The impatient Indian

We’ve heard about the Argumentative Indian, the Philosophical Indian and so on. But we see all around impatient Indians. It is perhaps in our genes not to wait to take our turn. It is not as if the impatient are going to gain anything by being impatient, bar getting on the nerves of other citizens.

It is a common scene in railway stations. Scores of people surge around the entrance, luggage in both hands, trying to barge in, elbowing others, even those who want to de-board. It does not matter whether they have seats reserved or not, and whether there is a packed compartment or most of the seats are empty. You can see the impatient Indian, jostling around, making the journey difficult for himself as well as others.

Another such place is the ration shop, where even the presence of just two people will be enough for crowd behaviour to kick in. If you are able to overtake even one, there is satisfaction writ large on the face.

The best example you can think of is getting the passport. In the olden days, a gazetted officer could sign a recommendation letter, which could help a person skip police verification and get the passport within a week. Otherwise it used to take about two months. As one who was authorised to append such letters, I was amused to hear all kinds of weird reasons, explaining “emergent” situations. The most common one was that he/ she had applied for admission in a foreign university or had got a job offer, and may get the card soon.

It is a common sight at foreign consulates, and immigration counters in airports, the trait of impatience exhibited blatantly. If you see a person crossing the yellow line, which is marked to regulate the crowd and ensure orderliness, inviting a hard stare from the officer at the desk, be sure it is an Indian. The tribe of middlemen at the RTO’s office, the sub-registrar’s office and the like, make a killing, thanks to people’s indefatigable urge to get things done earlier than others, out of turn.