Indians love queues. Despite the diversity, there is nothing that aligns all Indians like a long line. The image of Indians standing in a queue is the national symbol. In India everywhere you go, every situation you encounter, every activity you attend there is a queue waiting for you and plenty of Indians waiting in the queue. Indians are born with the gift of forming queues, and they never miss a single opportunity to do so. Opportunities are abundant in India; queues are ubiquitous. The unique ability of Indian fetuses to form queue inside the womb is the key to population boom. Indians never grow out of it and spend approximately half of their lives waiting in a queue. The other half they spend waiting to join one.
Indians instinctively form queues no matter what – even if there are chairs to sit, even if the counter is closed, even if they have a scheduled appointment. They are adept in any location: may it be a temple or a toilet; may it be a mosque or a McDonald’s; may it be a pre school or a post office; may it be a train or a plane, especially planes.
Though travel by air has become a mass transport only recently, Indians already adapted to the new settings and can form lines inside and outside the plane with amazing efficiency. Unlike the rest of humanity full of lazy bums, Indians do not waste time waiting for the boarding announcement: they prefer to wait in a line as soon as they arrive at the gate. Unlike the rest of humanity full of spoiled brats, Indians do not depend on the lavatory signs on the plane: they just form and queue in front of the lavatory and wait for their turn. As soon as the pilot readies the plane for landing and turns on the seatbelt sign, Indians stand up, pull out all their heavy luggage, and form a long line in the aisles to counter balance the angle of the descending plane ensuring a safe landing. This is unlike the rest of humanity full of ungrateful morons who just sit there and do nothing to help. When would the rest of world learn that whenever seatbelt signs are turned on, it is time to get up? When would they learn to worry about missing the airport?
On land it is no different. Unlike the rest of humanity full of impatient imbeciles, it is normal for Indians to stand in a line for over an hour before they ask the person in front: “What is this line for?” Unlike the rest of humanity full of unfriendly urchins, it is natural for Indians to spot people standing along on a pavement, creep behind them, and ask, “Are you in the line?” In a culture that is not tainted by even a hint of punctuality, surprisingly when it comes to joining a queue Indians are always early. If a counter opens at ten in the morning, Indians start queuing up at nine, the night before. In case they cannot participate in person, they appoint a representative: a friend, a relative, a stranger, one of their kids, a hand bag, a handkerchief, a rug, a rock, or a twig. Such is their commitment.
Unlike rest of the unimaginative world, Indians have invented two forms of queue: file and pile. Both are displayed in front of a counter, any place with a counter will do: movie theater, post office, bus station, railway station, government office, a bank, a fast food place, you name it. With the counter closed, it starts in the familiar file form: long and skinny. As soon as the counter opens, there is a surge of energy and the file form transforms itself into a unique pile form: every Indian climbing on the Indian in front forming a giant human ball of confusion.
Unlike the wasteful westerns, when it comes to queue Indians excel at space efficiency. Indians have inherent urge to press against each other, and has the ability to get closer then Siamese twins. There can be half mile of free space, but Indian would not sacrifice an inch while standing in a queue. For Indians, to stand a few inched behind is a sure sign of weakness; to surrender an inch is a humiliating defeat, to leave a gap is pure guilt.
In India, public celebration consists of mostly of their favorite pastime: waiting in long lines. Upon return, they narrate the length of the queue; they detail their lengthy wait. When asked about the event, they brash it off with a hand wave and say: “I did not get a chance, it is not important.” It is all about the queues.
Their love of queues is what separates Indians from the rest of humanity. Indians wait in queues just for the sheer joy of it; they derive deep satisfaction from it. Waiting in queues have deep spiritual significance in India.