And so we gave courtesy a decent burial….

…and didn’t mourn his death too much. Nope. Even though he was ailing, and on his death bed for a while, coughing consumptively and spitting out the red stuff with his phlegm. Nope. We didn’t mourn his demise. Instead we gave him the most dignified burial we could. Stayed dry eyed and unracked over by heaving sobs.

Okay this eulogy has been a while coming, and it comes from my observations of the zero courtesy amongst Indians today. Anywhere one goes. Of course, there are the rare few who are impeccably mannered. But the rest. Zero basic courtesy, politeness and consideration extended to others in the common environment. Things like holding the lift door open if one enters first, asking the floor and pressing the button if one is hogging the space near the control panel, allowing a lady to pass first, get into a vehicle first, sit in her chair first before being seated oneself, helping a child clamber onto something, not elbowing past, shoving to get at a counter, jerk blocking a spot in a newly opened check out line just as the other person is approaching it. Basic courtesies. They seem to be non existent now. I see it among the younger generation. I see it among my generation. I wonder if I’m being anachronistic here to even expect it. A moment to help an elderly lady negotiate a tricky staircase, a moment to hold a swinging door open for someone laden with parcels and bags, a smile and a thank you for the courtesy when someone does it for you, and more on such lines. Is it me becoming a crabbity old lady or are we really morphing into a people with no basic sense of politeness and concern for the others around us.

I’ve grumbled about this before. I see it everywhere, I get elbowed out while waiting for lifts, I see people cutting into lines, almost fist fighting for them damn 3D glasses before a movie can start rather than filing in in line and taking said glasses and then fist fighting to have them returned and their Rs 100 or whatever refunded.

One of my more horrific experiences was when I went to order and collect the school uniform for my son. The parents there were behaving like they were flood affected refugees and the chappies distributing the uniforms were flood relief distributors. I went twice. Returned empty handed. The third day I stood my ground against line cutting in, aggressiveness and belligerence and emerged with said uniforms.

And then the airportgate carrion vultures. What is the hurry folks? Will the plane take off without you? Are you going to bag window seats if you get on first? And circling the gate attendant is not going to score you any brownie point either. Sigh. It’s me. I’m morphing into a crabbity old lady ready to jab her knitting needles at anyone who doesn’t give her place on the bus. Metaphorically speaking of course, since I neither knit nor travel on the bus. I’m one of them senior citizens grumbling about things were back in my days when I wasn’t carbondated and you could drink down a Thums Up without a parent threatening to dangle you over a 20th floor ledge for ingesting a carbonated beverage. When one greeted the parents of one’s peers with a good morning or a good evening as the time of the day might be, said one’s pleases and thank yous or risked being smacked within an inch of our lives.

Were those better times, or am I viewing them with the rose tinted corneas of the past? What do you feel? Are we becoming a less courteous, less civil, less polite people? Or we were always so badly behaved? I’d really like to know.

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About Kiran Manral

Author of The Face At The Window, ( 2016), Karmic Kids, All Aboard (2015) , Once Upon A Crush (2014) and The Reluctant Detective (2011).
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14 Responses to And so we gave courtesy a decent burial….

  1. Kalyan says:

    as someone who got knocked around in the empty check in section of the Mumbai arport and again at the baggage carousel after landing I here you

    ever noticed how folks in the west or even parts of asia smile at you but at India we don’t smile at stranger

    Like

  2. Kalyan says:

    as someone who got knocked around in the empty check in section of the Mumbai arport and again at the baggage carousel after landing I here you

    ever noticed how folks in the west or even parts of asia smile at you but at India we don’t smile at strangers.

    We are a suspicious people, we are a self centred people and for all our atithi devo bhava crap, we’re a rude people.

    Like

  3. Unfortunately – you are right – politeness is so last century – it has almost boiled down to either you be rude or dont be heard!

    Makes me scared about how things will be by the time my son grows up.

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  4. I’ve noticed that those who are the first to leave a comment, leave just that one word. “First.” So have been wanting to do that but I also have more to say.
    Couldnt agree with you more, Kiran! Courtesy is dead and gone most of the time. And its cutting across and uniting generations. While behaviour in public places is shameful, dont even get me started on telephone courtesies. Calling whenever it pleases the caller, never trying a landline number first, loud ringtones in sombre places…
    “Sorry to disturb you at this time but I will not stop talking to let you get in a word edgewise so you have to interrupt whatever you are doing and speak to me…”
    Seems no one has the time to be nice. Sad.

    Telephone courtesy? And calling multiple times on the mobile when one doesn’t take a call just to check if one has received an email????? We really need some lessons in etiquette as a people.

    Like

  5. sukanyabora says:

    living in the US makes this lack of politeness in India even more glaring. not saying every soul is courteous here but majority are. parents diligently teach their kids manners,the importance of treating people with respect.
    i totally get the airport scene…dont know why people are in such a hurry. forget grown ups, i had two kids shove me out of the line with the trolley to get ahead. and the other thing i find rediculously funny is how people unbuckle their seats belts, open overhaed baggage bin, turn on their cells, stand up while the plane is still on the runway…despite announcements made by the crew…what is the goddamn hurry?? you are not the only old crabbity woman…

    LOL, good to know I have company. 🙂 We are a nation in a rush.

    Like

    • Bad Indian Woman says:

      Yes,but a rush towards what?

      It’s not like we’re pioneering cutting edge science or producing Nobel laureates every few hours.

      Most Indians seem to be in a purposeless hurry.

      They thoughtlessly cut off a car behind them even though they can see it approach and indicate.

      I suspect that all this bad behavior is probably the result of insecurity and low self-esteem, as a nation.

      I have known forty-something men who think that allowing someone to enter the elevator ahead of you is a sign that you lack cajones.

      Women, who are traditionally supposed to be better at social graces are surprisingly the worst offenders.

      The women’s rest room in my office is a sight to see at the end of the day.

      Face tissues are casually thrown on the floor, dried spit coats the side of the basin and the floor is strewn with countless strands of hair.

      Do these women leave the loos at home in a similar state of disarray?

      All this, despite signs everywhere exhorting employees to keep the restrooms clean and dry.

      We Indians are a lazy, sloppy and rude race. 😦

      Like

  6. KD says:

    I am also there with you Kiran. I find it all the more glaring, especially after moving to Singapore.

    It is sad, isn’t it?

    Like

  7. JS says:

    I wonder about this too. I console myself by saying that since there is over a billion of us there is little time for politeness- sadly, I know this may not be true. Despite our very people centric society, we can be incredibly rude to each other. How can we change this?

    I think we can at best be polite ourselves and teach our children to be polite!

    Like

  8. Harini says:

    No its true…Courtesy is dead..Truly!! I travel by AC buses in Chennai to work and let me remind you that the crowd in these buses are normally educated ones, mostly people who work in corporate offices. You should see them behave…Guys push past ladies(sometimes even the pregnant ones) to get into the bus or to get a seat..But ladies are no less…sometimes I feel guys are a teeny bit more courteous…They glare at you if you request them to move a bit or pass a ticket and will never be considerate towards anyone else who travels even if its a felow women(or pregnant women)… I am starting to think education has nothing to do with courtesy and politeness…Its mostly the posh end, well educated people who behave much worse than the uneducated lot.

    Bingo! It is the educated who are the most boorish, inconsiderate and permanently in a rush.

    Like

  9. shail says:

    I don’t believe courtesy is dead. It never was alive, so how can it be dead? This pushing and shoving in queues and trying to get past and be one up on the others has always been there. Be it movie halls, railway station, places of worship… be it anywhere, people try all ways to push ahead.
    I loved the queues abroad where people maintained a certain space between each other. No body-touching. I was also amazed at the courtesy shown while driving (at least that was so in California). In India only the exceptions will show courtesy or wait to let you go first. the normal rule is jungle law: those who can will intimidate you and push ahead. It is inconceivable to us that we be courteous and lose our chance to go ahead.
    I don’t think courtesy is something big with the Indians. Individuals are courteous, but not Indians as a whole. Nope.

    I think I grew up in a gentler time, when people were courteous. Ladies were allowed to get on buses first, children were helped up or down. Things have changed now.

    Like

  10. tma44 says:

    Totally agree with you Kiran! Forget in public places, even in corporate offices (IT co’s that I have seen) most people do not care – to make way for persons getting inside a elevator/on the stairs, body touching in elevators, jump queues in the cafeteria/tea counter!

    Matters of courtesy a simple greeting like a good morning, good afternoon is nil. In the cafeterias they are so untidy while they eat – spilling food on the tables not bothering to clear up when they leave! I am sure their parents would not allow that at home so not sure why is it not followed in the offices!!
    These things really make me mad!

    Absolutely. There is disregard for public space, for other people in a public space that is appalling. The same men who don’t think twice before jostling you in a queue would be the ones being all perfect son and husband at home.

    Like

  11. Tom McDermott says:

    Hello I am an Irish man and can tell you that In Ireland there is the same problem , people seem to be so insular nowadays – not caring or even in some cases acknowledging other people. Take driving for instance , I live on a busy road and regularly spend 5 minutes waiting to reverse out of my garden! Other drivers just pretend not to see you! We (apparently) had a ‘boom’ in the economy over the last decade and I think this lack of courtesy is linked with the affluent lifestyles ordinary seemed to adopt.That and the unbelievably shallow pop culture which has seemed to have reached an nadir.

    Tom, 39, Dublin.

    You’re completely on the spot. It is the new money and complete boorishness that seem to go together. And this ridiculous sense of entitlement and me first. Am glad (ah well, you know what I mean) to know this is a problem other countries have as well.

    Like

  12. India is surging ahead, didn’t you know? they have no time to say please and thank you.
    The most annoying behavior is in the airport. In US, they stand in line, behave. The minute they hit London (the India bound planes are usually 90% full of Indians) they jostle, move the “family boarding” people behind…I even saw a Indian guy with UK passport, sweet talk to a family with young kids to get ahead of the line. I was glad to see his friend, travelling with him, firmly refusing to do so and standing in queue. This guy cleared gate quickly, but still had to wait for the friend. Idiot!

    Totally. The same Indians will behave perfectly abroad and return to boorishness once they hit India. Appalling.

    Like

  13. Am totally with you on this. How off we Indians are on the courtesy scale becomes apparent the moment we step out of Des. I remember when my friend moved to Singapore in 2001 and was waiting to cross a lane with little traffic and was astounded when an approaching car slowed down to give her ample time – she was visibly pregnant and the driver was being courteous. In India we don’t smile at strangers, we shove and push and if you’re a woman we’ll grope you as well.

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