I've a small story to tell which might be a bit disturbing at multiple levels. I love travelling and I always wanted to visit distant countries alone. I would love to go to Greece, Paris or Dubai all by myself- -- just me, my satchel, my bags and my magazines. Sip a glass of champagne and read my favourite magazine. Yes, travelling alone can be a bit daunting, but I've done it before and it's really nice.
Two months ago, my mother was visiting me and I was telling her all about my solo travels in the UK and she was quite surprised. She asked me how I did it and if I was scared. My answers surprised her, but she was happy that I had a good time. I have been married for little over three years but solo travels are really nice sometimes. It gives you time to think about your life, failed relationships and above all gives you some solitude.
A few days ago, I went to get myself a visa to travel to Dubai. Going to Dubai would be great, I thought. A six-day break, with lots of shopping, followed by tea and macaroons at Paul's, sounded brilliant. I got my visa papers sorted and I was quite kicked to submit my documents when one of the visa officers asked me for a no-objection letter from my father or husband. I tried telling him that I am 27, independent, I have a job and for Christ's sake I don't need a bloody NOC to travel anywhere. Forty-five minutes later, this conversation wasn't going anywhere. And then the official said something that made me decide to just get up and leave: He said that the UAE government would want to know who I "belonged" to. I couldn't believe my ears.
" Dear Mr/Ms. Society, I would like to know what your problem is. Why does it bother you so much if I travel alone or buy an expensive bag for myself? How jobless are you? Do you pay any of my bills?"
I was quite upset and I wanted to punch the visa officer really hard but it wasn't exactly his fault. He was just doing his job. Unfortunately, we are living in an age where women can't always travel alone, and if they choose to do so, they face societal censure. If we buy an expensive bag or perfume, people will ask you if your rich father or loaded husband paid for it. If we decide to watch a movie by ourselves then others will ask you if everything is fine and if you are still married. Seriously, being a woman is tough. We're so screwed. Trust me, society will suck the life force out of you. I am a bit tired of the so-called rules of the society.
So dear Mr/Ms. Society, I would like to know what your problem is. Why does it bother you so much if I travel alone or buy an expensive bag for myself? How jobless are you? Do you pay any of my bills? Please stop passing judgement. I don't need anyone's permission to travel or to buy a bag. So please mind your own business. I will do whatever I want to. I don't need anyone's approval. And yes, don't tell me that I am a girl and I need to be careful. Please teach your son to be a better human being and not rape girls. Don't tell your daughters to be careful, ask your sons to treat girls with respect. I think the problem with society is bad parenting. Parents always seem to have an excuse to pamper boys but when it comes to their daughters they follow archaic rules. I hope all mothers stop discriminating and being partial to their sons. I hope the next time a son misbehaves with a daughter, the parents have the courage to discipline the son instead of telling the daughter to forgive and forget. We need to change the rules. We need to start being human beings first.
I hope I can travel to Dubai someday without an NOC from my father or my husband because I am not a piece of furniture and I don't belong to anyone. I BELONG TO MYSELF.