When I lived in Singapore, people around me used to comment on the lack of courtesy in others. There were even public campaigns on the need to show courtesy to strangers, and how important it is to have graciousness as part of an economically strong society. I learnt during those days that people do respond to messaging delivered in the right, unobtrusive manner, especially where it concerns their own behavioural parameters as compared to the most advanced societies in the world. There has always been an innate desire to improve in the minds of people.
In India, which lags behind Singapore by some couple of decades, it is no wonder that the situation is no different today. Though culturally India is supposed to be more advanced than many newbie countries, the palpable deterioration in common courtesies is there for everyone to see. Most people move on as they take lack of courtesy as a common, bearable lack of good behaviour on the part of others, nothing much can anyway be done about it. But, if one just steps back and thinks about it, there is reason to be ashamed.
In everyday life, we see that people ahead of you do not hold the door for you to follow through in public buildings, the lift (elevator) door is not kept open for you to go in, people brush you off while walking past hurriedly in places like malls but do not say sorry, waiters do not apologize for not handing over menu cards on time or bringing the food late, car drivers do not give way for you to make a turn, and people generally do not say or feel sorry for something indiscrete that they have just caused to others.
It is a pity in my opinion. Culture or no culture, common human courtesies have to be observed. I see that when I am entering my club and hold the door for someone inside to first come out, the look on his/her face is usually bewildered not knowing what to say – the simple thing would have been to say “thank you”, but there appears to be a struggle for those words to come out. Similarly, the words “I am sorry” do not come out easily at all. I recall saying these same things many years ago (in the nineties) to my wife about Singapore folks.
I believe that being in a rush or in a tearing hurry is no excuse for not doing things rightly in the right manner. It is not for other people to remember you but it is more of a common human courtesy, it is just good behaviour, that’s all. I do not know why it is so difficult, and that too amongst educated people. It is shocking to see how the well-off, educated folks behave when it comes to the strange public environment. May be they do all the things right in their work environment, but that is unlikely to be the case.
In any case, we have to learn a lot in delivering good public behaviour consistently, and that is how the youngsters are going to pick up the way to behave in public.
15th July 2012