'Doing A Responsible Job, Feel Proud,' Says Delhi's Woman Bouncer

"Several times my brother has asked me, what sort of a job is this?" Mehrunnisha said recounting how difficult it had been to get her family to accept her night shifts.

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'Doing A Responsible Job, Feel Proud,' Says Delhi's Woman Bouncer

Women say they feel safe to have Mehrunnisha around.

New Delhi:  Joking with clients and colleagues, Mehrunnisha Shokat Ali might be mistaken for any other patron at Social, a popular cafe in the swanky Hauz Khas Village.

But the intent gaze of her kohl-rimmed eyes, as she stands with arms folded on the edge of the dance floor in an all-black outfit, watching couples bob and twirl to the music, gives away her real occupation.

She is Social's famous female bouncer.

Mehrunnisha has been a bouncer for nearly a decade, and for the last three years, has done 10-hour night shifts at Social, which functions as a restaurant and co-working space seating 220 people by day, but morphs into a packed club at night.

Now Mehrunnisha is an expert in breaking up bar fights, frisking female customers, and uncovering illegal drugs.

"We decided to employ women to make sure that women customers too felt safe, and we found a great match in Mehrunnisha," said Social's owner Riyaaz Amlani, who says she helped defuse innumerable alcohol-fuelled quarrels.

"She was fierce and determined, and the rest is history," he said.

The 30-year-old's career highlights include being part of the security detail for Bollywood actresses such as Priyanka Chopra, Preity Zinta and Vidya Balan.

Mehrunnisha is no stranger to smashing stereotypes.

Growing up in a large Muslim family in Saharanpur, 200 km from Delhi, she dreamed of joining the army or becoming a police officer, but her deeply conservative father opposed the idea.

Only her mother's insistence allowed her to further her education beyond primary school.

But when her father's stock market losses forced the family to move to the capital, Mehrunnisha, still in college, became the breadwinner for a household consisting of parents, two sisters, and her elder sister's three children, besides herself.

"Several times my brother has asked me, what sort of a job is this?" Mehrunnisha said recounting how difficult it had been to get her family to accept her night shifts.

"But this does not affect me, because my mother and father have faith and confidence in me, and I know I am not doing anything wrong," she said.

Her younger sister, Tarannum, 27, also works as a bouncer at a bar in the Village. Together, they earn Rs 30,000 in a month.

They take immense pride in their vocation, spending at least an hour in the gym every day, and working through holidays.
 
female bouncer reuters

Her younger sister, Tarannum (left), also works as a bouncer at a bar in the Village.

"I am very proud of what I do, it's not an easy job," Mehrunnisha said. 
"Taking care of people, especially women in a club, is a very big responsibility."

Customers seem to agree.

"If I come here and I see a female bouncer, I feel a lot safer," said Nikita Lamba, who often comes to Social.

"Mehrunnisha is pretty kick-ass. She is good at what she does," she said.

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(By Adnan Abidi. Additional reporting by Sunil Kataria; Writing by Karishma Singh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

 
© Thomson Reuters 2017


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