Waiting and waiting at the edge of the Indian city
Ian M Cook
(Central European University)
Paper short abstract:
Waiting is a rhythmic relational practice between those who wait and who/what is waited for. This is explored through an analysis of waiting on multiple temporal and spatial scales in the lives of Indian auto rickshaw drivers.
Paper long abstract:
Auto-rickshaw drivers in Mangalore wait on multiple temporal and spatial scales for the city around them. This ethnography of an auto-stand at the edge of the city explores the practices of waiting in the lives of auto-drivers and other Mangaloreans. The paper argues that waiting is a rhythmic relational practice between those who wait and who/what is waited for, analysing these on three scales. Firstly everyday waiting for fares: not always passive, waiting can be active both in relation to passengers ('roaming' junctions for rents) and also in relation to other drivers (amongst whom caste/community lines are blurred when waiting). Secondly, the expectant waiting of family/peers for auto-drivers to 'progress' in their lives. Thirdly, waiting for 'development': the area where the drivers wait at the edge of the city is scheduled for inclusion in the mooted Mangalore Corniche ring-road that will sweep along the city's river front; whilst drivers and others passively wait for this 'development' real estate developers buy up land. These waiting practices are tied together through an 'ethnography of the particular' of the auto-driver Raj, a regular at the stand whose family became wealthy after selling land to make way for the Corniche. Raj however opts out of the 'progress' and 'development' expected of him due to his new found wealth and continues to wait at the stand. In doing so his practices challenge India's placement in the 'waiting room of history', rejecting the expectations of modernity in favour of the rhythmically diverse non-linear everyday waiting.
Ethnographies of waiting