The queue to Indian Behaviour

'This is nonsense. Of course we Indians know all about queues. And to prove as much, I was right there waiting in a queue, with about 3,827 of my fellow citizens. Or what seemed to be 3,827 of my fellow citizens, though in actual, arithmetical fact there were probably only seven or eight of us. How come, then, that the queue i was waiting in seemed to consist of 3,827 people? Could it be because it wasn't a long queue but a wide queue?

That's when an insight dawned on me. In other countries and climes people form what might be called vertical queues, i.e. queues that start at the top of the line and then go down vertically, so to speak, to the bottom of the line. This is the normal, conventional, common or garden queue. Or vertical queue, as we shall call it, to distinguish it from the ingeniously creative variant found in India, which is the horizontal queue...

Unlike other societies where linear reasoning (as exemplified by the vertical queue) has imposed the illusion of a sequential before and after, in space as well as time (tomorrow comes after today, before which comes yesterday) we in India have long realised that in cosmological terms there is no such thing as an absolute before or an absolute after.

Before and after are artificial constructs which betray the narrow limits of our understanding of cosmic reality. In India there is no temporal difference between before and after; between yesterday and tomorrow: in Hindustani, the lingua franker of the country, both are called 'kal'. We Indians live in a constant and unchanging present, an eternal now, that precludes both before and after. It precludes the vertical queue and replaces it with the horizontal queue where everyone and his brother-in-law line up side-by-side -- and not one after the other -- to get at whatever it is that's on offer: ration rice, IPL tickets, buffet meals, buses and trains, beds in maternity wards, electric furnaces in crematoria. You name it and we'll form a horizontal queue for it. Standing shoulder to shoulder with each other, elbow to elbow, pushing and shoving, jostling and bostling, doing gala and gali, dhakka and dhakki, mukka and mukki.

- Jug Suraiya, 'Queue sera, sera'.


lomelindi said…
I found your blog via Carpe Diem blog. Couldn't sleep with a broken foot, so I ended up reading my way backwards through a lot of your posts. I really enjoyed it. I found it thought provoking and entertaining. Glad I found you!
Ray Titus said…
Dear LL,

Glad you liked my blog...Thank you for visitin'...hope the foot gets back to perfect soon...

Your No. 2 son's amazing... :)

you didn't mention the more interesting part of the in what happens when a person gets his ticket and has to move out of the queue...seemingly the most difficult task...but carried out with impeccable elegance by our Indian brothers...seems like it's taught at the 'Art of Living' :)

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