>civility and me

>Rush reached Jammu this morning for a holiday with her friends. She will be going to Jammu, Leh, Srinagar and other places for about 10 to 12 days. Her hosts are her friends parents.

I called the hostess this morning to talk to Rusha and give her some more contact details in Srinagar. During the conversation with the hostess, it occurred to me that i am really not very civil by the given standards of civility in the civilised society. Not that i have never really been cognizant about it, but sometimes it becomes a little too obvious. for instance, i think I should have called up the hostess in advance and thanked them for hosting my daughter and for taking the trouble, etc, etc. However, in my mind, my daughter is 23 plus years old and is an adult and so is her friend. So if between them they have decided to go for a holiday, it is perfectly fine and calling up her friends parents meant, being extra cautious, which i did not see any need for. however, it is Rusha who reminded me to do the thanking and so i did, profusely, a little late in the day, nonetheless!

however, i guess that is not the way everyone will see it. as for me, i keep missing these finer points of civility and propriety from time to time in almost all settings. For instance, saying “thank you” does not come to me very easily, especially if i experience someone doing something very earnestly and sincerely. i think saying “thank you” would be demeaning that gesture, that heartfelt emotion. Saying nothing and accepting what has been offered feels far more gracious to me but i see the point that others may hold; that without articulation, people may not know how one is receiving what is being offered.

my upbringing was in utterly chaotic condition and a fairly mixed culture. one of the households where i spent most of my time during holidays, had this culture of “we are the first among equals” and hence whoever came across to their household, was expected to feel obliged as they were allowed inside and spoken to. No individuation was allowed there, only homage.

the next household where i spent some time, had a laissez faire environment. anyone was welcome and was expected to stay longer, eat, rest, etc. however, neither the guest nor the hosts were allowed any private/public boundaries as everyone was treated with the same overt bonhomie and freedom, which i guess, could trigger off paranoia and claustrophobia in highly private individuals.

the hostel had its strict rules and boundaries but then it was hostel and one was supposed to break rules. so rules and boundaries in hostel were taken in as something that was imposed upon us free beings, and was meant to be broken. Certainly by me as i see in hindsight, not all of the brethren (or sisters as the case may be) shared the same ideology with me.

hostel was fun as it continuously threw up options for defiance and conformity and one had to balance between the two and one could (i guess i certainly did) feel content in the ideation that one was taking that “highly autocratic world” with a pinch of salt in one’s stride as independence was just a step away, if only one had wished harder for it!!!

Those were days of freedom of the mind and not of the body. I remember saying to myself (and sometimes to my tormentors both at home and at hostel) ” what best will you do? you can kill me, that is all, but you can not imprison my mind”!!! lofty words for a sprightly 11 years old those days.

to come back to what i started this blog with, civility and me are not really a cosy twosome. I am often lost and little in the face of proper civility of the world (and i think i still hold it away from me with a barge pole). My sense of being civil with people is to be familiar, direct and honest, which is not the best route taken, if not the least. Most people in this world would like a bit of cover up, a bit of smile and just a hint of familiarity so that they do not have to wonder what to do next. In this way, the rules of the game is familiar, everyone plays them the same way, no chance of a same side, no chance of a penalty or a free kick, just a little dribbling here and there, no body blows. No sir, there is no place for contact football here.

The world of civility alludes me. I am learning from A, a little bit of it. He has his own idea of civility, which calms people, makes them comfortable and yet not too familiar at the same time. When i watch him in action, i admire the ease with which he makes his moves (no pun intended here) and everything seems to just fall in place.

I, in contrast, is often like a bull in a china shop, or more like a overbearing family dog which is waiting for the guest to come in.

ha, ha, i like that analogy. I find many a similarities between me and dogs. the strongest similarity is dogs need to be trained in manners and so do human lets, and i was not trained in any of the above places i mentioned. they did not even know that i existed as a part of the household, i was always an addendum, an extra, watching the play from the sidelines, who, at best, could have been utilised to take the water into the field during breaks. the coach of the Sansara never really had time for me.

Today as i await entering the half century of my life, i look back in amazement and in gratefulness of what all life has offered me, in all its splendours and glory and in its utter ugliness and horror. All of them contributed to making the me of today, someone who is still a little lost, different and of course, still gloriously, uncivilised!

woman, mother, thinker, citizen of the world, curious and hopeful about the world, generous, opinionated, argumentative, insightful, intuitive, psychotherapist, executive coach and organisation consultant

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