A Word On Cutting

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Indians are the worst cutters I’ve ever seen.

Well, that’s actually not true. Since the notion of a “line” doesn’t seem to apply in India, I suppose it’s unfair to label all Indians “cutters.” But I’m going to anyway. A few examples should suffice.

1) One is waiting at the post office, heavy parcel in hand. One has been waiting patiently for some time now, as the Indians ahead of her are arguing, shouting, and gesticulating wildly at the counter. Finally one Indian breaks away from where he has been verbally abusing the postal clerk, and storms out, muttering in angry Hindi under his breath. As he passes, a large wave of B.O. follows him (this is also common in India). One begins to step forward, eager to set down her package and proceed. And suddenly… not one, not two, but THREE Indians storm ahead of her, coming from God Knows Where, and descending on the counter like buzzing, chattering locusts. They don’t even give her a second look! She is forced to wait longer, now on edge and prepared to sprint for the desk, but it is to no avail. After waiting for nearly an hour, the clerks put ‘Closed’ signs in their little windows and shut the whole office down for lunch.

2) One is, say, at a ten day meditation retreat. As is the fashion at such retreats, everyone waits in line to be served lunch (although this is India, in such meditation retreats, strange, un-Indian rules tend to be observed). However. Certain Indian women apparently didn’t get the memo, because after once again waiting patiently for the line to wind down, one is shocked and annoyed to discover a pack of Indian ladies zip to the front, and begin to load up their plates with food. They shoot a quick, cursory glance at all of the patient, rule-abiding women they have just cut in front of, and such a glance seems to imply that they do indeed know they have just broken the rules. And yet, they do it anyway. Unbelievable. Blatant cutting. At the post office… perhaps. But when a line is being observed, and it is clear that a line is being observed, cutting should just not be permissible. Nonetheless, Indians seem wholly unconcerned with polite conventions, and will slide right to the front of a line whenever the chance presents itself.

3) Say one has a fever. One has to go to the doctor for medicine. One is astounded at the lack of privacy afforded patients at the clinic. The door to the doctor’s office remains wide open, and is packed to the limit with curious Indians peering in at the patient being examined. They strain and push to watch an old woman having her heartbeat checked. They stand on tip-toes to ogle a little boy as he says “Ahhh.” They crowd and fight one another for a peek at the youth with the broken foot. One watches this in amazement, as Western medical proceedings are so different! Although one has been given a “ticket,” with a “number” on it, it soon becomes clear that one will have to push and fight her way forward, joining the thronged masses and impinging on other patient’s privacy, in order to be seen by the doctor. “Numbers” mean nothing here. They are a mere formality. Five hours after arriving, one leaves, the last person to be seen by the doctor. Despite one’s decision to repress her distaste at crowding and fighting her way into the office, thus joining the Indians in the free-for-all, one has still been unsuccessful at making her way to the front. Perhaps one has to grow up in India in order to understand the subtle art of throwing old ladies out of one’s way, and stepping on young children to get to the front of the “line.”

***Hey peeps, if you want to see some cool pictures of Varanasi and Bodhgaya, check them out at…
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=120909
…and…
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=120913

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