We’ve written quite a bit about the plague (I think it is fair to call it that) of rape in India; the highly publicized, horrific rape and murder of a young woman right before our Yatra last December stuck it very firmly in our minds. As we’ve recounted, every paper every day while we were there had stories about rapes and attacks — stories, plural, every day. TV news covered that young woman’s death and the reactions to it very closely.
It was stunning, and terribly sad, to see all these stories, and equally so to think about what they meant to the country, to its struggle to progress, to the struggle of its people to gain more freedom and more opportunity.
In many ways, to gain things we take for granted in the West (even if those same freedoms and opportunities are not as universal around us as we might think).
The New York Times had a counter piece to the ongoing, piling-up news accounts of that rape and the many others that continue; right here, in its Sunday Review section: “The Good Men of India.” From the piece:
In most countries, a woman clambering aboard a plane with a fretful infant and turning a crowded row of six into a de facto row of seven is usually met with hostility. Here, every other row seemed larded with these women and their babies. But those stuffy Indian businessmen — men of middle management, dodging bottles and diaper bags and carelessly flung toys — they didn’t grumble. Instead, up and down the plane, I saw them helping. Holding babies so that mothers could eat. Burping infants and entertaining toddlers. Not because they knew these women, but because being concerned and engaged was their normal mode of social behavior. So, I will say this — Indian men can also be among the kindest in the world.
Women know this. When I asked my friends and acquaintances — both Indian and expatriate — about their perceptions of Indian men, they mentioned intelligence, wit and a reverence for learning. Others described gregarious partners who knew how to relax and enjoy themselves. All of them talked about commitment and caring. One said, “I love that he is deeply concerned about his parents.” An Englishwoman said of her long-term Indian partner, “He makes me feel cherished and taken care of in a manner I never experienced in the U.K.” Another said of her father, “He supported my mother through their marriage, through her job, with the kids, her health, everything.” A 16-year-old schoolgirl echoed this: “You feel safe with them. No matter what, they will see you home safely.”
Let me introduce the Common Indian Male, a category that deserves taxonomic recognition: committed, concerned, cautious; intellectually curious, linguistically witty; socially gregarious, endearingly awkward; quick to laugh, slow to anger. Frequently spotted in domestic circles, traveling in a family herd. He has been sighted in sari shops and handbag stores, engaged in debating his spouse’s selection with the sons and daughters who trail behind. There is, apparently, no domestic decision that is not worthy of his involvement.
It is worth a read.
Posted by Steve