Is sorry a word that has disappeared in the fog of the great Indian road rage? Sidharth Bhatia, in his article in The Times of India seems to think it’s a casualty of success.
Shining India, he says, is swaggering India.
“India has not handled its success well. Instead of the greater responsibility that should come with greater power and wealth, we have chosen to swagger. We take grave offence at the most innocuous of comments.”
That’s true and you know it. You know it because you have travelled in public buses, had your toe nail massacred by an aunty with seven shopping bags and haven’t earned as much as a sorry in compensation. If there’s a Bollywood star or a cricketer in town, you have been showered with the most colourful vernacular expletives and been shoved and trampled upon – all because you came in the way of a mobile phone photo. You have also probably lost more than twenty rupees each day because the hollering cabbie or the auto-wallah thinks not returning change is his birthright.
But then you aren’t too much a laggard yourself. You call the vegetable vendor a robber thrice a week, you conceive of one curse per auto driver who refuses to go and you log on to the internet after the day’s drudgeries and call the PM and Kareena Kapoor some choice names.
You are not even sure if you can call yourself ‘successful’ the way Sidharth Bhatia describes it.
Rage, in public lives, unlike what Bhatia says doesn’t seem restricted to the higher or wealthier ranks of the Indian society. It’s almost instinctive in Indian public conduct. Yelling at buses, yelling at colleagues, yelling at the bai – it doesn’t necessarily have any correlation with success.
Some of it actually has to do with the survive-the-heat-and-crowd upbringing that most of us get. Inglorious, maybe. Practical, absolutely. Like you realize there’s no point in standing aside while the rest make a mad rush on to the Metro Railway. Like you realize there’s no point reasoning with the cabbie demanding double the night fare. Rage is both the last refuge of the impotent and the first resort of the even slightly powerful.
Bhatia points out, “Sorry seems to be a word that has disappeared from our lexicon. When common courtesies, such as holding the door open for someone behind you, vanish, a society is well on the road to boorishness and eventually rage. Good manners are the bedrock of civilised social transactions; are we a good-mannered people?”
Maybe we are not. But when was sorry even in the lexicon? We have always turned on those below us in the pecking order, the ones at the bottom bear the brunt of it. It’s part of our survival guide. That’s how we deal with setbacks, that's how we deal with boredom, that’s how we hide from our shortcomings. As Matt Daniels says in Mumbai Boss: 'Hollering is the atomic glue that holds this tightly-bound nucleus of a city together'.
Yes, let’s haul SRK up for being a bully, Siddharth Mallya for being a bigger one, Mamata Banerjee for making it legal. Let’s also look back at our day and count the sorry-s we deserved to say. And we didn’t.
Sorry, but we are like that only.
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Updated Date: May 31, 2012 15:44:32 IST