Shorts in India: do or do not?

The first day, I covered up appropriately. The second day, I wore a tanktop. Though I got the same amount of stares, I noticed less smiles and more judgmental expressions.

But wearing shorts on the third day was just plain stupid. I’d seen other travelers wearing shorts, and I figured because we were in cosmopolitan Mumbai, it wouldn’t be too bad… And, jeebus, it gets HOT in the afternoons. (Texan summers are pithy in comparison, I tell you, and its “winter” here?!)

I felt uncomfortable the minute we left the hotel, with my white, hairy legs exposed to the general population, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the hairiness that had people looking. By the end of the day I felt completely demoralized, as if I were a slattern with the name Hester Prynne.

If we stayed in the touristy areas, it might’ve been manageable, but visiting the Dharavi slums?

Worst.

Idea.

Ever.

I originally rejected the idea earlier that morning, based on the fact that I was wearing shorts and was already feeling uncomfortable… but we found ourselves with a block of time to kill, and we agreed seeing the slums wasn’t something we wanted to miss out on. Plus the train tickets were cheap at 4 rupees each.

We went.

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In 10 minutes we were already back at the train station, and Xiker was doing his best to console me… not that I was crying. I was just completely dejected.

To be honest, words cannot comprehensively express the depth of the humiliation I felt, walking down that street.

I felt as if I were being molested by thousands of malevolent, disapproving wide eyes, and women were looking at me up and down, with big frowns and creases in their foreheads, as if they were thinking, “what’s the matter with you, you stupid girl?”

The children were mocking me, the teenagers giggled behind their hands, and parents pointed at me, making me a lesson to be learnt from.

I didn’t feel as if I were lusted over. I felt as if I were looked down upon, as if I were the one who was lewd and morally corrupt. And I was: I was the one who was disrespectful to religious and cultural standards, I was the one who should’ve known better than to walk around in shorts and not expect ramifications.

We couldn’t get back to the Salvation Army Hotel fast enough. Pulling on a pair of pants had never felt so liberating before. My shorts are now at the bottom of my bag, to be forgotten until …..???

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