Sunday, 16 November 2008

Uncommon Courtesy

Some of us poke fun at people who are oddly dressed.

Some others laugh openly when somebody trips & falls.

Many of us are quick to ridicule when we hear a person mispronouncing a word.

So many of us pretend not to see the old lady or the pregnant woman who enters the bus & looks hopefully around for a vacant seat to rest her tired legs.

A few of us reply brusquely "I dont know" to a passerby who is lost & looking for directions.

And almost all of us who drive, have at 1 point or the other refused to give way to a vehicle who wants to enter the lane in front of us.

The reasons and excuses for this unforgivable behaviour are many.......
"Well she was looking funny",
"He deserved it",
"She thinks no end of her self"
"Even I am tired, let somebody else give up their seat",
"Why should I bother?"
"Even I am in a hurry & he was acting too smart"

It is very unfortunate that we find it very difficult to maintain even basic courtesy. How much time do you lose if you do a simple act of kindness? So many times we do a kind deed as an afterthought but that feeling of well-being lasts the entire day.

If only we took a moment to put another persons needs before ours, if we took a minute to dwell on the consequences before we acted........I am prepared to swear, our world would be a far better place to live in than what it is now.

A wonderful story comes from 19th Century England. According to the account, Queen Victoria was once at a diplomatic reception in London. The guest of honor was an African Chieftain.

All went well during the meal until, at the end, finger bowls were served. The guest of honor had never seen a British finger bowl, and no one had thought to brief him beforehand about its purpose. So he took the bowl in his two hands, lifted it to his mouth, and drank its contents down.

For an instant there was breathless silence among the British privileged guests, and then they began to whisper to one another. All that stopped, however, when Queen Victoria silently took her finger bowl in her two hands, lifted it, and drank its contents.

A moment later, 500 surprised British ladies and gentlemen simultaneously drank the contents of their own finger bowls.

It was the queen's uncommon courtesy that guarded her guest from a certain embarrassment.

"Knowledge, ability, experience are of little avail in reaching high success if courtesy be lacking," says George D. Powers.
"Courtesy is the one passport that will be accepted without question in every land, in every office, in every home, in every heart in the world. For nothing commends itself so well as kindness; and courtesy is kindness."

I hope I dont sound too holier-than-thou when I say that....

I have 'almost' always given my seat to anybody who I thought deserved it:-P.

I have always given directions to anybody who has asked me & if I didnt know I asked somebody else till I helped them on their way.

And I never liked watching shows like "MTV bakra" or "Candid Camera" where they make a living out of making a fool of ordinary people. Yes I know sometimes it is funny but most times its more embarrassing.

But I have to admit I have been guilty of hiding behind doors & startling the kids and I also just hate to oblige when cars appear out of nowhere & expect to be given way :-/.

What about U???????????


  1. There are times I have been uncommonly helpful.. and at others I have been extremely rude..

    Just a state of mind.. but in most cases.. I think am a helping soul...

    And I agree to you :)

  2. I like the finger bowl gesture...

    You're such a nice person, Nancy.

    I do believe that humor is an integral part of life and some people do need to lighten up a bit. But like you, I also don't find other people's misery funny at all (candid camera and such, don't think it's funny at all).

    I'm a courteous driver and I go out of my way to help disadvantaged people. But I do make jokes and make people laugh. I can laugh at myself too and I wouldn't have it any other way.

  3. I loved this post!! I had heard that story before but it was great hearing it again. Courtesy, respect and honor - these are things which seem to be fading with the times and it would be great to have a revival of them :)

    so glad you got the postcard- can't imagine why it took so long!! I'll send you one from my new location-- I'll have to go and look for one :)

  4. Courtesy is such a simple thing and yet so difficult to find. I loved this post. I try to do the best i can at most times, but do fail at times, can not honestly say I do 100% of the times.

  5. Well written post and I hope you keep coming out with pieces like this. Yes I am a changed person now after my landmark forum and I am very cool as I believe everything is our state of the mind and in how we look at it.

    Thank you once again.

  6. winnie: u mean it all depends on ur state of mind at tht time:-o....tho I feel u r more the former than the latter:-)

    agnes: "But I do make jokes and make people laugh. I can laugh at myself too and I wouldn't have it any other way."
    Agree with u totally....I too enjoy a good joke but not at the expense of another's embarrasment or humiliation.
    U know I practically cringe when I see those people getting fooled on tv & beg my better half to switch channels:-<

    anjuli: Thank U:-)....actually it is so simple, just a Sorry, please, thank u goes a long way but people dont realise it

    goofymumma: Thank U:-)....hehe I doubt any of us practice it 100%....only if we practice it always will it come automatically to us(atleast thts wht I keep drilling into my kids:-P)

  7. Well common courtsey is not so common! And I plead guilty to a lot of things mentioned..why does it require so much of an effort to be good? Being nasty,rude and mean on the other hand is so so easy..

  8. Coutesey is a state of mind. It depends in what situation you are and who is at the receiving end. Sometimes you feel suffocated trying to maintain the 'Victorian Morality ' all the time, so you are in a mood to let go. That's what makes life more interesting and colourful.

    Yes but some times even a small joke at some one's expense can hurt. Once in Shimla, after our classes in the college , i walked down a hill taking a short cut to approach the main road instead of taking normal route. My foot twisted and i fell down many feet below. Two of my female class mates who watched me falling, started laughing loudly. Next day i reached the class room quite early and wrote on the black board in bold letters "IT IS GOOD TO LAUGH AT SOME ONE WHO HAS FALLEN DOWN, BUT IT BETTER TO LIFT HIM UP" After the first period the two girls came and apologised and i did not see even a smile on their faces for many days after that.

  9. hey! this is very well written.. courtesy, respect is what we expect from others and vice-versa
    I do not like to make fun of others
    I dont drive so as of now I dont know whether I would give way to others :)

  10. Well Dumbeldore,

    Those are nice and wise words for real !! ;)

    what you say is right !! the best way to do it is to imagine what you would have done if you had been in the hot seat and accordingly act !!

    Empathy is a good friend during such times :)

  11. sukku: Hmmm...will keep in mind abt the landmark forum. One never knows when one needs it:-D

    my space: hehe yeah all of us do it at some point or the other but for some it becomes a way of they feel they cant get what they want any other way:-o.

    Balvinder Singh: I'm sorry they laughed at u. How terible u must have felt:-(. But atleast u didnt keep quiet. Way to go Sir:-D

  12. Beautifully written!!! And I share the sentiment doesn't cost you anything to do simple acts of kindness and you spread so much cheer through them....

    By the way, I've heard this story before in college. We were having a guest lecture on social skills and someone wanted to know the difference between etiquette and manners. The lecturer narrated this example of the Queen and then said that etiquette is the knowledge of certain rites & rituals and manners is how you use that knowledge; the Queen knew the etiquette of using a finger bowl, but by copying her guest, she showed her good manners to save her guest from embarassment.

  13. Is that finger bowl thing really true? Coming from the Queen, a little hard to believe.

    But yes, I agree with you every step of the way. I sometimes find myself going so out of the way to help people, that I sometimes have to figure out what I got out for in the first place. And I encourage ppl around me to do the same. kindness really goes a long way.
    I read your blog at a time when I was questioning myself if I really need to help ppl so much. I sometimes am surprised at the quarters from which the call for help comes. Though I am happy about helping, it sometimes leaves me really tired. :D

    But I surely feel good when I go to sleep.

  14. preeti: Thank U:-))....I'd like to think most of us are like this & only react badly when we are under stress:-)

    prashanth: Yes that is exactly what I also believe..especially if we are going to react negetively just for a moment put ourselves in the other person's shoes & see their point of view.

    shalom: Thank U:-))!!! I too read this story a long time ago but when I saw it again it still made an impact:-).

    bins: U r cynical to the core;-P. Regarding ur question abt whether or not to help....u must do what ur conscience tells u & dont forget whatever goes around, comes around:-D

  15. hey nancy! ur comment reminded me that i ahve a blog. i am getting royally effed at work these days.. i havent read this post either.. will come back, read and comment.
    just wanted to say hi and that i AM breathing :)

  16. I know what you mean... the first time I visited the US, I was so overwhelmed by the courtesies people they smile and wish you whether they know you or not... how they open doors for you EVERY time... just made me feel so welcome....

  17. Good questions:), I can never give up my seat as I cant stand in a bus, I dont ever enter any bus if I am not sure of a seat, for rest of the things.....I also feel like u and try to be as considerate as I can. for telling the way...I have been scolded many times by my H, but still i can keep myself from telling the peopkle whatver they are looking for:)
    I dont drive, but keep reminding my H and son to be considerate:)

  18. just loved it!...really:)

    i always make it a point to help any patients in our hospital whether its abt prescription or guiding them to various departments!....:)....

    am glad to meet a person like u!!

  19. Nancy, same here. And you strike me as a very nice person, really.

  20. Ish: Come on u cant be tht busy:-P...waiting for ur next post.

    Wannabe: Yes u r so right, for some reason we havent picked up that art yet:-P.
    Where r u...not to be new posts huh?????

    Renu: Hehe I can just imagine. Even my better-half get so mad when I go 'out of my way' to help people with directions:-). Driving is the only place I cant agree with u:-D

    brocasarea: Thank nice to meet a like minded person:-)...thank U for visiting.

    Agnes: Thank U....and I think the very same about U:-))

  21. hahaha... laughing me.... did that irritate you?
    i once gave my seat to a pregnant lady only to find that she is not pregnant at all.. she had a big tummy thats it...

    came here thru blog hopping... chillax and you have done it well here...

  22. after reading this I am forced to think now - well i have not been particularly kind to anyone but neither have I been rude to for candid camera shows - i loooooove watching them! The intent of the prog is not to make fun of people but to laugh at the way they react on situations...nothing against those people personally...

  23. If you're in Delhi, people will insist on giving you directions..even if they don't have a clue about the place!!
    And I agree with you...These are such small gestures, but they go a long way to help someone.
    Nice blog :)

  24. i am mostly helpful i would say, not not always..
    but u know, even if u dint mention it in the post, u do come across as the kind of person u said u are.. helpful and caring.. its just how i perceive u from all the posts i guess
    and yes! i totally loathe stuff like bakra..

  25. Thanks for reminding me this story. I had heard it a long time ago but it was one story that kind of gets stuck into your consciousness...

    courtesy.. hmm.. well for me it is as simple as "if i am in the mood" which is to say... not very often...:(

  26. i've done most of these good deeds most of the time. how mean to say, "NO i won't give you directions nay"? i can't do that.

    i've experince the fingerbowl kind of episode too. this happened at a meeting with a tax guy. my friend was meeting this tax agent in hyd. old chap...of the old days. they met at my friends office cafe for a late breakfast. when bread and toast came, my friend started eating with the knife and fork. on seeing the discomfort in this guys face, my friend pretended to drop the fork and thereby continued eating with his the dosa-chutney style :). nice nay :)

    lovely post. i can resonate with it.

  27. Chriz: Hehe tht was funny but I bet everybody would have still thought u as a gentleman as u gave ur seat up for a lady.
    And thank U:-))!!!!

    Deeplydip: Neither good or evil huh!!!!....hmmm my better half believes in the same policy:-)
    "The intent of the prog is not to make fun of people but to laugh at the way they react on situations...nothing against those people personally..."
    Yes but most of the time they go beyond the limit & delibrately make the people react by egging them on:-(

    Meira: U know wht...Bangaloreans are just the same:-D
    And thank U:-)!!!!

    Ish: Seriously I have the same notion about u...I get the feeling half the notorious stuff u write is to just shock us:-P

  28. Abraham: Just like to mind ur own business huh:-))

    A: No, they wont say I wont give u directions They'll just say "I dont know" even if they know the way:-S coz they cant be bothered.
    Ur friend sounds so nice :-))really.
    And Thank U!!!!!

  29. I think instant reaction to anyone falls,is a laughter irrespective of whether we know the person. But for sure it follows with a feeling of "oh! is he hurt by the fall?!!
    If I could help the person,for sure I try to give a hand.

    Car... If he/she keep the indicator ON, yes, orelse I don't consider that as a courtesy but as rude behaviour from the other end.

    Regarding pregnant women....As I haven't travelled in bus here for a longtime I have no oppurtunity to do that, but whenever I see a lady who is in the midst of giving a life to a baby, I just pray silently at that moment for a safe and happy delivery. Don't know when and where I got this habit from. But I do it.

  30. Maddy: Yeah I suppose u r right....I mean we all laugh at America's Funniest Videos' even though the protaganist in the video must have broken a leg:-o.

    And seriously....u do tht when u see a pregnant woman???? Oh thts so sweet of u:-D. I'm gonna do the same from now on:-D.

  31. i offer common courtesy and would like to think i am capable of uncommon courtesy should the chance arise. most people i know are polite and willing to help. good thoughts nancy!

  32. lan: U said it so well & exactly like how it should be:-)
    Thank U!!!!!

  33. my! the queen victoria story shook me up... tht ws wonderful... made me contemplate...


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