I *heart* Bombay (and well..Boston)

I'm urban..in the way other people are mountain-people or tunafish junkies. I love city life...something about dreary concrete blocks and grumpy people totally gets my juices flowing. Ergo, this will be a blog about me, my two favourite cities (Bombay and Boston), my addiction to Vietnamese coffee and my views on Gregorian chant and it's efficacy in curing some types of tympannic membrane rupture. Enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Miss Manners! We need you!

So I'm going to go all Bree van der Kamp on the collective asses of every little spoilt brat/bitch who lives in Bombay but seems to infest Bandra with scary regularity. As a well brought up guy, I know how to treat people. Superior or inferior in class status (Oh! Don't you long for the pre-British days when we only oppressed people based on their birth and not economic status?). I have had it up to my (aquiline, slender, well-shaped) nose with the collective shenanigans of the Buntys and Rockys and Tanias and Anaitas of Bombay.

When did it become such a cool thing to abuse people in the service industry? Have I become sensitized to their feelings on account of living in America where every little thing is a "Yes please!" and "Have a nice day"? I used to notice it when I was younger..but thanks to my parents I never really became what I detest today in Bombay's people. We are a rude rude people. And we treat our menials (PC police! Please maaf this, I'm running out of synonyms for service-type people) like dirt. Not only are we rude by birth, but the rise in living standards and money we earn has been compensated by a sharp fall in civility and manners.

Case in point: Andorra's last night in Bandra. I stop by to get a burger while I'm pushed aside by Bunty McMuscles and his friend Rocky O'Smallpenis. "Give two burgers here" they demand. Not ask, not request, certainly not solicit. "Put more Schezwan sauce" they demand again "And hurry man, I'm hungry" they yell at the server who's trying his best to deal with 10 very hungry Bandraites. That done, they grab their burgers, fling (YES! fling!) their money at the server and leave, chomping even before they turn around (and with their mouth open too...Ugh!). No apologies for cutting in line, no sorrys to the aunties who haven't been able to be heard over their din, no smiles of sheepishness towards people who they shoved out of the way to get to the counter.

Case 2: How we treat people we employ. We are also incredibly lazy. In the last week, I've seen people call their servants out of another room to come over and hand them their phone (which was lying...3 feet away!). I've witnessed people interrupting their servant from his lunch so he can get up and get them a glass of water. Noticed them making fun of and talking about their servants IN FRONT of them as if they didn't even exist.

Case 3: A young boy calls his father a bastard for not buying him a toy at Shopper's Stop while I'm browsing the board game section. If I ever did that EVER, I'd have my teeth handed to me on a platter made up of my tightly stretched flayed skin. His father's response? "Sorry beta, I'll go to the ATM and get money for it". And as he's doing that, his son proceeds to throw a tantrum and beat his mother about her legs while she very calmly continues to shop. This is WHY people should have to take a class before bringing children into this world. ESPECIALLY the yuppie parents (the kinds whose kids names are Aryan and Michelle).

The more money we make, the more breeding we lose. Look at the Mafatlal family saga? Worth 10,000 crores Rs. and want to throw the 75 year old mother and the (decidedly bull dyke looking) sex-changed brother out onto the street. Witness the antics of the dime-a-dozen model fraternity who snort coke in posh clubs and smoke ciggies by the dozen while claiming to be good role models for children. Or the rich kids who drive Mercs at 16 and run over pedestrians while they drive drunk and then get out of it by blaming their drivers.

I'm DISGUSTED by the behaviour of Bombayites today. And by that, I mean mostly the young generation. MY generation. We have forgotten our values, our behaviour, our manners in the rush to show off our riches. It's times like these that I'm glad I'm middle-class and close to my family. Looking at the 12 year olds at Coffee Day behave with their Motorola mobiles and gelled-streaked hair and fake accents prancing around makes me so glad I was never exposed to that sort of lifestyle at that young an age.

If I ever see someone order around someone again just because of his social position again, I swear I'm going to force him to stand there and apologize. I'm that mad today.

Current Music:
Piya Haji Ali - Fiza Soundtrack

I find myself humming this when I pass Worli/Haji Ali on my long bus rides to town on weekends...I only wish I could reach the high pitches these qawwaals manage. I suppose I can't as long as I have a pair of cojones...


  • At 1:33 AM, Anonymous Rohan said…

    This is one of those posts I want to agree with absolutely and want to say something clever about in doing so.. Lets not try though!! We know what happens when we try too hard.

    STORY: Opposite the American embassy.. Merc filled with 5 15yr old college kids.. stop next to woman walking and spray water on her aith that contraption attached to the wipers!! I think we need a few Saudi Arabian style laws in this country!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • At 1:38 AM, Anonymous veed said…

    oh i can totally imagine bree van de kamp going "don't be common young man!"

    yeh, though, i totally agree with what you've written.. it's downright vulgar the way ppl behind counters or domestics are treated.. kids today ... *sigh*

  • At 2:23 AM, Anonymous J said…

    Whatever happened to good old polite manners and courteous gestures! People these days have that 'anything goes' attitude.

  • At 3:36 AM, Blogger roswitha said…

    But Indians have always been encouraged to step on people beneath them - a by-product of that old discrimination by birth/occupation thing. It's only that the parameters of status have changed. So: I repeat what you say. I'm always a little leery of bemoaning lost values and neither 'breeding' nor 'manners' are favourite words of mine - put it down to years of convent school oppression - but I'm inclined to agree whole-heartedly with your post. Thumbs up for being pissed off.

    And hey: only those infidel Catholics would ever encourage castrati. You can bet all your seventy virgins (or sacks of wine, depending on your translation) that qawwals are totally real men, okay.

  • At 5:25 AM, Blogger Vijayeta said…

    Oh how i agree with everything! Rudeness pisses me off like nothing can! People give me surprised looks when i say "Thank you" to an auto-wallah after i pay him. Yes, i know i'm paying for this ride, but then, call it a force of habit, or simply the fact that i've heard 7 auto-wallahs say no to take me wherever i want to go. So, that's reason enough to be grateful to the 8th one!
    And badly behaved kids in Mc Donald's, Shoppers' Stop...The only ppl to be blamed are the parents. I once witnessed a couple arguing in Bangalore and the man called the wife a bitch! Guess what? The 3-4 yr old kid picked it up!

  • At 10:02 AM, Blogger karuna said…

    Sadly enough i have to agree. I have a friend who has her servant sit by the TV to flip channels, hand her the phone, maybe a nail polish all this inspite of incessant teasing. Its scary what the world is coming to...

  • At 10:28 AM, Anonymous sqrl/nt said…

    The Shopper's stop incident is really scary. I wonder how I would have reacted.. one 'tight slap' as used to get in the old days, would have put the kid in his place.

    ..and dont even get me started on people who name their kids Aryan. grr

  • At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i'm so glad you came out with this and not me, even though i felt it the whole time I was there--my people have gone nuts.

    I could not complain cause they'd say i was a stupid confused Indian american who hated himself and his homeland. I wanted to LOVE it so bad it hurt but where ever i went i got my nose rubbed by assmunchers ( which under the right circumstances can be a good thing but i digress). WHat happened to the people loving people --is it just BOMBAY --are they nicer down south, out of BIG DUMPSTER by the sea?

    I actually felt embarrassed being INDIAN and kept telling myself I wasn't --i actually told myself that I was AMERICAN. and that was a tough, tough, tough week old dried up bagel as hard a rock tough pill to swallow, i didn't want to be plain old american, but damnit i like being in a country where people know how to get in line ( except at the SOUTHWEST counter, --i know for every sentiment, there is a contradiction, but i speak of a general malise and attitude problem by the BOMBAY folk i ran into.

    i was so ashamed of myself for hating the fellow browns that i wanted to love -- I swear even the poor had the nerve to throw change back at me and demand dollars.

    I got pushed out of the way at the AD LABS, and at a f'ing family fare film too, It's like " Get the fuck out of my way, i got to get in and see this film about everybody lovin each other" I mean what gives?

    I think that KINDNESS should be tought in school, people are so not tuned into it. What is it, a show of weakness to be nice, to step aside, to open a door, to smile, to talk to a stranger?

    I remember one day I was stalking I mean following ZEENAT AMAN around at a club, the BIATCH would not even sign a autograph! Man the people in the film bis over there are the worst!

    Where are all the nice desi's you see in the movies? Present company excluded -- I feel like VICKY ( and MEENU ) are old fashioned peeps with smiles on thier faces that reflect what's inside -- a human beings.

    It's official I AM AFRAID of INDIANS with MONEY. NO way I'm going to be at a FOLEY'S in INDIA when they discover a concept of a ONE DAY SALE, they mayhen, the choes, the broken shakras....oy i'm going to run home and watch ICE CASTLES with hot ass motherfucker ROBBY BENSON in tight jeans, i wonder if he's packing left or right but once again i digress ---


  • At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Man I should have read that one first, way too many typos, but i was fuming as i wrote and all the ill will i digested came rushing back to me. You get waht oops, i mean what i mean.


  • At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You need to lighten up Vikster. I think thats a very holier-than-thou look at the current generation. Im sure, you had your share of bad behaviour when you were young ?

  • At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Mitali said…

    Power to you cousin! You've said exactly what I've felt for a long time now. Most upwardly mobile people in India, and their kids, are rude, especially when they know that they can buy their way out of everything.

  • At 7:28 PM, Blogger sac said…

    amen. when i was in england i respected them for their general sense of respect (not talkin about the yobs of cos). please, thanks (or cheers), excuse me and queues are A Good Thing. fug knows when we'll ever practise that daily here. tcha.

  • At 10:41 PM, Blogger Vikster said…

    Rohan: No Saudi or Singapore laws thankyouverymuch. We just need proper parenting. Why are the parents giving the keys of the car to 15 year olds?

    Veed: This is why Bree van der Kamp is my fav. housewife. She knows how to behave (OK so she turned her son gay but whatever..)

    J: I agree. Chivalry is dead...as it should be. But manners? That's something that should live forever.

    Roswitha: The words "Breeding and manners" are un-PC I know..but seriously, when someone has good breeding and class, it shows. You can be rich, poor or middle class. It shows. And it's something to be proud of.
    As for castrati..do you know the Popes used to get good boy singers kidnapped and forcibly castrated so that they could sing soprano in the Vatican? It only stopped in the late 1800's. Disgusting!

    Vij: I blame the parents. Thats what I meant about yuppies being forced to take parenting classes. Worst offenders? Rich Sindhi and Punju people.

    Karuna: I still can't understand how people have the nerve to do some of this.

    Sqrl/Nt: Exactly! My parents would NEVER have let me get away with being rude to them. Now I have nieces who call their parents by the first names. If they call me anything but "Mamu", I glower at them!

    Duncan: I agree. Assmunchers comment threw me off as I imagined you and me...

    Anonymous: NO. I was naughty, but NEVER rude or evil like the Aryans and Ishaans of today. My parents would NEVER have let me get away with it.

    Mitali: MOney is good in most circumstances..but here it just makes people mean. And I don't like that.

    Sac: We have our share of yobs (and ..even chavs!!) but a nice Thank You never ever hurt. Queues wer waht we stood in when I was younger. Havent seen one in a while now.

  • At 10:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What we have got is a self-obsessed navel-gazing society who are obsessed with the thought that the path
    to nirvana is through consumption : the more you consume,closer you are. And then everything
    and everyone is something with a price tag.
    Vikster tells me i'm badly behaved: Wait till i'm done with my fnishing school in Switzerland; i'll have
    better manners than he can ever think of. Me UnGodly?: See me when I'm done attending a course being run by Ex Miss wotever.Another new avatar of a Devi.. thats me.
    Appearances are kept, and All's Well.
    What they miss out is the resilience: You cant buy that yet. The manners last as long as the makeup and godliness as long as they are in godly company.
    When we stop treating everything as an object, Look out and explore the world beyond our navels, maybe things might change.
    Its the parents who just pass on their crass attitudes to the kids. Most of them cannot think beyond earning, making it good, and then it degenerates into a display of what they have achieved. Strengh of soul cant be bought. Its gotta be tempered like steel in harsh conditions. Maybe the increasing population makes God give everyone a lil less of soul. :)

  • At 12:56 AM, Anonymous kestrel said…

    ..>the point is "everyone and anyone can get away with anything in thie country...

    But its a contradicting situation. 5 people out of 10 still say thank you to auto wallahs( inspite of the fleecing driver)...people dont NORMALLY call servants when they are having lunch.....and the Aryans and Michelles misbehave just like Rahuls and Sumits...

    But yes the irritating lot still exists...But we cant make just a face on them....
    Its a pretentious world , and the same merc driving 16 yr olds comes back home and does "haanji auntie,,namaste auntie"..and touches the feet of their daadi in the filmi way..so cant really blame parenting..can we..
    And yes..for every Vik and meenu, there is a Aryan or Michelle ( or their dads)..its diversity..

    But how many of us have had the guts to actually tell a rude young yuppie, about how rude he has been?
    PS: I loved the analogies in the post.:)

  • At 1:44 AM, Anonymous closetalk said…

    hmmm... rude food? haven't really seen so much of that in my life, actually. wonder if i'm blessed or merely in my bubble world. bit of both, probly. ;-)

  • At 6:08 AM, Blogger Enemy of the Republic said…

    I love this blog. Having worked in the service industry, I can relate to the dark side. I also know what you mean about yuppie parents: my husband and I are total hard asses when it comes to our son's wants: if he pulls a tantrum, he gets toys taken away plus tv time. I don't care if the whole world stares at us; I will not raise a spoiled brat. Those kinds of parents are trying to avoid confrontation but they will pay for it when the kid turns out to be an ungrateful wretch who will ignore them in their old age. So we grit our teeth now.

    When did you live in the US? Were you a student here? My husband is from Boston.

  • At 7:45 PM, Blogger F-cubed said…

    I tend to glower at anyone (including the nephew) if they call me 'uncle'. I absolutely HATE the term. (and do not even for a moment suggest calling me aunty!!!)

    Prince Charming however gets away with calling me mamu.

    The one thing that he has learnt from bitter experience however is that he can not always make a mamu of me. Throwing a tantrum and crying in the middle of a shopping mall, he tried it all and realised that I am a cold and heartless bastard when it comes to sticking to rules.

  • At 3:14 AM, Blogger Spacewoman Shilp said…

    Oh i could rant about this forever!! I am constantly apalled by how badly kids are behaved these days, and how their parents do absolutely zilch to change that! You go to a nice restaurant hoping to have a decent quiet meal and a talk, and all you can see/hear are kids of yuppies running around, screaming at the top of their voices, playing hide and seek around their parents, who, instead of rebuking their offspring, are happily ignoring them and eating! worse, they'd be trying to stuff food down their wretched kids' throats. How i wish i could round up all such parents and give them a dressing down, a spanking and a lesson! Had i dared to do something even remotely like that as a kid, i'd have been given two tight whacks right then and there, and never been taken out by my parents again. I almost feel like writing a post on this myself, and linking in to yours.

    Dropped by from Vij's, btw..and quite like your blog:)

  • At 12:10 AM, Blogger DiTtY said…

    Hey Vikster,
    Am here after a long time and I have to say that I couldn't have said it better myself! It's not just kids and people in Bombay who are so ill-behaved, this seems to be a pan-Indian phenomenon! Here in B'lore, it is almost a norm that people cut lines in Coffee Days, Baristas and such!

    However, the only difference is that I don't stand back and watch the fun. I have one actually, must against my inner voice, told a kid and her parents off at McDonald's cos the parents used the cute kid to break the line, as people will not be heartless enough to stop a kid, right?! Except, I didn't concur with that particular line of thought... I spoke to the parents and put them in place... and the kid was called back! :)

    I do think that bullies (of all sorts and these acts you described are bullying) can only get their way if no one stops them! We can do precious little about the too-much-money-too-much-spoilt Yuppie kids... but we can do something about like breakers!


    Good stuff, Vikster! :)

  • At 1:55 PM, Blogger Lost philosopher said…

    Look I am not trying to contradict you but you must understand that just because you have seen a few incidents you narrate you cannot collectively accuse us a whole. I will admit that it may be wrong to squirt water from the viper hose unto unsuspecting pedestrians, but I am guilty of having done it and I will admit that it is quite entertaining when there is nothing to do. When I am at home we suffer the pangs of boredom on a daily basis and you have to try and understand it. To understand things from a certain perspective you have to look at it; and if you have not had the privilege to do so I cannot suggest a remedy. However I sincerely wish that you realize that the great indian middle class are the worst kind of hypocrites and what they wish to do but are unable to they despise and talk about in a derogative manner.... Ah mate, forget it why am i even bothering to explain ?

  • At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's hilarious that you often comment on people and their fake accents. But, you have a fake British accent too!I know you quite well.

  • At 10:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Why blame people from specific communities (I see here Sindhis and Punjabis listed). Every community is the same. Some good and bad folks. Vik- It is typical to blame other communities. A typical Indian behavior. Living in Bombay, if I were to list some communities as the worst, I would say Maharashtrian's are the worst. This is because if we are blaming other rich communities to be spoiled brats because of money then marathi's being traditionally poor/middle class people should be civilized. They are exactly opposite. Ask a non-maharashtrian from Bombay and he will tell you about their behavior. I would say that all communities have good and bad folks. It is in the Indian culture itself.


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