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Quidditch. You should write about quidditch.
Excuse me. There are enough Potterheads around to do that. Why me?
But you loved reading Harry Potter books.
That’s a different matter altogether.
Then what? Quarantine, the hot topic as of now?
Umm no.
Quails, Qi energy, quotable quotes, quintessence….? I know. Qawwali?
No, no, no, no… and no!
Quoits? I know you used to throw a mean rubber ring as a eleven year old.
Hmm… I definitely could write about that.
But not happening? You are doing this on purpose. Not accepting my suggestions. Gah!
That’s because I have a topic in mind. Queues.

*****

My observation: The people of my country do not understand queues on two important fronts. One: The need for and efficiency of the queue system, also the fact that it needs to be maintained to the end of the objective, no trying to go two (or three/four) abreast, especially when you reach a narrow entrance, or the destination is almost in sight.

Years back, I stood in a queue at a temple with my young children, for close to three hours only to be stampeded just when we reached the entrance. I managed to pull my children out from the queue that had gone haywire, crazed devotees not caring who they stepped upon in their hurry to ‘see’ their God. The younger one had started bawling by then, scared at having been trapped by adult bodies, separating him from his mother. I shudder to think the tragedy it could have turned into. My friend who was with me was upset because I was walking away, firm in my resolve that I didn’t need to see any god if it meant putting my children at risk.

Two: The concept of personal space in queues, and the fact that there is absolutely no need to touch/lean against the person in front, much less fuse your body parts with the ones standing ahead of you. It will not get you anywhere faster.

Once at a wedding reception, we joined the guests who had queued up to go meet the newly weds on the dais and wish them. People in their best silks, perfumed to the hilt were standing so close to each other that even air would shy at attempting to pass through. It is amazing that not one of them felt the need to move away from each other. I found myself hemmed in by a lady, who conveniently deposited her bare paunch (sari is such a convenient attire to bare your midriff) on my back. I had to hold on to the L&M standing in front to prevent myself from falling over. Justifiably annoyed I had turned around to stare daggers at the woman. She smiled. This was run of the mill as far as she was concerned and she must have thought me rude for neglecting to smile back at her.

There’s a three too: You will always find someone who tries to ‘infiltrate’ the queue. They pretend ignorance of the existence of those standing behind. Some resort to an ingratiating grin that is supposed to…..what? Melt your heart? Any time I see people standing up to the queue infiltrators, I silently applaud them and hope the next time they think twice before trying to get into a queue out of turn.

Oh I can tell you tales and more tales. But this post would get way too long. You know what amazes me? Many of these same people follow the queue system when abroad. They keep physical distance, also don’t cross marked yellow lines. But in their own country, they push and shove and lean on you. I am actually hoping that Covid-19 will have taught us all a lesson by the time it decides to leave.

© Shail Mohan 2020