A friend of ours who is in her late 40s/early 50s was talking to us about manners recently. She said, with her generation, when a woman enters a room, all the men should stand up. The first reason is to acknowledge that she has entered the room, and the second reason, is that they are offering their seats to her.
To this day, I can count very few men that I know who have such manners – men that I can call true gentlemen. I don’t even need all ten fingers to count them all. It disturbs me that basic, sensible manners like that are lost on our generation. It’s become such a norm for people to spend social meals and gatherings on their mobile phones (I’m guilty of this); not to hold the door for others or thank people for holding the door for them; and people who would rather push past you instead of saying “excuse me”.
Recently, I personally experienced driving a person home who sat in the back seat when the front seat was vacant. This person spent the whole journey playing with his mobile phone in silence. I shall quote my parents on this and say, “You think I’m your Ahmad or what?”. I honestly wonder when Singaporeans got so ugly.
I’ve come to realise that this is a large part of why I dislike Singapore. We call ourselves an advanced, first world country but our citizens behave worse than third world ones. Every trip that I make to Europe, I find myself experiencing a bit of a culture shock. It never fails to amaze me how polite the people there are. I was about to open the door to Selfridges once and a man behind me rushed forward to get the door for me. I stood there in shock for a moment before thanking him and walking through. The disturbing thing is that something as simple as that shocked me. That’s just how accustomed I’ve become to the lack of manners here.
I really hope one day Singaporeans will “wake up their idea” and realise that our behaviour is not that far off from the foreign immigrants that we so despise. No wonder I’m so selective about who I call my friends.