The Liquefied Indian

Sometimes when the doors of the Delhi Metro swoosh open and you get out, you get this beautiful sight of people standing on either side of the door, waiting patiently for you to get down. You feel like Moses, who has just parted the Red sea. Unfortunately, it’s not the long lost virtue of patience making a comeback but a guard with a whistle on each of the door, who is responsible for the shockingly sensible behavior. You have to be the first one to descend the coach to live in this utopia. If you have the misfortune of being the last one, then the red sea will rush towards you like a broken dam and you will wish for a wooden staff to hit each of the droplets on their head. It looks like osmosis and reverse osmosis happening simultaneously. Liquid rushes in and liquid rushes out. We don’t walk. We flow.

Living in India sometimes feels like being a liquid in a cistern. When someone upturns the vessel, we all rush in to take the shape of whatever we are upturned into.

When we form long queues outside counters, the lines start multiplying. It is as if the empty spaces between the lines are too much to bear and suddenly the main branch of the river sprout out distributaries which then continue their journey towards the ocean counters. There is a ladies distributary, sometimes a senior citizens distributary while the main male river watches impatiently.

When we drive on roads, nothing can come close to the miracle of creating 8 lanes on a 4 lane road other than the creation of the universe. The cars squeezed so close that if there is an Autobot war in the middle of the road, no one would stand a chance of opening their doors and running. Everyone will die sitting in their cars watching as a huge Autobot feet crush them or complicated weapons turn them into a sandwich (But wait! That happens only in America, right?). And did I mention motorbikes? They are like those ocean currents flowing inside large oceans. They twist and turn and have a life of their own, spilling on footpaths and broken terrains.

When a lift opens in your office, you see the desperation in the eyes of the people trying to get in. There is no guard with a whistle because they thought software engineers were sensible. The dam is broken and floods the door. You look at the tsunami and feel like parting it with a scream but you stand and stare at it. It parts under your gaze. The feet of a few defiant waves are crushed under the sole of your shoe. Ooh! Aah! Ouch! Am I supposed to fly over you?

Go to the canteen in your office and the tea counter is brimming with humans, buzzing randomly without any queue. As the tea is poured in cups, you witness acts of bravery where people scoop away cups with the dexterity of jewel thieves, sometimes burning their hands by the falling tea. You witness acts of treachery where software engineers plot like mother-in-laws to break through the crowd and position themselves at the correct angles to reach the cup at the right time. It is in our blood, you remind yourself and laugh. Education has nothing to do with it.

Go to a popular temple and you will be pushed and pulled alongside the crowd. You do not have to walk. Just go with the flow and soon you will feel like water flowing through an intricate labyrinth of canals. You will not even realize that the deity that you have come to see with such devotion has whirled past you as you churn in the whirlpool.

And where else would you find people hanging out of trains, buses and shared auto-rikshaws? People try to take the shape of any available vacant space. They are allowed to sit on top of the trains and buses. I too have traveled in a bus numerous times looking like the alphabet S. Those times are over but for how long?

We have lost our patience. There are so many of us cramped in so little that it is suffocating at times. We want to rush out of it, like ants rushing out of their nest if you flood it with water. Our numbers have turned us aqueous. We have stopped balancing moralities. When I hear honks blaring, I hear despondency, I hear death of composure, I hear a silent human cry like that of a bat. We all want to get home quickly because there is so less time to share with our family. There is so less time that we start defying logic. Cars don’t fly. You have to let the people come out of a lift before you get in. Multiple lines will not make it faster. Devotion needs perseverance.

How did we come to this? Why did we multiply like spiders with such lassitude towards the future? Why did we create this monster for our children to bear? It is a terrible feeling to imagine the time when we will overtake China in population. When we think about the future, we imagine order, calmness. But we all know that will not be our future and it is an uneasy, terribly terrifying thought.

The dam is broken and we are rushing forward with all the power of destruction we could muster.

36 comments on “The Liquefied Indian

  1. You are so right. Apart from losing the patience, I think now it has come in our blood (not in all but many) to break queues, keep swarming without caring about others, an unknown hurry to just get off the roads, get out of the lines.

  2. he he..i experience the metro queues daily. Even in presence of guard the females generally rush inside without waiting for the other party to descend!! Its is such a major put off generally, sometimes you can’t help but shout!!

    • My sis told me of this one incident when she screamed at the Metro crowd. Everyone was stunned for a second. I hate traveling in Metro. I do it only when there is no other option or the line on which I have to travel will have very less crowd.

      • he he..:) I actually love Metro, only if people had some sense of how to use it better. sometimes i feel the rush to get inside is so high that if possible they could have carried their asses in their hands and thrown them on the vacant seats from the door itself!! Actually for people who use public transport, its any day better than DTC, Blue lines…

        • Oh yes, absolutely! As a mode of transport, it is great. But at times we have opinion about things depending on the way they are used by us rather than how they actually are. I too travel frequently by Metro but I hate the way I am tossed here and there.
          And thank God there are glasses on the windows, otherwise people would have dived in the coaches. 🙂

  3. Nature and Indians abhor a vaccuum. Seriously though, trains and buses stop for commuters for milliseconds. The reason is that they would otherwise fill to overflowing in no time. If there were infrastructure in our villages we wouldn’t have overcrowd cities, buses or trains. The air would be less polluted too. Who, in their right minds would leave their homes to come and live in filthy slums? But you are right to point out that getting on to our trains and buses is a battle.

    • The fault lies within. We have created this monster and now it is sitting on our head.
      And you are absolutely right. Administration is hellbent on concentrating population in specific cities.
      I am afraid that in a few years, people will be forced to leave cities and move somewhere else and the cycle will continue.

  4. we just go with the flow. we don’t complain because we have accepted it. many a times i just stood there in the queue and i was pushed towards the point i wanted to reach

    very nicely written!

    • Well, I do complaint at times. I have fought so many times while standing in queues that I have lost count. I know its hard to change so many people but we can tell them that we do not like what they are doing.
      Thanks Debajyoti.

  5. I feel guilty when I say I dont want to move back to India. I’m afraid to be crushed in a stampede, really, I am.
    There are ao many problems that our nation faces at this moment and I always blame the population for it. We could have been an asset but our numbers have become a liability.
    While there are people who r content with one child, there are numerous who still dream to have 3 or more kids. It’s unbelivable!

    • It is absolutely all right. There is no need to feel guilty. Given a chance, I too might think of leaving.
      You have to be super rich to bring up three kids nowadays. I cannot even think about it because I know I will be on road pretty soon if I give it a try.

  6. Living in India sometimes feels like being a liquid in a cistern. When someone upturns the vessel, we all rush in to take the shape of whatever we are upturned into.
    So true! I am not disappointed! 😀 What a brilliant description, AGAIN!

    You do not have to walk. Just go with the flow and soon you will feel like water flowing through an intricate labyrinth of canals.
    Reminded me of Mumbai locals… 🙂 pretty much the same story…

    It’s so true. We as a country are getting congested and unmanageable as the days go by. I hate to think of what the future holds… 😐

  7. That was a thought-provoking post. Why do we Indians need a guard with a whistle at every corner? I am sure we have started retracing our steps back in the evolutionary cycle at break-neck speed. At this rate, we will enter the Stone Age soon. Our riches have any way been sucked out to foreign coffers by the leeches among us.

    • There is no doubt that we are going backwards. All the education and progressing economy be damned, our thought process have been tossed in the dustbin. There is no method, only madness.
      Thanks Umashankar.

  8. loved the way you wrote it!

    Its weird you know Amit, just the other day, I was talking to someone at work, about the population explosion in India and people just not having any patience with queues…however, just to let you know a positive aspect…

    now a days, when R and I take the BEST bus to her school bus stop, we see people standing in a queue to get the bus..for the first few days, I couldnt believe my eyes, but it definitely happens..and this is not only in the first stop..even in the intermediate stops..without anyone asking them to stand..everyone just stands there and gets up in a line..even if the bus is late or its pouring cats and dogs…

    are we improving??

    • Thanks R’s Mom.
      It is great if this is happening. This is deifinitely a step and I do not want to sound negative but will the people still be in a queue if two consequtive buses do not come. What will happen when the third bus arrives?

      • ah! well, I can say with pride that STILL people stood in the line. (this happened some two weeks back that the buses got really late and there were like 30 people at one stop)….of course following the third bus was a fourth bus..but still unlike the earlier times, people stood in the line and waited….may be its a one off incident, but well, there is always some improvement right?

  9. Very true and quite terrifying Amit… and when we buy vehicles we consider the way it can move ahead in a traffic jam, like a smaller car or a two wheeler is sold as easier to maneuver in a traffic jam.

    • Thanks IHM.
      Yes, I have seen a car advert where the girl says – traffic jams? Not for me!
      Now what does that mean? That you can get past the jams if you buy the car? By breaking rules?

  10. Very thought provoking post! Orderliness is not our cup of tea, educated or not.

    It is a everyday sight where you see the bus conductor yelling at the top of his voice to let the people get off the bus. But the ones boarding the bus lend a deaf year to it!
    Maybe its high time that have we have stairs in the bus which will take you the top of the bus and people get on to the top of the bus and jump from there. But make sure to put on your parachutes before you jump 🙂

    • Thanks metherebel.
      We all somehow turn deaf when we get desperate. What we do not understand is that that is not going to take us anywhere.
      And I have stopped travelling in buses. I do not have the stomach for it anymore. 🙂

  11. Today’s advestisements say that get a car for Rs.2500 and people have no tensions in paying EMI for 10L cars.So this is expected and with the metroes and buses;they are still the symbols of the common man,they show the world that there are still a huge chunk of people who still cannot afford the so called EMI 🙂
    Good one,Amit

    • I think if everyone is able to afford an EMI, the situation will be worse. Imagine so many cars on the road that they can’t even move. Roads will be choked to their limit.
      Thanks Bhavia. 🙂

    • It is, isn’t it? I get goosebumps everytime I think about what is going to happen to us in the next 20 years.

      I am? The Legend calls me brilliant. I am in heaven. 🙂

  12. Pingback: The Utopian Indian Society | Bhavia's Blog

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