By Zara Maqbool
Practicing basic manners are not so easy and basic for many people, I learned today. Living in a civilized society and by the looks of certain people, one naturally expects them to have ‘basic manners’. If someone is dressed up fairly appropriately, speaking Urdu and English although even Urdu alone is fine and looks like from a comfortable family background one would say they should know what etiquettes are at least the simple ones like using words like ‘excuse me’, ‘please’ or ‘thank you’. Is it unfair to expect this? No one expects them, to know maybe which fork and spoon to use at a seven course dinner but some manners please.
Today, I went to Centaurus mall with my 5 years old. After waiting for 15 minutes, I got on the elevator with her which was literally quite full with maybe space for two more people, if we really stood in the elevator touching everyone around us.
I pressed the 4th floor button for food court. On the first floor the elevator door opens and a guy and girl barged in, the girl carrying a big backpack on her back followed by two more young guys forcing their way in without a care in the world if there was space or not. What irked me was that the way she rushed in ruthlessly made her backpack hit my little one on the forehead pretty hard. I addressed the girl and said, ‘Please be careful, your backpack hit her’. She turns around and says, “Aap ko bache sumbhanlne nahin aate, yeh mere masla nahin hai”. Whoa! Darling that’s hitting a mom below her belt and so I got pretty angry too.
I addressed the group and still politely asked them why were they forcing their way in when they could see there is no space and they are like – we can’t wait so long. And then as they got off on their floor the annoying girl turns around and tells me, “Main aap ke moon nahin lagna chahti.”
Thank God for three years of personal therapy and so I smiled at her and said, “Have a good day.” The look on her face was priceless.
The remaining adults in the elevator all felt she was very rude and agreed that all she had to say was one word, “Sorry” and this fiasco would not have happened. I was so temped to tell the security that her backpack looks suspicious and needs to be checked but I suppressed my mean streak trying to set up a good example in front of my kids, trying to be the bigger person.
Joke aside, why do we lack basic manners in Pakistan? Why do we cut lanes, bump into people and not apologize or barge our way through anything or anyone as long as we get our way? Last night, my friends were discussing some waiter services at a posh restaurant in Islamabad, where the waiter kept on coming between both of us trying to remove the dishes and so on. I cannot stand if anyone invades my personal space. That’s lack of basic manners too whether its men or women and I find it unacceptable.
Then simply saying thank you and sorry and welcome is so rare here. I try my best to teach my kids to thank every time when house servants serve them because at the end of the day, none of us are obliged to do anything for anyone. So, why not show gratitude to people? So hoping against hope that we become a more generous human beings and not be stingy and practice some basic manners.
Story first published: 13th March 2018