That guy who stares at you on the Metro

Dubai metro

It’s very easy to know if I am on the Metro – I tweet. A lot. I think in any city, getting into the Metro always presents a chance to tell a story. There is always a story to tell, and being in the metro in Dubai is no exception.

On Sundays to Thursdays, a couple of hours in the morning and again in the afternoon (during rush hours), the Dubai Metro has two “women and children only” carriages however, there are so many complaints from commuters of men who seem to miss the signs. Now, the signs are bigger and bolder and it’s not just the yellow line inside, they changed it to this eye catching pink color, both the line and an added a full window poster.

A few days ago, I was on the Red Line on a rush hour in the evening. I was lucky to be able to get a seat in the women only carriage but saw that so many men are coming in. There used to be a Metro staff inside these exclusive carriages who call out these men to go out and transfer or else be slapped with a AED200  fine but lately,  there’s no one.

My journey will take me about 20 minutes so while others are Candy Crushin, I closed my eyes. No tweeting today, I thought. After a few minutes, I hear the lady beside me speak in a very loud voice. (Did I mention, there’s always something to tweet??)

“What is your problem? Why are you staring at me like that?”

She directed it to one of the two men seated across us. There were many other men standing inside that women only carriage, especially there’s a big event at World Trade Center but she was only referring to that man across us.

“Do you want me to push this button?! I only need to push this button! (referring to the emergency button)

Now, the woman got everyone’s attention.

“Get up! You are sitting this is the ladies section!

The other man, a friend of that guy who was suspected with “staring” smiled. And the lady went for him too.

“Do you think this is funny, huh? What is funny?”

It was so awkward. The lady was really going at it and asked the two men to leave the carriage…the train was still moving.

As much as I wanted to know how that rife ended, I had to get down to my station. But REALLY? What would you do if you caught someone staring at you in a crowded, public space? Would you make a scene like that? I think I would be the one to leave. I need opinions. Discuss.

For anyone curious, the lady was not a local. She spoke Hindi over the phone earlier into our journey. She did not wear any scarf over her head or an abaya. The two men weren’t locals as well but I would guess Arab expats.

10 thoughts on “That guy who stares at you on the Metro

  1. Uhm, they might have stared or winked at her, plus some sniggers thrown in? I’d feel bad too, if I had that kind of look-over. Heck, had experienced that a lot before in Pinas, whether or not in formals or casuals, covered or showing some skin, and it had been difficult to pretend I haven’t seen them staring at me. I doubt I would react like that co-passenger of yours though, other than a raised eyebrow while staring back.

    It would be a different story though if there is unwanted touching. Happened to a friend of mine, in Pinas, and she had beaten the guy with an umbrella.

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    • I like the beat with an umbrella part! Honestly, I think the lady sitting beside me was overreacting. I did not see though how she was stared at. Thanks for your comment. If it happened to me, I think I’d be the one to leave the scene. I am non-confrontational like that (and it has its disadvantages!).

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  2. Being ogled at (which those men may have been doing to the angered woman) can be really annoying and uncomfortable. It’s a tricky one too because it’s not officially considered a ‘harassment’ because there’s no physical touching involved. And I think most men do that because its easier to get away with. Though I would not have reacted the same way as that woman (I too would have left or sit somewhere else), I’m glad she spoke out. Even if it’s awkward or embarrassing, it will teach men that they can get called out over lewd staring.

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    • Lewd staring, yes, that could be the description! And you are absolutely right that it’s a grey area because there’s no physical contact. How are the trains in Aus? Do you have separate compartments for women too?

      Japan started to have these exclusive cabins during rush hour because the trains there can get really, really as in REALLY crowded that there had been a lot of complaints about “chikan” or groping! (though the men are denying it, saying, “it’s just because it’s too crowded!”)

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  3. Sorry ate, hindi ka pa ba nasanay kasi part ng daily life ng Dubai yan? Or baka Dubai newbie ito?

    I know these guys can really be creepy and downright perverts (deprived of exposure and interaction with women – especially with that of the less clothed types a.k.a. not in abaya – for cultural and / or religious reasons) She could have just moved seats or moved train cars (but then again, its worse outside the ladies’ car). Or just plain ignored them.

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  4. Great to hear the signs will be more prominent. I visting Dubai last year (from Doha, where our own Metro is only now starting construction) and decided to take a trip on the Metro.

    I had no idea carriages like this even existed. Needless to say, I got on the wrong one by mistake. The signage was very subtle. Luckily, no one screamed at me or attacked me, but there was a lot of staring, until I figured out what it was I’d done wrong. For an Englishman this was about as mortifying an experience in public as it’s possible to have.

    The minute or so to the next station seemed to take an eternity. I got off and didn’t just move carriages; I waited for the next train – and even then triple checked who was in my carriage before getting on. If the new signs prevent this kind of thing in future, I’m all for it!

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    • Hello,

      Thanks for reading and for leaving a comment. The signs right now aren’t subtle any more with more bright pink and big posters. Still, that doesn’t stop the men from entering the women and children only cabin.

      Next time you visit Dubai, you won’t miss it! 🙂

      A fine of 100 dhs is imposed so even if it’s an honest mistake, it’s a waste of money and time.

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  5. In the past I have always ignored such incidents. I would usually move away or try and avoid them but lately because it happens quite frequently (specially in lifts) I either stare back at them so they feel uncomfortable and look away or I ask them what the problem is and why they’re staring? I am also the non-confrontational type (INFJ) but recently I have learned to speak up as at times moving away is also not an option. Having said that I would still try and not create a scene if moving away is easy.

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    • That is my problem – being non-confrontational even if the situation calls for it! Lewd staring can be very disgusting and makes you mad but I would still choose to move away rather than create a scene like the lady in the train.

      Hi there, from fellow INFJ!

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