“Hello! Wot? I’m in the cinema! THE CINEMA! Naa! It’s Rubbish!”
And so went the genius social commentary and comedy from an otherwise so-so British comedian, Dom Jolly.
To make sense of the above you need to picture a man stood up in one of the front rows of a cinema hall silhouetted against the screen which is showing a film that increasingly irate, paying cinema-goers are trying to watch.
He is shouting into his phone, which is an scale model of an early Nokia handset complete with its original piercing Nokia ring-tone. The scale model stands one meter tall.
(Unfortunately said clip is not available on the web, although plenty of clips with the brick can be found here.)
Those were the days in the UK when mobile etiquette was still taking baby steps (and now it is an irritating teenager) and you can still see that now here in Nepal.
In the cinema, people will answer their phones much as they might do if they were on the street or in their living-room back home.
This extends to musical concerts, meetings and even during the pinacle of business professionalism, MS PowerPoint presentations. The needs of the many are every time trumped by the need of the individual and their caller to discuss banalities.
Blogger Nepaliketi (Nepaligirl) ranted about this on her blog some days back, along with men pissing against walls in the street, queue barging and lateness. Her point was “Let’s not stand for this. Who is in with me…”. “I’m in”, I said.
A few days later, and a few comments later on her blog. This message was somewhat retracted under the title of ‘Major on the major, minor on the minor’. Its good college wisdom: focus on the important things.
But I disagree that, while these behaviours are minor inconveniences, in the big scheme of things, they should just be tolerated.
Too much tolerance can also be bad, as sharp-as-a-tack commenter MoveAnyMountain once said on the Comment is Free section of the Guardian website.
To me the word tolerance sounds like a virtue. That we should accept, nay embrace, others’ differences, seek to understand them with empathy and live together side by side the best we can. It’s the rather biblical definition.
There is also the less compassionate side which says “You have your rights, do what you want and I will tolerate it, but don’t bother me with it.” and the Dutch must surely be the world leaders in this.
And of course, a younger I heard my mother shout many times, “I will not tolerate this behaviour any longer!” proving that tolerance can often be hard work.
But then there are a list of many things that we absolutely (not quite so absolutely in reality) will not tolerate and society is arguably better for it. Drunk driving, speeding, racism, homophobia, misogyny, mistreating of children, smoking in someone else’s personal space, dropping litter in public places, breaking the law even when no officer of the law is watching, corruption… the list of things UK society does not or tries not to tolerate is long.
Eating with your mouth open, spitting, not washing your hands after visiting the toilet, pissing on the street, picking your nose in public, talking in the cinema, arriving late for a meeting. Do any of these to frequently and you’ll find the distance between you and everybody else slowly increasing towards infinity, but more likely someone at some point will let you know that you are being anti-social.
Is there a thread in Nepal connecting tolerance of, say holding a loud phone conversation in the cinema spoiling the film for everyone, and tolerance of, for instance, the corruption or ineptness of public officials, spoiling the country for everyone?
Before I step further into a deep cultural waters without the lifebelt of an Anthropology degree to save me, I’ll stop.
However, Nepali Keti, I’ve got all the arts and crafts materials needed to build an oversized turn-of-millenium replica Nokia brick. On second thoughts, a spangly modern clam-shell “Hello Moto” moterola would be better. Are you ready to make a point?
“Ke? Sinema ma! Siiinneeeemmaaaa! Film Herchhu! Ke bhaneko? “
I guess social behaviour has to find its own balance over time. I don’t know why Nepali’s seem to care less about each other in public. I don’t know if it matters. Certainly worth further pondering.
In the case of the cinema, perhaps a more effective approach would be to slip a little public information in before each film. Slowly it might soak in. This is quite good. Perhaps Kiran Joshi could animate a Nepali version.