Predictably this led to a heated argument between us on why it was bad to be different and why whatever American was better than anything Indian etc. But I do appreciate her desire not to be ridiculed, not to do anything that marked you out as different particularly when you have chosen to live there and make it your home.
We all make these kind of adjustments and consciously avoid certain kind of behaviour the moment we are in public or in the company of outsiders - like not belching or eating noisily. We have been told it is not polite and we do it out of respect for the sensibilities of others. We do it as much for fear of being judged or ridiculed behind our backs. Some of us, particularly the menfolk, shed this politeness at the doorstep along with their shoes when they enter their house and as long as there are no outsiders around they feel fine to let go and belch and fart freely. But there is a general understanding and respect for accepted public behaviour.
So why do some people feel offended when we talk about insufferable behaviour of Indians on flights from Singapore, Malaysia, Srilanka, and the Gulf countries - Pestering the attendants for free stuff, grabbing as much alcohol as possible, stuffing airline cutlery into their baggage and leaving the toilet in a mess? Criticism of their behaviour is considered class snobbery towards the poor labouring masses who want to get the maximum value for the fare they have paid for through their hard earned money.
I agree that the burden of the fare is more on them than the business traveller or holidayer. But why is it snooty to expect them to rise above that kind of behaviour? Is it bad to let them know that the other passengers have spent money on their tickets too and hence it is important to be considerate toward their fellow passengers by not shoving and shouting or by observing better toilet manners? I see that these very same people are capable of better behaviour when there are fines and punishments deterring these. Why is it bad to teach them to use freedom more responsibly and with consideration for fellow humans? I don't agree with this attitude that education and money has to be constantly apologetic and bend over backwards toward those who are uneducated or poorer. I can understand if they advocated patience - in stead they seem to justify that kind of behaviour and even seem to suggest that they have earned the right to it by virtue of having paid for the ticket. Should not the self appointed champions of the masses be happy if they learnt more civilised behaviour rather than being laughed at? And moneyed or non-moneyed, educated or not, class or mass - aren't we all seen as Indians the moment we are in a foreign airliner or foreign land? At least for that, should we not bring them up rather than going down to their level? There are times when we dont have to be like this only.