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It cost me 60 rupees.” Surender used to ask Preeti to meet him at a meeting point far from their homes.Dressed up in his best clothes, some cheap jeans and a shirt from counterfeit brands bought from Palika Bazaar, and wearing cologne, his priority was to plan their dates in a way to avoid Delhi’s infamous “eve-teasers,” men who sexually harass women on the street with leers, catcalls and often ironic serenades of lyrics from famous Bollywood film songs.
(Marrying within the “gotra” is one of the primary reasons for recurring “honour killing” of lovers in India.) The couple used to meet each other however they could — by bus, auto rickshaw and on foot.She lives in one-room flat in the Jhuggi Jhopri colony – a settlement developed by the city government near the easternmost edge of Delhi for poor people as an alternative to illegal slums.“I don’t really want any expensive gifts, or to go to big restaurants.She mops floors, scrubs bathroom tiles, takes out the garbage and sweeps and wipes the apartment stairs. Her employers joke about it, but it’s one way to get through the tedium that comes with spending the work day with her back bent over or on her haunches. That’s her day off, she said as she mopped my apartment stairs. She’s the first woman from her family who makes her own money.They’re from Bihar, hundreds of miles to the east, and they’re conservative.