I have been reading in copious amounts about how unsafe India is for tourists and how it is hovering above other nations in terms of lack or non-existence of women safety, thanks to some American student bloggers and their much 'socialised blogs.'

The riveting, formidable argument of whether our 'atithi devo bhava' embracing pseudo attitudes should usher an apology towards those tourists, also stirred my brain, excruciatingly.

I agree with their perceptions about our country for reasons galore, partially or wholly, but that is not imperative.

What is imperative is that, how safe are other places in the world?

Having lived in London for two years as a student, I can say that the domain of 'unsafe' entrenches far beyond the mystical land of India.

Though I am irretrievably in love with London city, I would not deny that I was witness and victim to luring eyes and racist comments and to top it all, ugly India-Pakistan feuds.

But would Britain apologise to us for that?


Even in contemporary India, it is rare that you agree to go for a casual date with a colleague or ask someone on the road for their number for that matter.

But this way of living is not alien to the foreign shores. It is what we call idiosyncrasy. That is why if an Italian guy sends across a smile on the Tube or a Swedish guy asks for your number at Nando's or an Irish says 'Hi' to you on Oxford Street, it is neither eye-popping nor discomforting. You dismiss it all as "friendly flirting" and move on.

On the other hand, when an Indian man stares, looks, or just sets his eyes on you unconsciously, you feel inexorably naked.

You ponder which direction his dirt-spattered, nefarious mind would navigate to. That stare sends gargantuan indecorous vibes that sink you down, deep.

How many of us have murmured abuses, and inundatingly, inside our heads and mouths at someone looking at us in the Metro? Or how prompt are we at shooing away an extra friendly waiter at Pizza Hut and branding him as 'cheap.'

I can't agree that a guy in the Tube or a man in the Metro would have very different intentions if they lock their eyes on someone, euphemistically put. The difference is just whether you are in the Tube or the Metro.

So let's admit it.

The difference between an Indian man's stare and a Brit or Italian man's stare lies just in the cliched vision of disparity lurking in cultures, attitudes and mindsets.

In your head, it is engraved since childhood that Western countries are ostensibly more forthcoming than however-much-modern-but-still-conservative Indians. So that also keeps you from taking advances from these 'exotic' men as perilous but tagging Indian men as filthy brainsets.

But, when a group of 10 boys block you in the upmarket area of Paddington in daylight, catapult lousy words and plaster really offensive gestures, would you feel safe?

Or when two men try to break inside your house at 3 am in the night in a swanky area of West London, for robbing or raping, wouldn't your blood freeze?

How safe is that then?

The Racist Attack

I was quivering with shock and revulsion after a British girl in her 20s yelled at me as I was waiting for my bus in King's Cross. "You f@£$T Indian, go back to your f%^&^ country." The words still echo and leave me dumbstruck when I recollect the incident, sending vile energies down my body. I am sure a white-skinned foreigner would not witness such antipathy from the xenophiles breeding in India.

On a night bus back to my rented home in Notting Hill, when a black guy came and sat next to me, I clutched tight my bag and moved a little deeper into my window seat. That's when I heard a "Hey! I am a nice guy!" and saying that I felt embarrassed would be the baby of an understatement.

How hypocritical are we in our ways? While someone abuses me on the road for being Indian, I silently abuse someone else in the bus for being black.

Conclusively put?

On one hand, we blemish all Indian men when we read dismal rape stories every day in the newspapers and on the other, our brain cells are appalled when we stumble upon the 'one in every ten men in Asia has raped' statistics.

But the truth lies just in the contradiction. We cannot generalise the identity of an entire nation by lilliputian portions of our experiences.

Just like I cant generalise my negatives in London, you can't generalise yours about India.

The positives dwarf the negatives in leaps. And that is what any tourist or student should take back to their native countries-the positives.

Otherwise, the whole world would sink in a mire of 'unsafe' and 'unfit' and all of us would have to register for Mars One's one-way trip to the planet where men come from!

Tanya Mahendru is a science graduate by chance, a writer by choice. She studied Chemistry from St. Stephen's followed by Biomedical Science from King's College London, worked with India Today in the past and is currently working with Penguin Random House.