Sorry, single woman not allowed !

Sorry madam, single woman are not allowed !

Have you heard of this phrase ?
I have. I have experienced it.

The Charminar (Mosque of the Four Minarets)….

I was traveling alone to Hyderabad…  June 2009. I remember clearly; it was a Saturday, a public holiday when I had decided to see Charminar (Four towers) and it’s surroundings. After satisfying myself with the time spent at Mecca mosque, I moved forward towards famous and charming Charminar.

There was utter chaos and rush everywhere; the roads were full of small vendors luring tourists to buy postcards and other stuff.

Queue to go up…

I could see a long serpentine queue to go up the Charminar. Another queue to buy tickets was also long and had spread onto the road. There was only one ticket counter but that was ok since the queue was moving fast. Lathi wielding staff was well experienced to manage the crowd well. So, I too joined.

Before my turn came, suddenly one of them realized I was alone ! He told me I was not allowed to go up.

‘For precautionary measures we don’t allow single woman’.
At first I thought he was kidding. But others in queue agreed with him. Now, this was ridiculous, an insult. No, I won’t budge. I firmly stood there. As the queue moved, I moved too.

Public is discouraged to go near the railings.

Two more persons came and requested me to come out of the queue. They were polite but firm. They didn’t have lady police and couldn’t have touched me.

I stood my ground, wanted to know a more authentic reason. I was not a terrorist, I wasn’t carrying any arms, I wasn’t a foreigner not understanding the local language and for God’s sake, I didn’t even have Swine Flu !

Why don’t you understand? We want to save you.
Save me? What from ?

Arguments and counter-arguments… moving ahead in the queue I expressed my wish to speak to someone higher who could at least listen to me. I reached ticket counter and bought a ticket. The gentleman at the window was too busy to even look up, let alone bothering about who the buyer was.

Yay !! I had a ticket.

Looking down…

Fortunately there were two independent sets of guards, one monitoring the ground level and the other set at upper level. Holding my precious ticket, I came out again on the road, wondering how to go up. I am not the one to accept this kind of indignity.

My good fortunes ! They say God helps those who help themselves.
I heard a conversation. There was an elderly couple from Amritsar on a business trip contemplating whether to go up Charminar or not. Husband was keen but the wife didn’t want to stand in that long queue.

Ah ! there I could see my chance. I politely introduced myself and convinced them to go up. A trip to Hyderabad is incomplete without seeing Charminar. I offered to wait there with the lady till the gentleman brought two tickets.
In the meanwhile I told them my problem as well. They were also as surprised as I was and asked me to be with them.

Nonetheless, now we were three and nobody could stop us me. On the upper floor, there were more guards and more vigilant constantly asking people not to stand in one place for long and dutifully checking for any mishaps.

Ladies should always be in a company.

Apparently we spoke to few locals & came to know there have been too many suicide cases and stopping single women from going up was the easiest step they could think of.

Points to ponder :-
1. Why only women, a man can also commit suicide?
2. Why this restriction on a public holiday when the place is fully packed?
3. Why there was no lady police/ staff/ guard ? Not a single one. Suicide again?
4. Instead of having 20-25 lathi wielding yelling guards in that small place, wouldn’t it be better to have some raised railings?
5. For same reason, why only suicide? A murder can also take place.
6. Why were they worried about only one death ? There was no security check for bombs etc, no deposit of bags. Anyone could carry explosives up there.
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32 thoughts on “Sorry, single woman not allowed !

  1. Hi,
    Today, I visited this site first time … and this first column, I really liked your post here…Lot of columns I saw just now, but later I will check others.
    Well about this incident, it is really surprising to me as well. I visited char minar last year. but didn’t understand, what may be the problem, may be they want to care of alone girl, something like that….

  2. he he … for the first time, single woman are stopped from entering a place 🙂 i am sure a lot of single men (who got stopped at places like discs) wud’ve luved it 😉

    on a serious note – it doesnt make any sense – but a lot of things in india doesnt make sense. security guys tell u things like ‘u cant take photos here’ or ‘u cant carry a tripod here’ and wudnt know why they are instructed not to allow them! i believe, someone somewhere, found some connection and the practice stayed 🙂
    .-= sandeep´s last [post] ..Day Break =-.

  3. Arun,
    Welcome aboard ! Thanks for liking the site and I do hope you’ll continue to come and enjoy.

    Care for a lone girl ? They could have asked her if she needs any help at all.

    On the other hand, if they provide some guides (males/ females both) at the site; who are vigilant also I am sure the tourism is going to boost and women will not feel left outs.

  4. Sandeep,
    Ha Ha.. I can understand it.

    But believe me, I was furious at that time and somehow trying to keep my cool.
    I wish Hyderabad’s tourism department reads this post and does something about it.

  5. Anjuli,
    It was an unique experience. They did not want to tell me on my face the reason for stopping me. Nothing is written anywhere or official. I guess everything is maintained by a pvt party.

    When I got to know the reasons, these were the thoughts that immediately crossed my mind.

  6. I must say I have never heard that sentence before!

    I’m glad you stood your ground and managed to get in. I respect all cultures but when the rule is dumb, go for it and break it! And this one is clearly outdated and misogynistic…
    .-= Zhu´s last [post] ..Winterlude in Québec =-.

  7. I guess “harassment” was also in their minds.

    But i clearly agree with your stand and being assertive in getting the ticket. In the name of security many a times we are foolish.

  8. Zhu,
    Even I respect cultures but respecting something should not lead to following something blindly.

    Welcome here.

    Yes, indeed they are ridiculous.

    Keep coming.

  9. You’d think improving security would be a better solution to stopping (paying) public from visiting a landmark. But it’s probably easier to impose ridiculous restrictions than correct a situation. So it goes …

  10. I have climbed up – but very long ago. Found it rather claustrophobic – the narrow staircase, the crowds… but a visit is a must. And strange that they have this funny thing about single women!! Hyderabadis can be wierd. I should know 🙂 ( but it is a great place, really!)

  11. The last time i was in Hydie, Charminar was closed for visitors… but i so wanted to go up and get a view!!

    Am glad you stood ground and found that couple to solve the issue :)L

  12. Aarti,
    It’s ridiculous. Why they think only women will commit suicide? And there was no check for bombs etc. What about that?

    Or they think women can’t travel alone ?

    I, for one, defy. 😀

  13. Same situation at the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi. Women can only climb the tower if accompanied by a man. Crowded, ridiculously unsafe, no guards once you start to climb, but amazing views from the top.

  14. Debbie,
    I have been trying to go up there but for the same reason. At least they have some religious reason. But here it’s absolutely ridiculous!

    Single woman will commit suicide and not a single man!

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