Ten Conversations about Privacy

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The recorded clips available on this page were taken from interviews from “Your Place, My Place, or Our Public Space?: Privacy and Spaces in Mumbai,” a research project generated by the Lab in collaboration with Partners for Urban Knowledge, Action and Research (PUKAR), a Mumbai-based independent research collective. As part of the study, 39 in-depth interviews were conducted by PUKAR researchers with residents from different areas of the city. These conversations—which generated a deeper understanding of where, why, and how privacy is interpreted and found in the city—were recorded, and could be heard by visitors at listening stations at the Mumbai Lab’s main site. Collected here are excerpts from those longer recordings—a sampling of Mumbaikars’ opinions on privacy in their city.

Interview 1

Interview language: English and Hindi

Read transcript in English

Transcript: Interview 1

PUKAR: You live alone in the house, but if some friend or guests come over, are you affected in any way? Do you have to deal in a different manner?
Respondent: I think when friends come over it is a little less, but because I have two bedrooms it is not a big thing.

PUKAR: But does it happen that a particular part of the house is not allowed for guests for some reason?
R: There is nothing like that.

PUKAR: Do you have servants in the house?
R: In the evening, I have someone who comes and cooks and cleans but not full time.

PUKAR: Can she too access the entire house?
R: Yes, everywhere. I have 12 keys to my house which many friends of mine have. So I have no privacy in the home in that sense.

PUKAR: But if you have to share something or talk to someone and if there is someone in the house, how do you deal with it?
R: Most of the time there is no one. If I have to work, there is no one really. It is rare that someone comes and stays, and even if they do stay they are gone in the morning. So if I have to discuss something I can do it at home. But normally, work meetings, I never discuss at home.

PUKAR: Then where do you do that?
R: Coffee shops, other people’s offices, my own office. But I like coffee shops the best because it’s neutral, it’s neither that person’s nor my own office. If it is a first-time meeting then it is better to be in a neutral place.

PUKAR: Speaking of community space, how tall is this building?
R: Fourteen floors, and there are hundreds of apartments here. There is a community space below and a garden too, but I have never used it. Surprisingly, I have never. But I do run . . . the most common community place is the elevator. The only people I know in this building, I’ve met them in the elevator, not in the community space.

PUKAR: For that, is there a particular reason? You don’t have time or . . . ?
R: Yes, there is no time and the building is quite large and people keep changing, you normally don’t meet them. If the building was smaller, then you would be forced to know everyone. Here it is large enough that you are anonymous.

PUKAR: There is a park below, do you . . . ?
R: No. No one plays in that park. I don’t see anyone playing, people play in the parking [lot]. Little kids are playing, they play there, but that’s it.

PUKAR: According to you, how is public space generated?
R: Public space is generated by design, especially in a place like India where there are so many people. In other places outside India, it can be created by default or by accident, because you have so much space and so little population. Public space can spontaneously emerge if there are enough people around and some people adopt this space. From one’s childhood, one can remember that there used to be ground that automatically became the place where we all came, but especially in a place like Bombay, I think public space can only happen if someone has forced it to happen. It cannot happen just like that, spontaneously. Maybe inside the building, children have adopted a parking spot, that is one example. But in general, there is no public space that is not by design.

PUKAR: Have you used the unconventional places like railway stations, markets as public spaces, maybe for privacy?
R: Never. Almost never.

PUKAR: So is it just like that or is it or for some particular reason?
R: It is not that, really. It does not strike me as a private space because there are so many people who are going to be there, and there is no place to sit, and so much noise. So you need less noise, you need a place where you can sit and discuss something, so it has to be private enough, that, you know, you can have a conversation. And it needs a place to, you know, show something, show your computer, draw something. That is the nature of my meetings, mostly. So if I’m chatting with my friends also the same rules apply. You can’t really go to any other place.

PUKAR: So apart from home, if you want to spend time with your partner, do you think there is enough space in the city of Mumbai which you can think of to take your partner, or do think of moving out of Mumbai, or something like that?
R: No, I think there is enough space in Mumbai. Because it also goes back to what is private and what is not, I don’t see . . . I think the real thing is the economic cost of privacy in Mumbai is very high. What it means is that to have a house, it is expensive, or to always go to a coffee shop and have a one-hundred-rupee coffee. To get ten minutes of conversation is like paying one hundred rupees for your coffee. All of those things are the problem. But other than that, there is no other city like Mumbai in India, you know, in terms of the opportunities and the kind of things that go on here. So that is the trade-off. For me, it makes sense to be in Mumbai.

PUKAR: According to you, what is the definition of privacy? What is privacy?
R: Ah, that’s interesting. What is privacy? Maybe privacy is the ability to be in control of how much you communicate, and what you communicate with whom at any given time. So it is shifting. When I’m outside, I have a certain expectation of privacy—that I know it is a very crowded city, so I know that people will be looking at me. The only privacy I can get is maybe of conversation. When I’m at home, I expect a totally different level of privacy that no one should be able to . . . So it is a shifting expectation based on where you are. I don’t think there is an absolute expectation of ‘this is privacy.’

PUKAR: When did you first think of the word ‘privacy’?
R: Maybe in the U.S., because here . . . I was much younger here, in college, where the concept of privacy doesn’t exist, and it was more in the U.S. where there is a lot of awareness about this, and also because of the new technologies privacy became a big thing, right? Online, email, passwords, logins—these are the things which brought into sharp definition, what is privacy. Till these things were there, privacy is not what you said, we used different words for it. It is not that you didn’t feel the need. You probably didn’t call it by the simple term ‘privacy.’ You said, maybe I don’t have enough room, maybe I want a different room, you articulated it differently. Because the word has become new, it doesn’t mean that the problems are new, but as sharply as we define privacy is relatively new.

PUKAR: As you define privacy so sharply, who are the people that you want privacy from? Are there any specific people?
R: It may not be, so okay, I look at privacy from, if I look at the bigger picture, there are three groups of people I want privacy from. First, there is the government. Let’s look at it again: first is the government, then there is the corporate and commercial interests, and then there is family and society, right? These can be the three groups which can impinge on your privacy. And in each case, it is not a simplistic thing that I want my privacy, it’s a question of what is the tension, what is the . . . for the government, there is a legitimate reason to go into your privacy because of security, right? Because now that we face these different types of threats, the government normally makes the case that it needs to know about its citizens for providing security—that is the number-one argument. Number-two argument is that the government provides us with, you know, I want to give everyone a unique ID because then I can give more efficient services. These are both legitimate points, right. So the question is always the balance. So what is the privacy balance for someone like me? And again that may be very different. But if there is a person whose only identity is this UiD [Unique Identification Number] and has no resources to fight the government, he or she is in a much worse situation. So there is this government security versus privacy problem. So I need privacy from the government, for sure. I don’t know what the balance is. Then I think then there is the increasing corporate/company gathering of information—everywhere you go they want your email, this, that, especially, again, online, there is this whole . . . and their offer is that ‘we will personalize.’ Again, the tension is between saying, ‘I will give you something only you want, but in return I will sort of know something about you—the banks want our information, everyone wants it, and there I want complete privacy, as far as I’m concerned. l don’t want any personalization. I will ask for what I want. And I think we vastly underestimate how big this will become, as companies’ ability to gather information becomes higher and higher, right? It becomes that, every transaction, everything, you know, that you can track how people move based on your mobile phone records, so the phone companies can sell this information to someone and say that, you know, ‘This guy always goes around between Bandra and Worli and hangs around at coffee shops—maybe he will buy a coffee maker.’ So then there is a privacy need. And then the third is family and society, privacy from that, and there again the trade-off, to put it very crudely, is that of course you have your support system because you share your life with someone and they feel that they are accountable for you, so a completely private person is normally a lunatic. But at the other extreme, you can be completely smothered by your family and society into a set role, their expectations from you. So, an individual needs this sort of balance to be not completely insane and not completely do whatever the pressure makes them do. So to me, I think those are the three things. For me, the last one is not a big thing, but I think for a lot of urban [unclear]—and maybe this is the big difference between privacy in Bombay, or India in general with the privacy outside, because the balance between these three things is very different. So outside, there is a lot of activism for privacy against the government, right? Because the government outside India has even more ability to collect information and is even more paranoid about threats from all kinds of people. Companies, too, have much more sophistication in terms of gathering and using information. And the third thing is almost benign outside, because most people live in nuclear families and so on. In India, we probably have the reverse, that the greatest threat to privacy is their own family and society, right? Government is so inept and doesn’t have the information yet to be a threat to individuals. It may be a threat to specific people. And companies are again too small a player so far. So it is the reverse of what it is outside.

PUKAR: What is your aspiration for a design for public space in Mumbai?
R: First of all, I think that public space should really be public. So in Mumbai, there are public spaces, but not really—I am paying for them. It is not a public space. It’s a space where someone is willing to pay, then he gets it. To me we don’t have an equivalent of a India Gate, next to that the lawns where people hang out in the evening. We have, but very few—Juhu Beach . . . To me, that is the model for public space—it is public for everyone and there is no money required to go there, and it is safe, and anyone and everyone is there. So if it becomes like only [a] certain socio-economic class hangs out there, then also to me it’s not a public space. And what is meant is, x number of people feel safe there and hence they are there. Public space should be a mix, right? So public spaces in India that I can think is of course Juhu and Chowpatty beaches are the ideal public spaces. There also you see some socio-economic stratification but more or less, no. The India Gate lawns in Delhi are a public space and you know, New York City, the whole of the city is a public space and everyone . . . Trafalgar Square is a public space. So, that to me is the kind of public space that we should have in Mumbai. Not what we have right now.

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Gender: Male
Age: 41
Religion: Hindu
Social Status: Upper-middle-class
Relationship status: Married
Profession: Entrepreneur
Location: Near Mount Mary Church, Bandra West
Living Arrangement: He lives alone in a rented, 800-square-foot apartment with two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a hall. The apartment is in a gated community. His parents live in Pune, and his wife lives in the United States.

Interview 2

Interview language: English

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Transcript: Interview 2

PUKAR: When it comes to restaurants, you say that you have those moments when you are left alone. But do you go there only for food, or to have those moments that you don’t get otherwise? Is that the expenditure that you are incurring to have those moments?
Respondent: It is a bit of both. Definitely a bit of both. Yes, the main issue, always, is going to a restaurant where you want to fill your stomach, but at the same time, when the mood hits you, you do go to those places where you know those people are your friends, or will give you, through the medium of chatting or just having a mild conversation about their lives or about your life, they’ll make you feel at home. That is sort of also important in those restaurants. Like I said, at the same time give you the space to be on your own.

PUKAR: But the choice is on comfort level or also because you were given that space. Because many restaurants are crowded, they are noisy, they would cost a little less maybe, or there is a choice of a restaurant where there is more space given to you, depending upon what you feel?
R: l think it’s the comfort of the people around you, rather than the ambience of the restaurant or the amount of people in it. It is more of the comfort level that they can generate. We would be quite easily happy to eat in a dhaba [small roadside eateries with cheap food]. Also, you know sitting on a khatiya [“bed” in rural language] or broken chairs, as long as people create that comfort level with you, that is more important.

PUKAR: But in this city, to create that comfort level, you do end up spending a little more?
R: Absolutely.

PUKAR: So what kind of places do you see as a public space? I mean, what do you consider as a public space?
R: Public space can be absolutely anything. For us, it is restaurants because that’s where we go the most. But it can be absolutely anything—it could be a road, it could the pavement, it could be the roof of a building, anything, parks, anything. It depends on the person, how much space you are willing to give an absolute stranger. For example, the young couples, especially in India, I would say, they are so hard struck about finding a space where they can just spend five minutes and speak privately among themselves. Nowadays it has become like certain places have been labeled as places that, yeah, couples go to and it’s said that, oh, these are not the places to go to. I’ve no understanding why that should happen. For example, Bandra Bandstand: known for it! OK, only couples go there, and it’s crowded. Generally, if you have a young daughter or somebody then you would say, “You should not go to those places.” I don’t see why, or why not. Instead of labeling these places, make it easy for anybody to have that private moment. The new thing nowadays for couples is to stand under flyovers. It shouldn’t be that these are the places that they should be allowed to . . . or let me put it this way: that it shouldn’t be so difficult for them to find these places. If they want to be in a certain place, hold hands, even kiss or whatever, it is their business. As long as they are not encroaching on your space, what is your problem with them? It is not a problem at all.

PUKAR: So how do you think a public space is generated?
R: It would have to start with the understanding of the people.

PUKAR: Does also the infrastructure of the city impact us? In so many ways, including open drains, not having proper sanitation, sidewalks, etc.
R: The infrastructure definitely is a huge problem. Even, I would say, the condition of the roads. If it’s a smooth road, I think you would see more people on it, and I think even women would be more, what shall I say, easy for them to go on those roads, rather than those which may, I think in anybody’s mind, make sure that if they have to flee from that scene, it would become difficult, with all the potholes and the roads being in such a horrible condition. Anybody . . . and even for me, if I have to walk at any time, of the day or night, I would go to that road which is smoother, rather than go to that which has potholes. I hate that. Infrastructures can be improved upon but they cannot be developed for people to have their private space. The private space for anybody exists in their mind. Like I said, for me, my private space is either my home or my favorite restaurant. These are the two places. Certainly I won’t find a private place if like, I’ve been in a mall or in the dressing room of a store. That isn’t for me. It can be for anybody else. So infrastructure cannot be developed as such. It has to be done in the person’s mind. It’s all mental.

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Gender: Male
Age: 37
Religion: Hindu
Social Status: Middle-class
Relationship Status: Live-in relationship
Profession: Fitness instructor
Location: Andheri West
Living arrangement: He lives with his girlfriend in a rented apartment in a small compound of seven bungalows. The apartment is 460 square feet and includes a bedroom, toilet, bathroom, kitchen, and hall.

Interview 3

Interview language: Hindi

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Transcript: Interview 3

PUKAR: Your child, you said he is often sick. Do you think the place where you live has anything to do with it?
Respondent: Not really. When he had gone to Delhi for a month, he was fine. Maybe the climate there was better. But here he is sick at this house too, and even at my father’s.

PUKAR: Did the doctors tell you the cause for his illness?
R: He sucks his thumb—that is why he gets an infection.

PUKAR: Because of the mud and dust?
R: Yes. He is allergic to smoke.

PUKAR: Around how much do you end up spending for his illnesses, like diarrhea, etc.?
R: l end up spending all my salaries in one go. On top of that I have to take a loan.

PUKAR: What do you think of the space which is immediately outside your home? Do you use that space often? Do you talk there or do something else?
R: Yes, we use that space. They tell us their problems, we tell them ours. We feel better this way.

PUKAR: If you have some function or pooja [religious ritual] at your house, do you use this space then, and how?
R: If it is our neighbor’s kid’s birthday, then they can use our house, and if it is my kid’s birthday, then I can use theirs. There is no need for a hall or something, we manage in that.

PUKAR: So how does that work? Do you open up your room to each other?
R: We give one room to them.

PUKAR: Okay. So you use your neighbor’s room as well?
R: Yes.

PUKAR: And what about weddings or festivals? For example, Ganpati.
R: Then we have our gully where we put up a mandap [canopy-like structure] and we install a Ganpati idol there during the festival. How ever much we fight, we go and visit the houses of people who keep Ganpati, whoever they may be. [It’s a custom to visit the houses of people who have Ganpati idols, to seek blessings. During these ten days, people usually visit one another’s homes, where they are offered refreshments.]

PUKAR: So you go to any other person’s house?
R: Yes, they will always call us. Even if they don’t speak to us otherwise, they will always invite us to their homes.

PUKAR: What do you expect from a particular open space, or what kind of an open space would you want in your basti [community] which you can use for whatever reasons you want to? Firstly, for what reasons would you like to use open spaces, and what amenities should be there in these open spaces? Maybe a play area for A. [son] or something like that?
R: Yes, the functions in a play area should exist. Sometimes relatives come over to people’s houses—if the houses are small then where will one sit? So if we put up chairs there [in the open space] then we can sit there.

PUKAR: Okay. But what kind of a ground should it be?
R: It should be open. We can go there after cooking food in the evening, sit quietly, and talk there.

PUKAR: Are you able to use your gully now?
R: Currently, we cannot use it as there is construction work going on there, so there is a lot of leftover debris there—we are scared to go there.

PUKAR: Oh, so you cannot use that space because of construction work.
R: The people who used to have Ganpati there have shifted from there and now we will have to visit their homes elsewhere.

PUKAR: The debris that falls from the construction site, have they kept it out in the open or have they covered or barricaded it?
R: It is not covered and if someone trips on them then I fear they will enter people’s stomachs. They are that small. They are going to put up some beams there.

PUKAR: So all this is happening due to redevelopment?
R: Yes. Earlier, there used to be houses [a collection of huts] there. They wanted to make a building there but because they don’t have the permission they have left it halfway. They build and municipality breaks the structure.

PUKAR: How long has this been going on?
R: It has been five years.

PUKAR: And the debris has been there since?
R: Yes.

PUKAR: Has anyone ever got hurt because of that?
R: They haven’t been hurt, but the iron rod has been put up recently. Earlier the rod was high and nothing would fall on it. Now that it has been cut, we fear that if we don’t pay attention, then it might fall on us. It was quite high up earlier and that is why people could conduct weddings and functions there.

PUKAR: In your mind, what we call public space, what are those spaces? Like you said, the gully outside your home, there is an open space there and some space to talk, too, so that is kind of like a park to you. So, how do you think these spaces are created? Is it because of people’s behavior?
R: Yes, it is because of people’s behavior.

PUKAR: How else is it created? Can you elaborate on that?
R: lf there is some function like Ganpati Visarjan [immersion of the idol in the sea], even if one brushes by you while passing, he will smile and say sorry. I may not know him, but still he will smile and talk to me. Because there are many people, we do not know everyone, but everyone is happy. There is so much of a crowd but still no one cares.

PUKAR: Which is the most private space, according to you, in Mumbai?
R: There is no other private space for me than the dariya [beach]. I do not need any taxi or bus to go there. It takes two minutes to go there and two minutes to come back.

PUKAR: And why there?
R: Because I find peace there. If someone goes there, then no one will ask why they are there, as everyone is busy with their own life. Children are there and it feels nice to have the ocean there. There is silence there.

PUKAR: That space is very big, does that affect you?
R: The space is big, there is wind, there is no noise of the honking of the cars, there is no fear of accidents happening. You can go from any direction, you can even walk on [sic] the water.

PUKAR: And what about your employers—how is your relationship with them?
R: I am happy with everyone. If someone says anything, I let it go because I cannot change anyone’s nature and my nature is not going to change. Every person makes mistakes. Sometimes we don’t realize it at that time, but the person listening to us knows that we are wrong. I may not know that I’m doing something wrong.

PUKAR: Does it ever happen that some people are talking about something private and stop talking as soon as you enter that space, or they wait for you to leave?
R: Yes, that happens.

PUKAR: So does this happen only between husband and wife, or does it happen with families, or something else?
R: lf they are fighting and if l walk in, they behave all normally as if nothing has happened. They don’t like it if l, who work there, listen to their fights. It is the same with us as well. We don’t want anyone to hear our fights.

PUKAR: But do they ever tell you their reasons for fighting, or confide in you to make themselves feel better?
R: No.

PUKAR: No one does?
R: Well, some do. The older families tell me some things.

PUKAR: They tell you some things, others they don’t talk about?
R: They never tell me the main point, but just the stuff around it: This why I am angry, this is why we fought, I am right, he is wrong, etc.
R: Wherever I work, they know me enough to trust that I will not tell someone else, and I don’t. Because then trust has no meaning.

PUKAR: So many people do talk to you and a lot of ladies do share their problems with you. Do you do the same?
R: Yes.

PUKAR: So both of you help each other?
R: Yes.

PUKAR: Are you able to ever give them any sort of reassurance or anything, and do they listen to you? Suppose you give them a suggestion, do they listen to you, or if you say, “No ma’am, do this not that.” Then?
R: No. They always think that they are only right.

PUKAR: You never tell them if something is wrong?
R: l know that they will not listen to me.

PUKAR: How do you know that?
SK I know this from the way the act with me, so I don’t say anything further, I only say yes.

PUKAR: That means all you do is listen to them?
R: Yes.

PUKAR: But they will tell you, that you should do this and that.
R: Yes, they do. They say that you should do this and not do this. But I do whatever I think is right.

PUKAR: Being a woman and working in houses, in many houses there may be men around. Do you ever feel any sort of fear—maybe I should go there or not, because of that? How do you handle that?
R: lf everyone from the family is there then I can work without tension. Even if I know that no one is a bad character, still there is a fear in the mind that l am alone and that I should finish my work quickly and leave.

PUKAR: That is when only men are in the house?
R: Yes.

PUKAR: And if everyone is there then there is no issue?
R: No.

PUKAR: For example, like I said, your relationship with your husband, besides that, what are the other things for which you feel that you need privacy?
R: I like living the way I want to. If someone else, even my husband, tells me to live in a particular way, I don’t like it. I cannot change my nature if tomorrow, I tell him that you go on this path, he will not do that, so why should I? Because I am a woman it doesn’t mean . . . Because I have two eyes, a nose, and so does he. I work and so does he. There is no difference.

PUKAR: Are there any such spaces that you feel that your husband can go to, or men can go to, but women cannot?
R: There are many such spaces. Like, a woman does not go to a crematorium. Don’t they feel like going there? If someone passes away, someone’s mother or father . . .

PUKAR: Did that happen to you as well?
R: Yes. When my mother died, I was crying a lot, but people tried to explain to me [not to go there]. The next day I went there secretly, no one even knew about it and nothing happened to me. Why can’t women go? Someone should tell me the reason behind this. Even they feel in their hearts that I will be seeing that person for the last time. And all these rules are always made for women only: She should not do this or that, she should not go out in the night or she should not go alone. Why not?

PUKAR: Now, coming to the last part, what is the importance of privacy according to you? Why is it needed?
R: Privacy means . . . ?

PUKAR: Meaning time for yourself, with family, or time with husband. All these moments, if you had to . . .
R: If anyone needs privacy, be it husband or wife, or a woman, it is needed for peace. There shouldn’t be any frustrations because of this. If one has to go then they shouldn’t hesitate; if someone has to say anything, then they should say that freely. That is why you need privacy. If we were to give time to our husband, even he will be happy and will not stop us from doing anything. But if we get irritated at him then he will not like it, he will feel that she is not interested in me. That is why you need privacy. There are many women who praise their husbands a lot, they are not even worth two paisa, and they have a habit of overacting and saying that my husband is this and that. But they should always tell the truth. If she is saying that her husband is right when he is actually wrong, and someone sees the truth, then she will feel so bad.

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Gender: Female
Age: 27
Religion: Unspecified
Social status: Lower-middle-class
Relationship status: Married
Profession: Domestic help
Location: Shivaji Nagar, Juhu Tara Road
Living arrangement: She rents the upper story of a two-story home with her husband and child. The house is made of cement, with aluminum sheets as a roof. The room is 100 square feet.

Interview 4

Interview language: English

Gender: Female
Age: 17
Religion: Unspecified
Social status: Elite
Relationship status: Single
Profession: Student
Location: Malabar Hill
Living arrangement: She lives with her parents in a two-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms, a bathroom for the help, a kitchen, and a living room. The help has living quarters downstairs in the building. Her bedroom is soundproof and her bathroom is located inside her room.

Interview 5

Interview language: English

Gender: Female
Age: 43
Religion: Unspecified
Social status: Upper-middle-class
Relationship status: Single parent
Profession: Journalist and author
Location: Napean Sea Road
Living arrangement: She lives with her eleven-year-old son and two female domestic helpers. Her apartment consists of two bedrooms and a living room, among others, and she works from home.

Interview 6

Interview language: English

Gender: Female
Age: 57
Religion: Unspecified
Social status: Middle-class
Relationship status: Married
Profession: Professor and head of the economics department at a college
Location: Near Sion Hospital, Sion (W)
Living arrangement: She lives with the Jain Society, belonging to the upper class and higher-income group. Her 400-square-foot rental apartment consists of a living room, kitchen, and a balcony converted into a bedroom. She lives with her husband and 21-year-old daughter.

Listening Station 7

Interview language: Marathi

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Transcript: Listening Station 7

PUKAR: Are there spaces you feel you don’t have access to, but that men do?
Respondent: Yes, there are clubs. Because I think that is one space women can’t go, and common housewives can’t go. I got to sing bhajans of saint from Karnataka [sic]. I like to get involved in women’s group[s] and do some small activities. Being in a joint family, I was busy in my household chores, so never thought of such things.

PUKAR: Apart from clubs, what are those spaces [that you feel you don’t have access to]?
R: I always get disturbed by the fact that men drink and abuse their wives. Why they only have this kind of freedom and women always will be restricted by family or society—but let me tell you, my husband gave me so much space to work outside. My husband was working in Dubai and he never stopped me going anywhere, nor even my in-laws. l used to live in [a] joint family, and my sister-in-laws used to take care of home in my absence. I used to work in beauty parlors, and when I came back I used to finish the remaining work, like washing utensils, [a] bit of cooking, etc. This gave me courage to do something of my own, but the financial condition was not so great, so I hadn’t thought of executing this. My dad had his own pension, so we are not worried.

PUKAR: Do certain kinds of people in the same public space you are accessing create fear [for you]?
R: Anywhere you go these thoughts would always be in your mind. There are good as well as bad people around you. Take [the] example of local trains: you will find good men if you travel in the trains—they offer seats to women. But there would be these pervert men who would like to sit close to women and touch her or harass her, so you will find both these kinds of people, but women have to be strong, she has to fight back, she should not tolerate all this. This tolerance will not help women to come forward in the various fields in which they are today. I would also like to say here that women also should not take liberty of this freedom, then there will be clashes between the relationships, so women on her own should take care of that. I believe that when one woman is educated the family gets educated, so women should feel secure and should access various fields

PUKAR: Have you ever experienced “Eve teasing” [i.e. sexual harassment] in a public space?
R: As I have been to Dubai I can say there are strict laws, a policy which makes women safer and gives her sense of safety, but in India here is a different situation for women, if we talk about the laws. But time is changing slowly and steadily. Now you can see that a mother of two children won in the Olympics for India in boxing, and we should see her as our idol. Only we can make our life better as that is only thing in our hand.

PUKAR: According to you, how is public space created?
R: There is a group of 100 to 200 women who run a saving scheme [on] their own, so sometimes we meet at one’s home and we collect money there. We change that place every month, so that becomes the public space for us.

PUKAR: Can you give an example near your locality?
R: Yes, as you can see, many food stalls on the road are [a] very good example of this. Many young people gather there.

PUKAR: What do you understand [to be the meaning of] “privacy”?
R: Yes, privacy is important for everyone, [especially] it is important for women, especially in the night. And [a] husband should spend time with [his] wife—it helps to develop better understanding. I did lots of adjustments, too. My husband was in Dubai for years, and he used to come once in a year, so it was difficult for me, too, but I did adjust. But women should learn to tolerate all this and adjust accordingly. I learned all this as my upbringing was like this, and then women should explore ways to deal with situations [in] her own life. l got that privacy and space, that is why I could explore many things in my life. l started my own beauty parlor from home, then I came in contact with this organization where they train young girls in beautician courses. But yes, I believe women should get privacy [in] her life.

PUKAR: What do you mean by that privacy? Privacy in what sense?
R: So according to me, in every aspect of her life, she should be going anywhere, she should decide about her life. If she doesn’t, she will not progress in her life. No, I don’t think that I get that privacy in my life. Whenever I need that, I go out, when my husband gets time, and I don’t explore things on my own, l don’t go alone anywhere. No, I don’t think so, now l live independently, there are no such people whom I want that privacy from. Before, when I used to live in [a] joint family and my husband used [to] be away from home for years, l wanted to go to my mother’s home and that was the time I used to get time for myself.

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Gender: Female
Age: 43
Religion: Unspecified
Social status: Lower middle class
Relationship status: Married
Profession: Runs family parlor and trains social workers
Location: Kurla
Living arrangement: She lives in a 240 square foot home with her mother-in-law, husband, and son.

Interview 8

Interview language: English

Gender: Male
Age: 26
Religion: Hindu
Social status: Elite
Relationship status: In a relationship
Profession: Works for his family's import/export company
Location: Churchgate
Living arrangement: His apartment is 2,000 square feet, with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen, and quarters for the help. He lives alone with three domestic helpers.

Interview 9

Interview language: English

Gender: Male
Age: 33
Religion: Unspecified
Social status: Upper-middle-class
Relationship status: Married
Profession: Marketing and brand-management professional
Location: Dadar, Shivaji Park
Living arrangement: He lives with his wife and dog in an apartment in a compound of 100 apartments. His apartment consists of a balcony, hall, kitchen, washroom, and bedroom. He has a cook and a domestic helper on staff.

Interview 10

Interview language: English

Gender: Male
Age: 36
Religion: Unspecified
Social status: Upper-middle-class
Relationship status: Single
Profession: Features Editor at a publication
Location: Matunga
Living arrangement: He lives in the house in which he was born. His grandfather moved into the house in 1932. It is 725 square feet and consists of a living room, two balconies, a separate toilet and bath, and two bedrooms. He lives with his sister and uncle in the house. They have one maid.

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