desi · indian culture · Peelasophy · random thoughts

First of all, Indians

The need to race ahead and end up in the first position is far more among Indians than ladies and gentlemen from other nationalities.
This is not a racist statement but one that is the result of a social experiment made out of keen observation of several thousand Indians, over several years. The experiment has been carried out by silently surveying the activities of people from different socio-economic segments, in various locations, especially crowded areas and places where there is an acceptable need to stand in a queue. While this toil has been restricted to metro cities like Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, the experimenter has also utilised his idle time at airports in Europe and the US and got greater understanding on the behavioural pattern that he believes can be addressed as, ‘We are Indians, we are like this only – we are the First of All’.

The experimenter shall henceforth be referred to as E, while the many unsuspecting Indian males or females, who co-operated wonderfully well, without being aware of the experiment itself, will be affectionately referred to as subjects.

E has decided to present few examples he believes can throw light on the experiment and create social awareness amongst fellow countrymen so that they can either chose to laugh at themselves, laugh at E for utilising his time in such a useless manner or look into their own behaviour to see if there is at least a partial match, subsequently decide on a plan and present the next steps to their own brains and hearts.

Example 1:
At a particular traffic junction, called the Gemini flyover in Chennai, E stops, although the green light in front was showing its approval to allow E to go straight ahead. The reason: On the same signal, perpendicular to E, an ambulance was pleading. It was using its characteristic multimedia presentation (rainbow lights and a distinctly loud siren) to transport some needy person to the nearest hospital.
Results of E’s action: As E stopped his car, several cars and motorbikes behind honked and E could also hear some abusive language, including some new Tamil phrases that got added to E’s foul language database. The database, however, is out of scope for this experiment or post.
The ambulance gleefully began to race away. But, several cars and bikes seized this opportunity to jump the red light and follow the ambulance! Several refers to at least a dozen and that included a high end BMW car as well as a C class Mercedes. There was also a cyclist, who tried to demonstrate his extreme passion for adventure sports and high speeds by throwing his right hand on to the ambulance, so that he could go faster and beat the traffic. Unfortunately, the ambulance sped away and he began to curse himself for his error of judgement and apparent lack of hand eye coordination, a must have trait for any adventure lover. E was forced to keep advancing 3-4 inches, stop, repeat the advances and after 2 minutes or so, noticed on his rear view mirror that the traffic pattern behind was in utter chaos. The strange pattern of cars and bikes had the erstwhile mute spectator traffic cop do a quick root cause analysis and give a stern look at E for having stopped at the green light. E was relieved that another deputy cop was vigorously shaking his hands and ordering him to disappear from the scene of the jam.
Example 2:
E was travelling on a flight to Delhi, an activity that E is indulging in, every now and then, nowadays. E noticed that his co-passengers were always in a mad rush. Scenarios where mad rush was observed included boarding the bus that would transport them to the plane, getting down from the bus to the plane and squeezing through to push ahead in the narrow space between the seats. On one such occasion, E witnessed a slightly greater than 100 kilo male subject, squeeze past a 110 kilo lady with no regret whatsoever. The female subject expressed her displeasure only to hear a reply from the former that she was being inconsiderate and consuming too much time to take a right turn and deposit herself on to her specified seat. E also noticed that as soon as the flight landed, the passengers immediately got up, ready to rush to the exit door. Most folks at the window seats stood with their legs and head upright, but the remaining portion of their bodies were inclined at varying postures like 30 to even 75 degrees to avoid hitting their heads against the overhead cabins. It did not matter that they were themselves uncomfortable or causing greater discomfort to others. The subjects had to come first! Whenever E got an aisle seat, he was invariably pushed to the walking lane and all the subjects displayed this burning desire to reach the finishing line as soon as possible. Of course, the same behaviour was at display when the airline’s bus arrived to transport these subjects to the airport from the plane’s parking place. Of course, the drive to occupy a seat in the bus often resulted in another hectic round of rushing. Irrespective of where the subject was seated, as soon as the bus approached the final destination, usually, within 3-5 minutes, subjects did not disappoint E with their predictable response.
This surprised E because most of the subjects seemed well educated and most probably held good positions too.
Example 3:
E, in his experiments in the US, noticed some contradictory behaviour. The same subjects seemed to have lost this desire to run for the imaginary Olympic gold medal. Most subjects quietly stood in queues and that too with a gap of more than a foot in between. In flights, the same subjects even let the person ahead of them go first, after landing. They mostly always obeyed rules (including the unwritten ones assumed to be existing and making society better) and E kept getting confused as to why the subjects had this dual response to stimuli when the location variable was changed from India to Foreign Land.

After gazing alternatively at subjects and staring at the moon (for conducting experiments and to understand answers, respectively) E concluded that, “We are Indians, we are like this only – we are the First of All”.

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4 thoughts on “First of all, Indians

  1. That’s so true Ranga… I think we have discussed about this too… Am sure would have observed that some of those subjects you have described exhibit the same behavior even in the US (our ver own carriage park makkal)… You have to gv some credit to their determination… :-). The ambulance example is certainly the most annoying… 😦

    but I wonder why you chose E to refer to the observer!!!

    Ranga: Yes, we have discussed this and one of the examples that did come to my mind was those loud set of people in the 38C bus, we often cribbed about 😉
    E is an arbitrary choice. Just like that.

  2. In complete agreement with E, except for the instance of usage of escalators in malls where stagnant subjects don’t align themselves to the left to allow fast moving subjects pass through the right, a common practice in other places of this E’s visit 😦

    Ranga: Agree. Stagnat subjects probably resort to different strategy. They will be first if they dont allow the others to go past them. For others who dont rush up the escalator, there is this fear factor. Many subjects are still very scared of using escalator. E gives you full marks for your keen observation and inputs!

  3. Am kind of surprised that I dont have similar experiences! Obviously not Example 3, since I haven’t been to U.S and (thankfully) haven’t seen better places to look at this country in shock.
    Most of the time when the ambulance is screeching, people start honking hoping they get the green light, and other people piggy-backing behind it. 🙂 Haven’t seen people here not giving way to ambulances if they are not stuck in a traffic jam. Maybe thats just the non-driver in me speaking.

    Ranga: Hmm … even before US experience, I was always ready to fight when some joker would try to disturb the configuration of a queue. the ambulance experience – keeps happening every once in 3-4 days, and same scene every day. that saddens me a lot.

    1. Well, I’ve seen other places, but I’m not yet shocked with ‘this’ country. I totally agree with example 3 but the first two. i ve seen people carrying complete strangers injured in accident on their bikes to hospital , seen a road-side chai-wala handing out bus money to a girl whose wallet got stolen, seen local people ease out traffic under scorching sun in case of a jam! These are just my experiences and you might get more from others. i’ve been in this country when there was an earthquake and communal riots, and the way the very same bunch of people put the others in front, the ‘first of all’ concept doesn’t apply all the time. 😉

      Ranga: that is what makes the country so unique …. did u see the reliance data card ad? and i am proud of being an indian but not sure of being proud of being in india ….

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