A Calmer You, By Sonal Kalra: Always in a rush. But why?
Haylo good people, I’m back. A lot of you cursed me for not writing last week. But what to do, the batteries of the mind were totally discharged and I had to head elsewhere in the quest for eternal wisdom. It’s another thing that I’ve dutifully returned a failure, and shall continue to be an epitome of absurdity. Because I realised that all those stories about people leaving home in search for ‘answers’ are just those — stories. In reality, when you leave home, you usually come back with empty pockets, aching legs and constipation.
However, there is one piece of eternal wisdom that I still managed to attain, in a moment of sheer enlightenment, sitting under a giant banyan tree. Okay fine, there were no banyan trees, but would you please let me present my thought in a fancy way, even though it may have arrived while I was sitting next to a trash bin at the departure lounge of their bigger-than-Bhatinda airport?
During this travel, I realised the ultimate truth that no amount of diversity — be it in countries, culture, economy, race — can stop people from exhibiting remarkably similar stupid behaviour in public. Seriously. When it comes to acting weird, the lyrics of ‘We are the World’ song seem to stream into the subconscious of an American, a Chinese and an Indian alike.
Sample this, everyone reaches the airport with an expression that half-says ‘I have to win this war’. They’ll chug along their luggage and get on to the electronic walking strip. And would then start walking on it in full speed, with the wheels of their luggage making a ‘dhad dhad dhad’ kind of war cry behind them. They could kill anyone who blocks their path, so the meek give way and let them walk on the strip — that is already moving! They do their check-in and security formalities, and then reach the ‘waiting lounge’ for boarding the aircraft. It should actually be renamed the ‘we can’t wait’ lounge. Because the moment the airlines staff arrives to begin the boarding process, there is a sudden tension and urgency that envelopes the air.
Everyone scurries up to stand in front of the boarding gate. Men shout at their wives, who in turn growl at their kids, to hurry up and stand in the queue. The more the airline staff requests everyone to ‘remain seated’, the longer the queue gets. Someone tries to barge in, and is reminded in six international languages that there is a queue… and that he has no manners. People glare at the staff and perhaps that leads to the gates magically opening. All these warriors rush to board the aircraft and sit on their seats that are pre-allotted. “Why stand in the queue for so long when no one else can sit on your seat?” I asked a burly British guy, with a genuinely innocent expression. He looked ready to physically harm me, so I stepped back.
But a fellow Indian took pity to explain and said that people want adequate space for their luggage in the overhead compartments, and hence the rush. A brief chat with the air hostess in the Barbie hairdo enlightened me that there’s an almost zero chance of someone not getting space to put their luggage. Tell me, have you ever seen anyone sitting on top of their bag in a flight? But people don’t get it. People of all shapes, colours and sizes, me included, have an enviable SQ (stupidity quotient). Even when it’s time to leave the aircraft, a long queue forms much before the gates open. Maybe some people actually believe the plane will fly off again, taking them along, if they won’t disembark quickly. High SQ, you see.
Anyhow, henceforth I demand emergency medical assistance for these three groups of people… whose SQ threatens to hover on dangerous levels.
1. The ‘I love queues’ brigade: As with the air-traveller, the exact same behaviour is exhibited by these people when it comes to going for a movie at the cinema hall. There’s a sea of people waiting outside the auditorium, and then someone with a high SQ decides to queue up before the gate. And in a typical Pied Piper way, people rush to queue up behind him. Your seat has a number, Your Excellency, and the film is not likely to start till everyone gets in. So, unless you are dying to see the same Nirma detergent packet on 70 mm that you’ve been ogling at A MILLION TIMES on TV, why not relax and give your poor Blood Pressure a break?
2. The ‘Panicky by birth’ gang: Something strange happens to these people when they do stuff such as crossing the road. Some aatma enters their body and they start chanting ‘chalo chalo chalo’, while rushing to cross it at a speed that may fetch India an Olympic medal. The worst is when such people suddenly hold the hands of their companions and drag them, too, in this ‘chalo chalo’ frenzy. I’m damn sure more accidents are likely to happen when someone keeps chanting the ‘jaldi chalo’ mantra in your ear than otherwise. Arrey, chal toh rahe hain. I have no interest in suddenly deciding to sit down on the road and sing praises of the blue sky. Trust me, if there ever was a superhero who could save people from a family member or a friend who creates panic all the time, he would be far more popular than Superman. Remember, the curse of Baba Relaxo Nath will befell you if you’ll panic your loved ones into reaching anywhere in a rush.
3. The ‘see-button, will-push’ maniacs: Finally, without mincing words, I demand capital punishment for those who keep pressing an already lit elevator button in the hope that it’ll arrive faster. Morons. Of the highest order. Without realising that it won’t make an iota of a difference (unless the lift has been programmed by someone with an exceptionally high SQ), more than two-thirds of the human race believes in pressing the button strongly and repeatedly, as if they are driving the lift with their own hands.
Now I know, these are the people for whom they have to write ‘Do not eat’ on the packs of naphthalene balls. Enlightenment, you see.
Sonal Kalra always asked God, why the Indians don’t believe in standing patiently in a queue. He took her prayers too seriously. She wants to bang her head on the wall. Mail your calmness tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/sonalkalra13. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra