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Queues …

November 23, 2016

Have always hated queues but queues are unavoidable.

Been in queues all life, on many important occasions:

In school first and foremost.

Even in PDS for buying provisions as 10-12 year old… After that age, we girls were not sent to get anything from shops, but I do remember standing in queues for hours in Mylapore ration shop although I must say I had had the enchanting company of neighbourhood kids who stood for their families along with me, so it wasn’t really bothersome. In those days, we even had to stand in queues at the cinemas.

Queues again for college admission…

Queues in banks before computerization, queues in post offices, queues even for railway ticket booking before you could book online starting from the new millennium.… No queues for trains atleast from 2001, we were earliest to book online, proud to say!

Queues in corporation offices to pay taxes, queues to pay our bills …

Agreed, a good deal of queues I have skipped thanks to net banking and online bill payment facilities…

But I am talking about an era when it was not possible…

Still in India,

You have to stand in queues in passport office (atleast 2 hours inspite of online appointment).

You have to stand in queues for driving licence – will have to spare one complete day because we are a billion+ nation so imagine the daily crowd at RTOs.  And just in case their webcam must fail, do it all over again the next day!!!

Queues in registration offices/Tahsildar offices. Can anything stretch or test your patience more?

I have stood in queues in temples for hours. In Tirupathi temples, in my younger age, have stood in queues for 10-20 hours easily for a single moment darshan of Lord Balaji.

Last time we went to Tirupathi, inspite of special darshan ticket, we still stood in queue as family for 5 hours.

Standing in queue in immigration every few months for years now. The queue that angers you the most is the one moving in front of you in-flight when you have to disembark quick to catch a connecting flight!

My luck is that, always the queue I join will be the slowest to move! Yeah, even while billing my groceries in supermarkets 😀 Invariably the one before me will have a card or some other issue and the billing will be put on hold ! Those who arrive after me in the next counter will be long gone and I will be still waiting in queue!


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Queues for school admission of your kids: How many Indian parents can forget that?

My friend and her husband took turns from the previous evening to stand in PSBB queue in KK Nagar just to get application forms for admission for their kids in school! Whole night her husband stood, by morning my friend took his position. So who asked them to go for this school. It is our choice. It is what we parents undertake willingly for the sake of our children.

I don’t know whether school application forms are available online. I doubt it. Because by printing forms, they mint loads of money by way of application fee!!

I stood in SBOA queue for my son’s sake from morning 6.30 am to afternoon 2.30 not having lunch and not even daring to go to the loo or to canteen for snacks… no water either because I was worried if I gulped down water, I might feel the necessity to visit London! Unforgettable day! They gave us only 2 days to pay the fees. I went by 8.30 am the previous day and found that they had already closed the school gates after admitting over 1000 parents of newly admitted kids. So the next day I was in their gates by 6.30 but there were already over a dozen parents before me!

By the time I was finished with, it was 2.45. Only 15 more minutes to pay the fees in the bank extension counter in his school campus and with the slip, to get the prescribed text books. By the time I returned home it was nearly 5 or 5.30. An autowala – thank him even today in my heart whoever he is, took pity on me. I had nearly slept in the auto. He had stopped before a petty shop and gotten me a Pepsi or Coke to drink, looking at how famished I looked.

An interesting thing I want to mention here. My son was running viral fever then. I took permission from school to attend his classes and copy notes for a week before he could join. Surprisingly they consented. Hahaha. Now belatedly I muse to myself. I can’t believe I did that. In the last row in his class I would sit arriving by 11 and leaving by 2 and in the lunch hour gathering the notes for missing hours! (School time was 8.30 to 3.00. I guess we mothers are possessed. We are non-compromising. We will do anything for our kids. And what is this queue after all.

No pain, no gain. It is all worth it finally. The school gave my son a wonderful peer circle. After a stage, parents’ role becomes limited in a boy/girl’s life. Friends take over. My son is who he is today largely due to his friends. I merely showed him the way to a good place.

Queuing alone is another thing: very few mothers do it. Mostly parents come together or fathers come alone. Rarely grandfathers or other male guardians. Be it for my son’s school, college admissions or visa interviews I have been alone with him as a single parent. Never realized it until some people asked me the reason.

Queued again for my son’s readmission in the same school in 11th standard. This time he was with me, still we were there for 5 hours! Atleast I could go to the loo and canteen when we took turns! He was a bit grown up by this time so I felt like I was going out with a guy! I feel strongest and most confident always when I go out with my son. Young blood, more bolder!

Queue next in my son’s college, 48 km from city. From school experience I knew the early bird gets the first worm. So by 7.30 am I was there with my baby but the offices opened only by 10.00 am. Could complete formalities as we were ahead in the queue and get back home in time for lunch paying the fees and getting the ID card. The problem is, all bank extension counters in schools and colleges work the shortest hours. Suppose you miss it, you have to visit again the next day! The following year we paid fees online but the first year fee had to be remitted in person after submitting the originals.

Have stood in queues for Voters ID, Ration card renewal and lastly for the Aadhar Card. Even my husband and son did! They had to!

Bank queues have been shorter mercifully. Because I use online banking mostly and rarely go in person to bank. If at all I have to go, I go in lean hours.

The last memorable queue was for my son’s student visa to US. Even if they give online appointments, as fate would have it, that year the entire US visa website around the world crashed. My son and his friends had to reschedule their appointments over 4 times. The whole of May-June appointments got cancelled. To make matters more difficult, the bio-metric center was changed just 2 days earlier to the appointment, to a new location!

For the bio-metrics, I stood outside waiting for my son for 3 hours; we went earlier by 1.30 hours. The previous day we first located the place which had no sign board. I met lots of anxious parents like me! Actually queue time is enjoyable too sometimes! We were exchanging notes on universities, future of our kids etc. Nearly 4 hours that day in the open street.

Finally the rescheduled interviews were crammed into July and the queues got the longest and lengthiest. My son’s appointment was by 11 am but we were in queue by 8.30 morning right in the footpath. Already over a 1000 were standing ahead of us. As it turned out that year, it was the hottest July day in Chennai history in over 100 years (learned later from newspaper/tv reports). My son asked me to go away but as a mother I could not. I have stood for him and with him in many queues. Why should I leave now, I asked him.  I carried his weighty files upto 12 noon wanting him to stay free and not get tired. Still it was like sauna. The kids were sweating profusely and were tired and hungry. Ofcourse we parents were worse! Some parents said they had health conditions. Then there came a point when the officials asked the candidates alone to move up and my son went ahead with his folders. I waited back with other parents. My condition was a lot better : there were those from Bangalore, Mangalore, Kerala etc who had arrived by trains and were booked into hotels. Some guys asked us ladies to go to restaurant and get back refreshed. Some men (fathers) got us cool drinks. I refused liquid food. I was, I found, a lone rare woman among other parents who had come as couples.

By 2.00 my sis called me to say my nephew could be on his way to my home from school. She forgot to tell him I wouldn’t be there. So just about the interview time, (when I knew my son was inside) I caught an auto back home – in time to open doors to my nephew. Before leaving from home, I had gotten the food ready. As I served a warmed-up late lunch to my nephew, my son walked in shouting happily, ‘hey I am off to US for my MS!!!’

He nearly lifted me up!

My mother-in-law was beaming.

So much for queues!

I found tears in my eyes! My MIL was crying too…. although there are politics in our family, my son is her favourite grandson. When it became apparent he would be leaving abroad for higher studies, she was happy and at the same time sad…

‘You are looking so… tired, famished! Are you a fool to stand in that hot sun for hours? Today is hottest day, don’t you know?’ said my boy, looking at my face.

No parent who was with his/her son or daughter that day without a shelter, right on the pavement, with sun baking us at 107 f,  felt that we must leave. What other work is there for me/us than be with our kid(s) at this most crucial moment in their lives.

This is a queue we willingly toed.

I made a lot of friends that day! Everyone asked, ‘why is your husband not in queue?’ When I said he was an NRI they asked, ‘what is more important than his son’s visa interview for MS?’ All of them congratulated me. We shared and swapped our personal victories and stories in those 5-7 hours of hanging out together. Middle-aged men and women with grown up kids!

So are all queues uncomfortable? May be physically, but mentally?

I don’t mind really standing alone in queues. Whatever we can, we should do without seeking others’ help. Without bothering others. For one thing my husband can never stand in queue for hours like I can. He has no patience. Whatever he is good at, he is doing. And I am doing whatever I can for my part. Family is not business. Yes, sometimes I have wished he could have been there with us, but I realize it truly makes no difference and is only waste of precious time.

From 8.30 to 2.00 pm that day in Gemini platform – happily for my son I stood, with no roof over my head, with sun shining on mercilessly on that hottest July day in 100 years.

Those of us who have stood in queues for our kids sake – in schools, in colleges, will never have anything bad to say about the Demonetization queues in our banks. We know, this is necessary.

I am asking one and all,

What about the queues in liquor shops? Suppose the next day is national holiday like Gandhi Jayanthi or Independence or Republic day, you have to see the queues the previous evening. Stocking up!

What about the queues in front of cinemas ALL THE RAJINI FANS? For first day, first show of Thalaiva’s latest release?

What about queues in doctor’s. With my brother-in-law as doctor at home in joint family when I was newly married, I did not have to stand in queue whenever I had to get my son vaccinated. But my friends have been through that as well.

I do accompany my aunt, my mother-in-law to clinics – from dentists to oncologists. Yeah everywhere there is queue. There is queue even for cardiac bypass. My uncle got 2 heart attacks back to back in 24 hours. He still had to queue up in the private hospital (not literally) for his chance for the bypass surgery as there were many waiting cases scheduled before him. His turn came after 12 days only.

Queues for mammograms. Queues at your gynaecologist. In the maternity clinic where my son was born, I had to wait every time for atleast 2 hours for my check-up even if I always went with an appointment.

In a very famous fertility clinic close to my home, a friend went for consultation. Her appointment was for 4 pm in the evening. She was in queue when the doctor finally saw her by 11 pm. She said, there were still couples waiting and waiting…. despite online appointments…

My friend’s boy is an IVF baby.  Says she, even while her eggs were being cultured in a petri dish, there was queue! She had a token number given to her to identify which was hers/her husbands. Not to be hurt easily, she laughed it off lightly. ‘Where is not queue in this country Viji?’ she asked. She said about a 50 sets of hopeful parents were with her paying daily visits to the labs to see the culture growth. She would say, her baby was a mere number among 50 labelled on that one particular day. But her patience in the queue is what made her the mother of a gifted boy finally.

Recently during my Europe visit for the first time, I was in queue once again. Queues are always irritating, not denying.

Although we had online tickets, we still had to get to the ‘skip the line’ counter where again there was a queue!

By the time you get into the Vatican or Colosseum or Swiss Alps or the Art galleries, you are totally exhausted! Longest unbearable one was the Paris immigration queue. After 8 hour nonstop flight, with no time to visit the bathroom, stood for nearly 2 hours in queue because it was peak tourist season.

The only difference between queues in India and abroad is that: in India, we panic, we have no discipline, we tug and pull and push lacking patience to wait out our turns, whereas in foreign countries there is an orderliness about queues. They don’t touch you, they are disciplined and they don’t huff and puff like we Indians do. Remember, everyone is standing in queue, not just you.

So why such a hue and cry about queuing up for new currency notes in banks or in ATMs?

The fuss is very much man-made, I mean, manufactured by the Arvind Kejriwal-Barkha Dutt anti-national gang. Kejriwal is aware he has lost it, that Modi has pipped him in win-win situation, hijacking the ‘India Against Corruption’ agenda right under his nose, in broad daylight and that he can do nothing about it than swear.

An average Indian is aware, queues are inevitable in life. Even foreign tourists in India are obliging, not complaining. Not wanting to jump the queues as guests of this country, seeking special treatment.

Queuing with all heart… Queuing for a better India, is every Indian’s responsibility and pleasure.






From → Dilli Durbar

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