Although I did encounter men who stared at me inappropriately, there were countless others who in no way treated me as a sexual object: farmers and pharmacists, shopkeepers and teachers, men whose warmth, kindness, and compassion moved me in unexpected ways.

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In his hand were two tiny cups of sweet, steaming chai.

I tried to explain that we were out of small change and couldn’t pay him for the tea, but he insisted, saying, “I may be poor, but I still have a heart.” I am aware of the various threats facing Indian women and foreign visitors alike: staring, groping, stalking, and most seriously, rape.

The only possible exception to this is Goa, whose well-known beaches have become increasingly westernized.

But be aware that although it is more acceptable to wear a bikini here, you might still attract unwanted advances.

The issue of women’s safety in India has been in the news frequently lately.

Many women have expressed concerns about traveling there, and many more have opted not to go at all.

While eating dinner alone in Mumbai one night, an Indian man sitting at another table asked if he could join me.

Our conversation was interesting and I was glad for the chance to chat, but afterward he asked if we could go somewhere else for a drink or meet again the next night.

On our fifth morning, we spent three hours wrestling our way through an 18-mile traffic jam in Bihar, a state known for its poverty and violence.