We often look at someone with surprise if he steps aside and allows us to board a train or a bus ahead of him or when an odd adult just similes at the infant being tugged in a perambulator. Have you ever wondered why? Because, we are so accustomed to rudeness of behaviour—more so in a South Asian and Muslim milieu—a mere smile or tweaking of cheeks of a toddler by a passerby is an unusual gesture to expect.
Rude, rough and rash behaviour is built into the culture of hoi polloi who inhabit the South Asian terrain. Few have patience to wait for their own turn to get into a lift or to hold the door till a lady with babe in arms enters it or even as much as allow a child to get ahead of us in a queue.
Just look at your own self. How many times you have thanked the driver of the auto rickshaw you have vacated at markets during the course of a normal day? Did your lips even quiver to utter that 'very good morning' or walaikum assalam while you walked into the corridor to reach your cabin? You are back from a week long vacation. Try remembering how often did you stop in the tracks to stay away from the frame of snaps of a new couple out on a honeymoon. Also count how frequently others made it convenient for you get a clear shot sans others?
Is it not rare that we care to wipe the commode rim clean or press the flush handle for the next entrant into any public toilet or lavatory in the train? No doubt, no public toilet offers the tissue paper. But is it not that we carry them in our back pocket or vanity bag for personal needs.
Nothing sets us apart from others. Isn't it that we most often consider ourselves part of the 'sab chalta hai, it is India' culture?
Given the general roughness of behaviour, courtesies and pleasantries are all likely to be mistaken for naivete. So we tend to withhold a smile from the lips, merely at the thought of 'no matter how civilized I am, I cannot expect the same civility in return.” So when the last sip of the drink is over, the paper cup must be flung out of the car window, no matter what part of the town is being traversed or who occupies the sidewalk.
True, the private lingo or languages we speak among ourselves are beyond the ken of many in our cosmopolitan cities. But think of how we, while in group, have poked fun at the oldies, baldies and the rotund and the paunchy with hearty guffaws? And all this in our own lingo!
Speaking softly in public is something we refuse to learn. Nor does anything restrain us from honking horns at will and driving zigzag on thoroughfares.
You have paid for the airfare. There is no issue with the luxury of stretching the chair back and extending the legs in front as you settled down in your seat. But just a glance over who is entering into or exiting from the back row and repositioning chair and limbs correspondingly, may have won you the goodwill all around you. Imagine your own plight if those who preceded you, are deaf to your convenience.
Courtesy is not what the law tells you to comply with. It is something that emanates from the heart, manifests spontaneously. These are minor aspects of life that deserve your attention in order that the course of life is smoothened, coarse ends are rounded and rough edges are pruned. It is a marker of culture a people practice. And, as you know, culture is nothing but restraint for self and consideration for others.