Let me clarify – when I say Indian families I refer explicitly to us Indians living in India. Because, for some reason, all Indians (educated and uneducated) behave very responsibly when we are in another country. You will know what I mean as you read on. So what are the 3 important points I want to share?
1. Developing Traffic Culture
2. Respecting People and Public Property
3. Keeping our cities clean
- Teach our kids a traffic culture right from their childhood
All those things we practice automatically when we drive our cars abroad viz.
– Stop well behind the zebra crossing at traffic lights
- Wait for the light to turn green before moving ahead
- Following safety guidelines such as wearing helmets when riding bikes, and buckling up as soon as one sits in a car
- Never get behind the wheel after alcohol consumption, even if all you had was a glass of beer
- Always, always put the pedestrian first
- Respecting others on the road, and realizing that everyone on the road has the right to a safe and comfortable journey
- Always giving way to emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines.
and so on
I am in fact so proud of Pune’s Police Commissioner Satish Mathur. During a recent event, launching an app to aid both the police and citizens, he rued the fact that Pune has a great culture, but no traffic culture. However, to be fair, it is not just Pune, it’s the whole of India that needs a traffic culture!
- Respecting others at public places, respecting public property
- Offering to go next, if two of you are headed out of the door
- Maintaining a queue system if it’s called for. In the bank, at the supermarket checkout counter, anywhere!
- A simple greeting to people we meet – to the person standing beside us buying sabjis, to the person selling us those sabjis, to the people in front and behind us in queues – it makes a difference, acknowledging a stranger, building an unspoken sense of camaraderie, an emotion that says “we are together in this mess” and helping to bring out the best among strangers. At my morning walk for instance, I bump into the same faces every day, but despite several attempts to smile and nod, no one bothers. Some have looked at me strangely, and from experience I know that they will respond only when they feel comfortable doing so – that may be tomorrow, or next week, or next month!
So let’s teach our kids to share a greeting, a kind word, a smile for the people we bump into during the course of the day.
- Making sure the roads are as clean as our homes
It is unfortunate that we often think nothing of littering the streets in India (even those of us who have lived abroad for several years, and returned to India). It is one of the most disgusting things that we do, and to our damnation, I have even seen foreigners thinking nothing of throwing away candy wrappers on the streets. I was bewildered by their actions, until I read about it in the book Shantaram. The author Gregory David Roberts describes his discomfort when friends of his (in Mumbai) eat snacks by their car and then litter the area with the food packets. He does nothing about it however, saying that after all, if there was no litter, the local street sweepers wouldn’t have their jobs. Read this, I felt a sense of shame, but I know it’s true. Is this why we litter – so that in a country of billions, we can generate more employment by littering our streets?
Also, let’s practice proper garbage segregation in our homes, with the right attitude towards recycling and up cycling.
Change is possible, if all of us responsible parents start leading by example. Let our kids become global citizens, not just when they are abroad, but in their motherland too! It will be easy, if only we become those global citizens first!
Sharon Colaco D’Souza is a mother of two kids, a girl and a boy. She is a business management post graduate, and works as a content strategist for a living. She is passionate about home decor and design, and blogs at The Keybunch. Parenting is ‘that continuously-unravelling mystery’ for her and she views Parentous as a great place for parenting information, as well as a place to share her own parenting discoveries. She is currently working on a book idea on indigenous architecture and hopes to see it to fruition!