Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Race Against Time

The alarm goes off at 6.45; my hand reaches out to the snooze button (a wonderful addition to any alarm). I rush through the morning routine so that I can enjoy breakfast with S, and leave for work with him. Yup… leaving for work together is somehow so important.

Once we’re out of the house, it hits us in the face: the aggression in this part of the world. My parents expected me to excel at what I did… academics, dance, music, art. They taught me that it was important to do well. But there was no pressure. They definitely didn’t teach me that it was OK to get ahead at the cost of other people. That stepping on others doesn’t matter as long as I get what I want.

Whenever we get out on to the roads, I can hear a song playing in my head. It’s like a modification of Ralph McTell’s song which goes like this:

Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of Gurgaon
I'll show you something to make you change your mind

A pretty woman wrote in her blog about how people just say whatever comes to their minds. Out here, people don’t just say, they say and do exactly as they please. Nobody has bothered to learn the rules of traffic. If there is a roundabout, rather than go around it, they prefer cutting across. Standing in line or waiting in a queue is akin to murder! At a traffic signal, when there is nowhere to go and the signal shows red, it is not unusual to hear non-stop honking.

On some days, I take the elevator up. And that is an experience in itself. There is nothing called a queue. At times, I feel there is more order at a suburban train station in Bombay when the 8.23 fast to Churchgate rolls in. On several occasions I allowed those who came after me to get in first… even if that meant that I had to wait for the next one. When I think, “In Rome, do as the Romans do”, I also think, “If I behave the same way as these guys, what’s the difference between them and me?”

Chivalry is pretty much dead. I know that it is dying in other parts, but this is supposed to be the land of the chivalrous people. Chivalrous, my foot! If chivalry weren’t already dead in this part of the country, the people here would have stabbed it to death anyway. Forget holding a door open for you, men here will bang it shut right in your face. Come on… who has the time for this? We’re in a hurry.

Just last evening, we were at Big Bazaar finishing some grocery shopping. We had two cartloads of stuff and we’d just finished placing the last of the items on the counter. There were a couple of guys behind us in the “queue”. Big Bazaar’s billing system is such that it takes a little time to calculate the discounts after all the items have been entered. (It’s fun to watch the bill amount go down every second! Oops, I digress!) I was talking to S and my parents when I felt something very rough brush against my hand. I turned and found that Mr. In-a-hurry behind me had pushed his box of purchases all the way across because he decided he’d waited enough.

What is with the people here? Time is just as precious to me as it is to the next person. But did no one ever teach people in the north to be considerate? Or that it is not that important to get ahead in the race of life, especially if you’re doing it at the cost of others? I am not asking folks here to stop and smell the flowers, I’m only requesting that a little courtesy be extended to fellow beings.


janani said...

I can so identify with people jostling you in the queue...people dont even know the spelling of 'manners' or 'courtesy..i get so irritated with people who sneak into your bill from behind...for what joy?

lipstick said...

The truth is rushing up and getting ahead of your fellow beings is not only going to make you the first one at the cash counter but will also result is stress, high burn out rate etc…which will take you sooner into the next world!

Raaga said...

@Janani: I think I would put that under cheap thrills.

@Lipstick: I agree that the race against time is essentially on a one-way road. :-)

Aaarti said...

yep, as they say, it takes all kindsa people to make this world...heheh

just wish people were good n polite instead of always trying to beat the others and get their way

Raaga said...

Yeah Aarti... it does take all sorts!