Queuing in India

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?

Link -via reddit

(Photo: unknown)

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

I vividly remember going from Dover, England to France....on the Dover side, everybody stood in a polite, well spaced queue to get onto the hovercraft...disembarking on the France side the same group of people became a mob all pushing at once for the exit door...
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Yeah I have that problem here with indians.

Standing in line at a ATM and you can feel the breath of the guy behind you on the back of your neck.

Since I am about 2 feet taller than them and outweigh them by about 100 pounds I just take a step back and everything behind me gets bumps backwards. It usually takes 3-4 tries but eventually they take the hit that the big guy doesn't like to get curry sweat on him.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Time for metal style spiked clothing ;)
I definitely like the Disney-type waiting lines, with this little path where nobody can cheat so you can think of something else. Waiting in comfort.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
In Shenzhen, China this has happened to me in line at the border into Hong Kong. I'm afraid my backpack is going to be pick pocketed!
But at places like the grocery store, it's much less formal. People generally don't cut, but if they do they generally get away with it.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Queuing in India"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More