Manners matter
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Manners matter

Mushrooming etiquette classes are catering to the global Indian, whose knowledge of wine may not match his expertise at technology.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 04:09 IST
Megha Mahindru
Megha Mahindru

Don’t pick your teeth at dinner. Don’t slouch. If you drop your fork, leave it and ask for another one. After finishing eating, fold your napkin loosely and place it on the left side of your plate. These are no commandments or classes for those in the hospitality industry, but simple ways for people to learn social graces.

Teaching everything from the art of shaking hands to using napkins, etiquette workshops have mushroomed in the city. While Valentine’s Day is a good reason to spruce up your manners, today these classes are not only an aid to one’s love life or marriage prospects.

“My clients fall under the age bracket of 12 to 67. Usually from a globetrotting background, they try it as an exercise to learn something new during vacations,” says Chaya Momaya, who has been conducting etiquette and grooming classes for more than 19 years.

Pria Warrick, based in New Delhi, believes in catching them young. Her school has classes for children as young as six.

“I take my students to Zodiac Grill and let them have the eight-course meal with wine. My advice is to work you way into it,” adds Momaya.

As cultures mix, even CEOs are queueing up to take etiquette classes. Shital Kakar Mehra, who has been conducting such classes for five years, found that though the CEOs were highly qualified, even they struggled at business lunches as they lacked certain skills. Mehra claims that her school, launched in 1999, is the first and only school in the country that focuses on corporate etiquette.

Joining the brigade is Rukhsana Eisa, who plans to tie up with Nalini Yasmin. “Our grooming is both external or physical and internal or social grooming. We will start our new course for girls at Nalini Yasmin’s in Bandra,” says Eisa, an image consultant.

Man’s World organises a special grooming workshop this V-Day, an indication that finishing schools are no longer the domain of women.

The course duration differs from a day’s training to a basic course for a week and advanced courses of two to three months. Differentiating a teaspoon from an iced teaspoon can be an intimidating task, but tutorial dinners help a learner sail with élan. Here is an advice from Momaya, “Don’t be ashamed of your upbringing. If a German visits India and wants to try paani-puri, we feel obliged to show him how. So, when you visit Switzerland and need to know how to have fondue, don’t shy away from guidance.”

Like all good things, finishing schools come for a price, too. A course may leave your wallet lighter by Rs 6,000-15,000.

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 04:09 IST