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The courtesy drive…

with 3 comments

Courtesy makes a large difference in life. It is a fact that I knew before, but now has been hammered into me after spending more than a year working and studying in Europe. I don’t mean to say that European behaviour cannot be faulted, nor do I mean that all Indians are louts, what I do mean is that one is far more likely to encounter a “hello”, a “thank you” or a smile in Europe than in India.

Now for the surprising bit. All Indians I have met in Europe are as courteous as their European counterparts, yet when they get back to the motherland a huge number lapse into the old ways, where they look out for themselves and themselves alone. I find it mighty surprising that despite the temporary change in behaviour, the famed ability of humans to think simply does not grasp that the same values can be applied anywhere in the world and will make life equally pleasurable.

My generation of Indians are an extremely fortunate bunch. In the last 10 years, we have probably earned more than what our parents did in 30. We have probably travelled farther and wider than the last 3 generations put together. It is a time to not go through life like a zombie, but to reflect on what is good about other places and try and assimilate them in our own behaviour. It is the essence of having a “globalised” world.Ā  A lot of people will associate with what I am about to write and therefore I think I will have a good audience.

My proposal is to have a courtesy drive. Which means, we try in our daily lives, to do the following…

1. When buying tickets/getting served at a shop, end the transaction with a “Thank you”. Sometimes the person over the counter will hear you, sometimes they wont, but when they do, I think it will be worth it.

2. SMILE!!!!! so many people seem to go around with a “my life is screwed up” look on their face, that no one feels good finally. Let the world get a glimpse of those pearlies šŸ™‚

3. If someone is close behind when we walk out of a door, hold the door open for them instead of allowing it to swing back into their face.

4. People who have the door held open for them, at least take the door and thank the other person. There are few things more irritating to the other person than them holding the door open and you walking out like a king/queen.

5. Not to act like a smartass who has to beat the lines and get things done out of queue. More importantly not to humour those who do it and then turn up with a smug look thinking they are gifts of God.

6. Keep trash to ourselves or a dustbin. This may not be an obvious form of courtesy, but I think most people would like to see plastic trash free streets. Small bits of trash can easily be carried to the nearest dustbins.

7. Get rid of the “I have to run all the time” attitude. Most of the things we do in our daily lives have enough for everybody, so pushing and shoving up a railway overbridge really does not accomplish anything.

I am sure there are many more that can be added to that list, but the general criteria (as I like to think of it) should be

1. The actions should be highly individual and possible without anyones help.

So something like “chuck out the Thackerays” will not work because you will need the whole host of current followers to cooperate for that.

2. They need to be realistic.

“Cover a puddle of water with your jacket to allow people to walk over” is individual, easily practicable but not realistic (unless you have a hell of a lot of unwanted jackets).

Most of what I have mentioned is easily practicable in India and I say this because I have practiced them, in India, whenever I was there.Also, the reason I am writing this is not to act “holier-than-thou” but because I have concrete examples of people who flout these common courtesies despite being made aware of them, sometimes in a very direct fashion.

A lot of people already do this stuff, which is great. But if you agree with me and know of people who don’t, then spread the word on. Someone may change.

Like any blogger, I would love to hear comments on this post. However, if someone plans to post a “Oh man this is India and here like this only happens” or equally whiney comment, then please dont waste our time. The “chalta hai” attitude is irritating in the least and generally infuriating and I would prefer not to hear comments on those lines. I welcome criticism, so if there is any one who feels this is a bad idea or I am putting it in a blunt manner, train your sights on me and fire away! šŸ™‚

I have firmly come to believe of late that the best mechanism for change is for each individual to look out for their own behaviour and to try and get a good deal for themselves while keeping an eye out for everyone else. Just as in the movie “A beautiful mind” John Nash is said to modify the theory of “The best for the group occurs when every member of the group does what is best for himself” to “The best for the group occurs when every member does whats best for himself and the group” šŸ™‚


Written by clueso

February 17, 2008 at 2:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Totally agree with you! I have been practicing whatever I know of this and know what? People in India treat you with respect when you say a thank you or a sorry. Ticket clerks who are generally scorffing off others will try to guide you to their best when you say a thank you or a dhanyawad. I have even tried beginning conversations with a ‘namaste’ and it does a lot good. Other than this, there are some more ‘acts i would like to add:
    Treat waiters with respect. Ask their name the first time and call them that way. Nobody likes to be called with a ‘Pssst Psst’! If you dont know their names, raise hand to attract attention.
    Apologise in crowded buses or trains to fellow passengers fo causing them trouble as you pass by. Also apologise at concerts/movie halls/plays to fellow audience who are in the same row as yours and whom you have to disturb to get to your seats. You may even wait at the door sometime for a song/or an intense scene to be over.
    I will try my hand at some more such acts that I practice myself on my blog.


    February 18, 2008 at 6:53 am

  2. @Laukik:
    I like the suggestions you made so my list got bigger too šŸ™‚


    February 18, 2008 at 9:16 am

  3. oh yes courtesy does seem to fly out of the window the moment we get back to india! the worst i feel is the way some of us tend to treat people who are not economically as fortunate as we are. Treatment given to waiters is a classic example sited by Laukik…i am sure we wont dare to behave in the same way in any of the western countries. Another really apalling behaviour exhibited by us is towards the maids who work at our homes, we often act as though we own them and tend to forget they work for the wage we pay and dont need to put with our attitude on top of all the work they do!


    February 22, 2008 at 5:04 pm

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