The "Q" factor

Last updated on May 21, 2008

Posted on May 21, 2008

If you thought it is about Quttrochi, I am not to be blamed.

It is about the queue, which many a time we fail to follow, or get a kick in breaking it. Two years back, when I was returning from Thailand after a brief vacation, my co passengers, many of whom were Indians, clamored on touching down at Chennai airport. Their impatience was highly pronounced right from the touch down, which prevailed up to the taxi stand. All these passengers were at ease and disciplined, while boarding the plane at Bangkok airport. That set me thinking. Like the “QUEUE’ my thought process was also long, with inevitable breaks and jumps.

During 80’s, one of my friends visited down south from Mumbai, after a long gap. While we were waiting for a bus to a small hill station, chaos and pell-mell reined supreme with no semblance of a queue or discipline. He compared the scene with Mumbai, where passengers waiting to board a bus, form a queue on their own, so that one can be sure about boarding a bus and their turn is predictable.

Two days later, when he wanted to travel to Palghat from Coimbatore he was surprised to see an orderly queue and every fourth minute there was a bus to Palghat from Coimbatore. While waiting for his turn, he told me, his inference about ‘Q’ psychology. A queue is formed, when there is a certainty and only when people fear uncertainty, chaos results. I brooded on his line of theory for a long time and convinced on his rational inference. My faith on his theory was reinforced, when I read about the loss of lives in Chennai, when people went to a Scholl to collect their freebies as tsunami relief. When the rumours spread that the stocks are fast depleting and the promised allowance of Rs.2000/ per family would be exhausted in a few minutes, there was a great rush and competition, resulting in the loss of some precious lives.

For a long time I believed that, discipline and certainty are inseparable and only on the face of uncertainty the ‘queue’ is broken. Suddenly the queue of my thought process was broken, when I remembered the stampede at Tirumala on a New Year day resulting in loss of lives. Was it because the people thought that, all pervading God’s grace was in short supply?

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