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August 20, 2007

Train travails.

We were on an overnight train journey recently. My mom, Ashu and I. When Ashu was little, we only traveled in 2 tier AC compartment as it was comfortable to sit with Ashu in my shoulder, if she woke up in the middle of the night, without the middle berth. In the 3 tier AC, I have to crouch and sit and also the berths were nt as wide as the 2 tier AC. But this time, since shes older and mostly sleeps though the night and more importantly since my dad has retired recently, we traveled by 3 tier to save money! Its funny to observe the people around. This family of a husband and wife and 2 teenage daughters were sitting near us and as soon as they sat, the mother asked her husband loudly ""why did nt you book in 2 tier?" making sure everyone heard her. As if she had no idea until she sat on her seat! Yeah right! Then to make sure everyone knows she has traveled in 2 tier, she goes on to describe how 2 tier compartments have curtains, reading light etc... Her husband did nt utter a word. Then she said, "2 tier la waiting list aa?" as if to find an excuse. Whatever makes you happy lady! And after all this, she slept in the lower side berth. If I hate one thing on trains, its the side berth. Especially on a 2 tier AC. Criminal waste of money and its a torture to sleep there with a child.

This train trip to and fro was interesting to say the least. Ashu successfully for the first time in her life used a Southern Railways train bathroom!! If this is nt a milestone for an Indian child! Especially because she was wearing a diaper but insisted on using the bathroom. Who am I to stop this beautiful beginning, albeit the stench? On the return journey, there were lot of kids and Ashu was having fun saying Hi and asking "whats your name" to all the kids and their mommies! But she would nt say her name when someone asks. The Aunty who sat near us asked Ashu what her name was for 2 hours but she would nt budge. She would tell her dolls name but not hers. The little devil! Anyway, she went to the adjacent seat and was looking at a baby there. I was standing near her. The couple gave her some chips and she was force feeding them to the baby instead and I was asking her to stop. There was man in his late 30s sitting in the opposite seat and gestured Ashu to come near him. But she shook her head. He gestured again and she shook her head again. Then when she was feeding the child the chips, he started to tickle and pinch her in her waist and she wiggled and moved away. Though I wanted to take this harmlessly, I disliked the guy immediately. So I sat in a vacant seat near Ashu instead of going back to my seat. The guy tickled and pinched her a few more times and Ashu said "NO" in a loud voice and moved away from his reach. I asked her to thank the Aunty and leave. When she turned, the guy clicked a photo of her in his mobile phone. Ashu blinked at the flash and ran away to my mom to our seat. I was seeing red. I told him ""You should ask me before taking a picture". He immediately said, "No, no! Its only flash". I glared at him, muttered "yeah right", thanked the couple and left. I told my mom what happened and called him all possible names. The instant lie bothered me more than the act of taking the photo. I mean, my dad has a very similar reliance handset too and it makes a loud "klang" sound and a bright flash while taking a photo. And you cant just use the flash in it. The porukki rascals instant lie made me so mad. Since it was only my mom and I, I did nt want to pick a fight with him. Even then, I could nt sleep peacefully the entire night and at 3 am when Ashu got up and lied on my tummy, she said "Oh Nein! Uncle peekaboo pannaraa" and I saw the guys head disappearing. Gave me the creeps! It used to bother me that Ashu does nt go anywhere on her own and wants me to accompany her whether its a plane or a train or a restaurant. She would nt just wander away to explore. Even when I ask her to go to the next seat and say Hi to a child, she ll ask me to accompany her. Now I'm thankful that she is shy. The fear of the unknown is scary as hell.


Edited to add:
Thanks everyone for the understanding and concerned comments. Makes me feel better now after sharing this incident. Like a coward, I always give people the benefit of doubt and even now I'm not sure if the guy was a pervert or not. May be the entire thing was harmless and I am reading too much into it. Its better to be careful so I would stay away from creeps but I need proof before taking a violent action. Hence the passive reaction from my part. If he had even remotely crossed the line, alone or not, I would have shown him what would happen if he messes with me or my daughter.

Also, Ashu is not very much used to the touchy feely thing and she does nt even like family members hugging or kissing her when she is not in the mood. Ever since we came here, she has been swatting peoples hands whenever they came to touch her cheeks. I told her not to push people away but to say "please don't" when she does nt want people to touch her. So she has been saying NO to my grandma, aunt, uncle and cousin whenever they tried to touch or kiss her. Hence the NO to the guy in the train as well. I never thought she would face such circumstances so early in her life.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

My sis experienced a similar thing when she was 5 yrs old in the bus in Tamil Nadu. I wonder why the hell they trouble kids "this way"... u shud have just slapped him there....

Rvi

the mad momma said...

you know the problem? it would have bothered me too and like you i would have done nothing about this man 'tickling' my child. we all need a dose of 'say NO'.

Anitha said...

Outrageous. It is good the way she is now. I would have done the samething as you - Hesitate to pickup a fight without any menfolk around and endup calling him names and losing my sleep over it.Hmm..

Anonymous said...

you know even if it is completely innocent (and i have had several instances of people harassing my children 'innocently') i really think they should be given a lesson or two in respecting children. i mean i dont want my sides poked or tickled or my hair ruffled or my picture taken or hell even to be talked to if i don't feel like it. maybe my child doesnt either - people just don't get this.

though i have heard people say politely - 'she doesnt like it' or 'she's shy' or some such thing. i don't mind doing the same - even if i don't want to make excuses, it just might be an easier way.

my worst experience was when i went to bannerghata with a french friend, and italian friend and their kids. the french kid was particularly fair and blue eyed and everything that excites most people. people kept coming upto her (she was 4) and saying stand here and then making their kids stand around her, sometimes with an arm around her and taking pictures. she didnt like it one bit, did not know how to protest without being rude. it was disgustingly embarassing to see people behave that way. of course it was all harmless, but so not respecting of her.

d

desigirl said...

how ghastly! it is one thing to be friendly and quite another thing entirely to touch and pinch and what nots. fully empathise with you there. maybe when Ashu's a little bigger, u shld teach her self-defence etc.

Shyam said...

ewww... creepy. Not to mention scary!

Manchus said...

That a&%%^%*e should have been kicked!! Just reading this makes my blood boil. Was your Dad with you? Had he been there, he sure would have handled this guy better. Nalla rendu saathu saathirpa.

SS said...

You know, when it comes to your child, your instincts are usually dead-on. If you got a creepy feeling, that guy was probably a creep.
Reading this really struck a nerve as it would have with all parents, I am sure ... gawd .. what perverts and scumbags there are out there!
Just reading this makes me wild and indignant, I can only imagine how you would have felt. Take care.

yaadayaada said...

Yevan avan? Adayalam theriyuma?

Daisy said...

Morons! My blood boils when I hear such tales! Paavam Ashu and Paavam you..
PS:- I dont remember if I ever commented on your space before.. but I am a regular reader :)

Sunshine's Mumma said...

Sic Sic Sic!! Such an A****E...Good Job Ashu.. for saying NO!And the nerve to take a picture.. Till then I still thought it could be harmless.. though Not really believing it.. but the Peekaboo bit at 3 AM was creepy!

Dee said...

Seruppala adichirukanum...my dad did that once when a guy did a similar thing when I was a kid. But I can understand your anxiety being with a kid and your mother. But I think its a good place to start teaching the little one on how to react to strangers...

Anonymous said...

Though I'm new and just starting to venture into the world of blogging, I'm also a parent to a daughter like yourself. I have a daughter a bit younger than you and one more (boy) along the way, I've learnt to make it part of my nature to say 'no' to people when it comes to my daughter so far.
As a parent, you have every right to protect and safeguard your child even if it seems extreme right now. Like someone else mentioned, you gut is always right! Even in the initial touching, I would've politely asked the man to stop touching my child. If he would've continued, he would've eventually have gotten my wrath!

As sad as it might sound to some, I have not and would not allow anyone whom I do not know in person to interact with my daughter in such a way that it makes me uncomfortable. Call me a paranoid momma but in this day and age, I'd take my chances with my child be deprived of human touch that has no blood line or close family ties to her, even then with an eye of a hawk on my part.

mnamma said...

That was really scary Boo, particularly the picture taking with camera cellphone without your permission and the lie. It was smart of Ashu to move away when she started feeling uncomfortable. I probabaly would have reacted the same way you did, by not challenging him, but we all need to stand our ground and teach perverts like these a lesson.

Rash said...

It IS scary. Especially because here it is often taken for granted that everyone has noble intentions. We went on a holiday last month and a staff at the resort just picked up my son and started wandering off to play with him without even asking us!

Sue said...

The creep!

I don't allow strangers to take photos of The Bhablet without our permission. Nobody has, but I'm capable of asking them to delete any such.

Poor baby. Thank god she's young enough not to remember this. You know, I would have removed her the first time she showed discomfort at being touched. Maybe it was innocent but why should he touch her?

I play with lots of unknown kids but I would hesitate to touch them unless their parents actually gave them to me.

Just Like That said...

What a creep!
Any genuine lover of kids would have backed off when he saw that Ashu was uncomfortable. But this fella goes on to boldly take a picture without asking you (how can he?! If you were sure he had definitely taken a picture, I think you should have asked him to delete it right then)
The peeping in the night. Brrr! Downright unnerving. Am sure he was a sicko. Glad Ashu didn't go to him, kids are unerring in their sens that way.

Gauri said...

What a sicko !! With a few sickos like these around it is becoming more and more difficult to come to a decision as to where to draw the line. There are people who harmlessly tickle kids too but after having come across creeps like these we would automatically tend to group all the ticklers together. And quite rightly so. Nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of our children.

About the picture - you should have asked him to delete it from his phone right in front of you.

Poppins said...

Ouch that was a sick thing to have happened. You know we even conversed about this, how the natural shyness that Ashu and poppin have is actually a blessing in disguise.

I think even kids that young know the difference between a good touch and a bad touch.

She used a toilet in the railways !!! Wow. I am impressed and that means Ashu is fully potty trained. Congratulations Boo !

DC said...

Sick sick sick people!! I just feel like banging my head on the desk!!

Take care and kudos to Ashu for saying a big NO - even though she wouldn't have realised the evil intentions (good for her at this age) - atleast she protested when she just felt awkward.

First time here.. love your posts... had to start commenting on such a sensitive thing..sigh..

ciao.
Dhivya

Something to Say said...

What a sicko!!!My experience has been - if your gut tells you NO its probably right. And in this world full of such ghastly people - how do you teach your child to tread the fine line between being out-going and being safe?

artnavy said...

i sometimes think we are paranoid but what else can we be after experiences such as this

WA said...

Boo I have to say, I felt a great amount of pride reading little Ashu being confident enough to say NO. And well done you for bringing up the child confident enough to say No when feeling uncomfortable. Take care

Anonymous said...

You should have reported that guy as an abuser right away with out giving any benefit of doubt what so ever.That b....d .How dare he touch the child and take a picture ! I feel all mothers should know some form of martial arts or some such --we never know when we may need it.

I have been very lazy and never commented before though i read your blogs regularly , but this is not just another post.It shook me completely . Take care and get back safe .

rbdans said...

How dare this guy? You should have given him a slap right there! I know its not that we are not capable of such act, we just reflect our up-bringing in being decent. But then enough is enough. After the photo incident, this guy had the guts to do the peekaboo? What a B!
Hugs to the little one for saying NO. And the credit goes to you Boo for inducing such confidence in her!

Premalatha said...

It is good that Ashu knows to say NO. As much as I hate to use the term I have used below, I think it is necessary for all mothers to know certain things so that they can be cautious.

Here it is:
I do not know whether there is a paedophile database or a paedophile monitoring system in India. if it is there, I would immediately report there with a picture of him and his seat number, date of travel etc, which would give his complete jathakam. Even if he is not in the database yet, it will put him under monitoring for sometime.

Anonymous said...

Just the same everywhere. It should be like other countries where nobody even touch the children and parents look like you are a criminal if you try to cuddle them. Strange that some people refuse to believe that this can happen to the children. Makes me more cautious.
SAS

B o o said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. FYI, I have updated the post with a few more lines at the end.

Kay said...

:( What a creep!!! You know, boo, instincts never lie. if you feel creepy, then he's most likely to be one. Taking a picture while the mom is nearby and flash it seems! yeah right!

and little Ashu! she must have enjoyed the train except for this pain!

utbtkids said...

I would have totally done the same thing - doubting the intentions of the guy and hesitating. But it is scary to hear.

Sue said...

I think we are all so bothered here because this person DID cross the line.

You see, he may not have been a pervert but he definitely invaded your privacy and Ashu's when he took her photo without permission. Would you have been comfortable with such a scene 8, 10 years down the line?

Not that I want to add to your paranoia, but as a daughter I have always been grateful of the gaurd my mother kept over me (and I was never even aware of it until my late teens).

Vidooshak said...

what u could have done is to use your own camera mobile and take his snap and put it up on blogs/flickr etc for everyone to beware!!

the only solution (if that) to such harmless uncles is societal ridicule. Bombay Mirror recently published front-page photo of 3 guys in their 40s, traveling in the First class compartment, making lewd comments at the Ladies next door. Mobile Cameras have been "useful" to launch many upskirt websites. maybe this will even the deal!

i'm glad u shared this incident. wishing Ashu the best in life, human beings notwithstanding :-)

Jillu Madrasi said...

aiyyo why did you let some porukki rascal touch her? I can't bear it.

You should have just turned on your foreign-returned act!