THE GM-BM ROUTINE

In case you have a poor opinion about me, no, BM is not Bowel Movement and neither is GM Gonad Modification.

I have always wondered about how, in the West and in Australia, you could meet people in the lift/elevator while going for breakfast and everybody says ‘Good Morning’ to everyone else. Some even ask which country one is from, and reveal their own whereabouts. In short, a pointless but pleasant exchange of courtesy.

In India, we look at our feet, or at our images on the mirrors of the lifts, or ogle silently at the foreigners. It seems we have Bad Mornings every time.
Even at the gym, I find that I could be sharing gym space for months together with some people, but they rarely make eye contact with me. Only when I say ‘hello, how are you?’ would they look up and smile and return the greeting.

What is it with Indians, you think? Were we culturally dropped in the head when in infancy? Or is it just me who sees these people in my orbit?

26 responses to “THE GM-BM ROUTINE

  1. I think, its something to do with our country. Check this link.

  2. Indian culture or whatever passes for it these days preaches paranoia and intolerance so no wonder.

  3. Marc, I think it is not about paranoia and intolerance but lack of confidence.
    Rambodoc, the older generation of Indians carried the effects of colonialism and wasn’t sure about the reaction of the westerners which is why they couldn’t look into the eyes of a stranger and smile. The present generation is much more secure and believes in itself. There should be a gradual and visible change in future. About people in the gym not being friendly to each other sometimes age sometimes financial status or a dominating personality can be the reason. Not a very happy thing to say but Indians suffer both from inferiority and superiority complex. I have observed that people react differently to people from different localities, which reflects the financial status of the person. The younger generation is much better though. In a society where there are so many barriers it is difficult to expect friendly behaviour from strangers.

  4. I guess it is an instilled fear of getting into Trouble. Another reason could be population. India has too many people chances are we are tired of seeing people all around. Come here to certain part of US, there are rarely many people outside. So the urge to socialize is there because they are excited when they see people around. just my $0.02.

  5. Its not about foreigners. Indians in general are not very courteous people. Whereas like my sister tells me, in France if u catch someone’s eye they give a smile. Everyone is v courteous. There is no pushing or shoving. Maybe Indians used to be like that but with population and division over caste,class,region; there is too much animosity among us.

  6. I think we are just brought up that way. Its a chain which never got broken and was passed through generations. Also we can’t differentiate between “being polite” and “having faith”. For us, both are required to share a comfort level.

  7. Anshul:
    Thanks for the link.
    Marc and Dinesh Babu:
    Both of you made interesting comments. Prerna has an interesting perspective to this. It needs more thought. Paronoia, Marc? How?
    Reema:
    “Indians in general are not very courteous people. “
    Why, you think?
    Amit:
    “Having faith”? In what sense??

  8. I think *having trust* would be a better word. What I meant was that we don’t understand that you don’t need to trust a person to greet him.

  9. The same thing that prevents you from initiating the conversation and spreading some cheer?

  10. Doc, different parts, different desis.
    In NJ/NY/CA area where every 2nd house/car/person is a desi, there is no eye contact. Rest of places, like good ol DC area, we give a courtesy nod to each other. Some other places, they actually stop and chat.

    Going by that, India is a supreme level higher than NJ/NY.
    All’s good. Why talk and that guy turn into amway or some such? πŸ˜›

  11. Lakshmi:
    Says who? Hmmm. Actually, you may be right.
    Rads:
    πŸ™‚

  12. Cultural, rd. Would you really single out Indians (or anyone else for that matter) as collectively rude? You can’t escape the feet-starers and firang-oglers in the US elevators / Aussie lifts πŸ˜‰ either.

    I believe people are pretty much the same everywhere, every place has its assortment of sugary-polites, normal friendlies and shocking rudes. There are some things you can generalize about, certainly, but that’s a matter of wonts, and not won’ts πŸ˜‰

    I wonder if the stranger who greets you heartily in the elevator would encourage you asking for a glass of water from his house? Chances are, the gauche, grumpy slob will offer you one if you’re visibly tired & thirsty.

    I obviously have to leave many things unsaid, just like many others, but this one (more) thing Ican’t stop myself from saying: I’ve never really seen these much talked about discourteous Indians – shy yes; oblivious, definitely – what I have seen time and again is Indians (esp. in the US/overseas) never fail to point out how all other Indians are rude. If we assume them all to be correct, what does that leave us to conclude?

    Ok, lecture over, class dismissed πŸ˜› If you write neutral stuff, you’ll get shorter comments. Your fault.

    -g

  13. Gauri:
    What a pleasure it is to have you here!
    “Wonts, not won’ts”: super!
    No, I disagree with you here: I think Indians are rude in the conventional sense. But, saying ‘hi’, etc. is not normal to SE Asians, too, I think.
    As far as comments are concerned, anyone is welcome to say anything here! You have one avid reader in me, at least!

  14. doc: I think Indians are rude in the conventional sense.

    Amen! We talking real life, world and physical presence rt? Not online? Online, we are the best partyfolks ever! πŸ™‚

  15. o great! me and my tags. doc, pls edit. Thank u.

  16. Ah, the disadvantage of a few inches of comment-space! It’s very easy to be misunderstood and quoted out of context.

    I do see what you’re saying about rude in the conventional sense – but that’s when we curse each other while driving (though that does have its charm :-D), or cut through queues, and not respect time or people in general. It has its socio-economic reasons – certainly not justifiable, but explicable for sure. Most importantly because it’s never been a punishable offence. But that’s an entirely different story. Not saying a fleeting hello or good morning to strangers does not have much to do with it. That part is purely a matter of cultural conventions. And surprisingly this is the part most people complain about when they say Indians are rude.

    I understand a complete dissection of this will take an entire evening and pages, even to come to a point where one can agree to disagree.

    That said, thanks – and I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that if someone keeps coming back to read (and comment) the pleasure is all theirs πŸ™‚

    Rads: rofl@amway…very valid!

    -g

  17. Of course, I don’t know about India, but in America, how friendly people are seems to depend on where they are. Chicago is notably less friendly than Dallas, for instance.

  18. Paul:
    Time to know India. What about a visit?
    You can fund it by posing to the Obama regime as a major travel corporation gone recently bust, and therefore, eligible for a bailout!

  19. Rambodoc, courtesy is NOT in saying a hi to a stranger. Courtesy is in being nice when it counts.
    A couple of days back, I was stuck in a cab in obscenely heavy rain and traffic snarl for a few hours. Being the claustrophobic kind, I started hyperventillating, and the driver, a man I have never before seen before in my life, and will never in future, ran out in pouring rain to the potti kadai in the other end of the street to get me a soda. I would prefer this courtesy to the mechanical “Good morning” from a stranger.

  20. Lakshmi:
    Precisely the point I was wondering about: the routine and pointless courtesies with perfect strangers versus the real life situations when someone’s behavior makes a positive difference.
    That conceded, however, the friendliness (however superficial and momentary) that is displayed in the lifts, etc. is still a desirable ritual of displaying camaraderie with one’s fellows. As if to say, “We are all equal human beings and it is nice to be here…”
    Or things to that effect.

  21. This reluctance to act friendly with strangers is probably something cultural. But the world would be a pleasanter place if people acquired this habit. I always smile at anyone who makes eye contact with me and I see that it always evokes a favourable response.

  22. “I always smile at anyone who makes eye contact with me and I see that it always evokes a favourable response.”
    Usha:
    I would have said that about you even if you had not said that!

  23. Maybe so Doc but I have to say this:If ever my car has a flat tyre, or the last time I lay on a highway with a broken limb, thrown off a bus, the folks from the slums came up and helped me.

    I cannot imagine that happening so easily from violent ghettos elsewhere in the world infamous for their hostility.

    Also, I’ve stopped smiling out of courtesy when I end up making eye contact in elevators or down the road- the men think I’m a maami putting line and the pretty young women think I’m desperate for friendship!

  24. Maami:
    I understand your point completely!

  25. This post makes me miss morning at Rural places where you can’t pass a man without greeting him loudly πŸ™‚ from heart!!!

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