When I read Michaela Cross’, the University of Chicago student, account of her visit to India I felt a range of strong, conflicting emotions. I felt angry and sad and apologetic. I felt revulsion. I felt resentment to the men who had reduced our identity to a pervert nation subjecting women to a demonic hell. But as I read through the article, I also felt let down. By a view of Indian men that paints a unilateral photo of perversion an misogyny, reducing the identity of a varied nation to a nation of rapists and eve-teasers , erasing the many positives we see around us and making us all feel ashamed of our wickedness. Because it is not just the failure of the Indian men. It is of the women too. Who have raised them and taught them. Who have loved them. Of the entire country which lets a tourist, a foreign student be assaulted while we watch silently. Of a five thousand year old culture that evaporates to leave behind a dirty residue of lecherous men. While I do not wish to play down in any way Michaela’s experiences, I do wish to put my hand up and say a vehement no to the stereotyping. Yes I have seen foreign women being harassed but I have also seen my friends rushing to help them. I have seen rickshawallas taking the unwary visitor for a ride but I have also seen an honest taximan in a worn out uniform returning bags full of dollars and expensive laptops. I have read reports of unthinkable crimes against women but I have met excellent men who are warm, sensitive and respectful. If the rapist at the hotel defines India, so do the honest taximan, the helpful friends and the good hearts who go out of their way to help visitors find their way, trying sign language where communications break down. Crimes against women aren’t a peculiarity to India. And while this no way exonerates my nation, I have faced racial jibes and harrasments in upmarket London and the well-polished America. I have not painted those countries with a uniform brush because a group of boys threw a bottle at me at Belfast or I sat cowering in a late night tube at London while a drunk group hurled abuses at me. Instead I cut through these experiences and discovered the warmth of London or the expansiveness of America. Ofcourse India is a much more difficult to fathom place. The country lives in many centuries, in several layers. And hopefully Michaela will find the strength to cut through the layers and find the gamut of experiences which together make India. Else we would be doomed to be stereotyped by the actions of a few men who are by no means atypical of a pluralist, multi dimensional society.