Is it alright to open a conversation on mannerisms prevalent in India?
A car was parked across the opening in the median. The median was to allow a ‘U’ turn. Have you had this experience that you attempted a ‘U’ turn and found a car parked on the other side. In compulsion you reversed the car a little, and proceeded to ‘ U’ turn. What do you call the man who parked his car in such a way that could make the ‘U’ turn space dysfunctional?
This restaurant had about fifteen tables. In one table was a group of eight men. The sound of their verbal arrogance could be heard on all tables. They had scant regards for the rise in decibel in the restaurant. The captain made a few attempts to silence them. Every attempt by the captain and the waiter made to these well dressed hooligans only increased their volume of obnoxious laughter and chatter.
Are Indians civil beings? You may not think so, when you see a lorry, bus, and car or few scooters coming towards you in a ‘one way ‘road traffic.
Have you wondered why a seven-member family fails to consult each other on what to eat, before they enter the restaurant? Though they know the menu, due to multiple visits to the restaurant, yet, a good twenty minutes is lost in coming to a decision on what to eat. The same logic can be applied when a family of four does the shopping for cloths. How much time can be saved if they have a pre-plan on what exactly is their need from the garment shop?
Many people have no education, that talking loud over the cell phone while the co-shoppers are in a focused discussion, is bad manners. We are indulgent in methods so as to make the foreign tourist, comfortable in India. But when will we find a viable method to extend courteous behavior to fellow Indians?
I have many times been caught in the traffic red light. My understanding is that you have to wait until the light turns green. It is not amusing that people who use that road regularly show impatience by honking at you. I do not know what to do when three cars behind and beside me, give verbal indication for me to proceed. But in front of me is a red traffic light, which indicates that you need to stop. The other road users beside me claim that the cross roads are empty and after past ten p.m.. But how do I decide? Where is the reference point for the correctness in the civil behavior?
Sometimes even interfacing with people at the mobile service centre, customer counters at the bank and even a ticket counter at the multiplex can give indicators to hostile civic behaviors. You must have witnessed the construction debris that is scattered on the public road by the house owner in that area. There are invisible conspirers of civic disturbance. These are owners of cows and buffalos who let them loose to eat from the garbage cans on the roadside. Of course, these cattle are not to be blamed.
Like wise, there are two types of dog-lovers. One type, insists on feeding the stray dog near the roadside. And the others take their pet dog for a walk with a belt around their neck. The pet dog then does the dog dropping, where other pedestrians should be walking. Nobody is saying that these are law and order situations. But some effort is essential to restrict our urge to misuse freedom. One may think that they have rights to be an irritation to their neighbors, but it is their illiteracy of civic sense that is becoming evident.
I remember a time when cashier in a bank will insist to the depositor: ”The depositor should arrange the notes”. The depositor in queue should arrange the currency notes and currency should be bundled so that the notes are faced appropriately. The same side up on the currency bill and then bundled was an unwritten law, before the stubborn cashier could handle it. Internet has changed many a power posturing by such bureaucrats.
What will change the civic behaviors? Multiplexes have stopped people in the rear seat from stretching their legs and boots on the front seat. But that was identifiable. My own over night travel in inter state buses taught me a new negotiation. The seat in front would recline on my knee. The passenger beside me would like to consume all my arm rest space. Have you diffused such mannerism?
I have given my pen many times to people in the railway reservation counter to fill in their reservation form. Many a time, I wonder why not they could plan to come with their own pens. This incident has halved in number with the advent of online ticket reservation system. Now they come with ready made print-outs (hard copy) of the tickets.
Can we ever change the tradition of procession of festivals, religious rituals and even marriage functions? If you have a common ground in every locality for such private events, then they can keep clear from the roads. Isn’t it another civic need that the traffic on the road must flow without hindrance? If every civil violation can attract an appropriate fine, then the civic society can generate much-needed fund for refurbishing the civic amenities. May be some young people must sanction an association which may be empowered to monitor civic disobedience and implement politeness in behavior. Appropriate mannerism with courtesy is one of the bench marks of a mature society.
Have you heard of this new law that a fine of Rupees one thousand will be charged on you in the event of not giving way to an ambulance. Is this a civic duty or something to be imposed by the police department? Who is accountable to sensitise people to their civic duties and interactive sensibilities?
Littering and other waste disposal in inappropriate places is evidently an eye sore. If you have a watchful eye on many other unlawful irritants inside the social behaviors, then perhaps we can work towards the reformations. How do the school and other social gatherings address the urgent issue of interactive demeanours?
Can we take solace that it is not only Indians who may lack civic sense. But is it not important that we have an action plan to impact a reform? Mannerism, courtesy, demeanour must become articulated. Then reform can come by way of civic education. Until then, the famous adage,
“Be the change that you want to see in others”.