In my dream, I witnessed the violent robbery of a friend’s dog from the balcony of my apartment in Bombay. This being a dream I was close enough to reach out from my balcony with a large bamboo stick and thwack the offenders, but not very effectively. They saw me, identified me and one of them came towards me. A chill went up by spine, as my father ran inside to call the police. The dog was taken away.
I woke with a start and went to the toilet. A scratching noise just outside the door made me uneasy. I shrugged it off.
And realised that I could shrug it off because I am in HK. In India, I would have worried about what it was, whether it could be an intruder. Because the chance of a robber in India is not slim.
Just as the chance of a violent encounter in India when you’re out walking your dog, or driving your car, or doing anything banal is everywhere, even when you’re not thinking about it.
Minor traffic infractions are solved with fistfights. Conflicts generally get resolved, at all levels, by a survival of the fittest mechanism. If you don’t have the brawn (and this includes physical as well as political clout) you lose.
I will never have the means to make enough money to protect me, or the energy to cultivate the right kinds of friends.
Then you add the insecurity of belonging to a minority community. And being a woman.
For a short while at least, the rose-tinted glasses are off.