Bikram Vohra | July 16, 2014
The code of conduct for slaves in the southern states of the United States did not permit their masters from saying thank you to anyone that they owned since they were property and not to be thanked. Evolved into good manners it hasn’t yet found deep root on the home front. We don’t say thank you as a rule, not for services rendered or received.
At the loftier levels of society we may produce a plastic version of it but if you slip down the social ladder a little the expression of gratitude evaporates. People take and give without extending a simple thanks. Put gas in the car, pay and drive off, no need to say thanks to the attendant. Pay the bill in a restaurant, no need to compliment anyone. You establish the pecking order by not replying.
Much in the same way is the greeting. Wishing each other is just not done as a habit and wishing strangers is not even on the cards. Consequently, if you are the sort of fellow who says “hi boss” or “hi hero” to the worker, the liftman, the labourer, the milkman, the cleaner, the sweeper or the paper boy, he looks at you as if you were weird. He might overeagerly salaam you with that Stephen Fetchit servile expression as he cheerfully badmouths you under his breath but if you are socially superior you only curtly nod your head, if that.
You don’t say “gooood morning” with enthusiasm; he’ll think you are barmy.
I think when I watch this charade, were we like that one time? Maybe we were.
It is like tipping. The person I visit has ordered a Rs195 pizza. The delivery boy arrives with it. This worthy takes the box then waits for the boy to give him five bucks back. I look at him in awe. The guy belted down from two miles away in this heat and you cannot give him a small tip.
No, I am told, it spoils them.
Tipping is so unusual that on a long drive the other day we stopped at a dhaba, or what is known as a roadside cafe. The little kid cleaning the table with a rag and bringing water was offered '100 for his courtesy and because he was doing his job well.
He looked puzzled and then asked what we wanted to buy. Told him it was for him and his service and thanks a lot.
He looked at us suspiciously...this is just not done.
No, thanks, it is yours. Reluctantly, he pocketed it, then watched us all the way to our car till we drove off in case there was some trick being played on him and he’d be accused of theft.
Is it just us being picky or do you agree that we have lost these traits, that is, if we had them at all?
(This appeared in the July 16-31, 2014 issue of the magazine)
In its bid to create an oil major to match the performance of global and domestic oil and gas players, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) board has approved the acquisition of entire 51.11 percent shareholding of the government in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) with a total acqu
Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar recently laid the foundation stone of the Rs 120 crore- MCMV (mine counters measure vessels) Command, Control & Design Office at Goa Shipyard Ltd, Vasco in Goa. The defence ministry has entrusted the GSL for series construction of sophisticated and hig
A high level Sri Lankan defence delegation headed by secretary of defence, Kapila Waidyaratane PC recently visited Goa Shipyard Ltd. The delegation held discussions with GSL CMD, Rear Admiral (retired) Shekhar Mital. The defence delegation was shown the ongoing shipbuilding activities includ
Are our authorities callous when it comes to ensuring safety of people?
Our constitution promises equality of status and opportunity to all citizens but statistical data suggests that inequalities in wealth and income have increased since independence and are now on an uncontrolled upward spiral. Recently, Thomas Piketty and Lucas Chancel in their aptly titled s
NTPC has sought the help of Madhya Pradesh government for the safety of Gadarwara power project site and the workers who have stopped the work on the site since December 22. It has appealed to the local people to support the project of national importance. Half of the electricity generated