Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's not just Saif!

There was a national furore over Saif Ali Khan’s boisterous behaviour a couple of months back. The press berated him for being angry and violent. And first of all for having fun noisily. The whole thing apparently started because Saif and his friends were so loud that it interrupted the people at tables around his. i agree that he shouldn’t have gotten violent and the hit the other guy. But being noisy - is it that bad? Aren’t our children left to have fun running around the restaurant making as much noise as they like just so we can have a good time? i can imagine quite a few people righteously shaking their heads in denial because their kids are well mannered!

i feel it’s not just Saif. So we should leave him alone and look around us. You are just as likely to run across noisy kids in any such place. It has nothing to do with being in a local eatery or a classy five star place. Last year, i stepped into a restaurant where the ladies at the table next to where we got seats seemed to have gathered for a kitty party. Thank God, it ended 5 minutes after we sat there. The kids they brought with them were playing a game of running around the pillars trying to catch each other. Going by the ruckus they made, they didn’t seem to mind that it was a restaurant and not a park. They are kids and kids are bound to make noise. But i was totally flabbergasted at the fact that not one of the adults responsible for them tried to control them even once! It was obviously convenient to leave them to entertain themselves no matter how inconvenient it could be for the others.

This was just an average eating joint. i’ve also seen kids running around at a plush 5-star place where you expect the people to be more cultured and understand he purpose of people choosing to be there - a quiet evening together. The whole time we were sitting there, a group of three kids (one of them even had tiny wheels below his canvas shoes!!) literally covered the length and breadth of the restaurant with the guys with wheels chasing around the other kids. And i am sure the parents, who i never got to see, were enjoying their quiet meal at the other corner of the place. And i am guessing that parents and kids have a natural tendency to find each other when it is time to go home at the end of their respective adventures!!

i cant help but draw comparison with the kids in other countries who are taught to sit quietly at the table. I am sure there are brats there too. But they seem to be fewer in number compared to how commonly we come across the opposite here. This could be because the people in general respect the boundaries of social space and I guess kids are taught to do the same.

i just want to wonder aloud - is it really difficult to nurture kids with sensitivity towards others around us? Is is so hard to get them to behave? Do we, as adults, accept this kind of behaviour because this, like everything else, “chalta hai” and who cares? Or is the answer just a shrug with “kids!! You can’t have them stay quiet at will and they will make noise”?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Follow the line, people!

When i shifted to Mumbai, it was pretty amusing to see people follow the queue system diligently as opposed to Delhi where no one bothers. In Mumbai, commuters patiently wait in serpentine queues for buses, taxi, rickshaws and lifts. Even queue up at a wedding to wish the newly wed couple!! Though i found this very funny initially, queuing up makes so much sense to me considering the number of times i have been the victim of queue cutting!

i have had people move ahead of me on several occasions with no regard to the already formed line called a queue. i think its simple social courtesy to acknowledge that someone's been waiting before you arrived and should have the right towards being served first! But surprisingly, no one recognizes that right of others.

It actually has nothing to do with whether a person is educated or not. Once my husband was standing at the billing counter of a movie theater. He was the only one there, so it was pretty evident that he is the one being served. A lady, well dressed and educated-looking, stood parallel to him and passed on a 100 bucks for a can of pepsi. The guy at the counter accepted. When my husband courteously pointed out to her that he was already at the counter, she did not even apologize for for what she did, which wasn’t obviously by mistake! (Since she did look old enough to have grown up kids, my first thought went out for the kind of manners she must have taught them as a parent!!)

Last week, i was at an airline check-in counter in Mumbai. i passed on my ticket copy and id proof to the attendant. i moved a little right to put my baggage on the weighing carousal and another lady coolly took my place in front of the counter. From then on, the attendant had to speak to me past her and pass my id back and the boarding pass while she just moved a few cms to let me take them from the table. Doesn’t that sufficiently indicate that i was being served at the counter and she should not have been standing there in the first place (no pun intended!)?

The worse happens in the ladies loo (in India)! (Yeah, sorry for spilling over the details of what happens in there!!) And it happens so many times that you might think its a norm to queue cut!! The  women who’ll stand at the beginning of the stalls waiting for a vacant one are just a minority. Most will totally ignore a couple of people trying to make a line and walk straight up to the stalls and start trying doors! Hello!!! You think we are standing there to admire the wonder of modern times called a toilet!!! We are here to do our business too and in quite a hurry at times! But how dense can people (yeah, women, in this case) be to not get it!

(i specified India earlier because in other countries the line might extend till outside the door of the toilet, but women will never step beyond the beginning of stalls. Just a respect for the privacy of people in there! And surprisingly Indians, when abroad, seem to gel into the group with no aberrations until they return to their own country!)

Even i was a little lax earlier and didn’t pay too much attention to queues. Some of these experiences have been lessons enough for me not to do something that can be so irritating to others! It seems a petty concern compared to poverty and rape problems but it just shows the level of social manners we have. i think it serious enough that it surprises me that Aamir didn't think of it for one of his episodes!! i know that’s taking it too far but you get the point - follow the queue!!