Thursday, July 02, 2015

Empowerment: Why we are at our best only in West?

We are a different person in our country. But our behaviour undergoes a drastic change when we travel overseas, especially to the West.
During my recent trip to a western country, I decided to keep a mental note of all changes that happen to understand this natural transformation.  Let me share my observations.
Beginning from the check-in
If you are in a rush you can push your way around. There would always be somebody available for help. And if you are a bit known face, assistance comes to you on its own. The 'help' will escort you to the waiting lounge carrying your handbags. Your 'assistant' will hang around till he sees you off at the boarding gate. Before leaving, the person would ensure a photograph (selfie these days) with you for his Facebook page.
Does this happen overseas? No way.
Aboard the flight…
If on a flight other than Air India or Jet, (meaning our desi flights) every time you ask for some help, you will say a thank you several times. This is the beginning of change. And if a flight attendant is a westerner, you will think twice before asking for anything extra - even a glass of water.
If you were dozing off at the time when the food was being served, you miss it. You will not get it. Time is up for serving. No point asking. You are late. You bear it...Simple! You don't complain, but accept it.  (This is the second change).  Had you been on a desi flight, you would have complained and created s scene.
After you get off the plane …
You meekly go and stand in the queue…whoever you may be, you hear a voice, follow the line, and you obey, holding your handbags. The queue is moving at snail's pace, but you don't complain. When you reach at the other end, a mechanical voice tells you to go to next counter. You follow instructions. (third change). 
At the immigration counter…
You give your immigration form and the official finds some columns not properly filled. He tells you to go back and refill the form. You quietly go, complete the form and stand in the queue again. You dare not ask for an out-of--turn favour. This is the rule, and you follow it. (fourth change)
Now you pick up your heavy strolleys from the luggage belt. You want a baggage trolley. You pull it, but it's locked. You won't get it till you put in some dollars - cash or credit card. You learn to do it. (fifth change ). Remember your home airport, where it was all free. You curse them, but you need the trolleys. So you pay up grudgingly...
At the exit gate…
If you have to take a taxi, you move into the queue again and can't jump it. And if you are to be picked up by a relative, you call him up. As the person concerned can't be waiting at the airport due to no- parking, he is either in the parking lot or going around in circles waiting for your call. When you are being driven home, you put on your seat belt, realising that if you are caught, you won't be spared. The traffic ticket is steep and you are afraid of heavy fine. The fear of law grips you suddenly. (sixth change)
At your friend/relative's house
There is no house help for your luggage. You help yourself. There is no cook. The host serves you. And you say a thank you many times. The host cleans your cup. The next time you offer to clean it, but the host does/ or does not let you, will depend on him. Same goes for meals.
You either cook, or go and buy cooked food. Eat it outside or come home and eat it. If cooked at home, clean the kitchen and the utensils yourself. (seventh change) There is no house help, the kind we have in India, unless you are super rich...
Meeting you contacts…
Now you wish to call up your contacts. But if it's a weekend, then it's s strict no. It's bad manners to intrude into people's lives on weekends. So, H you leave a message and wait. You learn to respect people's space. (eight change)
You go and meet people after taking a proper appointment. You don't just barge in.  (I'm excluding close relatives).You don't take anyone or their time for granted. (ninth change)
You speak softly on your mobile phone. You also don't leave wrappers or garbage behind. (tenth change)
But the moment we step on out land, we are back to square one. We start complaining about others, but remain who we are. We don't have fear of law or its enforcement agencies. If we are caught, we arm-twist, pull strings and do whatever we can to get out of the sticky situation.