My team's eyes widened beyond belief with fear and concern—and they automatically assumed something dramatic would happen when I announced undertaking this task. To be honest, I cheated only slightly. I am often a little risqué in my rendezvous with public transport, and it's not caused me too much harm—and never in the physical sense. So I could see to some extent the waters I was stepping into. Although, short-shorts were going to be a slightly different ball-game from a knee-length pencil skirt…
I'm not going to do this day-by-day break-up style—simply because not enough extraordinariness occurred on the daily to give it that 'dear diary' edge. I'd rather divide it by male/female reactions because that's what I find far more interesting. Here goes…
These were the three types of reactions my shorts-swathed bare legs elicited on the 392 bus from Delhi to Noida:
The first, predictably, was staring hard. These men would let their gazes linger fairly unabashedly—reminiscent almost of a child who's been presented with a new phenomenon and doesn't realize it's rude to keep looking at it intently. Much like a child, however, their interest would soon wane and they'd go back to staring into blank space or playing some relative of Candy Crush on their phones.
The second was the covert glancer. This kind of guy made a definitive effort to be discreet. He'd never be as blatant as contestant number one, but he wanted to look. He'd just be super eye-flickingly sly about it. No solid chunk of time would be spent staring, and he'd sneak a glance in while doing a visual sweep of the area around my legs, but his looks would extend throughout the duration of my ride to work.
The third was the nonchalant guy. The most interesting part of this experiment was that most guys fell under this category. They looked for about a second or two, acknowledged the oddity of my bus outfit decision, and then went on with their life. These were the guys that gave me a sense of security enough to not be fazed by bachelors one and two as much as I otherwise would've been.
These were the three types of reactions my legs being out there evoked on the 392 bus from Delhi to Noida:
The first were the judgmental starers. I could see them sizing me up, and, like the first category of aforementioned men, they would stare to their heart's content with zero concern for whether or not I'd notice and/or be bothered by it. I did notice, however, a lot of the women tugging their own T-shirts lower, or adjusting their dupattas a bit as if subconsciously trying to compensate for my exposed skin by fully covering their own.
The second were the whisperers. These ones wouldn't just stare, they'd talk about what I was wearing to their co-passengers. They did have the decency to do it in lower tones, though. It was nice to make them awkward and uncomfortable, staring them dead in the eye and crossing my legs unashamedly.
The third were the sympathisers. There were, thankfully, a fair amount of these. They weren't all young and denim-clad, like one might expect. They just seemed to need a momentary interlude to absorb the shock element, and then went on to admire my gumption (or so I gathered from the small smiles they shot me as I boarded the bus, or looked for a place to sit).
It was interesting to see the myriad expressions and reactions of the people on the bus to my 'indecent exposure', but I'm glad I made it out in one piece.
But the main take-away for me post this endeavour? It's less about the danger and more about the judgment. And a lot of that judgment comes from the very women we think are on the same side as us.