It was my first time in a big city like Delhi. Just like other girls and civil service aspirants, I too arrived in Delhi with dreams of achieving my goals. I used to stay in Patel Nagar, which is just one metro station away from Karol Bagh, the so-called hub of all the UPSC exam coaching centres.
Along with my brother, I spent an entire day looking for an affordable and secure paying guest (PG) accommodation and finally found one.
At first, I honestly loved the place, because they provided us with all the general necessities. However, things worsened when I started having non-vegetarian food. When I had enquired about the rules regarding the consumption of non-vegetarian food, the landlord had said that while cooking non-vegetarian food was prohibited in the PG, there was no restriction on consuming such food if we brought it from outside the PG.
It seemed that they were not comfortable with the fact that I had started eating non-vegetarian food. One day, the landlord called to inform me that I should stop eating non-vegetarian food.Apparently, as a result of my eating habits, the landlord was suffering from losses in his business.
It would have made sense if I had cooked food and the landlord had been perturbed by the smell of the cooking. What I couldn’t understand at all was how my eating habits could have influenced the landlord’s business, especially when he and I used to live in separate floors.
Another incident happened when I was drying my lingerie in the balcony. Since we weren’t allowed to access the PG’s terrace and also due to the absence of a backyard, I used to hang the garments on the rope in the balcony. This time, the landlords said that a girl’s panties shouldn’t be viewed by other people and hence, they shouldn’t be hung in the balcony. Furthermore, she said that as a woman, doing this isn’t ‘good’. I was more shocked than embarrassed to realise that these people thought that a woman’s underwear could be such a problem.
At that time I agreed to do what she’d said, even though I didn’t agree with her thoughts. Not long after, I had to go to Alwar urgently on some official business. Before going, I didn’t put the freshly-washed and dried clothes back in my wardrobe. Instead, I kept them on the chair allotted to me, so that my roommate wasn’t inconvenienced.
To my horror, when I returned, I saw that the landlord had trespassed into my properties by organising my locked wardrobe, shifting my bed, my books and almost everything else without my permission. She had also touched my private belongings, which I kept in my locker.
When I enquired about this from my roommate, she said that the landlord ‘reorganised’ my belongings because I was effecting his vastu shashtra. This made me very angry . Furthermore, they also loudly claimed that girls from Assam are generally very dirty – in front of the other occupants of the PG. This was the final nail in the coffin which finally made me lose my calm.
Being a woman from the northeast, I was embarrassed by the way I was racially discriminated against by these people – as if being an Assamese was an offence.
So, I decided to leave the place after a week by giving them a piece of my mind: “I am not dirty. Your minds are dirty. You need to clean your own shit rather than blaming it on the food habits, religions or racial identities of others.”