{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Queue

One of my old friends told me something that I didn't think about then. It was so simple a fact that one can easily over look its meaning, and some times we tend to consume the humor of a line and lose its seriousness and wisdom. Years later he met me again in a railway reservation queue and the queue made me think about what he said. I was ahead of him in the queue so we are not able to talk and as usual, when in queue we tend to become most time efficient, our time becomes more valuable miraculously. The goal of life become to be first in the queue and to get our work done before anybody does it. As the queue moves ahead, first in first out, our hearts go lighter as we tend towards our goal, a small goal, but that all we care then. People start bitching about separate queues for girls and never lose an opportunity to move ahead.

Last time, in my hometown, I went for a railway reservation. We all are waiting outside the reservation counter which was supposed to open by 8:30 am but the wise men in the crowd rightly predicted that it will open only by 9:00 am. By nine, the crowd turned into a mob, and they started banging the grilled gate of the office. As soon as it open we all rushed like mad inside with sole aim to be as ahead in the queue as possible. Amidst all this chaos, when someone pushed open the grilled gate, one hand got smashed the array of Xs. That man shouted aloud with all the motherly abuses he can think in the split second. A second later I found a respectable position in the queue and as the voices lulled, we all heard a man of over 30 bitterly crying in pain. None of us left our positions and used our precious time fill in reservation forms.

Only after few minutes, when queue queued up, some people who were less fortunate to get a good rank in the running competition, left the queue and made a circle of pity around the guy whose hand was bleeding. Some old men blamed the youth, women in their separate queue asked other about the incident, the person ahead of me said "I didn't open the gate, it was someone else". I, as usual, felt bad about the guy and myself, left with my confirmed tickets. While leaving, stopped, to see the guy, even thought to talk to him, but couldn't. But I was sure that in previous hour or so, I have shown my queue-character.

Now the thing that my old friend said, he said that "Real character is shown in queues". When I think about it now, sometimes it takes a gigantic meaning, like a world is a queue, all queued up, all in hurry, to get out of this queue to move to some other queue. and at times this thing stays on its ground, the literal meaning, a cliched proverb-type existence, at times as a moral rule to show your character in queues. Like every body else we don't like queues, more than our everlasting concern about increasing population, which is fashionably used as a reason for everything and more than the waiting time, something else bothers us being in a queue. Sometimes we search for special queues, like for those who search for a separate queue for the AC ticket, or for those who pay money to visit their favorite gods in better-off queues.

The real problem with queues is they stink of equality, which a normal human mind cannot stand. and that's why queues show real character, the character of respecting equality. The other prominent problem with queue is priority based on your action, if you come late, be at the end. Moreover in a queue you are left alone, no family to cheer you up, no friends to give you friendship benefits. After standing for a few minutes in a queues our minds with its tiny calculations make us believe that coming little late doesn't make us less equal and also, how can we be equal to the common man. What is given the name of wasting time is our contempt for equality. Standing in queue, left alone on the mercy of time, the efficiency of queue processor, we start losing our pseudo-importance, little bourgeois in us hits hard and our little mind helps it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Packet from Past

Disclaimer: This post is mushy, personal and self indulgent. Posting it to keep the blog alive or as an obituary for a dead blog.

Last night, I cleaned my room after 6 months or so and found a packet which my mother gave me when I last visited home. It has some things which made last night so light and happy. First was my birth certificate, Baby Anand was born on 21st July, 9 lbs, very healthy. and it too has the dates of the vaccinations I got. It has my first snap (I think so) pasted too. It has my handwritings samples too. I used to sign every year on my birth certificate (Hey, I am still alive!). My first signature was the exact copy of my father's signature and later I copied some of my teachers and then classmates. There were few copies of Hindi Calligraphy from 5th and 6th std. It contained essays on "Swaadheenta Divas" and "Ek Mele ka Varnan", both of which had similar details. It has some news paper cuttings. Our local newspaper printed my name on few occasions, the regular annual result news. My mother used to say "iska naam to newspaper mein aata rehta hai". My father used to laugh "Kal to nahin tha, aaj aaya hai kya ?". My mother will carefully cut the newspapers and my father will laminate them to be kept in my blue file. It has some of my report cards. I failed in English in first unit test in Standard 2, I got 4 marks out of 25. I used to think that my class teacher can never fail me, it was arguably the first betrayal of my life. She got married next year to confirm my apprehensions. Later I realized the concept of young girls, budding wives and dormant housewives being perfect material for primary school teachers, in fact I told this to one of my professors while discussing the dismal state of primary education in India. My professor kept a detached look during the whole stupid statement of mine. Months later I found out that his beautiful wife is a school teacher and also realized how unfair it is for kids to deny that pleasure, the perfume on silks and the fancy dresses. There were some pics. The birthday pic where I wore a yellow shirt with black blazer, I looked like a smiling taxi, a Faustian bargain to look different on your birthday. The last thing was a black glass, which my friend gave me to view the eclipses. I and my friend, saw the sun in school, diamond ring and all. Later he gave me that, as he claimed that he had many such dark glasses at home. I saw all my childhood eclipses with that glass. As I grew I feared that a simple black glass may ruin my eyes, so packed it away, by that time eclipses were telecasted live on TV, no need for black glasses and no fear of hurting the eyes. Later I got specs from watching too much TV. I glanced the packet and its contents for the last time and closed it neatly. The kid in me strangely felt as if he has got his birthday present. He went to sleep, light and happy, only to grow up and grunt the next morning.