According to several redditors, this photo shows how many people in India queue: very close together. Redditor iwsfutcmd shares a story:
This was a problem when I was travelling in India.
I'm very understanding of other cultures' ideas about personal space and whatnot, but there's a logistical problem:
I'm standing in line for a train ticket, wearing my huge traveller's backpack that's about 3/4 my size. I'm pressed up against the man in front of me (as custom dictates). Man behind me is pressed up against my backpack (again, as custom dictates). I turn sideways to look at something, man behind me moves forward to close the gap made by my backpack vacating precious line space (as custom dictates).
I turn back to how I was, accidentally smashing man behind me with 25 kilos of pain.
"Oh my god, jesus, I'm sorry!"
I turn to help him up, and as I do so, men in line fill gap left by my backpack.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
A 2010 New York Times article describes queuing practice in India:
There is a feline quality to standing in Indian lines. Certain parts of the man behind you — you don’t know which — brush against you in a kind of public square spooning, the better to repel cutters. (Women do less touching.) Still, this is no deterrent to cutters. They hover near the line’s middle, holding papers, looking lost in a practiced way, then slip in somewhere close to the front. When confronted, their refrain is predictable: “Oh, I didn’t see the line.”
But in a churning India, the line has new resilience. Businesses are becoming vigilant about enforcing queues, and a growing middle class, more well-off and less survivalist, is often less eager to cut. In this way, India’s experience seems to feed into a tradition of seeing line etiquette as a marker of modernity, of graduating from chaos to order, whims to rules, brutality to gentility, scarcity to abundance.
What queuing customs have you encountered?