The fact that I never mentioned the reason to visit, goes in my favour today. Half of what was needed is achieved. The biggest red light area of the capital, Garstin Bastion Road (well known as GB Road), had an eighteen year old kid (adult?) paying a visit to what is also known as the ‘land of pink nipples’.
The fear to take up the challenge was always at the back of my mind. So visiting the area after 7pm, when the business there gets into its vibrant mode, was not an option.
12 Noon– New Delhi Metro station
The autowala gave the most indescribable look and winked at me, when I asked him, “Bhaiya, GB Road.” He tried to tell me that he would take me to the best kotha of the region. (I was wondering if it was kotha no 64, since that is famous). But I chose to walk. The weird part is that one would never know when ‘that area’ comes and passes you until and unless you see a fat lady in a red blouse looking out of a barred window from the first floor. She is probably the head of all those sex workers in there. Excited, I suddenly took out my camera and she shut the window.
I moved on. A place with worn out rickshaw pullers, disinterested shopkeepers and an unpleasant smell, it could only be famous for one thing. Suddenly someone patted me from behind. “Bhaisahab, khoye khoye lag rahe ho, 600 mein aapki umar ki, abhi.”
He was a pimp. And here the illusion broke. The business goes on during the day-time as well, in those small low sheltered rooms above those local shops.
A little scared and a little surprised, I could not see any policeman nearby. “Do they not monitor the area?” I asked myself. “What a life these shopkeepers lead here! What a life!” – I thought and laughed. With this I saw a panwaala, who during our five minute conversation told me about what a newcomer (Yes, newcomer. I would consider going again.) like me never knew. I was asked to be aware of pimps and pickpockets. He told me about the plight of women (and girls) in there. Women are generally forced into this work. The kothawaalis (or prostitutes) are not allowed out of their kothas during the day time. They come down at night, only to take back a few costumers up those tightly structured stairs. There were certain obvious questions in my mind for the panwaala, but then it was my first time and I wanted to go back home fast.
To my relief I saw a police station right there. I asked the hawaldaar bhaiya there, “Bhaiya mujhe kisi kothe mein andar jaana hai. Kisi se baat karni hai. Unko jaan na hai.” But since then I am thinking about what he said. “Nikal lo beta. Yahan koi kisi ko ni jaanta. Randiyon ko koi nahi samajh sakta.”
It is a place where world seems dead and these tavaifs are kept in dingy rooms only to be neglected (and used). They smile on their face, while signalling someone to come in, but they themselves want to come out of that place, I suppose. But some stories are untold.
While forming that bucket list, I wanted to know how these brothels work and the concept that this profession undertakes. But I also questioned myself, “Is paid sex actually unethical?” I honestly still wish to visit kotha number chausath(64). ((Oh, I forgot to tell you. I got 4 flying kisses, too).
With these thoughts I took the road back to the New Delhi Metro station. As I was walking, I saw a woman calling out to me silently while applying red lipstick on her lips. But this time, I didn’t take out my camera. I just smiled and left.