A man in tattered clothing jumped into the car as the train lurched forward violently, sending him unintentionally crashing into a group of five women near the door. They radiated femininity in their colorful Indian outfits and ornate jewelry, but their soft faces contorted with fury as they unleashed unexpected hell onto this imposter. Suddenly the women were screaming and beating this man. As quickly as he had leapt onto the train, he was thrown off. The concrete platform seemed to do him no harm; he bounded up immediately and pursued the train, cursing the women who cursed right back at him.

From my seat, I watched the spectacle with wide eyes.

“It happens every day, on every train. Sometimes it’s a lot worse,” a lady wearing an elegant salwar-kameez, a traditional Indian outfit, sitting next to me said in a dialect of Gujarati, since my expression… More…

Have caller ID, return call, call block, and reverse look-up put an end to obscene phone calls? I’m not talking about telemarketers. Nor am I including paid phone sex with a hostess working a 900 number. Nor consensual phone sex — the ultimate safe sex in prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (safe, that is, barring the absence of an undisclosed recording device). No, I mean the heavy-breathing strangers with a message.

 

Actually, my obscene caller wasn’t a heavy breather. At least not with me. We never got that far. He’d ask if I wanted to  “talk sex.” I’d hang up. Sometimes I played along so far that I’d say “No” before I cut him off. I tried not to slam down the phone.

The calls took place over a number of years. They weren’t so frequent… More…