This morning I got onto the eight ten ferry from Villingili to Male’. Villingili is a satellite island of Male’, eight minutes by ferry from the capital mainland. As I boarded the ferry I had to walk down the walkway in between the two rows of benches; one to each side of the dhoni.
It is common practise that when passengers board the ferry they sit on the aisle side of the bench. The beches are kept in rows with hardly enough space in between for someone to move into the window side of the bench if someone is sitting on the aisle side. However, those boarding the ferry first are so focused on the ease of getting down the ferry as it touches the terminal, that they prefer to sit on the aisle. Some people who board the ferry later prefer to stand somewhere to avoid inconveniencing those sitting on the aisle side of benches, even when there is space in between people sitting on the benches.
I took up the subject with another friend of mine who boarded the ferry with me this morning. Both of us were sitting in the last row of benches. Half the ferry was empty then, but the aisle seats were full on all rows. My friend recalled that when he visited the US for a tour of twenty one days this year what struck him most was how concerned people were about NOT inconveniencing others; aware of their existence in relation to others. This he said was not a part of our culture.
We never thought that our actions or inactions could inconvenience others. That sense of respect was non-existent in our society. We thought: was it a fault of the education system, or that we were simply not a civilized society yet.
In my opinion, recent manifestations of our society show that we are tribal in nature.