The art of queuing

Apparently, Britain plans to make ‘art of queuing part of the citizenship test for immigrants’. It is no joke either. Apparently they feel that ‘lot of tension is caused by immigrants not understanding that they must wait in line for services rather than barging to the front’.

Not really surprising, isn’t it? How many times have we wished that people queued properly in India, instead of barging in, or trying to nudge their way to the front. Any way of getting ahead.  People on two-wheelers trying to wedge into that tiny bit of space between two cars in an effort to reach their destination one second earlier. But does all this really work? I have been stuck in traffic so many times, because at traffic lights, people try to get ahead in so many ways that it takes a while for the traffic to start flowing and just as it starts, the lights change again.  Even people getting into trains just barge in, without waiting for those trying to get off the train. Instead of poking and nudging their way ahead, if all of us just queued and waited, life would be so much more peaceful for all of us, wouldn’t it?

I remember the first time I saw the railway reservation queue in Bangalore – nice and orderly. After Jamshedpur, it was a nice change. And just because it was orderly, there were no raised tempers, fights or irritated tellers. And I do think it was much faster even though the number of people queuing was much more. I have no idea how it is now – but 8 or 9 years back – it was wonderful!

In Britain, I have seen people queuing up nicely for so many things. I wonder what makes people behave differently? Is it the attitude that is different or just that when a system gets put in place – people tend to follow it? Is it simply the lack of awareness that makes people behave in this way? What do you think?


50 thoughts on “The art of queuing

  1. Pingback: The art of queuing « Rubber Tyres –> Smooth Rides

    • Agree with you, Smitha. There is no patience in Indian attitudes – while driving / booking train tickets / buying stuff at the subsidised food shops…


      The pattern is quite interesting, if I can explain. Indian ppl are in a hurry to barge to buy things, when they know that that particular thing will become of out of stock / all tickets sold out / get stuck in more traffic jam.

      I agree. Although rushing might not necessarly help always.

      Yday, I had gone to pay the electricity bills, I was quite surprised to see an orderly queue at every counter. Because, whether you barge to the front or stay where you are, you have to pay the bill. No discount on that !! Moreover, when the person collecting the money insisted on the queue system, people obliged immediately.


      When there is a rule and supervisors to monitor the strict following of rules and fines for rule-breakers and punishment for many time rule-breakers, then we’ll follow them.

      Makes sense! Unless there is some sort of penalty, things will not change that easily.

  2. Welcome back to India 🙂 We still haven’t got that orderliness in our blood. Any civil ethic has to come from childhood and population is one of our asset. So, it is obvious that everyone behave in their own unique way. It needs a paradigm shift in culture to get that ‘Art of Queuing’ among we ‘The Indians’ 🙂

    Yes, we certainly need a paradigm shift in culture..

  3. The basic cause for the chaos is restlessness. Bangalore is famous for people who are soft-natured. They don’t go into unnecessary fights like here, in Chennai!

    That is a point too.

    As you said queue system makes life easy and the work gets done faster without much tension. But the only thing is we need someone to push us to stand in line, everywhere! Otherwise everyone is his own king ‘naane raja, naane manthri’!

    ‘Otherwise everyone is his own king ‘naane raja, naane manthri” – That is the root cause of why we behave the way we do..

  4. Aww I am all for it .. I so wish stringent laws r imposed here too 😦

    If only we could get laws to be implemented 😦 With all the corruption, any amount of laws won’t make a difference.

    Everybody wants to be the first in queue. It irritates me so much sometimes.

    I know! Same here!

    The thing here is that even if we ask people to stand in queue, they point out at others and tell u even they r nt following it! No one follows the gud things but welcome these 😦

    I know! Exactly!

    Maintaining some order does save time infact more than trying to rush @ once.
    Absolutely! I have seen it so many times..

  5. Oh I wish I knew what makes the Brit folks so disciplined. While everywhere I see people waiting in order, I once went for an Adnan Sami concert in Wembley, and you can imagine how it was..crowds barging in everywhere..nobody knew what was happening and where. Utter chaos. And guess what? Everybody felt at home 😉 Sucks, really!

    Sad, isn’t it? Our culture showcased so beautifully 😦

  6. Indians and their ‘sab chalta hai’ attitude…. thats the most basic reasoning of not wanting to queue. And of course their rush to be the first. 🙄

    Yes, you are right. These days people would be surprised if you waited in line 😉

  7. Here everything is taken for granted…. lots of thing needs to do with mindset… I think lane traffic may bring about a change if it is implemented stringently…. hope they do…

    I agree. People do not drive in lanes- and we cannot really expect them to, as half the people don’t even get their license the proper way, do they 😦

  8. Life would have been easier if we Indians had a sense of public order and discpline with regards to other’s liberties… We have plenty of it in our own , in our homes, with our children, bookshelf…
    We are irresponsible citizens, stricter rules may help…. Or an autocratic ruler like Hitler, where fear of the sword creates queues automatically….

    So true! We are disciplined in private life – but it all goes out of the window as soon as we step out.

    But will it be India!! Love this land, but am irritated with the quelessness all the same… :p

    I know 🙂 No other place like home 🙂 Just wish it were better ordered 🙂

  9. Though the rule sounds silly when we read it, its rules such as this that makes our lives easier…
    As u said, “just that when a system gets put in place – people tend to follow it?” In our country we always wait for the system to be in place rather than we putting it in place and hence all the trouble..

    ‘ In our country we always wait for the system to be in place rather than we putting it in place and hence all the trouble..’ – True. Because nobody wants to be left behind by taking the first step..

  10. Making immigrants learn the art of queuing? Not a bad idea! Maybe we should make it mandatory for everyone here in India, too! 🙂

    Maybe we should ask Kapil Sibal to include it in the syllabus 🙂

  11. You know when I came to Mumbai I saw perfect queues for buses, tickets etc. Vaise hostel life shows you the real art of queuing up. We had queues for using washroom, having lunch, filling our buckets, washing our clothes and what not 😀

    LOL! That is indeed true!

    But honestly Indians do need a lesson in discipline & manners!!! I to become a Laksmi Bai when I see someone breaking the queue!!!! I glare glare & glare and if it doesn’t work I shout!!!

    LOL! I used to do that too – but more often than not, it was useless 🙂

  12. I think it’s a brilliant idea. But Indians being Indians will still find a way out.

    That is always there.

    I was in a queue for taxis in Paris. Everyone waiting patiently for their turn on a cold winter evening. Some smart people thought they could beat the system. So they went a hundred feet down the road from the queue, and tried stopping cabs before they got to the queue. Mercifully, the cabbies saw the line ahead and stopped only at the queue.

    No prizes for guessing that the bright, smart people doing this were Indians.

    I am not surprised at all. When we were in London, where the traffic is quite slow, there used to be one area which used to be a nightmare. People would drive on bus only lanes just to get ahead and then would try and get their cars back into the normal lanes – and this happened only in the predominantly Asian areas 😦


    Quirky Indian

  13. It feels so frustrating when somebody else breaks the queue but so satisfying when you get your work done from the inside without having to wait in a long queue 🙂

    Naughty!! You are not supposed to be doing that 🙂

  14. Haha..we Indians are a rowdy bunch aren’t we? 😀

    Yes, we sure are 😦

    Btw, if you may have noticed, Indians when they are abroad will still comply with traffic laws and queues etc etc. but only when those same are in India, they are back to old ways. That’s what I find most irritating. If they can follow decency in one country, which btw is not their own, why can’t they do the same in your own country???

    Even abroad, they do try to get away with it – when they can 😦 I think we follow rules where we know we cannot get away with it – but where we can, we break them 😦

  15. That is the flaw in our systems…we never have patience and queuing is a habit unknown to us!
    But traffic habits are also something we totally lack. Anywhere but in India, honking is considered to be rude, but in India it is the way of life! it is used for conveying any message…

    I know 😦 It is indeed a way of life and I guess it will take a lot to change it.

  16. I blame it all on the population and corruption. We have seen it in a number of cases when people just want to get their things done first by bribing the right people. Back home if you followed the rules you are termed a ‘Jackass’ rather than being a considerate and Model Citizen.

    Yes, population and corruption, certainly plays a huge role. ‘Back home if you followed the rules you are termed a ‘Jackass’ rather than being a considerate and Model Citizen.’ – Yes, sad but true!

    Too many people vying for the same things also makes it impossible. ‘Mera Number Kab Ayega’ …if we stand patiently and wait for our turn most other people are likely to break the rule and go ahead of you….this gives rise to anger and then we also do the same thing till the time it becomes a Habit.

    I know. I agree. But if everybody were to be patient, then life would be much easier for everybody. Yes, breaking rules do become a habit.

    I have unlearnt a lot of bad habits after coming to UK and it is refreshing to feel like a human again and not like I am always trying to compete with somebody.

    🙂 Yes, I agree. Queuing patiently is a way of life here, isn’t it?

  17. Its the mindset! Queue is one such ex. We have stepmotherly attitude towards anyone who even tries to bring about a positive change in our country!!! Since there are no rigid rules in place here, its easy to run away scot-free making life hard for others around us.

    I know! Sad, isn’t it that we refuse to be disciplined in public life?

  18. Yeah well written.. I have been to india a few times now, and have got the hang of it .. how to get tickets for a movie in a cinema hall.. Earlier i could hardly get the ticket cause i got pushed around so much..

    Thank you and welcome here.

    Yeah here in UK people are more patient .. I guess if people in india become patient enough they will soon find the art of QueIng 🙂

  19. I am not sure what runs in the minds of people who try to push others and squeeze their way through. But it definitely would flatter their urge to ‘getting ahead in life’ somehow 😉

    Yes, probably.

    You’ll see perfect queues in all you do even in the busiest of trains in Australia.
    I’ll probably credit it to the stricter laws and ‘still alive’ polity in people’s hearts.

    I agree. I think awareness and stricter laws do help.

    You’ve raised a wonderful thought provoking topic Smitha 😀

    Thank you, Chatterbox 🙂

  20. Can I say the art of lining? No one understands a bleddy Q here.

    Everything is ulta there, na 🙂 Even the way the switches operate are exactly opposite to the way the British do 😉

  21. I can well imagine the need for teaching the art of queuing to immigrants!! lol. I have faced tough situations unable to get off trains with two little kids as those trying to get in almost trample you to death. Why does a simple thing like the fact that those who have to get down have to do so first before you barge in fails to register in Indian brains?? The same thing happened while I was alighting from a bus while a student. I was almost pushed under the wheels of the bus by those scurrying to get in and was rescued by bystanders. Each one thinks only of himself, ‘I want to somehow get things done’ is the motto. Period.

    ‘Each one thinks only of himself’ – I think this is the key! People just want to ensure that their work is done, so they don’t think beyond that.

    Railway counters here have orderly queues now. But getting into a bus/train is still a risk. Then there is temple darsan. OMG people really step on you in their eagerness to have a glimpse of God. They don’t care however many of his creations they hurt, but they have to see the idol at whatever cost. So they merrily push and shove and trample while calling out His name oh-so-piously!!

    I can never understand how people can behave like this even in places of worship! As if, getting the darshan half a second earlier will make any difference! But people just don’t care! Trampling people, kicking people is all considered fine in the race!

  22. That is a good start..queing makes life so easier.first time I saw in Pune at railways reservation counters proper seating and que and felt so relieved.

  23. We literally believe that life is a rat race 😛

    Jokes apart, When adults break the rules, children observe and follow. The change has to trickle down the generation. And, I think will change in coming times- with 1 billion plus and growing , it will take a bit of time for public discipline in India, practically speaking.

  24. Smits, its the basic functioning of our system that is at flaw here. We simply dont have the fear of law when in our country. But the minute we board our flights to head off to the phoren-land, we’ll be the model-residents! We will abide by all the laws and regulations of that country. We’ll even have our saliva in perfect control and stop ourselves from spitting on roads and other public places. We’ll make sure the garbage is thrown in the garbage can only. Oh and yes we’ll have the perfect control of our urinary bladder too and refrain ourselves from over-fertilizing their parks and streetside bushes!

    Talking of queues, I have to mention the perpetual sight of chaos inside an aircraft the minute it touches down in India…people just spring out of their seats and stand on the aisle even before the plane has come to a complete halt! I’m so looking forward to seeing it again in a few days 😀 !!

  25. We Indians are yet to learn it… and it is a relief that at least some are forced to learn it once they are outside the country.. only to revert once we r back 🙂

    ‘ only to revert once we r back’ – This is what really pains me. Why do we do that 😦

  26. How did I miss this one… !!!!

    Havent you heard that dialogue from the Amitabh Bachchan movie…

    Hum jaha pe khade hote hai….. line wahi se shuru hoti hai… !!!!!! 😆

    I lvoed that line.. I think its from the movie Kaalia… !!!!!!! 😛 😛 😛

    LOL! That dialogue is a classic! Sols mentioned it too 🙂

  27. If a Brit applies for a citizenship in India?

    I think he should be able to jump a queue for that and jugaadofy things without a queue!

    LOL! That might be necessary for survival here 🙂

  28. I almost ended up cooling my heels in jail when we went to Calcutta last month just bcoz some rascals didn’t want to be in the Q. Yup I fought them with my claws 🙄 Sigh!! I must do a post about it before I go for my next vacation.

    LOL! You almost ended up in prison:) Please do post about it 🙂

  29. In India, whoever breaks in first is considered the go getter! If someone gets something by breaking the rule, he is considered smarter! Life is all about survival. Whenever we go back, during the last lap of flight to India, people already start cutting lines, kind of getting ready to be there 😉

    I agree. it is actually considered dumb if you try and abide by rules 😦

  30. could not agree more smitha, we need to learn the art of patience. its a virtue we lack as indians. We lack it to the extent that if you dont barge in, you are actually considered weak/fool here. so much for what we are educated for.

    Agreed. Sadly, it is almost, as if, if you follow rules you just get left behind.

  31. We Indians, especially mallus are not that bad. Have you ever seeen the perfect queue in front of beverages corporation outlets especially just before a holiday?

    LOL! I do think that mallus are more civic minded comparatively 🙂

    • Or on a day of a Holiday called Onam for that matter, what an orderly Q it was and always is no hurry, no pushing and no pulling. Everybody waits for their chance to be served!

      Have to agree to that!

  32. U know what, after ur this post on Queues, the ET came up with an article and LOL! it said, so “unbritishlike” for them to say talk about teaching the importance of Qs as they never followed any when colonising India… and other countries..!

    lol! That is sure true 🙂 The British brought what they needed not one thing extra 🙂 When it came to colonizing – I guess, the objective was money 😉

  33. BTW Smitha the queues still work in Mumbai.

    Yes, Smita mentioned it too 🙂

    Yes for most of the other parts of the country it is still a “me first” mentality. And I see no signs of it abating anytime soon

    Hopefully it will all change when opportunity meets demand equally..

  34. We Indians really do take it to another level *sigh*

    Yes, we do, don’t we? Though I think it is a South Asian phenomena.. Or rather one to do with the Indian Subcontinent..

    I wish we did have it in our syllabus as you suggested.
    Parents ka kya karenge though? 🙂

    Parents ke liye extra classes 😉

  35. Hi, Smitha, pertaining to this there is an interesting social study of crime rates in the book called ‘Tipping Point’. The study showed that when the trains were cleaned and graffiti painted off, crime rate drastically dropped. The fact is that once systems are in place discipline takes its place. Nice post!

    Yes, I agree, once systems are in place, discipline will take it’s place. Welcome here 🙂

  36. During the initial days following my return to India, i tried to reason people into queuing up at the mother dairy, getting very annoyed at the uncle (or auntie) suddenly walking up to the counter, totally oblivious of the long line.

    I can so imagine!

    Now i know better. It just doesn’t work that way here! Lining up just isn’t what Indians do; not when they have an option!

    I guess, you know from personal experience now 🙂 A friend used to say the same, if we wait, we will have to wait forever while people barge forward !

  37. It stems from the belief “life is a race and u have to win in it” that is drummed into every Indian child by their parents…we grow up taking everything and every place as a competition. Even the posh people entering a famous movie hall tend to jostle and step ahead!!

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