She posed a question quite simple, in a lecture that digressed without meaning to as often lectures do, posing a question quite simple: can women loiter? Can women loiter, I thought to myself, and the very thought seemed strange- loiter? How? Do what in that? And why? What does ‘loitering’ even imply? A quick Google search will tell you that it means to ‘stand or wait around without apparent purpose’. To saunter, to dawdle, or as more commonly known in today’s time, to hang around. To loiter, at street corners and park corners, near the panwaadi or a metro station, at chaiwallahs and roadside parapets, to loiter near benches and taxi stands, bus stations and train stations, on motorbikes, terraces, and the liquor stores. Liquor stores- a different ball game altogether. A single woman, or two perhaps, hell three or four even
On dark wintry evenings enjoying a hot cup of chai.
Stopping by a paraanthewalla or the Maggi guy, after a late night movie.
Stepping out to 24/7, in case of midnight munchies.
Linger at the edge of a park, and gawk at guys as they walk by.
Stand and chat with a rickshaw puller.
Think of the last time you saw a woman/women doing that.
The next on my reading list is a book called Why Loiter, which theorizes the exclusion of women from public space. Much needed.