I was brought up in a rather disciplined atmosphere, so there was a whole long list of bad manners. You had to greet everyone with folded hands and a 'namaste'in the morning, or you were very bad mannered and not brought up right. You had to eat with everyone on the dining table. If you chose to eat while reading a book in your bedroom on your bed, you were terribly bad mannered. if you came in front of people wearing shorts, or your nightie, it was the height of bad manners. If you spoke out against your elders, you needed to be sent to your room for bad manners. So I grew up, understandably, well-mannered but rebellious. And brought up my children with only a smattering of the required manners. You had to be polite but still exercise your will if you so wanted, I told them. If that confused my kids, well, at least I did not din manners into their head above all else.
Today, I think good manners has lost all value though. Kids don't fold their hands and say 'namaste', but they don't do much else either. I have known kids who come visiting and staying over- who have walked through my door as though I don't exist. In the beginning I would look at them agape, wishing to pull them up for their bad manners, and stop myself in time. But I made sure I checked with my son about them.
"What makes them tick?" I asked him. After all, these kids were his colleagues, studying architecture with him. They studied together, worked together, often late nights at their friends' homes. Despite what I considered the height of bad manners, to not greet your host and the mother of your friend, that is why I allowed them over.
"Do they behave like this at all homes?" I asked my son.
"They are fine,Mom", he would shrug, unable to do much about this, "ïts just that they have not been taught different." He saw that I was going red in the face. "Cool it, Mom, its nothing to get hung up about, they are okay otherwise."
"I hope YOU taker the pains to greet the parents of your friends!" I rolled my eyes at him. "Of course, Mom," he answered back sweetly,"I know that much!"
I have put up with those friends of his, adolescents, staying over, eating dinner made by me, drinking lemonade from my fridge, and not so much as a 'Thank you, Maám' from them. These kids are from well to do homes, so where did the manners disappear? It sure takes a lot nowadays to get a decent greeting or even a grateful smile from a kid.
I guess I cannot sit down and cry about this, considering I would have been amongst the first to protest about the enforcement of good manners all the time. I think what needs ot be underlined here is that there is a difference between being forced to 'good manners'all the time, and basic manners, which is required in everyday bahaviour. A hello or a namaste, a please and a thank you, are the very basics. Without these, you are just not well brought up, and wealth and education will get you nowhere if you are lacking here.
Meanwhile, I have a problem not replying to the hi's that keep popping up on gmail chat while I am busy with work. It's absolute bad manners to ignore these, is it not?