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Party Manners February 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — sangeetamall @ 12:10 pm
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Indian events have got louder, glitzier, brasher and more vulgar. Event management companies revel in bringing in the best, or the worst, of entertainment for the guests of the moneyed hosts who can afford such galas. One staple at celebrity do’s is the musical extravaganza. Noted singers are paid fat amounts to sing at these events and entertain their guests. They fail miserably in this objective. The guests have no desire to be entertained. Moreover the guests feel under no obligation to give the artist even ten minutes of their time. They would much rather squeal at each other’s saris, talk about the latest servant crisis or discuss the country’s economy at the exact moment that the entertainer is holding forth on the mic. Sometimes the singer, a luminary on the Indian music scene, will appeal to the guests to give her a patient hearing, or dance to her music, but she’ll be ignored. The guests are gods, right? Atithi devo bhayo? So why should they be polite? Why should they have any need to applaud the artist who gives of her best? She is a nobody, and she must know it. The chaat counters get more attention than the human being on the stage.
Bad manners are our stock-in-trade. There is, in fact, no exact translation for the word ‘manners’ in Hindi. We have no regard for manners, merely appearances. I believe there’s something to be said for good manners, that behaviour that shows regard for others’ feelings. Sure, manners are a Western import, but so are flush toilets. If we can find the latter acceptable, why are we so against the whole etiquette that proscribes farting in public? Why do we proudly lay claim to such execrations as being part of our cultural legacy? Why is it acceptable for people to talk inside a movie theatre? Or push the other person aside while standing in queue? Above all, why are we all right with treating others, especially people who are socially inferior as though they don’t exist?
Perhaps the artists also know what to expect from the guests, and still agree to perform because they get paid a bomb to tolerate the bad manners of an uncaring audience.

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