Saturday, March 06, 2010

A very unpleasant experience

I was having a lovely evening ... went to a great sushi place in Bangalore tonight with my two friends from the dig, my last night here before I go to a conference, and before they leave to go home to the U.S. I had a great dinner, and great company, and was feeling like life was pretty good.

But after arriving back at the hotel, a rather fancy establishment on Residency Road near Bridage Road, I had one of the top most unpleasant moments of my time here in India. I asked for my clean laundry at the front desk, when I returned from dinner, since I am leaving in the morning and I have to pack the clothes. The man at the desk said he'd send someone.

I went up stairs, said goodnight to my friends and went to my room. I was met in the hallway, by a young guy holding a bag with my laundry. When I opened the door to my room, he tried to step inside, but I stopped him at the entry way, and told him to put down the laundry there. I tried to get rid of him, because he seemed creepy even then, but he said "You check" and indicated the laundry. So I set down the bag and opened it. I was counting the clothes looking down at the bench, when he stepped closer, and I looked over and realized his penis was hanging out of his pants. It was right there, and it wasn't an accident. He told me to sign the receipt, and I did, avoiding looking at him all together, to get him out as quickly as possible and shut the door.

I called the front desk and asked to speak to the manager, but I was told he isn't there now. The man asked if he could help me. So I told him what happened, saying that the man who delivered my laundry had "inappropriately exposed himself to me". He came up stairs to speak with me in person, but he brought the guy with him. So when I asked to speak to the front desk guy they both stepped in to the room. Without looking directly at him, I gestured at the guy, and said "He has to leave". So the manager told him to wait outside, and stepped into the entry to the room. I asked him to close the door so I could speak with him privately. He did, and I explained, gesturing at my own "down there" and said "He exposed himself to me!". I had to say it twice for it to sink in, but then the front desk guy did indeed look very shocked. He paused for a second, and then asked "Maybe by accident?". I told him, "No, I don't think it was an accident. When he walked away, he was laughing."

The hotel desk employee or whoever he was, apologized profusely, said in the future that it would not happen. I don't know if there will be a future as I'm pretty sure I never want to stay at this hotel again, but I guess that's reassuring.

I think the thing that's bothering me the most is that now I don't feel safe, or like I truly have privacy in this room. It has made me paranoid that there is some sort of secret hole in the wall, that the mirror is really a mirror you can see through, or some other invasion of my privacy. It's probably unnecessary paranoia, but it isn't a pleasant feeling to wonder if there are sick men hiding on the other side of the walls, watching with their parts exposed.

I don't like to feel like a victim, and if I can help it, I'll just avoid the feeling all together. I suppose it could be worse, he didn't try anything else, but I do feel sort of victimized, assaulted, and harassed. I also feel like there is a pretty good chance that that this has happened to others here, but they may have been too ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it or complain.

I am not the kind of person who feels that sort of shame or embarrassment. I half contemplated for a moment whether this event might in some way be my fault, whether I might have done something that invited this. But I immediately discarded that notion. I recognized it immediately as one of the signs of victims of sexual assault or abuse. I trained in college as a sexual assault support counselor. I know how common it is for victims of many forms of sexual assault to blame themselves. A google search will tell you the same thing. So I decided I am not to blame. I reported it once to the front desk, and I will report it again in the morning.

I don't necessarily feel that the entire hotel is bad, or that it should be avoided. I think most of the people who work here are decent and good people. I don't blame them either. But I do hope this employee loses his job, and I hope that I am wrong in my paranoia about holes in the walls. I am not sure I'll ever stay here again, but I'll have to see how I feel about it later. Maybe I'll be able to get over my anxiety and come back again. Or maybe not.


Saraansh said...

that's horrible.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry that happened to you! I certainly hope he gets fired. I also hope he gets arrested! I don't know whether or not that's likely to happen where you are...

You already said it, but sometimes it helps to hear (or read) other people saying it. There's no way this is your fault.

Edith said...

Darling girl,

I am so sorry that you had to go through that; I'm also sorry that you didn't find the part of you that is "North Side" as in "get the eff outta my face before I take your tiny little prick and shove it down your mouth". Maybe that's just me though.... What is truly disturbing about this however is that his behaviors will only escalate until he does cross that line and eventually hurt someone. You should have laughed at him; you would have felt better. We can only hope that his fear of women doesn't escalate. You are fine, and that is what matters most right now. Just don't begin to live in fear, ok? You've only got one life, so enjoy as much as possible. And next time, if there IS a next time, make as much noise as possible and get in his face, and LAUGH AT HIM!! Trust me, from experience, it has the most AMAZING results. :)
Love ya,