"For me, a 31-year-old Canadian traveling in Mysore, the Dussera celebrations held less fun and excitement and more than a few anxious moments."
This is how Elizabeth C, a teacher, working and living in Bangalore, recalled the 400th Mysore Dussera celebrations.
The yearly Dussera celebrations in Karnataka's city of palaces not only attract thousands from across the country but also figures on the 'must see' list among the foreign traveller circles.
Beyond all the colourful and energetic festivities that show up on the photos and videos as memories of attending the Mysore Dussera lurks a reality that bites the tourists .
One such story is that of Elizabeth's, who was pushed, crushed and groped when she went to witness the legendary celebrations at the Albert Victor Road, Mysore.
Everything was in order initially, but when the crowd began to pour in everything went out of order and the police did not do much to help, she said.
"As the moment of the parade arrived, the standing mass once again began to swell and push against the seated onlookers. This time, the cries of protest of those on the ground did nothing to compel the police to enter the crowd, and they remained behind the fence. Suddenly, the mob of thousands rushed the barricade.
"I barely had time to scramble to my feet (losing my sandal in the process) before being swept toward the barricade. I shudder to think of what would have happened had I remained seated," narrated Elizabeth.Besides being slammed into the barricade and being rendered completely immobile, the woman had to also go through the agony of being groped by strange men amid the chaos.
"Shameless behaviour! Must I really get into the old argument of 'How would you like it if someone did this to your mother or sister or wife or daughter?' I think not," she remarked.
Raising a very serious concern that ails India, Elizabeth angrily questioned, "When hundreds of men in the same town think that this is a perfectly legitimate way to behave, I must name it a city problem, a state problem, even a country problem. Is this any way to treat a guest to India, or anyone for that matter? "
Elizabeth was pushed over the edge, and her patience was tested to the limit. But she has not lost all love for India.Despite having such a bitter experience, the Canadian not only plans on returning to Mysore to be part of next year's Dussera celebrations, but still insists that she loves the 'Incredible India'.
"As I headed for the train station on Monday, I saw a sticker on a truck - 'Love India or Leave India'. Indeed, I do love India, all my friends know it. I have chosen to leave my beloved country, my family, my friends, and make my home in this country, which really is 'Incredible India'," she said.
But Elizabeth chose to end her account on a note that, hopefully, would echo in the minds of all Indians - "How could you possibly love this sort of behavior?"
"But 'loving India' does not equal 'accepting everything about India'. How could one possibly love this sort of behaviour? There are some major changes needed in this country. Behaviours like groping women, foreign or otherwise, have no place in modern India, an India inviting those from other lands to live and visit here," she asserted.