India, really, really, really elsewhere, for 30 seconds anyway

While killing time surfing the web, I randomly turn on a streaming Indian TV channel and see that there is a really classy looking show going on. An attractive middle aged couple in designer outfits is walking around a plush looking house laughing and joking with their teenage son who sits at the table, being kind of sullen but hipster cool.     

It’s all really charming and I’m listening to the Hindi soundtrack seeing if I can pick up any words at all, I can’t. Then I notice English subtitles underneath and absent mindedly tune in as the mother laughs and says to her husband: “reports say that the rape victim had strangulation marks on her neck.”

He looks at her with a knowing smile and jokes that: “India’s rape crisis is proving likely to have serious political consequences.

Then the son chimes in with a smirk and points out that: “The latest victim is a 5 year old child” And the two parents hug as they all burst out laughing at his witticism. This is where my brain melts down and all of those recent articles about elements of Indian society being overly tolerant of sexual violence come flooding back. I had no idea it was this bad: this is an episode of Friends with rape jokes: I’m in a world gone mad.

I know loads of Indians, 30 % or so of my home town are Indians, my flat mate is Indian, I work at an Indian Pharmaceutical company regularly and none of them have ever said or even seemed anything like this. Have they just been acting politely out of respect for my delicate western sensibilities?  It is demented and I can’t deal with it.

Then the screen shifts to pictures of police men and ambulances and screaming women and it suddenly becomes apparent that what I have been watching was an advertisement with a badly designed low tech news ticker running along the bottom of the screen, a ticker that no one turns of when the ad break starts.

 The story has no moral, except maybe thank god my computer didn’t crash before the news show resumed, leaving me with a horrifying new understanding of just what middle class Indian culture is all about