Bruneians are a courteous bunch

I have lived in Brunei Darussalam for five years and I am always pleasantly surprised with the little instances of common courtesy I encounter every day.

In other countries, you can see signs reminding the population to be courteous in places such as escalators, trains or buses.

Marking lanes so that passengers first exit before others can climb is common in train stations even in Europe.

In populous countries like India, there are special initiatives to remind people that honking is not necessary if everyone follows rules.

No such signs are necessary in Brunei.

Courtesy is just a common occurrence here.

I drive every day but I have not heard honking more than twice.

In polite Brunei, motorists have always given me a chance to go into their lanes by slowing down and letting me go in front of them.

Courteous Bruneians will never cross your path when you are walking.

If they have to, they stay behind and then they cross. If they have to walk past you, they will say sorry and then will go ahead of you.

This seems like a national culture on the streets and roads.

I also experienced courteous Bruneians in other situations such as during the Bandarku Ceria every Sunday.

During this period the roads in town are closed to all motorised vehicles from early morning to noon. This gives pedestrians, runners and cyclists to enjoy a stress-free morning to walk, stroll, or exercise on the usually busy streets.

When I was taking a stroll on one such morning, I saw two policemen on motorcycles driving by.

Clearly, they were meant there to make sure everything was in order. I stopped at the side of the road to let them pass.

However, the policemen saw me, made a stop and courteously waved me to indicate that it was my right of way because it was Bandarku Ceria.

Little gestures of courtesy such as this, goes a long way. In another situation, I was in queue at a cashier in a supermarket. There I saw the cashier helping an elderly woman carry her groceries without being asked despite the woman looking fit to pick up the bag.

Another instance was when I first went to Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital. I was new to Brunei at the time and was not clear about the geography and exact names of places.

After visiting RIPAS Hospital, I asked a gentleman if the shuttle bus would take me to Kiulap. He replied, no, but then added that the shuttle goes to the parking lot near the mosque.

I knew it was the correct shuttle.

As we were getting off the shuttle, the helpful gentleman checked with me if I had my car parked in the parking lot.

I understood his concern since it was hot and if I had to go to Kiulap, it would have been quite a walk from the parking lot.

Another time at RIPAS Hospital, I was charged as a tourist despite living in Brunei and had my resident card with me.

The woman at the registration counter could not help it as the rate was generated by the computer. I paid what was shown and forgot the matter. Interestingly, a few days later, I received a call from RIPAS Hospital asking me to collect the amount I was charged extra.

It looked like that the registration counter pursued the matter further even though I did not do any follow-up.

Common sense, common decency and common courtesy are three different words but they have a lot in common: A concern for other person.

From these experiences I felt that we really do not need any movement or any education to be courteous or to teach courtesy.

As long as we genuinely care for other fellow beings, the courtesy will emerge.

Suneeta Pathak