November 21, 2006

The delicate balance

The train is an intimate space shared by necessity. It is not always possible to directly access the luggage shelf on the sides inside the compartment. Often it is imperative to ask someone for help. However, it is the way in which the woman asked the other lady that dissapointed me. Perhaps it shouldn't but it did. To begin with, she asked for her handbag without a 'please' and continued to chat with the lady next to her not paying attention to which bag was being taken off the rack. It wasn't hers, of course. She pointed to another bag in a nearly admonishing manner. Meanwhile, as the lady struggled with the overwhelming crowd and juggled the two bags, this woman whose bag it was, says brightly, "C'mon! You can do it!" and yet continued to chat with her friend. Soon the bag comes to her travelling through several hands. She gets off at the next station without a 'thank you'. And this is acceptable form of behavior.

Here, we don't say thank you or please a lot but more often I have seen smiles replacing those formalities. I suppose it is a cultural variation. However, it is highly inappropriate to patronize. Some things are just not done.


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