Monday, December 12, 2011

Why common courtesy is becoming increasingly uncommon

Last evening the spouse and I reached home after a long day at the office. The brat was home with his daadi. We waited at the elevator bank in the lobby for the lifts to come down, this being a building with twenty storeys, it does include a fair bit of waiting. As the lift reached the ground floor and opened, a man, his wife and his little son, who could have been no more than six came from outside the lobby, the man bearing some grocery bags pushed past me and entered the lift, his wife followed him, dragging the child with her. The spouse and me let them pass, and then entered. The man had stood near the lift buttons, pressed his floor and would not move to allow me to press my floor button, nor ask which floor he should press on our behalf. I had to actually lean across him and press my floor button which was higher than theirs.
They stood in the lift, spread out, taking up all available space. When their floor arrived, a smidgeon of delight happened when the little son pushed his mother aside and strode out first. Followed by the man, and then the woman. The house they were entering as far as we could see had a lavishly done door and lobby area.
How can I be surprised when these are the sort of children who come down to play with my son? Children who come from absolutely boorish families, where the menfolk think nothing of pushing out a lady standing patiently for an elevator, like it is a train which is being missed. Where the very concept of personal space and politeness does not exist.
These are the kids who push, fight and yell down in the playground and these are the children the brat is suddenly picking up vile behaviour from, behavior so vile that he has been grounded more often these days than he has actually been allowed down to play.
These are wealthy people. Or at least people from the upper middle class segment of society. I would assume a fair amount of education has gone into making them able to earn a living. I assume they also don't come from a mentality of deprivation that results in this push and shove mindset. I put it down to an absolute disdain towards others, a me first syndrome that seems to populate our neo riche. And I am worried what the next generation raised by these parents would be like. I am even more worried thinking that maybe, the brat will pick all these cues from his peers and not what I try to set forth for him. Have written about this on the other blog, this death of public courtesy. Yesterday was such a glaring example, so close to home that it hit me bad. Have you noticed this too? In your society, building complex? The absolute appalling behavior of the neo-rich? The complete dearth of regard, the rise of the 'ugly Indian'.


  1. What really gets to me sometimes is the total lack of common sense (forget courtesy!!). Only yesterday, the when the lift doors opened at the ground floor (I was inside), the couple waiting outside bludgeoned their way in and literally pushed me aside to press their floor no. I had to wait to get out!! So annoying - train chutt jayegi kya??

  2. Oh yes building has 14 floors and in some cases the boys who may be slightly older to Krish are very polite and ask me 'which floor aunty' and press the buttons but there are some children who are so rude that they dont even bother asking which floor and then try and tease R (may be in good nature) and then just dont wait for us to get down..push us and go out..and no its not only in the cases its even the parents :(

  3. Anonymous9:17 PM

    I am seven months preggy and the other day at a mall in goregaon, a teenage girl litterally pushed past me, elbowed me in the tummy to enter the lift.

    Me being me - asked her what the hurry was. She stared at me blankly!
    It's not that i expect some preferential treatment because i am preggy but at least dont elbow me - is that too much to ask for?

  4. This happened just yesterday at the mall - we were inside the lift. When we reached our floor, we had to walk the gauntlet of about 8-10 men on each side,outside the lift; close enough to brush us. And I blogged last year about the lawyer whose servant almsot rammed into our car and caused a crash, whose response to the incident was - I don't bear any legal liability for this! When educated people behave like this, I don't have much faith in our society.

  5. The lack of common courtesy is visible everywhere these days... esp at school where the teachers shout themselves hoarse trying to get the kids to behave while the parents continue to act as boorish as ever!!wonder what the kids will learn and if they will ever learn to be decent and courteous when their parents behave in such a manner! whether it is punctuality or the idea of shutting down moblies during a performance, waiting to take their kids home or not standing like a wall in front of the other parents to take a photograph.. i see this all the time! and wonder!

  6. All I can say is 'touchwood'. I think our bit of Pune is a tad better on this front. Thank God. Friendly strangers in the lift can kind of make your day.

  7. Hi Kiran. You have raised a seemingly small issue but it needs attention for sure. You are right,even if you teach your child to be courteous, if peer pressure says otherwise, all the efforts will be null and void.

    I think every Building society, colony in any city/ town has a Welfare body and this needs to be discussed in open, so that the needful can be done.

  8. What a coincidence. Just today, I had a very sweet moment with an old lady in her eighties who was on the lift with me. She looked so fragile and had a shopping trolley. I was behind her and when the doors opened to my floor, she asked me if I am getting out. I told her its ok. She does nt have to move. We can go to her floor (one below) first and then I ll come up again. But she insisted on getting out with her trolley, let me out and then got back in. I was so moved. But then this is Swiss. Everyone is extremely courteous. sometimes folks see people coming 200m away but still will hold the door and wait for them! I swear Im not making that up!

  9. I had a few such encounters myself here in the States with our desi junta, always! About one such, I had blogged here, years ago:

    Another recent one was at the library! Chini had signed up for summer reading program where u were required to read at least one book per week, and claim a gift every time the librarian verifies that u Actually read/listened to the book. She had just turned four, and was a very young reader. This particular time, the librarian was listening to her description of the book with keen interest, when a girl (~7yo) behind her urged her to finish up fast. The librarian politely asked the girl to wait for her turn and again attended to chini. This time, the girls mom, who ws busy socializing with the other moms at a distance, came to the librarian and said that her daughter had a class(some sorta summer activity) to attend to somewhere and that's why sould be listened to first! The librarian politely refused. only then , looking at the fuss, the other librarian came and opened another queue for the older kids. My question is, if she had another class to go to, then the mom should not have brought the girl to hte library! If she had to ( there was a story time at library half an nour earlier) , then she should hv told her daughter to come again for the book reader thing.
    We, as parents, are not teaching our kids to be patient and to manage things properly. We, in our self- imposed competetion, of being super-moms/dads are trying to turn them into super kids, forgetting the finer courtesies, so much more important than just being a know-all do-all kinds.

    Apologies for taking up so much space here, u can snip the content, if u hv to.

  10. Oh and so many more blood - boiling episodes are coming to me now. Can i backlink to this post?

  11. lilfern: Everyday. I even told one lady the other day, looks like you're confusing the lift with a local train.

    R's Mom: What is worse, parent's dont bother correcting them.

    Anonymous: That's pathetic and its what I see, the other day at a McDonald's counter a teenage or 20something boy pushed the brat aside while the brat was asking for his burger, when I went up and asked him politely why he did that, he tells me whats your problem, he didn't get hurt or anything.

    Priya: let's hope the few of us, the minority can bring up some well behaved and polite children though...

    Anu: Absolutely valid. lack of courtesy, whether carrying on a loud conversation in a movie theatre or shouting in a public space, parents are displaying boorish behaviour.

    Obsessivemom: My previous society was wonderful. This one is the opposite.

    Abha: The problem is that this is not even considered an issue. Being pushy, aggressive and snobbish are considered virtues these days.

    Boo: I want to move to Switzerland. The other day I held the door open for a mother with a small baby for quite sometime, she came into the lift, not a thankyou and turned her back to me. Maybe I live in a really rude society.

    Swati: Of course, please feel free to link back. And yes, we parents are the ones who set an example to our kids and our behaviour is what our kids follow, so first step is to watch ourselves.

  12. Oh my comment on this could turn into a mini post :).

    From road sense to simple courtesies and common sense, I have begun to start wondering why it was so easy for our parents to inculcate these values in us, but most others of our generation seem to be lacking in them ! It sometimes drives me so crazy that I tend to embarassingly point it out to the person being a boor ;) !!

    Nice one Kiran :) !

  13. hey, 1st time commenting here,love your blog!I used to get so cranky because of all this and have regular meltdowns with errant maids,bad road sense, people lacking basic manners on random hooligans on streets.Few months in US and have not lost my temper even once to all this..ppl have been so polite its unreal. I had a similar experience to B.o.o's and looked soo suprised that the kind people thought something's wrong.Well cant totally be attributed to a country thing but dont know why some people don't pay attention to these basic courtesies.

  14. on the other hand in my building, the new lot of grown up kids are pretty good. they rush to get us chairs whenever we gather in the building quadrangle. a few years ago no one wud turn an eye if i came home balancing multiple stuff in my hands

  15. Folks in my complex do hold the lift, will even ask what floor and press it for you and will wait till you come if youa re far. No need to go all the way to Swiss K, just move to Bangalore ;)

    p.s.: Then we can together lure Boo to come here too!

  16. Basic courtesy is dying a rapid death in this country. Earlier this year I was at the doctor..very visibly pregnant, trying to make the room reservations for the delivery, when this man tried to cut in line at the reception in order to make the same enquiries. IN order to make more space for himself he literally shoved me out of the way. If it had not been for the nurses around I would have fallen down. He was accompanying his pregnant wife so presumably he understood the dangers of me falling or hurting myself in any way at that stage, but just did not care. Didnt even apologise till I threw a fit. I would also see expectant fathers sit peacefully on the sofas at the doctors while pregnant women and women with small kids kept standing. I cant imagine what manners they will teach their kids.

  17. Anonymous11:16 PM

    I think this-rush to get to anything and everything-phenomenon is common in places where many people vie for limited resources. In India, this rushing past to get ahead attitude trickles down to everyday life, in places where it doesn't even matter, and common courtesy takes a back seat. I live in London, and I see the same attitude in the train and tube stations-people (brits, asians, everyone)push past to get in, I have got elbowed on my nose, I've seen pregnant women yelling for people to take care, children being squashed.
    But the too many people limited resources argument doesn't make it right! Like a friend was telling someone the other day, common curtsey might not take you ahead in life (I personally think it does), but it won't take you back either!!

  18. Aparna: I've started it too. Yesterday I actually told the pushing shoving parents that if this is the way you behave what will you teach your children.

    Disha: Maybe I should move countries too. ;)

    Chox: Ah, my previous complex was lovely. This one is full of more moneyed folks, and louts.

    Ron: So sorry to hear that. I know,have experienced this lack of consideration. When I was very pregnant and visiting the gynaec would see the men sitting happily next to their pregnant wives in the waiting room, but refuse to get up to offer another pregnant woman a seat.

    Anon: Yes, the limited resources argument doesn't make it right. Places like airports, crowding the gates doesn;t make sense, nor at movie theatres where you have your tickets and are going to get your alloted seats. Its just plan rudeness.