Mind your manners

Published On: September 30, 2016 02:00 AM NPT By: Isha Bista

Don’t trouble yourself by saying excuse me when you have already decided to shove and make way even before I’ve had a chance to move aside. Feel free to step on my toes and then glare at me for having the guts to put my feet next to yours. Peer over my shoulders and place your order at the food counter at the cinemas because I don’t mind missing the first five minutes of the movie for you. 

It’s amazing how people don’t think their behaviors affect others especially when they are out in public and continue being their obnoxious selves. Saying sorry doesn’t even occur to them because apologies are for the low life. Expecting people to be polite and courteous here in Nepal is like expecting a dog to eat bread when there is a bowl of mutton soup right next to it. It just isn’t happening. Not now, not anytime soon.

I was recently walking down Putalisadak when a biker spat and it landed two inches away from me. I was furious and started gesticulating wildly. The biker that was already a good ten feet away stopped and waited for me to catch up and then started throwing obscenities my way. He even said since his spittle hasn’t touched me I had no rights to create a scene and that I could have caused an accident because he had been distracted by my shouts. 

A friend of mine talked about a similar experience. She was walking along the crumbling pavements of Tripureshwor when a boy shoved her and ran past. Naturally, she shouted at him. He, instead of simply saying sorry, turned around and started getting angry and even threatened her. Even when she stopped responding, he kept arguing and asking her what she would (and could) do if he pushed her again.

These cases might be a little extreme and granted that not every person we encounter is like that. Besides an obvious lack of discipline, this sort of behavior shows the fact that we have lost respect for others, and only think of ourselves. Neither have we been taught to be polite nor do we seem to care much about it. It’s become a natural tendency to always look for faults in others and think the world of ourselves. If something goes wrong, then surely it is the other person’s mistake. You, yourself, could never be at fault. 

The sad thing is we Nepalis are becoming a laughing stock because of how we behave. At a currency exchange counter while in transit, my friend who had been waiting in line was told to join the line and wait for her turn when her turn finally came after the clerk behind the desk took one look at her green color passport. When my friend said she had been waiting in line, this person told her that had met many Nepalis who showed a blatant disregard for queuing up for their turn. He even told her that some Nepalis actually started arguing when told to go stand in line. 

On a daily basis, we encounter many such infuriating people and circumstances – at home, work, and even out on the streets. Dealing with impolite people and expecting them to understand you is a lost cause from the word go. I have realized that I have never come out of a petty argument feeling vindicated and better. I have always felt bad and like I just wasted my time and energy on something really trivial.  

I try not to let it affect me. I say I’ll be the bigger person and not respond. I’ll look the other way. I’ll take a deep breath and move on. I will mentally scream at them and deal with my anger that way. But no, every time someone is impolite or rude, I do what I promised myself I wouldn’t and react. This, I find, often does me more harm than good. Sometimes, I find myself fuming over someone’s bad behavior for days on end – reliving the scenario I no longer have any control over. 

Someone I was talking to had some good advice to offer: Before you come down too hard on the rude masses, don’t forget that you may someday be guilty of a faux pas yourself. We tend to think that we are incapable of bad behavior but you’d be surprised. You pick your battles in life, and when your mental wellbeing is at stake, it’s just not worth the trouble. And it takes much less energy to ignore it than to work yourself up over it. It’s also true that when people are rude, it reveals who they are, not who you are. 

But these things are easier said than done. This one time I was watching a movie with my mother when the guy next to her spilled half his coffee on her during the interval. My mother was calm and didn’t raise a fuss. She just took out some tissues and started moping up the mess on her kurta. Seeing her dab at her clothes with handfuls of tissues, he smirked at her and told her that the coffee cup had just slipped out of his hands. He said it as a matter of fact and not as an apology. 

My mother had at least expected a sorry and she told him so to which he simply replied that it wasn’t his fault as the coffee was just too hot for him to hold properly. Exasperated my mother, clothes dripping in coffee, just shook her head and went to the rest room to clean up the best she could. When the movie ended and we got ready to leave, this guy looked at my mother and whispered to his friend who then laughed out loud.
It’s amazing how these same supposedly ‘ill mannered’ people will have a different way of behaving with foreigners. It’s just their fellow citizens who don’t deserve the same treatment. I guess if nothing we do live by our motto ‘Atithidevo Bhawa’ – The guest is equal to God.  


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