Are we Indians ever really taught civic sense? With posh private schools focusing on French and ballroom dancing, and most government schools still struggling to build toilets for girl students, who really cares about teaching how to behave or not behave in public? No wonder we have become an indifferent and conveniently sensitive populace – we meticulously clean our houses but throw all the garbage right outside our neighbour’s doorstep.
To say that littering public places is bad, or that peeing, spitting on roadsides uncouth, would be too clichéd. And to blame just rickshaw-pullers and daily-wagers for the problem too blind. The English-speaking aunties and uncles, the kids who attend global schools and the people with expensive degrees are as much responsible for this civic epidemic as anyone else. Even more so, for they should know better. But do they?
What makes the lack of civic sense among Indians a grave problem is that a majority of us do not know where to draw the line. And so we continue to step on it day after day.
Here’s a list of earnest requests that a lot of us make everyday — some silently, others not much. They are addressed to anyone and everyone who has ever been guilty of public misdemeanour. You know who you are. Please take note. Keep a check. Resist the temptation. It won’t be easy. But persevere. For the larger good.
Carry headphones when using public transport
Please. Just do. Not everyone wants to listen to Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai on their way to work at 8am. Or at any other time. If you are using a public mode of transport — bus, tram, metro, train, flight — carry earphones/headphones as a rule and use them. Every time.
Avoid long, animated phone calls
Even if there is just one person around you. No one wants to know how cutely your cat meows or how awful your colleague’s boyfriend is. It, in plain words, is irritating.
The queue is holy. Respect it
Especially in the times that we are living in. Whether in front of the ATM, box office, elevator, grocery counter or at a metro/railway station, jumping a queue is just wrong.
Public toilets can be clean too, if you let them be
Just because you do not have to use it again, doesn’t mean you have to be a douchebag. Do it right if you don’t want the next person coming in wishing you dead.
Throwing trash out of the car window isn’t carefree
It’s irresponsible. Littering is unacceptable and inexcusable, no matter where you are and what you are doing.
Scratching your crotch: Not cool
It is not manly. Just makes you look like an ill-bred creep. No one may ever point it to you out loud, but all of them know it. And yes, they heavily judge you for it.
Digging your nose? Don’t even dare
No. Just no.
Sneeze, cough, eat with mouth covered/closed
No one wants your germs or saliva or an insight into how chewed food looks.
Don’t honk. You don’t own a Porsche
Don’t, even if you do. It is not music to ears. It does nothing except for creating a lot of avoidable, loud noise.
Checking someone’s computer screen
Especially when they are not looking. This mostly happens at workplaces and cyber cafes. Reading someone’s mail as they are typing it or checking their Facebook profiles behind their back is in bad taste. You’d not want someone doing it to you, would you? So don’t do it either.
Smoke only when others are comfortable
Smoking in public is a punishable offence and it’s not without a reason. Not everyone is appreciative of cigarette smoke. Some may even be allergic to it. Respect that.
You can do without staring
And do well. Really. There is a marked difference between looking at someone and staring at them. To be safe, look into people’s eyes when you talk to them and when not, keep your nose and eyes to yourself.
The author tweets @sneha_bengani
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