Archive for the ‘Indians’ Category

No fairy godmother for this Cinderella!

Priyanka searched for the best online flight ticket deal to take her to Raipur to attend a competitive exam. She was also attending a crash course in coaching for IIT, where she was being taught maths and science by highly-paid competent teachers.
Maithali was not so lucky. Born into a not-so-privileged family, her mother washes utensils in other peoples’ houses, while a father is a tailor who does not believe that time or money should be wasted on the education of a daughter.
Both the girls are distracted by boys. Priyanka became friends with several boys, and enjoyed the attention that was showered on her, considering that there were 60 boys and four girls in the coaching class. Maithali was seated in an area of the class surrounded by boys. At the time of an exam she would be pinched hard until she was forced to tell the boys the answers to a few of the questions, for which they had obviously not prepared for.
Although worlds apart, both the girls knew the meaning of bunking a class. Priyanka would bunk to meet up with a boy she found to be special, while Maithali came to the class of her Government school after a half an hour walk, to find that the teacher had decided not to turn up.
Priyanka wanted to be something in life and she knew she would. Maithali wanted to do something in her life other than the work that her mother did. Intelligent, confident, beautiful and vivacious, the odds were stacked against her. Life was pulling her back into the quicksand of poverty, and there was no fairy Godmother or Prince Charming to come to her rescue.

Why are we Indians so oblivious to etiquette?

 I recall cringing as a child on a flight from London to Delhi, when a fellow Indian traveler decided to change his attire from trousers to a dhoti right in the middle of the aisle. Needless to say a harried air hostess ushered him rather rapidly towards the lavatory. This passenger was blissfully unaware that he was the cynosure of all eyes.

Take a more recent case of Cavalleria Rusticana, an opera in one act from Italy, which was performed last week in India for the first time at Siri Fort auditorium, New Delhi (this was a collaboration of the Embassy of Italy, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and The Delhi International Arts Festival).

Agreed that even I was unaware of the finer nuances of the no-applause rule, in which the audience at an opera is not meant to applaud until the end of the final movement, and had to be informed of this rule by my friend who has more experience of attending operas than me. But again I cringed when I saw no less than the chief guest Delhi Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna and his entourage making an exit after about 40 minutes of the show. It was not the exit itself, but the way in which this was executed that was painfully embarrassing. The dignitaries climbed the stage and made an exit through the wings, as the audience and the performers looked on gobsmacked.

And here is yet another example of ‘perfect’ manners. Picture a panel discussion of luminaries in front of a select audience. While a noted academician was in the midst of a well prepared speech on feminist knowledge, an elderly couple decided that they had to leave the venue. They shuffled up to the stage to pay their respects to the main protagonist of the evening, and then with considerable difficulty made their way to the exit through the crammed hall, distracting the audience in the process. The speaker, luckily, managed to remain composed and finished her talk seamlessly, in spite of the commotion.

In this day and age of globalization and internationalization, we Indians need to learn to mind our Ps and Qs at a rapid pace. How much longer can we be oblivious to the social embarrassments that we at times unwittingly cause?