I normally end up going to one of the mall-cum-theatres near my house to watch a movie or two when I am feeling bored. I end up going there alone 9 times out of 10. I have never had such a weird experience in these places. Which is why, when I had one today, I was all shook up.
Well, I went to Gold Ad Labs in Kalyani Nagar to watch the 5:30 show of Khoya Khoya Chand. The movie got over around 8:15 ish and so I took myself down to the basement parking where I had parked my Scooty. Apart from me, there were some other people who had also parked their bikes there, but they all left and I was the last one to leave. Plus, my bike was not starting properly so I was kinda rolling along. As I stopped near the exit ramp to re-start the bike, I saw a strange looking man in a white shirt and black pants standing on the exit ramp. He asked me for a lift to Wadgaon Sheri. I told him that I wasn’t going to that side as I shook my head. He asked me again. And I told him again that I wasn’t going that side. He began to walk up the ramp as my bike started. As I passed by him, he reached out and tried to touch me. Since I was wearing a shawl to protect me from the cold, he couldn’t really manage to get that close, but I felt his hands through the shawl.
As I came up the ramp with the parking ticket in my mouth, I wondered if I should make a big noise about this or not. And then I saw the parking attendant walk towards me, and I began to tell him check out this weird man who was asking for a lift and tried to touch me as I came up the ramp. Loudly.
So he ran down to check. As he ran down the ramp, I saw this fellow move away. Within seconds other attendants and security guards made their way towards me and then down the ramp. I followed down on my bike.
These guys had caught him near the staircase leading towards the upper floors of the mall. Of course, this fellow began to apologize. He began to come close to me to hold my feet and ask for forgiveness. I screamed at him to stay away. Two times I screamed. Then he moved back a bit. So I moved my bike a little away from him. The creep!
Then I began to ask him questions along with the mall attendants. I asked him why he had been lurking around there asking for a lift. Did he come there to see a movie? Where was his ticket? If so, what was he doing in the basement parking for two-wheelers? Where was his bike? The mall attendants asked him his address.
The man began to stammer because of nervousness. He said that he was waiting for a friend. If so what was he doing in the basement parking, I asked. He should be waiting upstairs in the mall area. He then said that he was from Kerala and he did not know his address. Nor was he carrying any identification on him. He was, in short, caught.
Soon, the security in-charge was called. I told him and he began to slap this guy around. He asked me to give him a slap or two. I refused. I straightaway asked him if he was going to take this psycho to the police station or not. If so, I was glad to accompany him. Otherwise, he could do all the slapping he wanted. The security person asked me to go home and that he would take care of the matter.
I drove home, shaking all over, not because of the cold, but because of this entire incident.
When I remembered the signs I could feel that this fellow was a total psycho in the making. As a writer, I make it a point to observe people and traits and body language. I know about psychos, especially, from the books and movies and coupled with the fact that the stuff I write is all from the Horror or Thriller or Crime genre along with a dash of Sci-Fi thrown in for good measure. My knowledge helped me to recognize this fellow and not shy away from taking action.
Because, if he would have gotten away with this relatively small thing this time, he would have felt encouraged and tried something bigger and soon enough some girl would have gotten raped or killed.
Pune is a relatively safe city. I have lived here for so many years (20 +). I have never felt threatened by strangers on the street, because I have never had such weird experiences in my life in Pune before. I normally go all alone to movies and malls and often end up coming home late. I stay alone and have been doing so for the past 10 years or more. I have traveled in rickshaws totally drunk or stoned (long ago) and have returned home safe and sound.
I used to pride myself on being a Pune person, because no matter how much the population increased or the traffic grew or the pollution mounted, Pune was, in effect, a safe city for a woman alone, even in the middle of the night on a strange street.
I guess, times are changing and all women must learn to raise their voice long and hard when even such incidents occur, because you really don’t have labels on peoples’ faces identifying them as psychos-in-the-making.