Friday, October 15, 2004

The citizen

The four railway reservation counters at the Koramangala BDA complex were working to capacity. Mahalaya, demarcates the beginning of the festive season, & therefore the holiday season, here in India. There was a long queue of people waiting to get their tickets, some going home; others just going away. The serpentine waiting line terminated in four rows of chairs for the people to rest their tired legs & from there it was just going to the next chair & so on, until one reached one of the counters.

The final row almost always, without an exception, had its last chair, sometimes the last two, empty. The people who had already made it that far could not probably wait any longer & just ceased to keep on moving. They just wanted their chance at the counter. A lot of these people were formally attired, a few of them wore their jackets with the logo of the multinational company they worked for, & all of them seemed educated well enough to fill up reservations forms at the very least.

And yet, the fact that two empty chairs at the end of the last row of chairs simply meant two more pairs of tired legs awaiting a seat did not seem to strike a lot of us in that room.

Everyday, smart & intelligent executives do not take a few extra steps towards the ashtray to stub out their cigarettes in the smoking area of their swanky office buildings. Daily, at some shop, somebody barges past you to get his shopping done first.

Sometimes, I struggle to ask: "So, what is the country doing for us?"

2 comments:

Huckleberry Finn said...

Yow, brother! Good observation, clear linear narration, simple language with no excesses, enough breathing space, addition of other apt examples, and neat, striking closing! And a great title replete with irony. Altogether a great piece.
WOW!

Usha said...

It is the small details that we slip on- actually the worst part is that it is all so unconscious - most of us do it not because we don't care but because we "didnt notice" or it didn't "occur to us"!!!