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Nikita Agarwal |
March 24, 2003 20:20 IST
Take this seat, ma'am
I say chivalry is still alive.
Of course, I am not talking about the jazzy young men I meet in my daily life. They don't care to hold the door open for women. Not really.
No, chivalry today lives in the hearts of the chivalrous -- and you will find this brand, the really chivalrous, even in today's world…
Place: a crowded bus-stop in Mumbai. A few hip guys and girls waited there with me.
The bus arrived and the usual mania took over. For some inane reason, Mumbaiites have this habit of crowding every entry even before the bus halts, making it extremely difficult to board or alight.
Somehow pushing my way in, I managed to find a place to stand. I was leaning against a seat reserved for ladies, which two men occupied.
This is a common sight in a crowded bus. I silently cursed them, hoping they would miraculously be moved to vacate the seat.
But they sat there, without batting an eyelid as I threw glance after poisonous glance at them.
The bus became more crowded as we progressed. The shoving and pushing in the aisle was driving me up the wall. I could barely stand.
No sooner would I settle into one position, a push or jolt would throw me into the man standing by me. We were breathing the same tobacco-flavoured breath, and in the scheme of things I didn't find it anywhere near romantic.
There were two well-dressed men sitting where they had a good view of my plight. Every time I was pushed and pummeled by the predominantly male crowd around me, a look of sympathy crossed their faces.
But neither thought of offering me a seat. Not that I think they should have -- after all, it's the era of gender equality.
A little later, a couple got up. People rushed to grab the place. The guy who managed the feat was scruffy and rustic.
There goes another seat, I thought. I must learn to move faster.
As I stood promising I would grab the next seat come what may, the scruffy man stood up, blocking the others from taking the seat.
“Aap baith jaiye,” he said to me. “Please take this seat.”
I was shocked.
The rest of the journey I kept passing the learn-something-from-him look to the ‘cultured' men in the bus.
Yes, I know I sound a feminist, and I am. No, there's no reason why anyone should offer their well-earned seat to a woman, but it sure feels good when they do. Yes, I have biases in my mind about backgrounds different from mine, but I am learning to overcome them. I try.
As for the so-called gentlemen who pull chairs and offer to drop us home after parties, let them realize that real chivalry lies in what you can do in daily life for someone.
She may not be a supermodel, or your girlfriend. She may not even be as enticing as you like a woman to be. But true chivalry lies in helping her anyway.
And, hey, don't be chivalrous if you don't want to be. But don't pretend you are, if you aren't.
Illustration: Lynette Menezes