We were excited! It was our first ‘official’ project and we were doing it for the State police department.
We would be covering 13 districts in all and our main task was collecting & analyzing all the crime records for our final report. Our work also included evaluating the work of the women police, which meant visiting the All Women Police stations in each of the districts we were visiting.
There were three of us – all women. Though we were enthusiastic about the project, we had literally no money to spend and therefore accepted whatever the department offered us. This meant that we ended up going to most of these places either by train (2nd class mostly) or by police jeep (not as much fun as we thought!).
The initial phase of the project went quite smoothly and we hoped to complete our travels relatively quickly so as to get to the next phase of our project, which was the final analysis and report writing part of it. So we started clubbing different districts that were close to each other and ended up using the jeep more often that we would have liked!
On one such trip, we had gone to Pondicherry and after wrapping up there by late evening we decided to go to Dharmapuri that same night as it was next on our list and we wanted an early start to our work. Our enthusiastic & relatively young driver managed to reach there in less than 3hrs. As the department was in charge of arranging our accommodation, we usually ended up in places we would never dream of stepping into if we ever visited the place. But since the only thing on our minds after that bumpy ride was a good restful sleep, we ignored the particularly seedy appearance of the “hotel/lodge” we were put up in. We did however refuse the offer of 2 rooms for the 3 of us and decided to share a double bedroom.
After catching up on our day and charting out a plan for the next day, we were just beginning to embark on our own personal journeys into the world of dreams when suddenly a loud noise made us all jump out of bed. Slowly we realized that someone was knocking loudly on our door. As I started to walk towards the door, my friend grabbed my hand and pulled me back quickly. That was when I heard the drunken voices outside yelling for us to open the door!
We waited quietly till the drunks got tired and finally left us to brood in our silence. It was a humiliating & nerve wrecking experience and we were all quite rattled by the incident but we did not let it dampen our spirits and went on to complete our project in record time and with good results too!
The incident remains sharply etched in my memory as I found it too ironical that we were subjected to this kind of harassment when we were doing a project for the police department!