Often, sitting together as a group of adults, our conversation turns to criticizing what we see lacking in our society. Often we also attribute these shortcomings to the imperial rule and empire which shadowed us for two long centuries. We talk then of the attitude amongst many of us, of behaving like 'sahibs' with the poorer class; or of looking for ways to exert ourselves less and less. At such time, someone may point to things that we should have taken instead from their, that is, the imperial cultures -- like their timeliness, general politeness and greater regard for their environment.
Maybe we needn't feel all bad about ourselves, as we can all recognize the small changes which are yet taking place for the better. The malls are becoming better places to walk in than just a year ago; and so are the roads. We could look a little more closely at people's behaviors though, because there is much that is wanting there - and very little has changed. Isn't it like litter which we find strewn around us and we mostly feel, and I think rightly so, that the culprits are the poorer class of people. Similarly, I think, in our society the poor are most responsible for the uncouth behavior we see around, whether traveling through the market or any other public place.
But then, just as you and I try to keep our own community clean, what about those things which yet keep us wanting as a society, those we could do to make our life more pleasant and civilized -- like, behave more 'civilly' to each other. I am as much against the forced and artificial greetings with whomsoever I chance to meet as I step out. But perhaps there is something that can be done to improve ties between the people which is at a more fundamental level. Looking back again at the 'civilized societies' of the western countries, I asked myself the question, what is it which makes them behave so politely with each other in public? What is it that they do and we do not, or have here ? And this, apart from the corrosive influence of the behavior we generally find on streets.
Here's my answer. It is the disparity of the social positions of the two genders in our society. I may be struggling at expressing the thoughts in my mind, but I pause, and feel that I am not mistaken in believing this. I am straining to imagine how exactly this could be, but isn't it a reasonable idea, that one can think that the culture within our communities could also be as different, cleaner, just as we would like the gardens and our building to be. Males and females, please think along with me on this, and don't you agree, that if we could resist thinking negatively of every interaction between males and females, not of the same family, as having hidden overtones and meaning -- it would add to the health of the entire populace.
Many would recollect from their experiences abroad that in many situations, when some counseling is required, it is often arranged for the two sides to be of different genders -- it is a more natural exchange, an easier one, where outcomes have been found to be more positive. I can see the difficulty of trying to change the culture here, that would make such interactions happen more often. Yet I strongly feel that those who do try to overcome the nagging of fear from social censure -- will be like those who try to plant a flower or a bush when they come to live in a barren building. Hoping it will take root, because they know what a difference it would make to the entire surrounding.
Hi Rajiv.. I'd want to simplify this part:
... that we should have taken instead from
their, that is, the imperial cultures -- like their...
all bad about ourselves --- Another idea based only on my opinion... you could replace 'ourselves' with a noun that expresses the specific thing about which we're feeling bad. That's add clarity and power to the sentence and paragraph.
Paragraph 2 has a few ideas that seem unrelated to each other.. or, of course they are related, but you perhaps go from one to another in a way that is 'non sequitur'... one does not follow another in a way that I can easily follow. The small changes are taking place to improve malls, and then the poor are the culprits for uncouth behavior..
the disparity of the social positions of the two genders -- I agree this is a big key to improvement. But isn't the disparity of social positions different from the tendency to think negatively about hidden meanings within interactions between them? Maybe I missed the point, or it's a cultural thing I don't understand!
The end of this essay, that last sentence, resonated a lot with me. Always a pleasure, Rajiv!