As we flew over the Atlantic Ocean. At JFK airport, all the people seen cheerful and polite, queue up patiently; wait to be checked in with smiles galore and coochie-coo wailing babies of other passengers. The concept of queuing up out side washrooms, letting your neighbor get a choice of the last choice of chicken or mutton meal, saying ‘excuse me’ and politely taking out baggage from the overhead compartment all become distant past. When the cabin crew frantically requests the passengers to stay seated till the air craft come to a complete stop instantly a push, shove and get-ahead of each other starts and everyone wants to be the first one to get out of the plain. We simply lose our civil attitude in the blink of an eye. WHY IS IT SO? It heartening when people from your own land will give you a warm smile, say ‘have a nice day’ and offer you a seat on the subway in NYC. But the same person in Pakistan will not care whether you fell off the door of a public bus. A smoker in the car throwing the cigarette butt or cigarette box wrapper outside the car window. The same person in Singapore obediently smoked only where it was allowed. A colleague at work was addicted to paan chewing and would decorate the office stair with legendary spurts of red gook and no hints or direct requests made any difference to him. The same man confessed after he returned from a trip of London that while he was there, he avoided chewing paan in public place. Similar things happen on the home front, hubby dearest who take the trash out to the bins, rakes leaves during fall and does the dinner dishes regularly will refuse to get up and have a glass of water himself, even if the wife has a full time job and no help at home. Speeding on the road, talking on the cell and texting while driving are also things we do back home. Once abroad, our civic sense and obeying the law instantly comes to life. It may be the fear of the consequence of breaking the law or perhaps the courtesy and the general culture of being polite rubs off on us. We may be conscious about the fact that we are Asian from a Muslim country and have to go the extra mile to prove that we are civilized people. But in reality, this is how our sad mentality works. In Pakistan we belong to this land, and no one can stop us from doing anything.
On a heavier note, it would be wonderful if we brought back social ethics, polite attitude and a civil sense as a gift to our homeland; to make us a more civilized nation then we pretend to be by traveling abroad and carrying branded luggage.
By Shamim bokhari (204/10)