You are soaring over the skies at 35000feet drifting amidst the expanse of loosely knit bales of clouds, there is empty space all around you making you feel you are the only one beaming beneath the golden rays and then suddenly there is an announcement from your captain that the flight will shortly land, and within minutes you experience a tumultuous uproar around you not because of any external roughage but the internal rage and urge of fellow passengers to get out first, especially if it is a flight full of joyous explicitly emotional Indians.
A few years back I was the privileged one to encounter such overwhelming gestures of a hurried frenzy which turned out to be quiet a horrid one for me. I had just dozed off at the end of a weary flight with a sick child with me, just then suddenly a heavy hand bag crashed on my head almost breaking my neck as a fellow passenger was in a great hurry to unload and get set even when the plane was still moving on landing.
This is a killer instinct embedded in most Indians _ it’s called the “me first, no matter what!” syndrome.
You head to the conveyor belt your luggage is not doing ringa ringa roses yet and you almost want to choke that moron who put your bag last, you head to the taxi stand, your intolerance factor gets rising and you wish you could have had the first taxi at your disposal. So far so good, then you head on to the road that is raging with rebellious road revelers who are all smitten by the fury of great hurry and seem to say ‘me first’ so much that one can be inspired to make a new video game on surviving the Indian traffic.
You head to a restaurant and you will find many glorious well-dressed hungry beggars who will gape and inch towards you with every spoonful that you empty eyeing to lay siege to your seat, this is because we don’t trust the queue system as all that we are left with now is the push and rush system.
At the bus stop and in the bus you have to apply Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest, sweaty armpits, elbowing passengers welcome you but you have to fight the brutes and fight them hard until you get back the change from the conductor who usually absconds to the far end just before you have to get down first!
At the billing counter, people will click their tongues and curse you for making a detailed shopping list and say ‘arre bhaiya hamara sirf dhohi item hai’! Hamara pehle bill kar do!
At the parent teacher meeting you will get shoved sophisticatedly by educated brutes who otherwise share all possible moral values and positivity in their virtual social worlds.
At the wedding reception too, the more important ones bypass this trivial tail of travesty that the whole event has reduced you to and all you can do is stand tall on your stilettoes and curse your luck while your eyes scan if you knew somebody ahead in the queue.
At the park, at the clinic, at the result announcement, at the traffic signal, at the air show, at the cinema ticket counter, at the railway station, hotel, metros you name it and we know how to simply elbow them out, we know how to get there first.
If you have climbed a local train in Mumbai, if you have driven on Avenue road in Bengaluru and walked without getting hit on Agra’s narrow roads then you can even trick death or drive in hell and still be first in the line!
Any those silly westerners think they will issue driving licenses to us Indians who can zip zap zoom whichever way we want?
Now of all these queue breakers the most outrageous and offensive are the devotional geeks who seem convinced that the more they push the more devotional you get, the more you elbow, the closer the salvation. The harder the Darshan … the more Paapa Parihaara it is! Bigger the mad rush, higher is the spiritual significance!
Time and again we hear about stampedes in religious places but neither the shrine administrations nor the government neither the religious heads nor the devotees at large give any thought about it because we are never taught and will never learn to wait in a queue.
Maybe the religious heads should really make earnest appeals to pilgrims to follow this basic need to wait in a queue patiently! The government should simply get rid of the Hundi system as it is because of the greed to fill these Hundis controlled by state governments that unsuspecting and uncontrolled numbers of devotees are sandwiched into a stuffy wait! The significance of an auspicious day should be explained and perhaps could be extended to the whole month so that people don’t end up rushing at the same time.
Customs are made in context to contemporary situations, 50 years back people in South India donated the Nava Dhaanyaas and some goodies to the married ladies all packed in a wooden winnowing tray(marada baagina) but today when no woman uses this traditional method of winnowing and in this age where we buy cleaned and packed stuff, how relevant is a wooden tray?
I am certainly not questioning the ritual but the obsolete mode of practice?
I live in an apartment that houses 1200 houses but only with one swimming pool now, imagine if all 1200 with their families adding up to some 3000 were to come and jump into the pool at the same time, then there is bound to be confusion and chaos, so it is about rationing and making optimal utility of a facility available with utmost regard for everyone in stake.
But today in spite of most shrine administrations earning crores of rupees there is little regard for the sanity of spiritual sanctity or sanitation and almost no hope for crowd management techniques.
With no proper regulations, where all rules are relaxed for the rich and powerful,commoners are stuffed like petty fillings in the swelling columns of overflowing devotion to brim up the pots of offerings.
With no stipulated control on the total number of people a place can hold and no limitations set, are we really reminiscing the spirituality in us for real?
Back then a south Indian would be more than happy if he visited Rameshwaram in his lifetime but today with the ease of connectivity and affordability the list is only getting longer.
The last time I went to Tirupathi, Nathadwaara, Vrindaavan or Amritsar, with my little one clinging on to me these thresholds of spirituality meant to evoke the humaneness in us thrust me into an endless wait amidst unruly harrowing push systems the crowds resorted to where the decency to decipher spirituality is thrown into thin air as if only the robust and mighty could make it to the finishing line. Such was the insane pulling and pushing that I only hoped and prayed to god that I got back home intact in one piece with family and with a little bit of spirituality still left in me because following a queue system is a distant dream for Indians to accomplish unless there is some very stringent law adopted to control crowds and heavy penalties levied on the administration who mindlessly allow lakhs to gather when the place cannot even hold thousands.