Etiquette? What is that??

An ex-Navy man and blogger, Rahul Bhatia writes on issues that touch us, be it women’s safety or terrorism — in a gentle but forceful manner. He uses both verse and prose to get his point across to the readers. I enjoy his posts for their simplicity and because they often find an echo in my own views. Widely travelled, Rahul also writes about the interesting experiences he has had during his travels, on his blog Rahul’s Blog and Collections.

In this guest post, he laments the demise of good manners and etiquette in our society. And  if anyone can authoritatively write a piece on this subject, believe me folks, it is Rahul.

Read on…

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I was browsing in the aisles of the megastore in a mall, when I heard the deafening shriek of a child. I turned to see a boy of about eight, sitting in a shopping cart with his toddler sister. The cart was being pushed by the father while the mother was picking up a stuff from the shelves. No, the child was not hurt or being scolded but was just shrieking for the fun of it. I was shaken not by the racket but by the nonchalant behavior of the indulgent parents.  I would have smacked the man for this atrocious behavior but not being the moral police, I just tried to ignore it. On second thoughts, even if I had pulled him up, I would have only been chastised for being intolerant of children!

I am sure many of you would have come across such children and groups of teenagers bringing the house down with their boisterousness. One wonders if they are unaware that they are causing disturbance to the people around or if they are deliberately doing it to attract attention. I have nothing against kids having honest fun, but not at the cost of causing disturbance to others.

It would appear that good manners, etiquette, courtesy and civic sense are all fast becoming extinct  in our society. Just look around and you will realise that this statement is true. A majority of the people seem to think that it is their right to trespass into others’ privacy, demand priority everywhere, behave rudely with everyone and act insufferably in general. Of course there are many sensible people too, but they are greatly outnumbered by the former. What is more, they even take up cudgels on behalf of their wards if someone dared to find fault with their disruptive beahviour.

In this context, I can’t but help remember the time when I was very young and had been bullied by one of the neighbor’s sons. I had come home crying, hoping that my father would come to my rescue and scold the boy concerned. I was in for a shock because after listening to my complaint my father calmly said, ‘You must learn to settle matters on your own and not come home crying like this.’ He clearly wasn’t going to intervene on my behalf. It was lesson well learnt. However over the years I have seen  many elders squabbling over some trivial quarrel between their children, and even turning them into a full scale fights between the adults!

Coming to greeting others, I remember how we used to touch the feet of all elders – even those older by just a few years — on special occasions like birthdays and festivals. I do not remember ever having felt bad about doing this or felt that it hurt my ego in any way. In fact the more blessing (not to speak of gifts!) we received the more we considered ourselves to be fortunate.  Today, this is a dying tradition but no matter. What about other forms of greeting instead? A simple ‘hello’, shaking hands, a hug, or even a friendly pat – anything to show that you are happy to see the other person, is most welcome.

How often do we find youngsters staring expressionlessly at you when they are visiting or when you visit them — even after being introduced? There is not even a smile or a hello, leave alone the traditional form of greeting! Doesn’t it make you wonder if their parents have taught them the basic courtesy of greeting at all? I am not talking here about small children, who might naturally be shy of new faces, but the older ones and the teenagers. In this regard I feel that our rural cousins are far more courteous. A courteous ‘namaste’ from children, or a ‘Ram, Ram,’ from the adults, is a welcome mode of greeting.

It is painful to see that we claim to be progressing in so many areas but do not try to hold on our rich traditions and culture, at least in matters of courtesy? If we find our traditions old-fashioned and archaic, why not follow the West at least in matters of etiquette, instead of just aping their fashions and lifestyles? For instance, greetings are exchanged even between total strangers, in the West. But we don’t even spare a smile as if giving a smile would make us poorer! A salesman or a cashier would invariably say, ‘Thank you,’ with a smile when we make a payment in any western country. But here, they would mostly act as if they are doing you a favour by making your bill.

Little acts of courtesy stay with us for a long time. Some time back, the CEO of a large telecommunications company courteously held the door open for me as I entered his office. At another time, while on a morning jog in a park in Mumbai, I had a nasty stumble and fell flat on the ground. Instantly, a young girl who was coming from the opposite direction came up to offer help. I recount these incidents as acts of kindness which have got etched in my memory.

How many of us let the ladies go first or open the door for them or offer them a seat while traveling by public transport? I once saw a young girl get up and offer her seat to an old man who was standing while travelling by metro in Hong Kong. I am ashamed to admit that in our country, I have seen even pregnant women clinging to the overhead bar while youngsters continued to sit and studiously looking the other way!

We cannot become great just by building Metros, swanky malls and huge buildings, unless we learn basic courtesies and etiquette and some civic sense. For, we are not only a discourteous and uncouth nation, but also a filthy one. Why is it that we have no regard for public property? Travel to any developed country and see how we fare by comparison. Affluence and education don’t seem to have a bearing on such matters. I have often seen people driving plush cars and throwing away wrappers and cartons on the roads, as if it was the most natural thing to do. Why do we become litterbugs in our own country? Would we dare do it in a foreign country?

And oh, I forgot to mention that we are an intolerant nation too. We are full of self-importance and contempt for others and are short on patience. The increasing incidents of road rage are a reflection of these traits. People being shot at, knifed and beaten up for minor traffic skirmishes are alarmingly on the rise.

A couple of years ago I had gone to the market in my car and parked outside a showroom. A little later I was reversing my car when a huge car suddenly turned and brushed mine. I froze in horror when I turned to look back and saw a burly man dressed in white kurta-pajama and wearing dark glasses behind the wheels. He was accompanied by a security guard with a double barreled rifle! He told his guard to examine the damage but even before he could get out, I jumped out of my car and walked to the man, admitting that I was at fault! Call me a coward if you like, but under the circumstances it was the most prudent thing I could have done, especially since I had my wife with me. Thankfully his new car had a very minor abrasion and when his guard confirmed it, the ‘god almighty’ let me off! It certainly had been my lucky day or I might not have lived to tell the tale!

I have always believed that ‘charity begins at home’. If we want to see positive changes around us we must make an effort to walk the talk before expecting others to improve.  If only we followed a few basic courtesies and etiquette, life would become a pleasant journey indeed!

 Pic on homepage, courtesy: visualphotos.com

115 comments

  1. Dipthi, thank you very much for that very nice comment and I totally agree that we have to learn a lot from the west! I I only wish we do not squander away the goodness of our own culture at the cost of blindly aping west in the name of being modern! I would any day prefer learning ethis, basic honesty and straightforwardness from countries like Japan:) You are right that children learn most in formative years at home!

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  2. firstly congratulations on your post here..

    i agree with regards to the boisterous kids and ill behaved teenagers.. i believe this comes from the way we are brought up, parents play a major role in this.. i have seen my own cousins being boisterous, fussy and atrocious at times..
    it has happened oft, that we all as family are out together or are dining together and the kids shout and sing and behave like there are no people around, nor do the parents shut them up, cause mostly it happens that the parents think their kids are just smart and loud and out spoken.. while the quite and well behaved ones are dumb..

    Living in the western world i have realised, we (indians) respect our parents and older ones more than the people do here, except for the superficial greetings everyone gives you, which is of course a sweet gesture..

    what we actually have to learn fron th western culture is., the discipline, following rules, be it even about crossing the road, walking on the right side, driving on the right lane and at the right speed, and many more, the list just goes on.. also i think the government has a lot to learn from the west., but lets not get into it.. they are a ‘corrupt lot’..

    on the whole a lovely topic., and wonderfully written, i guess you have said it all..

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  3. A very relevant post Sir. I’ve been seeing this decline in basic courtesis like what you mentioned. A lot depends on how one is brought up, how the parents and teachers influnce us and mould us and what kind of an environment we are exposed to. Sometimes its a tad irritating to find that people are not cultured enough to talk properly and behave decently, and respect others, specially elders, but they boast of numerous degrees!

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    1. Could’nt agree with you more Ashwini to find those so called educated flaunting degrees but lacking even basic courtesies:(

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  4. It’s a deep rooted menace and what’s worse is that its getting deeper by the day. Respect, love, humanity, sincerity – these values are constantly on the decline in general. Etiquette comes out from them and can still be seen – but is sadly today become more dependent on things like a persons societal status, power, name et al. And even in that case, its all fake. If we think it that way, aren’t kids actually doing a much better by keeping a straight face at least? 😀

    The good part though, is that posts like these help us tread the right track and inspire us to be the change that we wish to see in the world. Thank you Rahul sir 🙂

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    1. What you so is so true, Arti! However, the kids still need to imbibe the right things at early age so that at least the next generations are better than us:)

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      1. G.N. Balakrishnan · · Reply

        I like the spirit of what you say. The next generation should definiteley be better than us. They are excelling us so much in technology, wealth creation, etc. But the seed has to be sown now. I am quite optimistic that they will overcome this phase of irrationality in behaviour and come out successful and outstanding shortly. Let us always be hopeful.

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        1. I am in agreement with you that technology has transformed our lives. The young blood will surely take mankind to greater heights and will hopefully live with greater standards!

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          1. G.N. Balakrishnan · ·

            Thank you, Madam for your comments on my short comments. .

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  5. Nice Blog & Nice Post
    MyPenge

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    1. Thanks a lot, Virat for liking the post:) Zephyr’s blog is indeed one of the best ones!

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  6. so true .. its sad to see people loosing manners when in public specially with kids ..no doubt we have restaurants in writings “kids and pets not allowed”;D
    it all depends on the upbringing and environment at home ..so that explains all
    ..recently we were in Canada where we have maximum indian population ..on a busy road I could a an indian blowing his nose facing the traffic..Disgusting!

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    1. It is unfortunate Harman that we take such serious matters so lightly. That is one of the reasons that we cannot command respect from outsiders:( There is no end to disgusting habits on display even in the clean foreign environs by our fellow countrymen!

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  7. I had the misfortune of dining at a buffet restaurant over a weekend stay at a hotel in Fujairah recently. There was a group of young Indian parents there enjoying their meal, while their children made it impossible for anyone else in the restaurant to enjoy their meal in peace. Running around , playing and making loud screeching sounds. Even the waiters and attenders were feeling restless and helpless. The kids were aged between 6 and 10. It is difficult to handle them, I agree, but we should try not to create inconvenience for others as much as we can. The torture lasted for almost an hour. We had no other option or else we would have walked out of the place. It was that late in the night!

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    1. I am sure Jyothi that there is no end to such woeful tales of sad experiences! A little bit of decency at least in public places makes the life so pleasant!

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  8. Thanks for your link and post. In India we are, very wrongly, not aware to the dangers of ‘noise pollution’.

    P.S. Glad to know you are an authority on “women’s/ wives’ terrorism” – my favorite topic as a victim ! 😀

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    1. Welcome here Surindernath 🙂 We are not aware of a lot nuisance that we knowingly and unwittingly create! As for the ‘terrorism’ part, if you’d only read the L&M and Brats series, you’d know who is the one being terrorised 😀

      Would love to know where you found the link to my blog!

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      1. I must have found your blog from at some common blogger’s site but from where exactly I don’t remember. That is my routine.

        .I am most of the times flippant, frivolous and fresh. So no offence ! 😀

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        1. Welcome to the club, Surindernath! I discover blogs the same way and some 😀 No offence taken at all 🙂

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  9. Thanks a lot Raju to have found resonance of thoughts:) Actually, the world around us would be a beautiful place notwithstanding the individual problems. The poorest in India are more forthcoming and generous in spreading a smile unlike the city bred well heeled people!

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  10. I cant agree more with what Rahul says about some parents just ignore to how their kids behave in public.
    http://www.thoughtsofpaps.com

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    1. A big thanks PAPS for your comment! They ignore when it is time to correct them but complain when it is is too late!

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  11. Trust Rahul Sir to do full justice to such an important topic like this! I totally agree with all that you have said here and it is so important to bring up/write about this. As time goes by we have become less and less tolerant and indifferent to people around: be it respect/greeting to our elders, decency/courtesy on the road or a public place or just a casual smile/hello to someone we meet for a brief period.

    As you rightly pointed out, we, who draw so much inspiration from the western world on so many different aspects of our lives, fail to copy/follow/instill these very good etiquettes/practices from our western counterparts. And none of these good manners cost us one little bit. Our lips don’t hurt to throw a little smile to a fellow human being. All it does it makes us and the other person happier and who knows a friendship may ensue and what not. A very important post and very well written. 🙂

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  12. With millions of us vying for the same roads, space, seats, opportunities, it becomes a battle for survival of the fittest. We push, we shove, we abuse, scared that good manners might be misconstrued as cowardice.

    But I feel if we observe or experience bad behaviour, it is our duty to let the other person know that such a conduct will not be tolerated.

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    1. That is exactly the problem, Purba! The lack of patience and being disciplined being construed as cowardice! Am sure with your experience in Brisbane currently, you could vouch that being well mannered,cheerful, and greeting others help in the overall environment of happiness instead of fear of being roughed up in traffic, molested in buses and metros, and a host of other unpleasant experiences daily:(

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  13. Mannerism and etiquette should come from heart and that happens only parents teach such things from the childhood. I have a niece and a nephew who are superficially nice to outsiders and sit on their ass when their old grandpa doing hard work! I dislike fake courtesies.

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    1. Absolutely true, Kusum! Most of these things are learnt early in life and stay with us for rest of the life! There is always a difference in doing things with a genuine good intent or being superficial and faking it!

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  14. G.N. Balakrishnan · · Reply

    The fast deteriorating standards of our manners and etiquettes has been portrayed excellently. Modern youth believe that the Nation is on a fast track and cannot afford the luxury of courtesies and niceties. Even in places like Madras, where I reside, youngsters occupy the seats reserved for women or the aged in the public transport and do not vacate and as rightly said, they look the other way. What is worse, the bus conductors also turn a blind eye. Touching the feet of elders can only be seen in movies and in actual life, I will be a fool if I expect such kinldy gestures from youngsters. We, the senior citizens are looked down upon as standing in the way of modernising and advancing social values. Young girls are molested and even college authorities turn a blind eye to ragging of the worst type. But I am still hopeful that before long good sense will prevail and this is only a passing phase moral turpitude.

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    1. A lot of things are now being accepted as a part of being modern! However, according to me being modern is to learn the right things especially in areas where we fail miserably, discipline, cleanliness and honesty among others:)

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      1. G.N. Balakrishnan · · Reply

        I entirely agree with you. To a great extent, I should say, we are all very much disciplined, clean and honest as these traits were inculcated by our parents right from birth. Unfortunately, at the present juncture, we cannot put the blame for lack of these qualities on the parents, as they are perhaps forced to seek employment to maintain a particular standard of living, leaving the children at the mercy of paid ayahs and mushroom growth of creeches and nurseries. Still, I feel, if there is a will, there are always openings available.

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  15. Zephyr, good to visit your blog today and enjoy the past posts!Rahul, thought provoking post, I make it a point to teach values everyday in bits and pieces to my maid, she is learning a lot and showing growth, she in turn goes and teaches her family members, I feel gratified!

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    1. Nice to see you here, Padmaja. Hope you liked whatever posts you read 🙂 We have to start somewhere to spread the message and I am glad you have in your own way.

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  16. I don’t understand it either. It’s like an anti-social generation was born with computers and the Internet. I hope your voice is heard and more acts of kindness are offered for our future. 🙂

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    1. Welcome here Angelia! I agree with you about computers and internet making children identify more with the virtual than the real world. But yes, there is goodness still in the world and we can hope it will spread, as one of the commenters has said 🙂

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  17. Pratibha, we may be in minority but then doing what you feel is right is any day more important than trying to please people even for wrong acts! It was nice to know there are people who still cherish the right values 🙂

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  18. Pratibha · · Reply

    Thanks Mr. Bhatia and Zephyr for this post.

    I am a teacher by profession and am not able to take the ‘cool’ behaviour of students as well as some of my colleagues. I know i am in minority. I was astonished when a student told me that ‘I was not cool’. When I narrated the incident to my children, I was told to ignore it and continue with my act of correcting them when they go wrong in things other than academics too.

    I colleague of mine was not keeping well and had to arrange her class room and the records kept in her class cupboard. I offered help. Can you believe! She told me, ‘Dont come to my class, otherwise you will check the students on their language, etiquette and will be a pain for them’.

    Like you, I too feel disgusted with the lack of basic courtesy and manners in children as well as adults. To top it they claim to be moving ahead in life and advise me to move with times. According to them I am an outdated obsolete human being.

    Thanks once again for making me feel normal.

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  19. Rahul, I agree with you on all the points you mentioned. I too have seen children behaving badly not just in malls but also in temples, what irritates me is that the parents make no move to stop their child. They just turn a blind eye to it.

    Yes, some teenagers don’t even adopt the basic courtesy of smiling when introduced. They kind of look through the person. Their reaction is weird.

    But, I am also seeing some people coming out to help other people. So, etiquette and courtesy are not completely dead. There is hope still.

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    1. Thanks a lot Rachna for that comment. I know that the chivalry is not completely dead and there is hope:) Zephyr has retrieved your message even before I could raise the flag!

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  20. Why blame the kids? It is honestly what the adults teach them. And unfortunately that is the example adults give them.

    Thank you for writing on this wonderfully relevant topic. You have just aired some of my personal grouses against…well, a lot of people today.

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    1. True why blame kids when the failing is of someone else! Thanks a lot Ashwathy for your comment!

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  21. I read your post and enjoyed the Beethoven’s composition too!Bonn is a lovely place to be in and you have seen the difference between the two extremes as mentioned in the post. Sad it is, but running away from reality does not help and corrective timely measures could bring about the change!

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  22. Here is a post I wrote some time back reflecting similar thoughts. Felt like sharing it:

    http://lifesorchestra.blogspot.de/2011/11/back-to-square-one.html

    unfortunately, everything mentioned in the post is 100% correct and it hurts me to see our next generation growing up on such a different set of values.

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  23. well said Rahul and indeed a thought provoking post !

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    1. A big thanks, Priya that you liked the post!

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  24. Beautiful writing that I can so recognise and relate to, I enjoy Rahuls writing and am happy he got the opportunity to be a guest blogger here.;)
    xoxo

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    1. A sincere thanks, Zuzana for that nice comment and am happy you could relate to a few things in this post!

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  25. Divya you are a very considerate mother to act as per the situations demands:) With kids of 2-4 years of age it is tremendous fun to spend time and enjoy their innocent acts!This post was more about older ones and those who are very old and did not learn the right things:) A big thanks to you for your very nice and kind comment!

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  26. It is for parents to instill values and manners in children. And I think the earlier it is done, the better (of course doing it by example is the best). But now that I’m a parent, I see that is a big challenge. 🙂
    When our little one was a baby, we didn’t go out much, because we didn’t want his crying to bother others. We’ve seen people (not accompanied by children) throw evil looks at parents when their kids cry and we didn’t want to be in that painful place. For around 2 years we never dined out and I missed the homeland that is more tolerant of crying babies. 🙂 I know this is a little off -topic. You’ve clearly left little children out of this discussion of discipline. It’s some of the other comments that made me put this down.
    Coming back to the challenge part — I’ve found that sometimes we have rules for our kids (like no spitting anywhere other than the wash basin) and then they play with kids who know no rules and they get influenced…:(. This is so tough. Sometimes I don’t how to take it from there. Zephyr, advice please. 🙂

    Mr. Bhatia, I think all parents should read this post and think about it and do the needful.

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  27. Saru, in nutshell it is all a matter of upbringing and this as what I have felt all along! Spare the rod and spoil the child may lead parents to courts now a days:) Not that I advocate capital punishment as I never got one but firmness is all what is needed!

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  28. West is more well behaved. I have never seen a child howling in US. No, I have but the kid was Indian. I think we are aping and following only what they wear, use etc. You are right, if I meet any Indian in a lift, he/she will look away or behaves as if you are Mr India (invisible, I mean) but Americans are so warm and courteous. I honestly feel there is a problem in upbringing. Also, I am very proud that my younger brother who has studied and is modern to the extent of being modern, is so down-to-earth and touches the feet of elders, even if they happen to be family help. And the credit goes to our parents. 🙂

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  29. inducares · · Reply

    You have encapsulated what we see around us every day.I think it is the parents of these children who are at blame.There is too much of licentiousness & too little discipline.To make matters worse,the ads on TV project children as precotious & disrespectful of adults.Children think it is smart.

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    1. What appears to be smart and street smart today can spell disaster tomorrow, Indu:( That is what is bothersome

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  30. now a days i often see people asking their grown up kids “uncle ko namaste karo”…..and this sounds so bad to me…..i mean why one need to be told always to say namaste to some one who is supposed to be like uncle………

    i feel earlier when there was joint family concept these things used to come as habit bcoz every elder of the family used to teach these basic etiquette to the children in that family but now when kids are staying only with their parents, that too both are working and they seldom have time to spend with their kids and teach such things to them……..

    A thought provoking post Rahul Sir.

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    1. Exactly, Irfan! Why teach so late in the day! In joint families people learnt many more things and I agree with you 🙂

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  31. It’s as if everything in my mind has been put down here, and I am not kidding! Perfectly addressed Rahul. Etiquette is a dying art, I’d say. All I hope is to teach my kids, what I’ve been taught – a basic sense of respect to everyone & everything around you.

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    1. A huge thanks Nirupma and your words are so reassuring ! I am sure you will raise your children very well and they will do you proud:)

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  32. More than etiquette, it is the festering rot in our cultural fabric that manifests itself in our demeanour.

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    1. Etiquette and many more things being constantly ignored has lead to the cultural rot USP! I fully agree and I believe parents can only correct without blaming everyone around!

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  33. I totally agree with you. Nice post Rahul, and thanks Zephyr.

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    1. You are welcome Rama 🙂

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  34. this topic is something which i am really scared of. somehow being a working women,staying away from husband, i let my kid stay with her grand parents. thought i thought it would teach her good manners, it is doing adverse.

    in my case grand parents are teaching her few things which are just not tolerated by me. it is as simple as teaching Bunty( my daughter) call me Mummy instead of amma. to letting her have what ever she wants, even mobile phone or my lipsticks and give an excuse that she is kid, or else she will cry.

    i tell them that, let her cry and learn it that she will not get even if she cries or please teach her good words instead of teaching her bad words.
    but it all goes in vain.

    yes, now u can ask me or tell me that, why dont u talk to them? or convince by telling ur husband all that..

    let me explain it doesn work.. it in fact bounces back saying, ” i have raised 3 sons, all well settled etc etc”. or we are here like servants taking care of ur kid, now dont teach us how to raise etc etc..

    so i end up doing the correction and remolding part in weekends..

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    1. I fully understood what you wanted to convey and all I can say is that sometimes the grandparents overindulge which may lead to problem for parents. Also,the modern day parents face a different set of circumstances than what their elders faced. So one has to strike a balance!

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  35. I remember when we were kids my parents would make sure that if someone came to our house, we went and paid our respects to them sit for a few minutes and then excuse us if need be.

    I am shocked sometimes when I visit a house and the kids don’t bother to say hello even, I feel it’s the fault of parents to not teach good etiquette to their kids.

    I do think that parents these days are not taking the pain and responsibility to teach the kids.

    I find it rude if kids ignore you when you go to their house I have stoped visiting people.

    Good post sir.. it is sad that we Indians are turning out to be like that as one comment above I go for a run in morning everyone says hello other than Indians. And then we wonder why Indians don’t help each other especially abroad.. I have so many stories to tell..

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    1. Bang on Bikram! This is the gist of this post:) I hope more people understood this and learnt this from people all over rather than being proud of things which they should actually be ashamed of!

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  36. Rahulji. you have raised a good point of etiquette and perhaps more importantly, care and sensitivity to others. I note others have already commented on this extensively and beautifully so. So forgive me, if I am going to play devil’s advocate here (not because I dont agree with you but rather to provide variety in discussion here)

    My Guru is Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) and as they say, being around your Guru teaches you a lot. Amma has the habit of inviting kids to come to the dias and sit her as she sings bhajans or gives spiritual discourses. That evening was no exception. Amma is usually accompanied by her senior disciples and a popular one is Swami Amritaswaroopananda–a big teddy bear like swami that many of us called Big Swami.

    Kids, on that particular evening, seemed to be quite intent on playing with him while the poor guy was trying to translate Amma’s malayalam speech into English. Amma was not helping matters by speaking endlessly and then turning towards him, wondering why he was not translating spontenously. At a certain point, Big swami gave up and became quite upset with the kids tugging and nudging him. Amma looked at him amused, teased him for a bit and started laughing as she calmly resumed her discourse–the kids all around playing and tugging and fooling around.

    What we witnessed was so powerful that we realized that all noises and irritations around us are opportunities for us to become more centred and more internal. Since then, although I do get irritated by numerous instances of lack of etiquette as you mention, I have learnt to compose myself by asking myself how will Amma react in this circumstance?

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    1. A lovely perspective Bhavana! What you narrated is letting oneself loose , but not at the cost of others! I am as much fun loving and playful and not so serious type as it probably appears to you! However, being rude to women, lack of civic sense and indulging in molestation, jumping traffic rules etc do not unfortunately fall in the same category!

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  37. You are bang on, Rahul! The basic etiquette, courtesy, manners are simply missing from the kids now-a-days! And the parents are to be blamed for that!

    Our son went to a boarding school this year. We met his friend (11 yr old) in the building lift a few days ago. He asked about Aaryan. My husband informed him, “We will be meeting Aaryan next week so we will make him speak to you over the phone.” A few days later, the kid sees my husband in the park and yells out loud, “Uncle, aap mujhse mera phone number le lena!”

    We were shocked and disgusted at the same time!!

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    1. Shilpa , I think everyone has a story to tell which is more hair raising than the previous one when it comes to witnessing lack of courtesy, kindness etc . Some thing has surely gone wrong somewhere which needs urgent attention!

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  38. Agree to every single point here. CHildren and the so called youth do not know how to greet others other than their friends. A greeting will just get blank looks. Maybe it is the computer culture. Too much sitting in front of the comp or PSp etc may be making them morons.
    Here in Bahrain when I go out on walks it is the British who will greet, locals ignore and for fellow Indians, I do not exist

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    1. Very well said as observed in distant Bahrain too! Bhagyashree at least you live in a place which people love to call their own whereas we sing songs of patriotism with least concern to make a better place to be proud of!

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  39. Hi Rahul

    I am in full agreement with every one of your observations. Selfishness and Self-Centred-ness is very deep-rooted in our society today causing all of that. As Rachna said, when you see people outside the country you realize how much is missing and I fully agree to your statements …”For, we are not only a discourteous and uncouth nation, but also a filthy one.We are full of self-importance and contempt for others and are short on patience.” Hard hitting but very true!

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    1. Thanks a lot Jaishree ,and who knows better than you staying in Singapore, one of the most civilized places 🙂 Wish things change here for better!

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  40. An incident I still shudder to recall is one that happened over 10 years back. It was a Sunday morining in an upscale bookshop at South Mumbai. It was quite empty and I was browsing when a woma and her 4 year old child came in. The child proceeded to a bookshelf, started pulling out books and tearing them to shreds. When a store employee rushed to intervene, the mother stopped him and said, “Let him do it. He needs to work out his excess energy. I’ll pay for the damages.”

    I wonder what sort of a teenager that child has grown up into.

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    1. All the rowdies, mischief makers and the arrogant lads you come across are the first cousins or relatives of this young brat you met many years ago, Sudha! Thanks to her mom we have their population multiplied many fold!

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  41. Can’t agree anymore Rahul! You are right and well highlighted the issues rising at uncertain manner… We are very poor at giving respect to elders and have a mind for others sense and property. There are few children in our apartment and whenever they play or ride the bicycle around the buildings they shout from their deep throat and scream all of sudden like someone fall to dead… when they are around afternoon nap, it would be horrible and no one could sleep at peace. Sometime mom goes out to scold them… but somehow I support them as if it is their right to play. When it comes to children, its parent’s responsibility and they only have the tool to shape their behavior and mannerism.

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    1. You said it all Jeevan! Only some time is what is required to be spent with children to mould them in the right manner:)

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  42. I have all the reasons to agree with what has been stated. Very recently I went to prostrate before one of the Shankaracharyas and there were very many people to follow me. To my utter dismay the pontiff continued to converse with his aids and some times put on a rock like face. Forget about any smiles over there.

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    1. Sad indeed:) At least the holy men should be above all this!

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  43. Thoughtful post- and I agree with most of the points you have raised. Not all, but yes, many children seem to have forgotten their manners nowadays. And along with the other reasons, one reason is that they consider themselves the ‘entitled’ generation.

    A personal experience- I have some difficulty in walking and use a cane. Once I was walking along the street when a young girl came striding along and bumped into me.

    ” I was talking on my cell-phone and did not see you”, she said,”why didn’t YOU move out of MY way?”

    Let alone apologising, she blamed me for her bumping into me! I was speechless! 😀

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    1. Yes, Manju. Why didn’t YOU move out of the way? Shocking.

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      1. Ha ha! Yes, shocking indeed. 🙂

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        1. And did you say sorry to her? 😀

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    2. Have you seen the latest ad of a leading tyre manufacturer where a man is crossing the road with a toddler in pram and talking incessantly on mobile phone while a couple is crossing on mobike! In short no dearth of idiots is the message:)

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      1. To top it, he asks the couple ‘Andha hai kya?!’

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  44. First the parents should respect other people in front of their children. They will follow it. I don’t let my children order my maid. I ask them to call her by name not ‘thaayi’ (means servant).

    I was surprised to notice unknown people smiling at us broadly when I visited UK. I am used to keeping a serious face always because nobody smiles back here if we smile at people. After a couple of days, I had a smiling face always and was very happy about it.

    I agree with all the points you have quoted here, Rahulji. Is it the fast life or frustration causing this change in our attitude? Nobody has got time to spend with the children to teach them good manners nowadays. All are in the ‘running’ mode. How can people be happy if they don’t feel happy from the inside?

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    1. The low levels of tolerance and the ‘hurry syndrome’ are primarily the culprits! Your last line says it all, Sandhya that to be happy inside is the basic requirement!

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  45. On the one hand I would tend to disagree… but then I realise that the circles I operate in are very civilised and hence may not be an accurate sample of the census.

    Perhaps there is an observation I would tend to note here:

    Some youngsters, born with a silver spoon, are quite haughty. There is a bored look in their lives that doesn’t change unless they have people they know around. This haughtiness is not so much a facet of bad upbringing as it is of insensitivity. These children have been proxy-raised by nannies and grandparents, as their working parents have substituted money for being there for thse kids. Such children then create their own circles of interest and it is nigh on impossible to get them out of there, and they resent such intrusions.

    Yet, youngsters these days who are getting exposed to the world are also becoming well behaved – not because of any firmness from their parents and teachers but the old whipping boy of peer pressure. If one member of any circle is well behaved, soon all are. They’ll speak in low voices at coffee shops, help aged people cross the road, help out in accidents and spills, and not be a nuisance overall. These are the kids who are coming into a majority these days. One must be thankful for the small group of influencers who create such circles of goodwill.

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    1. Who would not like to be in the company of kids and that too well behaved ones! As long as the radiance is shared all like it! Wish the good company around you gets contagious:)

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  46. I would prefer honest reactions to false courtesies and etiquettes.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Honest reaction like kicking the back looks like the answer:) Is it?

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  47. Rahul, you have touched a raw nerve here. I found myself nodding to everything you said. Being a mom, I feel even more disgusted when I see other parents let their kids ride roughshod and then grin and say, “bachche hain.” I am all for childish naughtiness and deep belly laughters but misbehavior in public is a no no. And trust me the problems exacerbates because they are pampered and spoilt a lot during their early years. Later the kids become so set in their habits, it is difficult to break free. And, yes etiquette, I am sorry to say that Indians are the worst behaved on this planet. When I went to the US, I was blown away by their courtesy. People smile and talk to you on the street even when they don’t know you. Making small talk is such an endearing part of their culture. They smile and offer you service. People mind queues. I’ve had strangers opening doors and pushing my carts sometimes. When I was pregnant, everyone around me was so caring. Pedestrians have the right of way. People politely stop and let you go. I can go on and on. In India, it is sheer madness and rampage and our educated types do not stop short of abusing or intimidating a woman driver. I have faced “God Almighty” situations many times. Since I lived abroad, I find it even harder to adjust to our uncouth and uncivil behavior here :(. Kahan hain sanskar, kahan gaya shistachar? What a great post, Rahul, truly!

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    1. Rachna I am feeling on top of the world with your comments and double kindness to link it on FB .Every place I traveled I came across politeness in abundance but for in our own country ! Worst when well read and educated elite indulge in rude and deplorable behaviour!

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  48. I agree on some accounts. We are going backwards and I fail to understand why we have a partial vision picking up only what seems suitable.

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    1. I am happy that you agree on some accounts! Unfortunately in a small post the plethora of issues which we are saddled with is a tall order to address:)

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  49. This is the urgent need of this generation of parents children. Here most of the blame stops at the parents door.

    Ignoring children’s tantrums,and tolerating their unruly behaviour, indulging in encouraging them to show off, what have you. Ills of familial atmosphere.

    When children misbehave in public places, I would have at least given a dirty looks to parents, and mumbled about the children to myself a little loudly, wishing that it will shame them :-).

    Once while travelling in second AC , there was this over charged kid about 5 years, making hell of a noise and mouthing all those elderly type of conversation, which was loudly appreciated and encouraged by mother ( IT Manager), and other relatives. It was impossible to even read or listen to the cell-phone. When she saw , I was not giving her “bhav” she simply came over and snatched the book from my hands and “yeh kya pad rahi hai”? . I was shocked and gave her a stare and told her not to do that. And as usual, the mother and others were indulging the girl ! Tiresome.

    I find parents have the habit of airing their grievances against their friends and relatives,freely in front of the children, and they react , by ignoring those people when met. I feel this reflects the parents opinion of those people.

    We are a filthy nation, and it gets worse day by day. Education and affluence has nothing to do with it. Kindly see the efforts in Bangalore and how it is facing hurdles.http://myrootsmywings.blogspot.in/2012/10/cut-crap-275365.html

    A wonderful post. Zephyr, this needs to be read by many many people. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks a lot for citing those examples and am sure no one likes such atrocious behavior in public places. I agree that we need to watch what we say when children are around if we are to set right example. I read your post on the need to clear the filth before the things go out of hand! No wonder dengue strikes with impunity in Delhi, every year!

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      1. Thanks for reading my blog Rahul!

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  50. what you have written is so prevalent here, but the best is your ending…if all those who read this follow the etiquettes and teach to their children too, atleast we shall be creating a well behaved community..are we doing it?

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    1. Like many things we tend to do things half hearted most of the time or else give it a miss all together, Renu, barring few people!

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  51. Rahul, so great to see you here, and with such a wonderfully relevant topic. Zephyr’s email alert and yours came at the same time and I wondered, same title! Only to be delighted to find that you are the author.

    You raise such serious points – and I am totally with you in feeling awful about courtesy being done away with by adults and children alike these days. Just this morning, when I was returning from dropping Vidur at school, I met one of the teachers at the gate and automatically bowed just a little and wished her a Good Morning. She immediately drew me aside, put her arm around me – and said – what a pity that we have to talk about “our days” even when it comes to natural courtesy. She was musing about how children just brush against and past the teacher in the corridor or staircase with nary an apology or even a sheepish look.

    I’ve met people who will not smile back when they are smiled at and I wonder how difficult can it get to just respond with a pleasant expression. And road rage? Oh! Shudder! These days most people simply don’t care about others. Even when one helps someone, say, at the supermarket, there’s not a word of thanks.

    But on the flip side, I’d like to share a nice (surprising) thing that happened yesterday. I was returning home from school like every other day and waiting at the traffic lights when my scooter went “off”. I tried starting it but the ignition was totally dead – which meant kick-starting it. No big deal and moving to the side of road, I hoisted it on its stand and started kicking it. It was some effort because I am so used to the auto-igni. Suddenly, it seems like a guy materialized out of nowhere because I certainly didn’t see him approach me. He asked me if I needed help, and I must have looked so flustered – it was so warm already – I gladly said yes. He actually told me to step aside – and had a go at the kickstarter – and the bike started up. Then just as I sat on it, it went off again. The guy patiently started it again, and walked off with a smile – before I could offer him a lift to where he wanted to go. I just couldn’t see him after that! I swear I fantasized I met God. Indeed, I had. I went home feeling very happy.

    This is one of those very rare occasions these days, though. I rarely see anyone get up on the bus to give up their seat for an elder or a pregnant woman. They just sit tight and look vehemently back at you!

    Great read, Rahul. Thank you.

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    1. A big thanks Vidya, that you clubbed me with Zephyr, knowing well that there are no parallel:) Also, I agree that the goodness does go around and you find people come from nowhere in times of need to support the one’s who are kind so these god incarnates do come to rescue!Incidentally, we too wish the teachers of our daughter who once taught her when we meet them:)

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  52. I too was going with the flow untill I went abroad (doesn’t mean I was a part of it). Believe me, the difference is so naked when you come back. Small things like someone using his whole hand to open a glass door leaving his imprints on it when a handle is available started irritating me. Honking, spitting, people running to cross roads, people taking children for an adult only movie, running to occupy a seat – these are some of the things which make me believe that we are going backwards.

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    1. Amit, it is the sense of belonging that is amiss! Only the confines of one’s house is what people bother about:(

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  53. very well written…..the etiquette is def.ly lost…..in the wrld of big salaries and smaller mindset….out of comparison..u give ur child everything..i remember studying day and night for a music system which had a CD player……when i got it i was thankful that whole i helped my mom o clean d attic :P….my son got a PS3 last yr …..all i got to hear was “u didn’t the right games”

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    1. Wish materialism and basic goodness live hand in hand!When the rest of the world can do it why not we?Also, as you rightly mentioned, Renu, the possessions are being taken for granted instead of being valued!

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  54. Very well put, Rahul! I have witnessed such incidents too. Parents these days spoil their children and then lament later!

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    1. There is hardly anyone who would not have witnessed such instances, unfortunately! Only wish we see less of them Giribala!

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  55. Such a familiar scene in Delhi/NCR ….sadly etiquette, grace and humility – all three have given way to aggression, boasting and rude behavior.

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    1. Thanks Alka, and things are no different in other parts of the country and bigger metros! Unfortunately, up north it gets mingled with the tendency to show off and loudness that makes it a dangerous portent leading to aggression, boasting and rudeness as you rightly mentioned!

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  56. Couldn’t disagree to anything that Rahul has pointed out. I have experienced the teenager greeting many times. Most of them don’t even bother to say hello and are engrossed in their cell phones either texting or FBing. When we were kids, we were made to wish ‘namaste’ with both hands to visitors at home, and we would curse our elders each time we had to do it. But now, I can do it easily without any problem to any elders. Yes, small things go a long way and makes a difference. I strongly believe in it. True that we have to instill these values right from the childhood. There is a saying in telugu which means, ” If you can’t bend a plant, you can’t bend it as a tree”. Thank you Zephyr for having Rahul ji over here for this much needed post for all of us as a reminder.

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    1. Latha, thanks indeed for all those kind words. That illustration of bending a plant is just apt. Also, such well nourished plants only get laden with fruit for all to enjoy and also provide shade to the needy in later years unlike the stiff palm trees which keep the fruit distant and provide no shade!

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  57. I remember from school that the words ‘Sorry’, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ were the necessary lubricants of social intercourse. Seems to me that, currently, people prefer to have their social interactions unlubricated. Maybe they have taken that ‘Squeaking wheels get oiled’ ideology too much to heart 🙂

    The problem also is that most people – particularly urban – see nothing else as valuable but for money, power and status. The richness of social relationships is something that has become totally devalued in their minds. When regard for neighborliness, friendship, affection and love is at its nadir is it surprising that the behavior that will foster these relationships is becoming scarcer by the day?

    That said, I must also mention that I have seen youngsters who still have the values that we cherish – and I cherish them all the more for the fact that such people are so rare!

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    1. Suresh, the lubricants of a nice manners, and courtesies go a long way for a trouble free journey of life. The number of people who value this is fast diminishing in our part of the urban world and the law of jungle is being happily embraced, instead.

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  58. We have given up on our traditions, tehzeeb and sanskar but are not even embracing the civility and good manners of the west, as you have rightly pointed out. Neither the votaries of Western culture nor the devotees of Indian traditions find it important to imbibe the good values in them. Instead we are merrily being uncouth and rude even as we think that we are the best. It is indeed a sad state of affairs. You have portrayed the realities as they are in our society 🙂 Loved your encounter with the ‘god almighty.’ 😀

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    1. Zephyr, it was a privilege to write for your blog and am happy that I could clear the course! Honestly, the deficit of manners and etiquette shows and high time we learn from our past and all the world around us! I wish people do not come across ‘god almighty’ situations in real life:)

      Like

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