On a trip to Singapore, I found out what it means to have freedom in the public space, as a woman, especially after the fear we experience in India.
Being a Delhi girl, I have always faced a life full of inhibitions and fear. This fact isn’t hidden that the city has a hold of terror over its women. We women over here are taught to remain cynical, to remain over cautious while moving outside, and to get back home as early as possible if you want to stay safe.
This, however, is not a problem specific to Delhi. It is true of many other parts and cities of India, unfortunately.
Recently I made a trip to two countries of South East Asia, Malaysia and Singapore. It was merely a holiday trip to just another two parts of the world, but going there and experiencing the countries closely was a revelation. Reaching there, I came across a fact (initially I didn’t bother to do a research over these places) that Singapore is currently the safest country in the world.
I was not aware how exactly being in the ‘safest country’ would feel like until I experienced it hands on. The day our travelling group reached Singapore, we were informed that as it’s a safe place you can always roam around in the nights safely, do your shopping freely the whole night. For that matter of fact, there was also a mall in Singapore, the Mohammad Mustafa mall that remained open 24X7 for those who want to go for shopping overnight.
Initially we were reluctant with this thought of going around at night until we were impelled to do so. Our itinerary was set in a way that we were given time to do all our personal shopping after the dinner, that is after 10. So we 4 women planned to give it a shot; after the dinner we walked down to the mall.
While moving on roads I came across scenarios that made me dumbstruck. The scene there on roads, at the shopping complex and inside the mall was nothing like you would see in eerie hours of Delhi.
The place was full of lively people, moving in and out of the mall. The place looked just as it looks while you are at a Delhi shopping complex at the evening time. People were sitting and chit chatting with each other; Inside the mall families, men, women doing their shopping for their daily household grocery stuffs in full throttle. What an amazing sight and sense it was! The sense of safety that I was having standing right there is beyond imagination.
After the shopping we hired a taxi and got back to our hotel which we were staying. The taxi experience too was totally amazing. The taxi driver was pretty sincere to ensure that we reach our destination safely and in the shortest time. After this experience, as long as we were in Singapore, we made sure to hit the mall at nights and complete our shopping wish lists.
This sense of safety wasn’t confined to one mall or place; rather it was spread all over the Singapore. The other shopping malls I visited around there too echoed that freedom of conduct in public. Here by freedom, I don’t only mean freedom by laws but the freedom people gave to each other to remain and carry themselves the way they want to.
Truly, Singapore gave me the taste of what living freely can be, that too by remaining safe and without the dirty looks that you may get over here for being you. Yes, there were rules within the country, rather a bit more than ours, but that what makes Singapore a beautiful, ordered, safe and good place to stay.
In-article images credit: Sukanya Majumdar
Header image source: wikicommons