“Leave something in your plate ” we were advised while growing up .”For Miss Manners”.
Similarly we were advised to give up a chair for an older person. We were encouraged to help someone carry a heavy load and wait your turn patiently in a queue.
We girls had it easy with Miss Manners. The Rules may have been restrictive :
- talk in polite whispers
- cross your legs at the ankles when you sit
- keep your elbows off the table when you eat
But it was harder for the boys-
- they had to stand when a lady entered the room
- hold the door open for her
- pick her up on a date and even drop her all the way to her front door especially late at night
- pick up the tab when you invited a girl out!
We were told that we should never ask a lady her age and a person his wage .
Miss Manners considered it rude to speak out of turn and ask personal questions about one’s weight , age and salary.
According to Miss Manners a guest had an obligation too! He should be polite and talk to all present. He shouldn’t criticise any food on the table and worse still ask for something that is not served.
Equally as a gentleman, you were expected to make sure that no lady at the ball remained a wall flower just as it was obligatory for a lady not to refuse a dance.
Miss Manners expected ladies to talk in whispers, sit with her legs crossed at the ankles and not use vulgar language or whistle.
And Miss Manners existed in the Indian context too. It was considered rude to start eating until everyone at the table was served.
Wasting food was a crime.
One had to take off one’s footwear while entering a home and the first thing we had to do was wash one’s hands and feet.
All these dos and don’ts of acceptable behaviour were considered signs of a well brought up person. As children we often found them anachronistic but as I grow older, I begin to appreciate the need for etiquette to guide social behaviour.
When I see the
- casual way in which people talk these days,
- calling their Boss by the first name,
- not holding the door for anyone to allow them to pass,
- staring blankly when you see someone struggle with a heavy bag
- pushing their way through a queue
- talking with their mouths full
it makes me wonder where Miss Manners has gone.
Do you wonder too?
These are the thoughts I’m sharing with Corinne of Everydaygyaan at #MondayMusings.
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