does in your own country but unfortunately for Gori women this is not the case. You might be old but you are still Gori. And you are ALONE. Obviously you are a woman too or we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. So there you have THREE STRIKES against you. White, alone and female.
Your assumed vulnerability is not to be respected by these bottom feeders but a situation to be exploited.
Another advantage of the bad ass brolly can be seen in the images below. Bad Ass Brollies have been used as part of a self defense system that women have been using since…well, since women dared to think they could occupy a public space!
Now before any readers decide to contact me to remind me that NOT ALL MEN are like this and discover that I have removed the comment section of this blog, please let me remind you that until you have traveled India as a single white woman alone for more than twenty years then you actually don’t have the right to dispute my reality.
Talk to the Brolly Baby.
Footnote: Vodafone might be useless as a phone company but they have taken the self defense umbrella idea and run with it…check out this story here