Thursday, December 27, 2007

An Indian Queue

To a great possible extent, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam authorities have ensured that queue is structured and have maintained steel barricades for miles together. This, in effect, metaphorically speaking, is like having the dog on the leash.

However, at certain places, this structured queue is not constructed, plainly because of the lack of such expected population. Even so, there are times when the human queue extends the constructed structured queue.

I don’t think I will be wrong when I say that we Indians in India are pathetic when it comes to following an unmanned queue. Even though this seems to be a generalized statement, the actual culprit is only roughly about 20% of the actual Indian population. I have spent considerable time in the United States to further generalize that people in US (including Indians) are so well-mannered and well cultured that they really do not need any leash to handle human or vehicular traffic on their own.

I mean, there we are standing in the queue to obtain the darshan of the most coveted Hindu lord. One would think we are standing in the queue out of devotion, of piety, and upholding the much-talked-about “rich Indian tradition and culture.” But when I saw the people jostling, hustling, bustling, knocking people down, stampeding, jumping queues with an impish grin, looking for short-cuts, shouting unnecessarily, it hardly looked as if we in the queue were upholding any of India’s culture or mannerisms. If anything, this has become our culture, of knocking brethren down to one’s own glorification.

But, surely, that is no glorification? Deep within one’s heart, isn’t it clear that jumping queues is a bad thing to do?! And that too in Tirumala?! Aren’t we in Tirumala to cure ourselves of the bad things we did in the first place?! We might be religious, but are we cultured, well-mannered?

The queue seems more like a marathon. With TTD’s agonizing system of bottling and penting up people in boxes of human cage, and also in queues, the whole thing goes even more awry. It is common knowledge that anything which is pent up, like the spray of a soda bottle, surges out like volcanic lava. So, when such a bottled neck is opened, there is nothing but an absolute commotion and stampede. The mass of humanity, the old and the middle-aged, the teens and the babies, all merge together as if we are creating a nuclear fusion! The stinking sweat and the massive rude crowd lessen the iota of devotion, chastity and spirituality that one actually goes to Tirumala for.

But I guess the queue in TTD is just a simile for age-old world-famous Indian traffic woes. The way people honk till you get deaf, the way people make you blind by never dimming on a 2-way road with no median and the way they make you scream at them and show your clenched fists with set teeth! All in the name of rushing ahead, of overtaking, of occupying space before you do, of not waiting, and in short, of uncivilized behavior.

Often I had stood in vehicular queues in US, such as a busy intersection of 4-way crossroad which was unmanned and had no traffic lights. Vehicles are lined up on all the 4 roads to a great extent and there is no one to guide who should go and who should stop. Naturally, the common sense prevails, but more importantly, the culture stands out. Vehicles which have come first, go first. But more significantly, vehicles which haven’t come first, give way for the vehicles which came before them. There is not a single honk. It is an automated system of civilized behavior. It is even a pleasure to be a part of it, of contributing to the naturally man-made synchrony without a maestro. Nobody needs to be taught this nor can this be taught. It should be imbibed and enacted to perfection.

When such a system prevails, when such common sense prevails, when there is no need for a traffic policeman with a baton to leash the neck, that is when a nation can be called "cultured" and "civilized". Probably, even "developed".

1 comment:

Kishan said...

Can't agree more with you on this... I wonder why Indians are like this.. esp the traffic and the queues...

I hve had similar experiences in Tirupathi... But once we get to see the Lord, I think all that we went through in the queue doesn't come to mind at all...see one of my post here on Tirupathi!!! :D