Friday, May 20, 2011
Mind Your Manners Please!
I would say that good manners and etiquette often varies from place to place and culture to culture. For example, while I was working in the US, the Americans whom I worked with always used to pop this question “How are you?” almost every time they saw me-even if we happened to cross paths 4 or 5 times a day. It took me a while to realize that it is a rhetoric question and more like saying “Hi!” than anything else. No one really expects you to tell how them how exactly you are feeling. To be honest, I found it a little phony. I mean why can’t we just stick to a simple “Hello”? I’m sure people in India would give one a weird look if one kept posing this question every single time you met.
In India if anyone walks into someone’s home with their footwear on, its sure to create a hullabaloo - on the other hand, in most foreign countries I’m sure people would raise eyebrows if you padded barefoot into their homes.
Also we Indians are much more inquisitive about everybody’s lives. We want to know everything about him, her, their aunt and their distant cousins all included. Often I’ve been subjected to relentless grilling about my life on many a flight by many an aunty or granny! But then shouldn’t there be a line somewhere? There are some manners which are universal-such as saying “Thanks” and “Please”. Similarly there are some questions which you just can’t, or rather shouldn't ask. Of late, I’ve realized that many people are either simply unaware that it is not good manners to ask certain questions or are just not bothered about the inappropriateness of their questioning. So unless you are in a position where we BOTH think of each other as really (and I mean REALLY) good friends or a close family member, kindly refrain from asking these questions - and even if you do fall into the above category, please exercise some restraint!
1.“So when are you getting married?”: Thankfully I’m past this question. But until a couple of years back, it really used to irritate me. I pity the people who are still subjected to this one. Maybe everyone needs to follow the idea of this popular joke?
When I was young I didn't like going to weddings. My grandmother would tell me, "You're next" However, she stopped doing that after I started saying the same thing to her at funerals.
2.“So any good news?”: Now that I have successfully overcome the above obstacle, it’s time for the next question! Good news…. Hmm well lets c… I’m alive, I have a comfortable home and generous husband and loving family and a job I love doing. Isn’t that enough good news?! Any other “good news” is completely the personal business of mine and my husband-I don’t see why we need to keep you informed! So please just stop asking-before things start getting really ugly!!! You have been warned. (Yes YOU!)
3.“So how much do you earn?”: Yikes! I still remember once when I was a small kid, I was at my mother’s office simply running around and doing what kids generally do. One of my mom’s young colleague used to be friendly with me. One day for some reason, I asked him “So how much is your salary?” He gave me a look and asked me “Didn’t anyone teach you that it is bad manners to ask such a thing?” I was so ashamed. In case no one ever taught YOU that it is bad manners to ask people how much they earn, I am putting it down here. Now you know. So unless you are from the Income Tax dept or a potential employer willing to pay me atleast three times of what I earn now - please do not ask me this question ever again!!
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