Bounded Compassion II

Uncouth Behaviour


Customer service - two words that seem to be missing from the vocabulary of brown service people.


I think it comes down to general politeness. I don't think many desis will disagree with this statement: Western society is overall more polite than the desh.

Why is that? I can't speak much about Bangladesh or India but I can provide a small window into Pakistan (or rather Pakistanis). I'll provide two major reasons. But before that, I've to say that often desis seem to be rude when they certainly don't think that they're being, well, rude.

My mother once told me about this small incident at the hospital. You see, my dad was talking with a British doctor in another room and mom could hear him loud and clear whereas the volume level of the doctor was quite low. She actually felt embarrassed. She said something like, "We talk so loudly!"

She was right. My dad was speaking just the way he spoke but relative to the doctor, it seemed as though he was yelling.

I encountered a similar incident in a study room at a library in Canada. A kid comes in, goes to a table about 15 feet away and says to his friend, "Yaar, parhna bund kar! Chal naee Spider-Man filim dekne chalte hain." Translation: Stop studying man! Let's go watch the new Spider-Man movie.

He was whispering. I merely said in my head, "Gadha!". Translation: Ass!

Okay, on to the two reasons:

1. Inbreeding. What's the point of being nice to people outside the family if one is never going to "need" them in any way. At least in small situations, and perhaps for selfish reasons, people in the West are often polite to strangers. Who knows when one will meet Mr. or Ms. Right?

In Pakistani society almost everyone not related to you is Mr. and Ms. Wrong. This is part of the mindset that says that one only has to care about the family, tribe and religion. Everyone else is not worthy of respect or courtesy. (That is not to say that everyone thinks like this but sadly too many do.)

2. Schooling. "Lucky" Pakistanis spend a decade or more in hideous institutions where teachers can physically assault students for incomplete homework, low marks on a test, talking during class or for no reason at all.

Call me crazy but I don't think such a system will produce many people who're kind to others in society.

It was quite a profound experience to study in America for two years. Before that, teachers to me were wretched, demonic beings; worthy of nothing but contempt and a few brutal thrashings. However, after witnessing real teachers in action and talking to them -- instead of being afraid of them -- I realized just how deprave the education infrastructure back "home" really is.

A small event that speaks for itself: I was in ninth grade and it was time for final exams. My school would sometimes schedule an exam or two on one day of the weekend. So, a practically empty bus would go out to pick up those who had their exams on that day.

I was waiting for the bus on such a day. Two drivers had decided to share one bus. (No point in using two and picking up a few students each.) It pulled up shortly and I got in, went a few seats back and sat down. My driver was sitting in the front row, the other was in the driver's seat -- he was staring at me via the mirror.

Then he growled, "Salam karo gay ya mai peechee ah kar maaron!?" Essential translation: Are you going to say salam or should I come back and beat the shit out of you?

Out of fear, I meekly said, "As-salaamu Alaikum." My driver in the front seat huffed, "Aaj kal kay larhkey." Translation: Boys, nowadays.

That bus driver threatened to hit me unless I said "Peace be upon you".

He obviously wasn't very familiar with irony.



Thank you for being so refreshingly honest.

Isaac Schrödinger

Mention not.

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