You are from good families right?”
“You will not get boys home? See you can have friends but not boyfriends”
“No loud music or boys. And no parties”
“You are single girls. We don’t want nuisance.”
“You work late nights? So you will come home late?”
“Why are you unmarried and living alone?”
Why? What? When? Where? Who? How?
Women in India don’t have to be journalists to know about the 5Ws and 1H rule, especially single women living alone in ‘cosmopolitan’ cities like Mumbai. When I moved to Mumbai eleven months ago, armed with strength to face adversities, I still found it difficult to find an apartment. Landlords and housing brokers were not only interested in my caste and food habits but were significantly more interested in my marital status, my work timings, when I would get home, if I had a boyfriend, if I would bring boys home.
I was a ‘bachelor girl’ after all.
Shikha Makan’s documentary, Bachelor Girls hits a familiar chord. When I met her at a busy coffee shop in a plush suburb of Mumbai, I poured my own woes about apartment hunting to Makan and she didn’t flinch, nor was she surprised. “It’s amazing to see how many people have come forward after just the release of the trailer. ‘I’ve had a similar experience.’ This is not just in Mumbai, Kolkata, it’s there even in Hyderabad,” she said.
As I looked around the setting, I wondered how many women in there, sitting behind laptop screens or the many mirthful faces, sharing cups of coffee with friends, had their own stories to tell.