Thursday, December 02, 2010

Etiquette or Eti-Quetty???!!

Mumbai has been seeing some really unseasonal rains, these past few weeks. November rain used to be synonymous only with Guns n Roses. But these unseasonal rains brought along not just a Londonesque climate but also all those multicolored umbrellas back outside. Although right now, Londonesque would be a weather of snow, snow and more snow. Nevertheless, the rains brought out poetic weather, umbrellas, chilly winds and everything nice. In fact, these rains weren't that bad, since the muck and drenching rains were missing.

But what wasn't missing, was the lack of umbrella etiquette!

So, you're this person of above average height walking on a sidewalk, and there is someone else walking towards you, with an umbrella held aloft her head. Above average height implies umbrellas held aloft others' heads are at eye level for you! So when people do not believe in umbrella etiquette, they walk on, oblivious to your cowering - an earnest attempt to protect your eyes. Then again, there are other ways of not displaying umbrella etiquette. Like putting up a wet umbrella on a train or bus seat, carrying around stinky umbrellas, stealing someone else's good umbrella after leaving behind your own crappy umbrella!

If only lack of etiquette remained restricted to umbrellas. Cell phone penetration in India is one of the highest in the world. Unfortunately, cell phone etiquette is an unknown term! And believe me, it is perhaps one of the most essential pieces of learning people in India need to get! I am not being overly conceited when I say this, but honestly, if you want to listen to 'Munni Badnam Hui', go ahead by all means. WITH EARPHONES!!! Try hopping on to a bus sometime, and I can guarantee you'll come across someone blaring music on their phones while giving everyone around a gloating smile that says, "Oh yeah! I have a phone that plays music!" And then you have the story of the ring tone. Ring tones seem to transcend generations. So you have a real creepy song set on loud as your ring tone. And it rings in a temple, or a doctor's office or just your own office! And unfortunately the tech-unsavvy person who perhaps still struggles with reading the displayed number, let alone answering a call, subjects you to such wonderful music for a good 50 seconds. Believe me, no matter what you went to the temple to pray for, you end up praying that God stop that cell phone from ringing. And He listens!

And the last form of lack of etiquette involves women on phones in the middle of the road! No offense intended to the fairer sex, given that I belong to the said gender myself. But honestly, get behind the wheel and try negotiating a turn while trying to avoid hitting a brightly dressed female who does not respond to a loud, incessant honk. Earlier phones used to be glued to just one ear. The other ear could hear a honk. Now, people have earphones to listen to music and listen to a caller's voice while on the road. And these wonderful devices, shut off both ears! Much to the talker's delight and the driver's chagrin. Why am I specifically mentioning women? Because once you honk loudly and then turn after going through a quasi nervous breakdown, these wonderful women, notice that it's a woman behind the wheel who honked and disturbed their phone conversation and give you such a dirty glare, that you honestly wonder whether you did something wrong! At least the men are more considerate when they notice a woman behind the wheel and move aside without so much as a second look.

Oh well, I must stay away from the perils of driving on Mumbai roads, especially those instances that involve women on roads or women drivers, since those stories make up epics I'll talk about later. As of now, it's a resignation with a sense of exasperation that accompanies cloudy skies and umbrellas or just everyday life in a cell phone infested city!

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