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 Blooming Stars

Good Manners – 2

            Phone Etiquette: This is another area where rude behavior reigns supreme. In India there is greater urgency in that technological progress is taking place at a fast pace, and the catching up time is too little. The phone caller will rarely introduce oneself. The first couple of minutes that set the tone for the entire conversation is wasted in sheer game playing. The first typical opening salvo without mentioning one’s name is: “Do you remember me?” How could I? This person is calling after a very long time.

            I had met him/her in some function long ago. I already had met so many people and have had so many phone conversations that day. I must say I am not too fond of the phone. Even for someone who only tolerates the phone, I do spend a lot of time on it. The ever-present range problem jams the voice or breaks up the tone. Some persons when they get the wrong number literally hang up leaving you high and dry. There is no closure. Some persons will make a call, and want to know your name before they ever attempt to introduce themselves. Then there is a battle of wits. Others pick up the phone, and you know you have the correct number, but will not tell you what is going on or if they are going to call or connect you to the right person. You do not know if you need to stay on the line or hang up. You stay on the line hoping against hope that something is going to happen, and, most of the time someone will appear on the other end.

            This happens mostly in government office situations. Courtesy is conspicuous by its absence. Somehow government officials think it is alright to be rude to their customers. They seem to have very little energy when it is about doing the work they are hired to do by taxpayers’ money. They feel their presence for a few hours in the precincts of their office is more than sufficient for their pay-check. Rude as they are, they feel they do not need to disclose their identity by giving their names. They also make you feel they are doing you a favor when they are only doing their job sluggishly enough. They look here and there and everywhere before they bring their petty task to completion, of course, to the customer’s great sigh and relief.

            Food etiquette: Some persons are so concerned about their regular time of eating, and they do not mind letting you know that. If they do not eat at their exact time, some calamity is going to take place. They try to get to the best portions of the food at the fastest time. They do not care about touching an item and placing it back in the tray or plate before they finally select. They do not mind over-reaching for food over one or two persons across their table violating others’ personal space. Their eyes are bigger than their stomachs, and they take much more food than they are able to consume.

            In this regard they are catching up with their American counterparts, and they will soon match them in wasting precious food. At receptions after special events such as weddings, engagements, baptisms, special celebrations, or jubilees, one gets the impression that the invited guests have been starving for two weeks because of the way they rush to secure their seats at tables. After they have eaten they leave their places with foods scattered all around their tables and floor giving the semblance of a stable. The second batch of people waiting for their food again rush in and establish themselves in chairs in front of uncleared tables of great mess.

            Standing in queue or line This is something very foreign to many. Yet this involves not only courtesy but fairness. Jumping line or reluctance to take turns is too common. Someone told me that people are very careful in standing in line for their turn in front of liquor shops or beverages outlets in India on the eve of special holidays. So they know the concept of standing in line. ‘First come first served’ is a slogan that needs to be strictly enforced everywhere for order and everyone’s well-being. It is only meet and just. Good manners indicate a person’s upbringing, character, refinement, and culture. They help everyone have a good and enjoyable time. Our societies can flourish only when their members are socially responsible, thoughtful, and considerate, rooted in solid democratic values, and give others their due.


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