Tuesday, January 8, 2008

India revelation #1: grown men get spanked here

I've spent the past 3 days in port blair, a semi-shitty entry city into one of the most unspoilt places in the world, the andaman islands. the reason I've spent so much time here is because of some debacle issuing ferry/boat tickets a couple of weeks ago -- they're in high demand and I didn't get on the ball until this morning. I've heard stories about how chaotic indian queues get, but the reality was even better.

8:45 -- I arrive at the ticket office to find a line of about 250 men on the left, and 20 women on the right (there are always separate men and women's lines). thank god I've got that extra x chromosome. it is hot as balls outside and there is no shade.
8:50 -- people start getting pushy because the ticket office is opening soon. men have their hands on the shoulders of the guy in front of them and they're pushing in a massive line toward the door. meanwhile, there are several indian navy guys with bamboo sticks waiting for them.
8:52 -- a small ruckus. 2 men are pulled out of line and whacked across the butt.
8:53 -- a large ruckus. 5 men are pulled our of line, all are whacked, 2 of whom at least twice.
8:55 -- the doors open and the women are let in first. I enter only to find that I have to get into another women's line, but at least this time, I have 14 to choose from.
8:57 -- the men are let in. I see running and a lot of tripping. I hear a lot of yelling. they are rushing to line up next to each women's line. everyone is sweaty, and that's made even worse because now we're in a relatively small space with no ceiling fans.
8:59 -- lots of money switching hands around me. dazed looking wives in line looking for their husbands, who probably made the right decision by sending the women to buy the tickets. guys are trying to sneak into the women's line. the rare times that the men don't yell at them to get back, I start preemptively staring people down and saying loudly, what are you doing, this is the WOMEN'S line.
9:06 -- bored-looking ticket counter workers take their seat and give all of us a look of disdain
9:08 -- they're just sitting there looking at us
9:10 -- still looking at us.
9:16 -- they finally open the counter. the woman in front of me is buying a boat ticket to chennai and doesn't have enough money, so she sends her friend to get more from her husband. two different times.
9:20 -- in the middle of this transaction, one of the other ticket counter workers needs to replace his printer ink. 2 other ticket counter guys, including mine, go to his aid.
9:23 -- printer crisis averted
9:33 -- I'm next in line. it's supposed to alternate between women's line and men's line, but I've heard stories about men trying to cut in front of women they perceive as hapless, so I put on my best intimidating look, put my backpack on the ticket counter so I can claim as much space as possible, bare my pointed elbows in a 'subtle' way, and say, hi, I'M NEXT.
9:36 -- as the 3rd person in line, I finally get my turn.

I think I've learned my lesson here, which is to either do this online or bribe an island boy to do it for me.

1 comment:

corazon icasiano-francisco said...

lots of luck ---keep on baring those pointed elbows LOL--- be careful with those ferries though( Mom talking again)