{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.


Alok said...

Good post.. something to think about !!

Life is just a set of queues I think. All we have to do is to choose one and keep inching forward :)

AD said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AD said...

Good, thought provoking analysis...

Queue-behavior can indeed show the character of a person; many a times, if not always. And, I might also add – at least in India. For, to be courteous and patient while in a queue is a deeply imbibed trait in the west (I can vouch for UK).

BTW… have you ever been in the queue for collecting the online ticket at PVR. This, I am sure, is one hell-of-a-queue.


Can’t agree more when you say “Life is a set of queues”.

I think, one keeps on trying to reach at the first position of one’s *current* queue, only to find that by the time he arrives at the first position the bus has already left!

anurag said...

Alok: We need to inch forward as harmlessly as possible, learn to coexist, learn that life is as much as living in queue as getting out of it. The point is when in queues, we lose our basic set of rules, we think just a little elbow push will not kill the person, we tend to justify everything for moving forward.

Thanks for your first comment here. After reading your comment, I was thinking that may be we are in a circular queue, the hope is we will catch the bus sooner or later, and it is nice to talk to co-liners so kill the wait and to connect to the queue.

Indrajith said...

Good one.

And to add, soon after we switch the queues, we feel that the old queue is moving faster.

anurag said...

indrajit, ya, thats right :)