It happens so often that while walking down the railway platform, you unintentionally bump into someone. Not many of us will be surprised if we hear “Andha hai kya. Dekh nahin sakta.” The only feeling we have then is that of indifference.
Mumbaikars have time and again been glorified as the people with a welcoming attitude and a never-say-die spirit. This has been exemplified after catastrophes, both natural and man-made. Take for instance, the floods which have become frequent visitors of the city and the terrorist attacks on civilians which have been giving the former close competition. Hats off to the resilience of the city!
All said and done, I see that Mumbaikars chiefly lack in one aspect, that’s giving respect to their fellow residents. Not one person hesitates to take out their daily frustrations on a stranger by passing boorish statements and giving discourteous replies. Is it that the unity and deference come only at times of adversity, to be lost again, in the daily taxing routines??
Having stayed abroad for a large chunk of my life, I admire the fact that people there do not forget the basic courtesy in communication. I don’t say one must follow protocol but then the basic ‘tehzeeb’ is indispensable. The word, which has its roots in Urdu, implies a combination of politeness and courtesy. These are two departments where the Mumbaikar significantly lags. It’s sad that the entire hullabaloo surrounding the debate that Mumbai is the rudest city in India is not a fragment of someone’s imagination and is more than justified.
At this point I recollect this habit of mine when I was new to the city, where I actually used to give directions to rickshaw drivers with a “Bhaisahab, left leejiye.” I was laughed at by my friends then, and now, in order to not stand out among my peers, I guess I have completely given up on it. The metamorphosis has been so drastic that I actually laugh at one of my other friends when he ordered his dinner at a dhabba by saying “Bhaisahab, hum khaane ka order place karna chahenge.”
I know it’s hypocrisy on my behalf to be writing this article having mentioned that I myself have become a part of the rude bandwagon, but then somewhere on the inside, I still displease it and may be this blog is a reminder to me that I’m going down the wrong lane.