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RASHMI OBEROI | 26 AUGUST, 2014

R.I.P Good Manners!

Good Manners!


I am quite appalled by the lack of good manners and etiquette shown by people these days and more so by the younger generation. Personally I find it vexing...sometimes a little funny but most times disturbing.

It appears to me that gone are the days when our parents stressed on the importance of decent manners and well good behaviour in general. We were brought up to respect our elders...wish one and all...mind our Ps and Qs. All the common courtesies were so well ingrained in us that they just flowed out naturally. It was such an effortless duty...if you can call it that.

But now, no one even bothers to wish or even smile or even exchange any form of courtesy. Sometimes there is a ‘nod’ that could be mistaken for a strange bobbing of the head but it is so fleeting that you end up wondering if you had imagined it all.

Youngsters just walk past you...look through you and plod forward with their glazed expressions. I guess it is a wasted effort for them to even utter a word. There are no greetings of any sort from them, so you can forget about getting a ‘Please’ or even a ‘Thank You’ out of them. Making conversation or displaying good behaviour is a thing of the past. The respect that should be there for the elders appears to have disappeared like a puff of smoke.

As common courtesy, I always wish people that I encounter in the gym...be it a smile, a greeting or I nod; I do take time out to acknowledge them. Their reactions have been hilarious though... Some stunned...some left fumbling for a reply...some even giving me the ‘look’ if I am ‘OK’ in the head!! And some from the opposite sex think it’s a form of flirting...or being too forward. That of course, leaves me with no other choice but to mumble some expletives under my breath.

But over time, the ‘regulars’ have got used to this and do reciprocate back and even exchange some small talk. The same stands when I end up walking in my neighbourhood...the same faces...the same people but No! It’s unthinkable for them to even nod or wish out of courtesy. I mean really, it’s no mean feat to exchange pleasantries and it just takes a few seconds of your precious time.

My garbage man once told me that I was the only one who thanked him daily for taking out the garbage. No one even gives him a second look. Whether I am in the supermarket or a shop or a restaurant, if somebody is providing me with a service and also ensuring that he/she she carries out his/her duties professionally, I just have to thank them. It comes naturally. I am shocked by the way people talk to waiters and doormen and even labourers. People seem to forget that we are all equal and that no one is beneath you. Our social standings may differ due to the social-economic conditions but nothing else.

While standing in queues, people don’t even apologize when they step on your toes or say ‘Excuse Me’ if they bump into you. Elbowing and pushing seems to be in fashion and is rampant on the metros. Holding doors open for other people, including car doors/Speaking politely/Being a courteous driver/Sending ‘Thank-you’ notes/Giving up your seat on public transportations can all be placed under the ‘relic’ section of a museum. At most work places, I have ended up holding the door for a man instead of vice –versa or had the door banging straight into my face as most people walk off without a care in the world.

I would say I am indeed still very fortunate, thanks to my defence services background, to be privy to ‘well-brought up’ and ‘cultured’ people around who by and large follow basic etiquettes and traditions. It comes naturally to them to be more respectful and show deference to people who are not only older but as well as to ladies and everyone in general.

I know rude behaviour has become the norm but despite that I think if each one of us takes the time out to teach the young ones the importance of this; we would definitely see a positive change. My personal view is that good manners are the first mark of good breeding and reflect directly on a person’s upbringing; therefore learning good manners begins at home and should be taught by ones parents. Good manners do not come naturally, they have to be learned. A standard of conduct is essential and this ensures that people treat us the same way we treat them...with politeness, consideration, respect and courtesy.

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