I never thought I would see this in my lifetime. (And I am delighted to note that not one of them is checking the cell phone..)
And hopefully this is not something done by a die hard Photoshop aficionado.
To see who is who in the richest queue above click here .
Could be the effect of the Republic Day Parade, but this actually creates an explicable urge to say "Parade, Vishram !"
I have been a queuer for years. Standing in a queue , is not a natural thing to do and is always an imposition, for the common folks like you and me , and we unite when faced with those who try to jump the queue based on "connections", physical pushing abilities, and their so called public persona.
I've been part of passport office queues that started at dawn and went around huge buildings, for a 10 am opening; complete with torrential rains, umbrellas dripping on neighbors, and cycle based chaiwallahs tinkling bells and making the rounds, bringing much needed succour to those who braved wars in suburban trains to get there instead of enjoying idli and coffee at home.
I've been part of visa queues that extended way down in multiple lines on pothole studded pavements in the poshest part of Mumbai.
I've been part of railway ticket queues prior to approaching summers, when there was almost planned ambiguity in which queue was for what, with some folks suddenly reaching windows in an unconstitutional manner , and some tickets suddenly being unavailable.
And I have been in queues in Ration offices, places where affidavits are done, the Gas agencies, not to mention, more recently, for the Aadhar card. I have known folks who employ other folks to stand in a queue on their behalf at unearthly hours, and then themselves land up after a decent sleep and breakfast, and suddenly replace them, causing much teeth grinding amongst those who did all this , ie standing in lines hours before , themselves.
I have always wondered why one never saw , say, Hrithik Roshan in a passport queue, or say, Priyanka Chopra shuffling from one foot to another in a Visa queue prior to an overseas trip. Did Mukesh Ambani sit with his eye against a big lens for his Aadhar card ? Did Sachin Tendulkar stand in line at the Gas Agency to link his several kitchen gas cylinders to his Aadhar card after filling a form ?
And I have always wondered how the rich and famous do this. It is all fine to have flunkies who clear the traffic and your immediate surroundings so you can favour the earth with your footfall, but do they send proxy folks, when they get important things done ? Do the passport , visa and other offices, come home to them ?
And so it was with a sense of wonder that I noticed the Who's Who of Indian Industry standing in line at what I believe , was Rashtrapati Bhavan. Waiting to get in to meet, presumably, the most powerful man in the world today.
Brought to mind images of school lines, where you stood in line and were not allowed to converse with each other. Brought to mind scenarios from school drills, where you held out at arms length and spaced yourself away from the next person. No special lines for girls. Some in the photo even looked like they were punished by the teacher. And it looked like a monitor type stood at the head of the line, keeping others in check ? Perhaps a separate line for those disobeying the rules for uniforms ?
And I wondered how things would be if the next time you travelled by the Mumbai local, you looked up to see , say, Mukesh A. , saying "Zara sarkun ghyaa..." asking you to shift so he could occupy the undefined fourths seat in a crowded second class compartment, or Anil A, running blithely, and taking a running jump on to the foot board of a running Titwala local, as assorted guys , leaning out, with lunch tiffins, help him in, making space where none exists. Or perhaps the queens of industry, as they watch the train entrepreneurs in action, selling everyday life in the ladies second class, as someone shoves past them, hair blowing in the wind, saying, "Ghatkopar utarne ka nahi to abhi se kyun yahan khadi hai ?"
I wondered what would happen if while trudging up n staircases after an electric outage that stalled elevator service, you ran across the chairman of a big group huffing and puffing alongside you , and what you would say to him,after you got your breath back. And the next time you rushed into a bus creaking under an overload, would you stand with your mouth agape when you noticed the conductor demand "Chutta dya" from what can only be the captain of the banking industry ...
Forty years ago, I worked for a company that even today is in the vanguard of the IT industry. High rises at Nariman Point were just being built and we worked in one of the most prominent ones. With tons of offices, four fancy lifts, and people who actually stood in line to get in, as opposed to rushing in a la Mumbai locals.
Returning from a roadside lunch, the door of the lift was about to close, when an old benevolent looking gentleman , with a prominent nose, a smile on his face and a spring in his step, walked in , without any flunkies and folks hovering solicitously around him. He checked to see if the floor button where he needed to get off was pressed, and simply stood like anyone of us. One of our senior colleagues recognized him and wished him. When we got off at our floor, he peered out and asked , "Is it one of our companies ?" and smilingly got off with us when all of us excitedly responded in the affirmative.
He then paid a courtesy call on our head, causing much excitement in the office.
This was JRD Tata, then Chairman of Tata's, on a routine visit to one of his several business and corporate interests. No hangers on, no uniformed flunkies, just a very dignified personage, asking for no special considerations, and behaving like he was like everyone else. Right from when he was driven in, in a white ambassador, and he climbed up the steps to the foyer, carrying his own attache case , and into the lift. The sudden visit to our office over , he got back into the elevator to continue to his destination in the building.
They don't make them like that anymore.
Perhaps, there are some.
But they keep getting overshadowed by those whose place is defined by an alphabet with a plus sign , where their importance to the nation and security matters .