Women are unsafe in public places. What makes them safe? More women in public places.
12am: MG Road, Pondicherry – a lone woman selling food from a cart is done for the day and starts folding up
8 am: Auroville beach – a single woman on the beach, setting up her stall, chopping pineapples
9 am: Pondy Marina – after 2 kms of empty roads, a single woman walks down the road and signals that my bike headlight is turned on.
1 am: Promenade – All the municipality sweepers are women. They are cleaning up a public place well after midnight. Unassisted by men or cops.
The streets of Chennai is full of women coconut and flower vendors both at early mornings and late nights. I have no ideas on how to make cities safe, it’s just that it’s mind boggling to see a city so co-owned after 15 years in Delhi.
The best was Pondi’s version of raahgiri. 700 squares drawn on two sides of the promenade, 700 groups of women from all over the place painting rangolis on a Sunday morning. Shy and proud at the same time, most of them didn’t know how to pose for the camera but they owned the streets for a whole half day and the city enabled that. That’s a city I fell in love with.