My problem with your staring problem

Published: February 22, 2012

My daily walk from my point stop to my apartment is nothing less than torture for me; not because I am exhausted after a tiring day at college and my legs are unable to bear that five-minute stress; but because the dear men of my beloved nation are suffering from the staring syndrome.

Whether I am wearing jeans with a shirt or am covered in a burqa, there are three points in that five-minute walk where I feel people eyeing me with extreme interest. The first is an under construction building, where poor and deprived labourers clearly get bored with their work all day long. The second is a showroom and its prolific guards who like to watch girls instead of thieves and intruders; the third is our area’s cobbler who I am sure has some serious vision problems because once his eyes get fixed at a point, they simply cannot deviate from it. And this is not it. Occasionally, an old toothless man or young, pre-pubescent boy walks by passing lewd comments.

I am sure half of the girls who are reading this are nodding or smiling by now  at the thought of similar situations that they go through. Whether it is a populated bazaar or a high-end mall, we all get stared and commented at by all sorts of men.  They could be labourers, shopkeepers, young boys on motorcycles with tight shirts and big shades or an occasional old man with greying hair and the works. You name it and we have it.

Most of us are used to the atrocious staring. But it really makes me wonder where we are headed as a nation. We don’t like to stand in queues, traffic signals are for losers, the police is shrugged off for a mere Rs100, staring at any person who looks different from us is the new rule, dustbins are outdated, and sorries, thank yous and pleases do not exist; these habits are reflective of a lack of manners. We make our own rules –  everything else can be easily disregarded.

Our nation is not progressing, it’s regressing – in terms of morals and civic sense.

However, the moment we get a ticket to somewhere else, we turn into the most well-behaved and respectable citizen of that nation. Traffic rules, dustbins and etiquette, all remind us of their existence with a bang. Voila! The fear of being kicked out of there is what straightens out the most curved of the lot.

It is sad how we take our own land, which has been a home to us for more than 60 years, for granted each day.

I realise this country has a lot of problems and many things are happening today which are out of our hands. We can’t do anything about them even if we wanted to. However I also realise that as individuals, we can do something to improve out basic morals and habits.

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Saba Fatima Ali

Saba Fatima Ali

A final year medical student at Dow Medical College. She tweets @SabaFatimaAli (

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