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April 20, 2011

Is common courtesy gender dependent?

I have never used my snap on the blog. No particular reason, it's just that i don't want to divert attention of the readers from my precious writing gems to an attractive personality. Point is, unless you are on my Facebook profile, it is quite unlikely that you will recognize me in a public place, specially if we are meeting by chance.

During last weekend, i attended the book launch function for a college friend who has released his debut novel earlier this month. Since there is always a parking problem around the venue, I decided to take Delhi metro to commute from Station X to Station Y, with 11 stations in between. At X+2 station, a fellow female blogger boarded the metro. Since she uses a snap on her blog, i instantly recognized her although clearly she was unaware of my presence (I know from the stats of the blog that she occasionally read my posts). She is one of those, what i love to call as finicky feminist (FF) - quite often doing serious men bashing on her blog. Fair enough, everyone has a right of expression and I don't have a moral right to draw boundaries on any particular opinions. Few months ago, she wrote a post criticizing Delhi men to be non-courteous, inconsiderate, inhuman and all those jazz words. And why, because they they sit on women reserved seats and sometimes do not vacate the seats even when asked for in public transports.

Got the picture! Now, back to Station X+2. Miss FF entered the coach and sat right across me on a general, non-reserved seat. Coach was very sparsely populated at this time and everyone had a seat. Station X+4 is a major interchange point to change metro lines and crowd generally pour in big numbers, specially on weekend evenings. Something similar happened at this station and soon, the coach was filled to its full capacity. Miss FF was still sitting on the seat, with i-pod plucked in her ears.

At Station X+6, crowd subsided a little and an old lady (must be close to 75-80) boarded the metro with a bag hung around her shoulders. She looked around, found all seats to be taken, frowned a little, and then finally looked at Miss FF expecting to vacate the seat. Apparently, most of the seats were taken by middle aged people and she was the only 'younger one' who could have vacated the seat. Miss FF looked at her, gave a smirk and went back listening to her favourite song, or it appeared so. I silently reminded myself of that post, chuckled inside and felt a surge of emotions at that moment. I was fuming with anger, i was laughing inside but there was lot of sadness as well.

I asked a kid standing in between the space of two seats to tell the old lady to take my seat. She obliged and i stood for the next four stations to reach my destination. Meanwhile, Miss FF must have left the metro at Station Y+1, which is the last station on that route. Now, i asked myself a simple question - Do the bashing rules apply only for men? Shouldn't it be the case that help is provided to a person who is really in need, irrespective of gender. And if she didn't provided help to an old lady, i am pretty sure she wouldn't have done this for an old man as well.

Common courtesy has become so uncommon. Here is a person, who criticizes one gender at the drop of a hat but cannot follow the same in her own life. Here is a person, who can so conveniently rebuke the opposite gender but can't offer the same considerate and polite behaviour to her own gender. Is common courtesy gender dependent? Are manners thing of the past? Is polite behaviour an indication for weakness? I really don't know. More i observe people, more appalling it becomes.

For a moment, forget about these gender stereotypes.You think of the simplest of things in life and you will find this at every turn of life. How many of us hold on to the door for the person coming behind you so that he/she does not barge into it accidentally? How many of us let the other person pass first from a narrow space so that he/she or you don't get hurt? How many of us say 'Thank you' to the waiter who serve food for us or pull chairs in posh restaurants? How many of us make sure to switch off the mobiles or avoid taking calls while watching a movie in the cinema hall?

Perhaps, i don't have a black hole for the heart, i can still feel these subtle nuances. But a callus heart surely leads to numbness. You cease to feel anything around you, including common courtesy.


karthick r said...

I am a regular traveler in trains and more often than not old/tired ladies expect me to get up instead of askin their fellow lady travellers. I dont mind to get up but at times its annoying. May be i still look young in their eyes. :P

Smita said...

Your post reteriates what I have been saying to my frenz about the ppl we meet virtually. We all might vouch about how many good frenz we have made thru blogging but the fact remains is we see them as they show themselves on the blog. We will always find ppl preaching about "what ideally shud be done in life" but when it comes to following it we never know if they themselves are doing it. And in the case that u have cited we can easily say that all they preach is not visible in their action.

These thinsg make me think though we all are every ready for online activism but the fact is many ppl say these things because it gets them readership. Shallow ppl!!!

As far as gender based courtesy is concerned, Indians are basically insensitive ppl. I have seen this happening in trains ppl will be chipkofied in their seats even if a pregnant lady is standing but if they see a guy sitting in a ladies seat a major hue n cry wud happen. We are a bunch of hypocrites I tell u!

Shweta said...

Interesting perspective! And I completely agree, have seen this happen many, many times.
Good to see someone write about it.

Me-Era* said...

I liked this one. Especially the last two paragraphs. :)

Indian Home Maker said...

Insensitivity and lack of consideration, like so many other things, have no gender.

I personally feel it is unfair to expect men to open doors, carry bags (unless the woman is actually weaker, old or has special requirements, but that should apply to men too), pullout chairs etc in the name of gentlemanly behavior.

But I do feel women should be allowed to sit in crowded buses and trains because that protects them (to a degree) from lecherous creeps. Since the train was not crowded, I feel the young lady could have offered her seat to the lady. I am glad you did.

Gaurav Agarwal said...

I am simply loving your posts under this category. Not that I love cribbing about the nuances of women but that just like you I believe in expressing the true feeling instead of just portraying to be all nice.

Kudos !

Gaurav Agarwal said...

btw.. I am not able to post using my wordpress blog ... ? any reason for disabling it ?

Rachti Aggarwal said...

Nice post.

It is very easy to blame others but when our chance came, we generally overlook the same things.

It reminds me of the time when i was in Delhi and used to travel in metros during my 2 years stunt in IT.