It is after a long, long time that both the rich and the poor have had occasion to rub shoulders in the same queue, thanks to the demonetisation policy. Most urban middle-class people had simply forgotten what it was like to stand in a queue for hours. That’s perhaps why they are more — no other reason, really.
Here’s a video someone named Rahul Pandey posted on YouTube of a queue in front of a bank somewhere in India: That’s really, really long!
But then, a queue is central to our existential philosophy in our land.
The existence of an Indian is all about queues – at a hospital to be born, at a school to get admission, at a grocers to get ration, at an interview for a job, at a crematorium for the farewell.
The basis of our “jugad” philosophy lies in our daily cogitation about a queue — whether to join it, duck it or skip it altogether.
Young or old, strong or infirm, healthy or weak, man or woman, happy or sad, energetic or desolate, celebratory or mournful, the queue is the ultimate leveler for all people and for all occasions. The rich may queue up with all their colonial snobbery at the entrance of a glitzy ball. The poor may do so outside a public toilet. But queue up they all do.
The time you spend in a queue is inconsequential. Why you are in the queue is more important to you. In fact, you can go to the extent of admitting that if it was not important to you, you will not be in a queue. The irony is that you are always in a queue, for one thing or the other. =
A queue life has its own rules of comportment. First come first served. That is the civilized rule for forming a queue. Then come the exceptions: Women and the ladies first concept; women with young children; senior citizens; the specially abled persons. The goons, a colorful category which infuses life and color into a queue, bring up the last category. The first rule after lining up in the queue is be-friend the person immediately before and after you, respectively. Because you will need them to reserve your place in case the wait becomes long and you need to use the toilet, buy a water bottle, eat a snack, and so forth. The civil atmosphere is at its most decent at the tail of the queue – whether the sheer inevitability of a long wait exhausts your nerves and your anger, if any. But as you come closer, and literally when you are among the first 10 persons in the queue, you are at your savage best: frothing from your mouth daring anyone to jump the line, your senses ever on the alert for any of the exceptional forms of humans trying to bypass you. And then, your turn comes, and it’s all over.
But before we get carried away and moan afresh about the bank queues, let us all recollect our celebratory queues: Here is but a sample list of places where you will always find a queue in India:
1. Tirupati Temple: Average waiting in a queue for darshan on a normal day is 5-6hrs. During Brahmotsavam times, the waiting period crosses the 12-hour mark.
2. Shirdi Temple: Average waiting period on a normal day is 5-6 hours. The period is more than a day during special occasions.
3. Deoghar Temple: During the “Kavar” month, people stand in queues which can be 3-4 km long, for days together.
4. Lalbaugcha Raja queue: Perhaps the longest queue in Mumbai, 24 hours for 9 days of Vinayak puja celebrations.
5. Sabarimala queue: Devotees’ queue at Sabarimala during the festive time is among the longest in the country.
6. Audition queues– for Singing, Dancing, and Roadies competitions – can stretch for over a kilometer and people wait for 16-18 hours.
7. Big Bazar teller queues on discount days: Average waiting period is 2 hours.
8. Sulabh Shauchalayas: Early morning queues start at 5am.
9. Railway Ticket counters: Summer holiday and festival season queues in north India are over a kilometer long, with people waiting for nearly 24 hours or even more.
10. Ration Shops in the JJ colonies: Average wait for the monthly quota of wheat and sugar is 5-6 hours.
11. Flash and Winter Sales and New Year Discount Sales in Metros: People often queue up from the previous night!
12. Trendy queues: IPhone releases, new vehicle free test drives, new StarBucks, MacDonalds, and movie plexes have long, long queues
13. College admissions: For hours and days together, wards and their guardians queue up outside colleges.
14. AIIMS queues: The general admission/OPD lines are unending at AIIMS and at all main referral hospitals in the country