Thursday, October 06, 2005

Cheer up! It’s Christmas!

It’s about 7AM in the morning and the sun is barely rising itself to the horizon. It’s as if it sulks like any other kid on a beautiful day to get up. Have you ever wondered, if you personify the sun, how it would feel to be getting up that early in the morning? Nyways... it was a beautiful day. The streets were covered in a thin layer of snow (it really doesn’t snow too much in north Texas). I had to hurry to my bookstore for my job and was walking briskly. Something amazing happened then, which has changed my outlook towards life.

There was an old man draped in a rather heavy jacket and he was using the shoveling machine to clear the road of sleet. He stopped his machine as I passed him and he gently said with a beaming smile: "Good morning young man, merry Christmas". I just stood there, not knowing how to respond and I guess I gave mixed signals to him as he reiterated himself to me. This just brought a smile to my face and I wished him back saying "merry Christmas". This moment was so profound that I began to deliberate... why is it that this doesn't happen in India? Are our people so cold hearted that they look at every other human being with suspicion? Why is it so difficult for us to smile in public? The whole day passed by with a tingling feeling in my heart. I just had a wonderful day. I felt everyone were rejoicing "life" in general.

I began to think.. is it the weather? Or the festive season? I guess it is neither. It is just pure and basic courteousness. Why can’t we Indians be as courteous as everyone else? I guess we have our own reservations about things. I guess the word "good morning" is rebuked by everyone strongly. The reason for this may be our schooling system where the kids get up coherently and shout in chorus "good morning miss/sir" every time a teacher walks in to the class. Phew... I just hated that and I loath it to this day. Why can't kids be taught to just say "Hi". That is the word they are predominantly going to use...

Getting back to the festive time I was in, it was really special. Wherever I went, people in their jocund moods smiling at everyone and stuff. it was really such a pretty sight. I guess a valid reasoning for this is that, on Indian roads, there are so many pedestrians that your face would begin to ache if you kept smiling at everyone. This is why we, in India save our greetings for acquaintances and friends. This seems to be a very logical reasoning.

I began to wonder if there was a specific season when we celebrate in unison. Well if you think about it, at any given point in time there is something going on.. Life is just too busy for us to think about trivial issues such as courtesy and stuff. When I had made my peace with "not being courteous" to everyone, a similar thing happened to me today in the morning. As I was walking to take my bus to work, a police constable was cleaning a car (it was a "***" car meaning that the car was for a commissioner or a higher rank). He just smiled at me and said "good morning sir". I was shocked beyond belief. It was almost like deja-vous. I have seen him stand there before but had never had a similar experience. I guess in all these days he had seen me walk by, we had developed a bond like an untold acquaintance or something.... It was phenomenal... I smiled back and wished him.

Now I realize, we are just as courteous as anyone else. We just take our time in getting comfortable with situations. Coming to think about it we as a race are the most adaptable of all. Can you as an American to settle down in the most obscure village in India? I am sure he'll go nuts before you can say "nuts". But we are there everywhere. There is a saying that every third person you would meet in the world had to be a Chinese or an Indian. We can adapt to any situation, country and people.

We should also have a unified festive season when everyone is just happy... period... does a lot of good to our minds. My notion of Christmas has got nothing to do with religion but it is just a global season of happiness all over the world. It'll be nice if we have more of such seasons. I guess as Shakespeare’s play, we are "a man for all seasons". We are getting there and I am ready to wait for the day when not being courteous to strangers becomes a thing of the past... What say guys ??????


  • police man...good mrning apdinnu sonnana...dei..ethavathu thiruduniya..illenna why the greeting...nambave mudiyile...

    i some how feel it is better to show the real feelings than, you know, greet some one, just for the heck of it, seasons, crap...i hate the customary "how r u" in the US..i dont know u..u dont know, i dont care abt u..u need not care abt me...athaan machi en vazhkai..

    i know thats exactly what u want to change..but old habits die hard machi..

    By Blogger The Constant Variable, at 1:26 AM  

  • dei sadist !!! We dont have to anything to your habits... they will just kill themselves softly when the whole world changes.

    If they dont die I will come and kill them by being the adorable person I am !!

    When you are destined to get something, the whole world conspires so that you get it - The Alchemist.

    I am sure that you sadists cannot change destiny...

    By Blogger prosaicblabber, at 1:41 AM  

  • dei prosaic...

    dont put that alchemist fart..thats really too much...

    when u want something..the whole world does everything it can such that u dont get it...athaan nadakkum...

    By Blogger The Constant Variable, at 2:24 AM  

  • the "Hi!" concept doesn't work so well in india because of the no. of people, very true... but another factor is that its the culture/society we have been brought up with... when we go to the US we do that and we don't do that here... probbly because no one will acknowledge or worried about a comment "velai ye pathukittu poviya" :-)

    adaptability: here again, its the environment a person has been brough up with... (1) its easy to get accustomed to the "so-called" richer and luxurious environments easily but going the other side is difficult... thats why we adapt to US/Europe kinda environment easily and the americans feel a bit uncomfortable... (2) and the other thing is language... we guys know english decently well to survive in an alien land... but in india local languages are dominant and hence it becomes an issue... considering these two factors, would we go and adapt ourself so easily in africa??... so its not abt. indians or chinese being more adaptable... its more about the destination environment...

    By Blogger NaiKutti, at 4:22 AM  

  • good post...

    I think almost every problem in India boils down to Population and Poverty...courtesy or the lack of it is also due to that...that is very true..

    anyways...another habit that i got after coming to US was saying "Hi" to the driver when boarding the bus and thanking the driver while (hmm..whats the opposite of "boarding"??...i am not gonna blame this on population and poverty)....but, i am so used to saying "Hi" and "Thanks" now...

    i remember i developed this habit of thanking the conductor when i buy ticket in India...and the conductor used to look at me differently and when I told my Mom about this...she just stopped short of calling me a Psycho...
    "The conductor is doing his duty, minding his own business and you should mind Yours" -- that seems to be the common attitude.
    And if I try to smile and say "Hi" to a girl just walking down the street (its common here in US and the girl smiles back) in Bangalore...that calls for a separate short...I would get those "dirty" looks u were talking about in your last post.

    By Anonymous praveen, at 4:04 PM  

  • hmm..
    well buddy...were u not hesitant when the old man wished u!
    its the same here ..
    ppl here in India hate to be snubbed..
    (atleast when it cmes to being courteous)
    so they take the other best option..
    jus dnt bother to wish.. !

    By Blogger pushkala, at 2:50 AM  

  • i say that you and we will get there... be curteous to strangers! and i am a stranger to you but a dear dear deeeeeaaaar friend to beautiful, wonderful and ever incredible Charanya Krishnan; and what i mean by that is that i am a stranger now but be curteous when we meet, for i am going to a very lovely wedding happening in jan. 24th! i am suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper exited, from stranger jacki

    By Anonymous jacqueline lopez, at 9:08 PM  

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