Two boys, a lady and I – and our encounter with a thing called manners!

Usually I read on my way to office. But sometimes when I am in a lot more of my effervescent self, I like to pretend that I am one of the bollywood heroines struggling to make a life for herself in a big bad city (Yes, I am filmy that way). In that little endeavour of mine, I always hog the window seat, put my headphones on, and transform myself to a world where I am the sole protagonist, watching the life pass by me. In those moments, I usually ignore the mosquitoes hovering around my legs, the dingy ambience of the interior of the bus crammed with seats that do not allow even a 5’4 being to sit comfortably. The occasional slap on the exterior wall that echoes on my delicate thighs is also conveniently ignored. But that day was different.

It so happened that, just as I was prancing around in yellow mustard fields with the Badshah of bollywood chasing me playfully; I was thumped to reality in a screeching halt. And that is when I noticed two boys sitting next to me, one on top of another. The sight amused me and the fact that they were sitting on a seat meant for ladies didn’t bother me much as there weren’t anyone in sight who probably needed it more. They weren’t much of a nuisance to me either. In brief, I was least bothered. Until, my eyes caught hold of a lady manoeuvring through the crowd and finally settling just an inch ahead of where I was sitting. I noticed she was pregnant. Visibly pregnant. To see her standing in a crowded bus holding onto the bar like for her dear life, I felt unsettled. I gave the two boys next to me a couple of minutes to stand up and give away their seat to her. Then a couple of more to the lady to demand for her seat. None worked. It was my turn now. Timid little girl that I am, I didn’t poke the boys but stood up and hinted at the lady to take mine. The boys readily gave way to the lady as she struggled to get to the seat. That she did as I now took her place, the laptop bag dangling behind my back. I couldn’t help staring at the blatant nonchalance smeared on those two faces, laughing and giggling amongst themselves. In my head I already reprimanded them in a ‘go-to-your-room-you-are-grounded’ sort of tone. Their indifference annoyed the hell out of me. Not because I was having to stand. I am all for equality and as long as I don’t run the risk of being groped oh-so-innocently by middle aged pricks, I am fine standing. But I was annoyed because I had been brought up to pull away chairs whenever I see an elderly person standing. Basic etiquette. Good manners. The lack of it in these two young educated boys bothered me. Yet, it was just the beginning.

The beginning of many such hour long journeys to and fro work when I found myself hopping from one seat to another, generously giving away seats to sometimes an old man, or to a lady armed with petulant kid, or to anyone who needed my hard earned seat more than me. Sometimes I have been told off too when I misjudged someone’s age and offered my seat (An oopsie moment there!).

To be honest, I am no Mother Teresa. There are times I pray that no old ones, young ones and pregnant ones get in and worse, stand anywhere near my radar of moral conscience. Sometimes I try to feign sleep or look the other way but my moral values so intact in me get the better off me. They can always sniff out the potential ‘sitters’. I must say, while I feel like a queen in doing my act of kindness, I can feel heavy stares on me from the laidback co-passengers. And i swear, sometimes I can even hear their stares muttering “oh please Miss.goody two shoes…take the Nobel prize already”. I don’t mind that though. The fact is, I am a shameless Miss.Wannabe goody two shoes. I mean I could have been wannabe hi-fi deadly criminal, or a wannabe dhoom like slick & sassy thief or a wannabe miss.richie rich. But I want to be miss goody two shoes. And I will not rest till I am one. But never have I ever felt anyone taking a hint from me and rise above their seat and their mentality. This makes me wonder too. Am i overreacting? Is it not such a big deal? Fortunately or unfortunately I can’t think of anything that can negate my reaction to this whole scenario.

This brings me to my dear Guwahati bus riders, including yours truly. Let’s not forget to grow some etiquette and kindness in our bones. Let’s go back to our moral values that we learnt in our kindergarten and warm them up a little. Let’s stand up for something seemingly trivial yet can get you a blessing or two. Let’s just be good. Trust me; it is an easy peasy job.