It was not the picturesque that I used to dread. It was the grotesque act of clamouring on to a bus to find a seat. Even as the ‘mofussil’ buses used to pull into the bus stands, there used to be a swarm of a population that used to run and cling to whatever protrusions from the bus.
And then a ‘representative article’ used to be thrown in at a seat, to stake ownership to a seat. Handkercheifs. Towels. Shirts. Bags. Sons. Daughters. Tiffin carriers. All used to perch on to a seat. ‘First-come-first-served’ basis. That was and is, a ubiquitous and well understood law!
After all, we are a land were tokenism and ‘representative ruling’ dates back to Lord Ram’s days. ( Lord Ram is said to have ruled the land through his slippers. I mean, his kid brother got the slippers of Lord Ram as representative of the lord himself, and ruled in the name of Lord Ram, dutifully venerating the slippers, while his lordship himself was away in the jungle). You get the drift…!
Coming back to the buses and seats, you needed to be extremely agile or have a few kerchiefs ( or kids or shirts or bags or any other spare token) that you are prepared to lose in the quest for that seat !
After I moved from Madurai, I quite forgot about the whole experience, until I travelled Air Deccan for the first time. I was perplexed to see travelers of all hue running to the aircraft with suitcases of all sizes. Only to realize later on, that the air line offered ‘free seating’ and you could sit anywhere you choose…!
The power of the handkerchief was on full display as people who ran in had kerchiefs on multiple seats, ‘reserving’ the seats for uncles / aunts / fathers / mothers / brothers who were ‘coming’
Well, the tradition continues. Only the bandwidth has increased. No. I am not making this up. Read on. This is absolute true story !
Spectrum allocation in India’s multi-billion telecom industry was not decided by logic, financial powers, public scrutiny or whatever.
It was decided by, hold your breath, the speed at which suited booted executives from various companies could run from the 2nd floor of Sanchar Bhavan (after collecting the letter of Intent) to the ground floor of the same building to deposit the appropriate license fee. (The full story is here )
I am tempted to lean on the previous post and say, ‘We are like this only’! Imagine a day in time when we live only by this grand principle of 1st come 1st served. Imagine Manmohan Singh running from the part office to Rashtrapathi Bhavan to stake claim to be the PM. And the scores of other ‘runners’ that we would have. Maybe Manmohan will send in his handkerchief ! My imagination runs riot. But I will stop this post here.
It is but a coincidence that this post as all other posts in this blog will accept comments on a first-come-first-served basis only. After all its about bandwidth !!