Are we, as Indians, inconsiderate? To this question, the answer is 'YES'! I am sorry, but it is true. Just open the newspapers and you will find how we treat foreigners, strangers, our women, children, domestic servants, pets and even the Holy Cow!
As a nation, as a race, as a people, we are. Here, caste, class, and religion- nothing seems to matter or make a difference! It is sad, but it is a fact.
Some years ago, I was walking past a school near the vicinity of where we were living, I saw of group of boys, - must have been in the age range of 14 to 16, kicking around a puppy dog, which was yelping its heart out. I stopped and asked them what they were doing. 'We are playing and having fun, Uncle!' one of them said. Those days, I was still very strong, and was also well made. I said that I too wanted to have fun, and caught one of them by the collar and lifting him physically, started swaying him around. This was near the bus stop at Nana Chowk. It was office time, and there was quite a crowd watching this. A Parsee gentleman came towards me and said that when he intervened just before I had come, he was asked if the pup was his sister! What happened was that none came to stop me what I was doing to those ruffians having 'fun'. When those boys protested, I told them that I too was having my 'fun'!
Some time later, come Dipavali, I found children from my building having their 'fun'. They had found an old cow, to whose tail they tied up the long China crackers, and were on the verge of lighting it. 'Divali hai Uncle. Majaak udarahen.' Said one of them, when I asked them what they were up to. 'Can I do the same to you Beti' I asked. 'Nahin Uncle. Jalega,' she said. And realizing what she had said, bit her tongue.
Talking of Divali, mercifully the Government had imposed a time limiting for bursting and burning of crackers till 10 p.m. Not that it made much difference. Remember, we are inconsiderate. I live near a Sardar colony. And to top it, my building is half-full of rich Marwaris! They were merrily bursting some of the banned crackers way past midnight. That night I kept quiet. This again happened the next day. In fact they started bursting crackers at 11 pm. way beyond the time limit. As it is I am an asthma patient. And the smoke aggravated the wretched condition. I waited for half an hour, expecting them to stop. It increased. So did my temper. Out I went in a rage, and blew my top, asking them to go beyond the gate and do what they wanted to.
That is the state we are in. The government having to come in to impose restrictions even in our festivities. Because we are inconsiderate and don't care for others, as long as our 'fun' is satisfied. Doesn't matter if there is a heart patient around, or a scared puppy or cat or cow. The more one suffers, the more is the joy for them, it appears.
Come Holi, it is the same. Sadly, Holi is a very crude form of expressing many things! Such a crudity was never there in the South! Here too, the Government had to step in and impose restrictions on timings, when the 'festival' should end!
The North has some very fine and moving festivals like the Raksha Bandhan andBhau Bheej. I really wish that the South adopts these two moving and lovely traditions. The nearest that South has is on Garuda Panchami or Naag Panchami, when sisters pray for the welfare of their brothers. (Tradition is that in the olden days, when the brother went to leave his sister at her 'in-laws' and was returning back through the cobra-infected fields, she would pray to theNaag Devatha to protect him and not to harm him.)
It was in 1993. It was Id. I had gone to Juhu with my two sons. Being a holiday, the beach was crowded, and to have a day out, on one of their few festivities, many families had come out to spend the day after their prayers, to have 'good time'. An European girl had also come there. Suddenly from nowhere, a crowd of these boys had 'encircled' her, not allowing her to go anywhere. All in good fun of course. She suddenly found a gap and she moved out. And like a swarm of bees, these boys moved with her, till she got either exasperated or frightened, and went and sat near a narialwala, almost in tears. Till we went and asked her whether she would like to be taken away from there. When she nodded, we took her with us, and dropped her at her hotel on Juhu Tara Road. She was shaking like an ashen leaf.
Just the other night, behind the building where we live, there was a Gujarati wedding. It had to be followed by a reception and'dinner'and music'and song. The decibel levels were ear shattering. I had to threaten them twice with calling in the police, if they don't tone down the noise and uni-raga songs. Eventually they did, and mercifully at 10 pm, which is the deadline for loudspeakers, the noise abated and then stopped.
That the other person is troubled and harassed doesn't seem to bother them as long as their fun is satisfied. 'Can't you put up with it for a few hours? You also enjoy the music if you want,' is all that you can get from them, when your try to plead for noise reduction.
And lest we forget'Tamil wedding, so very early in the morning, when the world has just slipped away into its final stage of sleep, comes the 'TEHN! TEHN!! TEHN!!! of the drumbeats against the highly taut animal leather, closely followed by the 'apaswaram' of the naadaswaram. Of course. They are all enjoying themselves and are having fun. 'Can't you put up with it for a day?' is that all my half-mast lungi wearing Tamil cousins would say! What matters is concern and attitudes!
And, lest we forget; our adept in the red spray-coating that we indulge in, anywhere and everywhere. And the newer the building the better the spray of the red paan juice.' My God! He does it with a flourish' said one of my overseas guests, when she saw one of them in action, as we were waiting for the lift at Dalamal Towers at Nariman Point. There was disgust on her face, and shame written all over me and the others who were standing there.
You would be lucky as a pedestrian if you come away 'clean' after walking on the road. Normally, it is two or three jet-spits from the top of the double Decker.
In Europe, where I was with the family in the UK and on my own in Germany, - of course the levels of noise was much higher in Britain- thanks to the immigrants! In Germany it was very different. Even during daytime, the noise levels were low. In Hamburg, where I was living, I had an office cum residence on the second floor of a villa in the most expensive location near the Ulster. The locality would go totally quiet by seven in the evening, and on weekends, it would be a wonder if you could spot even a bird or a dog! One night, around 2 a.m. there was a loud rapping on the door at the ground floor, and a constant ringing of the bell to my flat, with the more than loud calling out of my name ' 'Gopalakrishna!
Gopalakrishna!' One by one, the lights in the houses in the street started glowing, and people came to their windows to see what was going on. I came to the balcony and asked, 'Who is it?' 'I, Mishter Patel', came the reply. I got the entry door open, and in walks 'Mishter Patel', climbing through the wooden staircase, with all the sounds that leather soled shoes can make. 'I have come to shtay here phor phour days,' he said, much to my shocked surprise.' To what do I owe this pleasure?' I asked him. 'I am Mr. Doshi's phashtest friend. He and I shtudied together in school in Rajkot' he replied. By that time it was past three in the morning, and Hong Kong where my boss, Mr. Doshi was located would be awake. I called him and protested at the intrusion, and without any advance information. 'I don't know about this', he confessed. 'If you can't have him, send him to a hotel' he added. And I promptly did just that! Of course, I made him a cup of tea!
The 'fun' started the next morning, when I came down the stairs. The landlord (he is a German married to an American and holds both countries passports!) opened the door, and with a large smile said, 'We are very popular, are we?' I apologized very profusely, and to everyone I met on the street, who lived in houses there, I was apologizing for the disturbance that had been caused that night. And as is the custom, I came back with a small gift to the landlord and his family, which they accepted after a lot of protests.
Once there was one of those German festivities, the finale being a show of crackers. A team from Japan had been invited to exhibit the pyro-techniques, and the venue was the lovely Ulster Lake. Those who wished to witness this spectacle were welcome to do so from the various spots earmarked for this purpose. It was an hour and half of pure delight, witnessing the brilliance of the fireworks and the myriad patterns that they left in their trail. One can't think of lighting even a sparkler at their homes. But then, they have consideration for others.
Here, we are located next to a Gurudwara. You can imagine what happens when it is decided to have kirtans nightlong! Or a mid-day wedding with all the out-of-tune bands, dishing out old film music, with murderous tunes. Not to speak of the crackers and the sparklers mid afternoon. And to top it all, the street would be in a mess after they throw their plastic plates right on the road, after they have had their 'Guru-ki-Langar', causing a stink for the next two days, before the municipality van comes to clear the mess.
'Why don't you use the bin?' I asked. 'Chalta hai Bhaisahib' was all that the Jathedar could say, as he spat on the road right in front of the Gurudwara. That said it all!