Me first me first

Yesterday we had gone to a friend's kids' birthday party in our apartment party hall.  It was 7.30 PM.  The party was on in full swing - there were people of all ages.  There was someone with a mike running some contests.  Children were running around.  There were many carrying their younger ones on their shoulder.

There was a food counter along one side in the small open area outside the hall.  We were late and there were people who had already had or were having food.  There was small queue before the food counter and I appended myself to the end.  As I stood for the queue to move, a lady came forward before me and picked up about three plates.  The polite guy that I am, I did not mind it. 

I picked up some food and moved on to an adjacent area, where dosas were getting freshly made.  A couple of people were waiting.  As the dosas got ready, from out of nowhere a few people moved to the front and managed to get the dosas onto their plates.  The lady I referred to, got a dosa on all her three plates. 

Ok, so I will get it in the next round, thought me and stood there, kind of embarrassed.  A couple of ladies came around, instructed the guy making the dosa on specific customizations that they wanted.  A kid moved in, followed by another within touching distance of the dosa stone (if you may call the flat iron plate that).  The heat from it was high and high also was the likelihood of oil getting splashed from it.  8-9 dosas were being made at a time.  The kids got to have theirs, so did the ladies - I somehow managed to get the last one, before another person put his plate in front of me.

It was, to say the least, a sad experience, but nothing new to me. This is prevalent everywhere in India - on the roads, in shops, office cafeteria - anywhere where two or more people are present.

There is an irresistible urge to be first, no matter someone has come before you.  Do we not have any kind of moral or civic sense to await our turn or get permission before jumping ahead of the queue?  When adults do not have this, from where would kids get this sense?  And this where we have queues.   Think of the innumerable places where there is no queue - like boarding a bus.  We are no different from other animals.

Yesterday's was perhaps a small incident, but significant because, most of the attendees were from our apartment - people who live together, see each other every day.  Luckily, neither do I remember the ladies or the kids nor will let this incident affect my relationship with them.  But, when you go through this experience, day in and day out, you never know when you will snap.

When we were kids, we had a subject called Moral Science, which was meant for learning these things.  We were taught, how to cross roads, how to respect elders, how to conduct ourselves in society, how to tell truth - a whole lot of socially important things.  These were in younger classes and we had tests for this as well.  Like any other subject that we learn and do not practice, I guess this one such, which is learnt for the exams and forgotten, the moment the exams are over.

I have been to other countries and believe, this is the single most important thing that we can learn from them.

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