Friday, February 09, 2007

Chivalrous behaviours...

"If you meet a lady of your acquaintance in the street, it is her part to notice you first, unless, indeed you are very intimate. The reason is, if you bow to a lady first, she may not choose to acknowledge you, and there is no remedy; but if she bow to you--you as a gentleman cannot cut her."
Hints on Etiquette, 1836

We are always growing but in which way I sometimes ask myself. The art and practice of chivalry is mourned, long and forgotten. I'm not speaking of the knightly virtues but rather etiquette of how one should conduct themselves, particularly with a lady. We are constantly bombarded with billboards with half naked women and fed what we are supposed to look like and how to act by magazines, movies and society. How does that compare with a concept that has no billboards, no magazine articles and rarely presents itself in films? We are visually stimulated beings and the constant barrage has left us with no tact, no courtesy, no consideration, no gentlemen-like conduct and most importantly, no knowledge of how to be chivalrous.

I recently met the acquaintance of a young lady from Australia that met with a motorcycle accident. So there is no doubt that I had empathized and sympathized with her challenge. We were tortured with waiting in the Jaisalemer House (the Office of Home Affairs) for our dose of bureaucratic roundabouts and our 'letters'. This greenish brown envelope is presented with the strong statement that it cannot be opened and has to be delivered to the recipient in tact. The crutches that were supporting her seemed to bring such discomfort. I offered some advice to her that would save her climbing stair cases more than she had to. We had five hours to pass before we could return to pick up our 'letters'. She had some errands to run so I accompanied her. She had a driver for the day so this made traversing the vastness of New Delhi that much more comfortable. I had no other intentions but to escort a damsel in distress, to simply offer an arm to aid her in her strife - makes you feel good to do good ;) So I thank her for allowing me to be the way that I am and allow me to recognize what it truly means to be a gentleman.

When a gentleman is escorting a lady, his wife, mother, sister, friend or relative on the street, it is his duty to insist on carrying any article that she may have in her possession. In addition, a gentleman will take the side closest to the open street. The reason behind this is because the horse and carriage in it's day would come barreling down a dirt road way and would find the hole in the ground that housed the filthy mud water which could find it's way to the lady. Not so is the case if the gentlemen does what he is supposed to and take the splash to prevent a drop to hit. That lesson was one of the most influential I've been passed on, it opened up the desire to become a better person.

There is the visual representation of what I try and instill in other human beings and that is the pebble in the water. When it impacts a wave resonates out in wavelengths of rings. I try on a daily basis to throw pebbles in hope that one wave impacts and gentlemanly conduct catches on like a over marketed trend. If it were only so easy. I was forwarded an article about New Delhi lacking social graces recently which also made me venture into the thoughts of should's and should-not's.

My efforts might be a drop in the bucket but one day the bucket will be full...


  1. For the most part, I've found that people of my parents' or grandparents' generation tend to follow many of the etiquette protocols you mention... though now that I think of it, there is a guy I'm friends with who always seems to end up walking on the side furthest away from the building (thus I'm on the inside) whenever and wherever we walk... I wonder now if that's on purpose or just happenstance?!

  2. Happenstance... that he's a gent ;)


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