I thought I was having a bit of a problem deciphering women but I am actually having a problem trying to understand why I say “sorry” so much in Australia. Someone walks past me with a pram, I say sorry, someone bumps into me at a toilet I say sorry, someone sits next to me on a train accidentally touches my bag and I say sorry. Shit I am apologising way too much!

Living in this wonderful country of kangaroos, footy, seas and trees, I am also becoming an emotional wreck I think. Among friends, families, neighbours, strangers on the roads, parks, trains and the mall, sorry seems to be the easiest word that comes straight from my mouth. Life in a world of extreme civility is new to me but I have embraced it with gusto. Look at the way I am sorry-ing about.

I’ve often thought about this: the fabric of society that evaporates with ‘thank you, sorry, good day’ seems like a very fragile web. It is nice to be met with polite customer service at every place and one becomes so used to it that every once in a while non-smiling person becomes a suspect, someone who has clearly not read the memo. But we are all human beings and there could be days when we just don’t want to smile at a stranger because you’ve just had a very bad morning. 

I have had a good experience with friends and people in Australia. At times I begin to feel there can be no capricious malice in people who live such a systemised lifestyle coated by exterior niceties. And some other things are well defined too. You celebrate birthdays in a restaurant everybody pays for his/her meal; you go out for movies everyone pays for his own, you even go for a bloody 3 dollar coffee dates with friends and everyone pays for their own. It has taken a while to get used to this go dutch syndrome.

I admit I have to go through this ordeal of sorry(s) and thankyou(s) on a daily basis. But I think it’s far better than the idiotic nonsense of what I lived with earlier - being touched even when walking, stared at or mocked at for asking to stop staring! Yes sorry(ing) is not so bad after all, I have learnt to bring some sophistication in me and the way I conduct myself in public. For thrills, I can go to the ghettoes!

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