Do you expect an admission from anyone when you tell him he is rude? Well, that is the raging controversy in Mumbai today, about being labeled the worst behaved people in the world. The survey was done by the Readers? Digest where Mumbaikars, just as people in several cities around the world, were set up to study their behavioural tendencies?like dropping books on the pavement to see if people would help you retrieve them, holding the door open for even someone coming behind you, etc.
First, does anyone remember a hugely debated controversy on people spitting on the street which had subsumed Mumbai a few years ago. There were ads placed in trains and buses which said that you should humiliate the wretched ones who spit on the road. Noble cause there. But the class of people who chew pan or tobacco were amused by the campaign. For them, mostly non-English speaking, chewing pan or tobacco and spitting whenever they felt the urge was part of their culture. They had explained that for thousands of years, irrespective of their religion, it had been their tradition to chew pan or tobacco, even as it was considered healthy by the indigenous medical practices. But the elite in the city who mostly don'tchew tobacco or pan, would hear none of it. ??If that is your culture then change it, these are modern times, we are living in a globalised world where all our standards are determined by what is prevalent in the US and Europe??, was their temerity-filled refrain.
Now with the Readers? Digest survey the globalised world has come a full circle for the elite in Mumbai. Wherever you go the English-speaking people in Mumbai would damn the survey on the grounds that saying thank you and holding doors open is not in our culture! Wonder, why do we elite insist on the same kind of behaviour when we travel in the planes and when we visit our neighbourhood private bank? Nobody tells them it is not in our culture.
The fact of the matter is: When it was the issue of spitting on roads the elite took the high ground as they did not chew pan or tobacco?it was the lower class, lower caste people who indulged in them. And at that time the people who spat on the road were told to change their culture. But when it comes to rude behaviour no one can beat the elite in Mumbai. Enter a first-class compartment in Mumbai and you will know that only your most primitive animal instincts can save you. Cultured, civilised manners are a liability.