Happy 16th birthday to you! May you get all the happiness and success and may all your dreams come true. I can see many pretty gifts on that table with the cake and 16 candles…each candle for every beautiful year of happiness you have given us by your presence. I sit in a corner and wonder what can I possibly give a 16 year old with a mind of her own? Well, just like most elders, wisdom is all I have…
You have grown up into a very pretty girl as evident by all those eyes looking at you in admiration. Being the protective mausi, I scrutinize each look and wonder if it is admiration or admiration adulterated with something else. I know I can’t be there with you all the time, you are an independent girl after all. But Delhi is no longer the city it was. I have been born and brought up in a city where I could easily catch that 9pm bus back home after an evening outing with friends. But so did Nirbhaya, the young girl who took that bus on the unfortunate night of 16th December 2012 – a night that changed her destiny forever.
So on your 16th birthday, I gift you, from my box of sweet n sour experiences in Delhi, Ten Commandments of living it safely in Delhi…
1. Dress as per the time and place – I know you just frowned after reading this one! No, I am not asking you to cover yourself in a veil, but then, when in Rome, do what Romans do. We live in a city where vultures hover around looking for an easy catch, so inappropriate or provocative attire at a lonely place or at the odd hours would get them hovering.
2. Stay connected – Just like updating status on FB is cool, it’s cool to keep your loved ones informed about your location. It’s not being a child, rather it signals the child has grown up enough to realize her responsibilities and keeping someone informed to connect easily in case of an emergency.
3. Emergency kit – Few cosmetics less in your bag won’t do make a significant change to your look, but a pepper spray, a pair of scissors can be your life savers in emergencies.
4. The more the merrier – I know you love those late night outs, but moving in groups in odd hours are just so much more fun and safe. Especially when you are at a place that’s not frequented by many.
5. Get the App – I hope we had this one in our times. That Android phone of yours can be a real life saver in emergencies. Just get the right app. Download the Smart Suraksha App on you phone and at the click of a button, your emergency message will reach 5 emergency contacts specified. What’s more, the app also locates your location and sends It to your emergency contacts even when the GPRS is switched off! Now this one you can’t afford to miss, being the tech savvy and smart young lady you are.
6. Trust your instincts, not the person – That guy you met 15 minutes back at the party might look like the perfect prince charming. But behind the mask may be hiding the Dracula, waiting to pounce on the beauty. So, look, hear, analyse and observe.
7. There are no free lunches in this world – We taught this one to you as a kid, and its revision time. Never accept that drink from that friendly stranger in the party. It takes seconds for the drug laced drink to cast its dirty spell on you.
8. Be bold – I remember this incident when a guy was staring at me in a bus. I kept on avoiding but when it became unbearable, I just gave him a stern, continuous stare, without even blinking my eyes. 2 minutes and the guy was off that seat. I am not asking you to pick fights, but sending across the right (no nonsense) message makes a lot of sense.
9. Keep the antennas on – Whether in party or public transport catch that guy getting irritatingly close and shoo him away right there and then.
10. Last but most important – Presence of mind – Intelligence is of no use when it can’t be used at the right time for the right purpose. Acting tactful in an emergency till help arrives can save you a lot of mess ups.
While you too might be having your own to do’s and don’ts, these are some tips experience has taught me. You being the baton holder of the next generation, I pass them on to you and wish you continue to be the free spirited bird that you are, and take flights of freedom at any place, any time.