Oh Calcutta!

Indians must be among the rudest people on Earth and among Indians, we Bengalis must be among the worst. Some of the true blue Delhiwalla’s of course run us close, but while we may not win the IPL, or the National Football League, we stand alone in discourtesy and boorish behavior. It becomes especially evident if you live outside India. Here in Malaysia it is normal for people to talk to you courteously, queue up behind you without showing any signs of impatience as you fumble around in the ATM, and people often smile at you if your eyes meet. I cannot imagine this happening in good old Calcutta.
The first people you meet in Calcutta are the Immigration officials who scrutinize your passport for ages, for reasons best known to them. In Malaysia they let me enter the country in about 20 seconds and smile while they let me through, but when I try to enter my native city, they ask at least three irrelevant questions, leaf through all the pages of my passport with excruciating slowness and then reluctantly stamp it with a suspicious air. “Couldn’t find anything wrong this time, but next time…..” seems to be the unspoken threat.
Come next to the Taxi counter. This must be the only city in the world where people surlily ask you where you want to go and then tell you that there are no cabs because there is either a strike, or a Vishwakarma Puja is on, or Mamata Banerjee has had a bout of diarrhoea. If you do get the precious slip and you come out, there are legions of toughs who keep pestering you to let them pull your bag up to the taxi and then demand $ 10. In dollars, I kid you not. Only when you start the (abusive) dialogues that you learnt with the Calcutta air in your youth, do they realize that you are a kindred spirit and reluctantly release you. If you ask the Cab driver how long he thinks it will take to get to your destination, he will either pretend not to hear you or say something like: How do I know?” Talking normally is an art that Calcuttans have long lost.
It is incredible how people who behave perfectly decently in foreign climes suddenly change their character as soon as they sniff the air of Dum Dum. In buses, in the Metro, in the Shopping Malls or in the restaurants and of course any government office, the unnecessary rudeness really staggers you. I once was witness to a loud quarrel that lasted while minibus travelled from Behala to Dalhousie Square, and all because somebody had poked somebody else, presumably inadvertently, with his briefcase.
The sad thing is that you realize that this was exactly the way you used to behave till the other day. The patient in the OPD was treated like dirt by your attendant and you did nothing to stop him, You yourself was rude to the relative who wanted to know why the patient was not recovering from surgery as well as he should have and never dreamt of talking kindly to the long line of people who were waiting for admission to the scarce hospital beds.
The whole of Calcutta seem to be infested with small time mastans (Goons) who make it their life’s mission to be rude and interfering. Everybody is ready to tell everybody else what to do while never doing anything his/herself. It is common to both the sexes, I have seen nurses who were as rude as any general duty attendant and the telephone operators in the Government hospitals were in a special class in their discourtesy.
I feel that it is high time that a large scale campaign was put in place to teach people the virtues of common politeness. That it is not demeaning yourself to speak decently and the world will not think ill of you if you did not bully the poor guy who came to you to transact some business. Though, sometimes, I feel that it is too late. Discourtesy has become genetically ingrained in the Bengali and it is impossible to get it our without something really drastic being done.

Comments

akdcts said…
some comments on Facebook on this post:
Sharmistha:Anjan da , u r right! But I think you need to stay in Malaysia for a bit longer period to be so confident about the nature of the people here.
Sovan:But mam, sir has portrayed the picture is so true in Both Bengal...they really behave well when they leave the country ..once they are in, they start littering ..spiting and what not...they absolutely forget that few hrs back they used to behave like gentleman...and locals are local..no way we can control their mood, behavior and thought process.
I think i can Give this bug a name "DESI VIRUS" very contagious ..LOL

Sharmishtha:Sovan, its true to some extent. Just as in Kolkata, all places have its good and bad sides.

Its just unfortunate that some people keep meeting the wrong ones all the time.

Sharmishtha:@Sovan : eta por "The people are rude, this is confirmed by a report by the Readers Digest Magazine that Kuala Lumpur (KL) is according to its tests is the third rudest city In the world. "

Kalpana:I soooooo DO NOT agree with you !!!! My experience tells me otherwise !!!! You find rude and polite people all over the world- just depends who you come in contact with.

Yachana:may i join the conversation.being rude and polite is a matter of over-all development, it projects "nurture" more often than "nature". if i was writing an article i would say simiar things about delhi too. jaipur in india according to me has to be the most polite place followed by some places in south india.
akdcts said…
Some more :
Sharmistha: Yachana, thanks for your input, I am born and brought up in Kolkata and have been staying in GUjarat for the last 10 years, currently in Kuala Lumpur.I found the Gujarati people very polite and mild though a bit business minded, but that doesnt matter so long they are sociable. About South Indians I have my own reservations- may be I met all the ... See morewrong SI s in my professional life-Ifound them not compatible but then that's a purely personal opinion based on what I have faced in life- professional life to be more specific. But no one can generalize a population's rudeness just by one's personal experiences. Calcutta still has Taxi drivers who will come back to give you your lost itemswhich you might have forgotten in the cab. Calcutta still has people who on the streets will ask you where do u want to goif you are looking lost, so I agree with you it's all "a matter of over-all development, it projects "nurture" more often than "nature". I was
surprized to note that Amsterdam is listed as one of the "Rude"places on earth, but my experience was extremely good when I visited Amsterdam. Politeness and rudeness are very relative terms! have a nice day!

Sharmishtha: Agreed Kalpana!
akdcts said…
Naveen: As a Malaysian, i'm appalled that KL is the 3rd rudest city in the world. I think being rude has many meanings. Like in Paris, ur lost and u speak in english asking for directions on the map, but they reply in french and sign language. Thats rude and disgusting. Thats Arrogant Rudeness. In malaysia, the driver are rude and lack courtesy. If u show them the middle finger, they will come after u. The nurses in the government hospitals r rude becoz they r overworked. So if ur going to a govt hospital in malaysia, carry some tidbits and share with the counter nurses, they will be more helpful. So, i find that if u smile and talk to anyone, they will respond similarly. You cant change people, but u can be a little bit more accomodating to all around u, if it helps. "
akdcts said…
It amazes me that people bring in personal anecdotes when discussing something general. Sharmishtha implies that i meet the wrong people, Kalpana finds rude or nice people all over the world.
All this is true and nobody denies it, however the point i was trying to make is that there are places and people who are gratuitously rude and Calcutta is ... See moreone of them. So is Delhi, Just because one Taxi man did somebody a favour in 1946 does not prove anything, the combined experiences of most people is what counts.
And if there is any place worse than Calcutta in India at least,Ii have yet to see it, excepting of course Delhi, which i have already mentioned and Yachana has concurred.
And Naveen to say KL is a rude city is perhaps comparing it with European cities American ones. Among the Asian cities, people are among the best behaved , in my opinion. I also have an opinion about opinions derived from Readers' Digest, the last refuge of American Rednecks, but i do not want to start another quarrel.
akdcts said…
Sharmishtha again:
Naveen: that's the survey by Reader's Digest! I dont say so, I have met a couple of people who I would rather call "uncivilized" than "rude". I have met so far more nice Malaysians as compared to the other category. Yesterday one incident happened in my workplace, my dept staff [ incidentally she is an Indian from India ] wasrequested by meto keep ... See morecertaininstruments in the Lab ready for a visit by delegates, and when I walked into the lab with the team of visitors, she was sitting there rocking on the chair and had done nothing. Now, if I would have reacted to that situation by shoutingat her then I would have been surely branded as a "RUDE" person. Isn't it? So, that's it! Situations make you act rude!Very rarely you will find people who are by nature rude, but then again if you try to find out the root cause, you will see there must have been something bothering him/her,orany bitter experience earlier. Its very difficult to generalize human
behavior.Have a nice day!
and again:
Anjan da, first of all let me make one thing clear. It's a discussion going onand not a quarrel. You know calcutta and calcuttans for many years , why did u suddenly pick up this issue now? That implies what I guessed, I may be wrong. Just as you stated that Calcuttans are impolite and rude and compared them to people of another country, you are ... See morecurrently staying, others are also doing the same. All that I am trying to say is that "generalization"regarding human behavior is not justifiableand behavior is highly relative.The personal experience has been brought in just to indicate that this behavior is highly dependent on who one is interacting with and the situation that made youreact like that!
akdcts said…
Sovan now:
@ All No one mentioned about Bihar..our Mr Lalu and Ms Rabdi devi's place. I visited in 2001 and then decided never again till I die..
then again:mam, and sir, But one thing is definitely true that those officers in the custom they really make you feel that you are a thief and could nt do anything this time will try to see you next time. But funny things Is I have tried to changed their behavior towards me, How? " find a trolly boy, ask which counter will have no checking if you give ... See more100 Rs. give the boy the money he will manage" ha ha both the border ..so now a days I pay them to behave..I guess they really get less payment ..so can not keep their mind cool with such small amount of salary....
akdcts said…
and then Sharmishtha with the last word:
So u see, there's a reason behind everything! Try and find out the reason andrectify it! For that matter even if you need to bribe them! The flip side is some crooks will do the same and come out into the city with RDX etc!
Anonymous said…
婚姻對男人來說是賭他的自由,對女人而言卻是賭她的幸福。 ..................................................

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