Once on my return trip from colombo,I had a chatty neighbour.He was a businessman who regularly travelled overseas and had a lot of interesting stories to share.He decried how we had along way to go in changing our attitude to cleaniliness,politeness in conversation, punctuality, etc. He compared us to other countries which were much cleaner and friendlier even though they were behind us on several parameters such a higher education facilities and medical facilities. How Indians in Singapore respect rules of cleanliness but would spit at the airport the minute they landed in India. Blah, blah, blah.Things that one always hears from people who go abroad and return. I was smiling and nodding and mercifully it was a short flight. And of course I could see the truth in some of his criticism too.

Soon we landed in Bangalore and a minute after the seat belt sign was off my neighbour was already standing near the exit. In a flash he had got up,said a hurried goodbye,picked up his box from the overhead locker and made his way there so he could get out first and rush to the immigration counter and get out fast.It did not matter to him that in the seat before us there was a pregnant lady and in another there were couple with small children. How sensitive is that?

And this was the man who was critical of rudeness in people far less educated.I understand that our procedures take long and every minute's delay in deplaning adds 5 minutes to the wait in the immigration queue but isn't that precisely why persons with children, pregnant women and older people should be allowed to go first?
I was irritated with his behaviour as I always am after every air travel in India because people "always" behave like this. I can say "They" because I don't participate in this madness ever. Someone starts it and then everyone feels it is ok to follow. They're not guilty if they didn't start it.And it is the people who need to go first - the older people, the pregnant women, who stay in their seats as they cannot handle this mad scramble.

And the irony of it all is that our systems have a great way of levelling all this - I was secretly pleased when his checked-in luggage arrived late and hence we both left the terminal around the same time!I wish they would also have separate counters at the immigration for older people, people travelling with infants and pregnant women. I haven't been out of the country for a while now. Do they have them now?

Was reminded of this after reading Orchid's post here.I completely understand how she felt. And when I read this post by a foreigner visiting India,I felt ashamed but there doesn't seem to be much that one can do except not being part of such behaviour.
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23 Responses
  1. Inder Says:

    there is something seriously wrong with us.....

  2. i hat ethose types who start critisiing the minute they sit in the flight for India. to me it is akin to someone saying my house is a bad place for living. not to support the shabby treatment nd the slowness of the customs but we do our bit in adding to the muddle...

  3. Mahadevan Says:

    The least we can do is to try not to be a part and be 'Far from the madding crowd'. We do not have a right to find fault with others, when we ourselves are guilty of the short comings we are shouting at, like your co-passenger in that journey. If I come out of the filth, I should try to help others to come out of it and not laught at or decry them. Condesending outlook and contemtuous treatment would not carry us long.

  4. GuNs Says:

    I would have asked him to wait and let the pregnant lady pass if I were you. But then, nobody likes to be seen as a rude person so we dont point out mistakes.

    Probably this has a context with one of your earlier posts where you asked whether it is better to be loved or admired.

    Glad to say I am with you in the bumch of people who wait until the stewards announce that the passengers can stand up and start moving out. I in fact find it funny to see people clambering towards the door as if the flight's goinna fly off without letting them get off the plane !


  5. rads Says:

    The last time I came through, they did have something - but as always there's a pushy family/passenger who doesn't care much for rules.
    I guess they follow the axiom 'while in rome, be like the romans' :)

  6. Thanks for the reference back to my post ;) and boy! was I embarrased to read the other post...I think he hit it on the nail. We are surrounded by an eternal fear of "not being able to make it" all going back to - too many people ,too few opportunities.
    Rads is right, the last couple of times I was asked to proceed to immigration past the crowd (no, not line!)and that was such a blessing after being in the air for eternity with a hyperactive toddler.

  7. ah! blog's already looking better than it did yesterday! :)

    If you fly via Europe - and I have noticed this the last 3 times it happened - the flights from India and to India - will always be in the shabbiest, oldest, fartherest corner. The loos will be dirty and the crowd will be loud. I dont know why. But it boils my blood.

    And its the same - everywhere. I flown a lot of times in the US - once with a 9 month old - and people just rushed to the airplane gates. And you're right - I was the last to exit the plane - for fear - that this mad rush wud push me and baby aside.
    When they ask families to first board the plane - invariably you line up - and ther will be tons of single travellers ahead of you. What part of the word 'family' do they not understand? And its not just Indians - yahan par too - it happens

  8. Usha Says:

    Inder: :(

    ITW: Criticism without trying to do anything about it is worse. For example, I try to make people get in line if they try to get ahead saying "it is just an enquiry". I do allow an older person or a pregnant woman to go before me if they are behind me. But on most occasions you can't do anything about it and that is when I need an aspirin or a tranquiliser or a blog!

    Mahadevan:I agree.

    Guns: I would have and I do earn the displeasure of people behind me when I stop and let an older person pass. But this man had done it all so fast I realised it only when he was already stabding near the exit. Even the flight attendant was powerless before this bull charging. You think I could have caught his attention from row 11?
    Nono, I don't like to be loved for the wrong reasons.

    Rads:Perhaps it is time we also learnt to assert ourselves against these "pushy" people.

    Orchid: I am happy that there are some fast tracks for the people who nee dit.

    STS: Ah really! I thought i'd let it stay like this until I upgrade.
    There too? have we indianised the world then?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    That is the only reason why hub and I don't even try getting down with 2 young kids until the very end. With kids, we pretty much have the first row in any section. However, everybody is rushing to the exit, and we are content to pick our overhead bags and get down last. What with the having to collect the stollers etc. But, I must say it is not just the Indians who rush to the exit. It is EVERYBODY. Race, nationality, age, gender, nothing matters. Here, everybody unites!

    At the Bangalore airport, when we arrived this Oct, we were very happy with the service. Seeing that we had young kids who were very tired after the very long journey, one lady (not sure of her designation) led us to a separate empty immigration line. That was such a boon.

  10. passerby55 Says:

    Hi Usha,

    Pushy people . It's abosultely the truth. Hard fact.

    I was told if you wait here, your chance will never come. Actually we generalise this theory of never getting a chance in all circumstances. We treat all situations at the same level.

    Living a life here is like an emergency case for us. It's here and now otherwise Never.

    ANd i find this "habit of hurry" is highly infectious/contagious.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks Usha! I just noticed my name on your 'Friends' list. :)

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I hate people like that!

  13. Yes, have seen this happening often. Those travelling in buses are often better mannered.

    BTW, saw your pic on Metblog :)

  14. Hip Grandma Says:

    Like you I can only say I'll do my bit to check this madness.there is precious little i can do.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    So well said Usha. I think so much about how to get us all out of this hell. But I am beginning to think I am wasting my energy.

    You story inspires me to share very similar experiences I have had.

    Find one not very similar, but interesting experience here

  16. Anonymous Says:

    I have traveled a number of times to and from India via Singapore, mostly by Singapore Airlines. The Singapore-Chennai lap is always a different experience. It's unruly, me-first behavior, both while boarding and exiting. The same behavior is quite noticeable among the non-ex-Singapore passengers, who were mostly well behaved until then. Although, as Something to Say says, it happens occasionally in the USA and Europe, there's a significant difference in the pattern of behavior in India, and among Indians.

    What gives in the neighborhood of India? As Johannes says, our experience in India, virtual and real, is that "nice guys finish last". In the neighborhood of India, this shared experience fuels the band-wagon effect. Away from India, it's the stick and the absence of the "herd" keep us from behaving like an oaf.

    A silver lining - I notice that we are better behaved today than 25 years ago, at least in air travel.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Chitra:I also sit glued to my seat and if I am in the aisle or middle the persons next to me hop over me to join the rush!and a few times some foreigner or oldtimer halts behind my seat and waits for me to leave - never a young Indian.They are all in a hurry to run the world.

    Passserby:Too bad isnt it. True, bad habits are easy to acquire and difficult to shed!

    Chitra: you are most welcome.

    Perspective:I know what you mean.

    BGhosh:Lol.Oops that was a bad hair day. Oh never mind!

    Hipgran: Sigh..ya.

    Silkboard:read your post and made my blood boil even thinking about what he said.Makes me so angry when educated young people act like this.

    The RF:Depressing. And i love the interesting links you provide in your comments and posts. Thanks.

  18. Artnavy Says:

    have you noticed how people rush to the exit when the plane lands ( sometimes before)and also turn on cell phones like the world is coming ot an end

  19. GuNs Says:

    LOL, Usha...I shouldnt have doubted your intentions. LOL but fast !! Ha ha...I've seen those kind too. The ones who actually run up to the exit door sometimes even before the seat belt sign goes off.

    You should see me at traffic signals. Many a times, I am the ONLY one standing there where everyone else is buzzing past and the ones behind me keep honking. I just point to the signal and continue to stay put.


  20. GuNs Says:

    Oh, just a question that picked my mind. Want your opinion on this.

    In a plane/bus/train/hall with one exit door and many participants who want to get out, imagine a scenario not too different to yours here. One pregnant/old/sick preson and 10/50/100 fit and fine people. Do you think it is theoretically correct for all 100 people to wait for that one person to get up and go first or should the one person choose to stay in his/her seat and go last?

    What do you think is correct?


  21. Usha Says:

    yes, usually they are allotted the front seat and it isnt too much trouble for the other 80/100 to wait. It is only these types who rush to the exit from seat no 11 who cause the problem otherwise it takes 1 min to let her pass from seat no 8 and then for the other 99 to rush as they like.

  22. India is the only place where being polite and patient is considered a sign of weakness.. (Well I think the same applies to new york too).

  23. Usha Says:

    sad..or is it that we dont even notice how rude we are because it is all pervasive?