It is a universally acknowledged fact that when a significant portion of the population lives in and around high rise buildings, a significant portion of their lives is spent in and around elevators. This leads to significant social behavior modification as people have to adapt to the contraption that carries them to new heights .Over the years that I have lived in Gurgaon, I have observed   completely normal sane people succumb to elevatoritis – a display of antisocial moronic behavior when in the vicinity of a lift.

A first sign of elevatoritis is a strong belief in the First Law of Lifts- The harder you press the lift button, the faster will be the arrival of the lift. The symptoms are an irritated expression and manic jabbing of random buttons. These people feel that if you press the calling button repeatedly, the elevator will descend with the speed of light and bear you swiftly away to your destination. It doesn’t seem to matter that the cosmic phenomenon has never happened before, the victim of elevatoritis continues to believe that one day the miracle will come to pass.

It also depends on which button you press. In our building, it is normal to press the top button if you want to go up and bottom if you want to go to a lower floor. Makes sense? On several occasions I have noticed a dazed individual standing at Ground Floor pressing the down button. When I pressed the top button to go up, he looked at me disdainfully and said “If you want to go up, the lift has to come down first, so you have to press the down button.” It made sense! But our conflicting instructions seemed to have confused the lift since it refused to arrive for a very long time.

Okay, now you have got into the lift, the next tricky part is to get out. This becomes trickier when there is only one functional elevator for the entire building and everybody has been waiting desperately for it to reach their floors. There is a sudden attack of elevatoritis . Everyone ignores the simple rules of elevator etiquette that has been nailed into the lift wall. They are seized with a sense of urgency and believe that if they don’t rush out immediately, the elevator monster will emerge from the ceiling fan and devour them. Those who are out act as though the elevator is the last life boat for the survivors of the sinking Titanic. Throw in one dog walker with large Labrador, a small child with a bicycle, a weight challenged Auntiji, three moving men with a box of kitchen utensils on one side and a pizza delivery boy, three ladies of leisure with large shopping bags, another dog walker with a yappy Pomeranian and three more packers with a large mattress on the other and you have a classic elevator traffic jam. By the time it has been sorted out, the empty elevator has merrily sped away.

Elevatoritis claims even innocent young minds as its victims. A perfectly normal eight year old boy who is content with smashing car windows with cricket balls and teasing neighborhood girls develops a notion that the elevator is a large toy put there for his enjoyment. This toy is operated by making several lights blink at the same time on the elevator button panel. The objective is to frustrate the maximum number of people who are waiting impatiently for the elevator to reach their destination after stopping at all the floors below or above. Future attacks of elevatoritis can be cured by a hefty clout on the head administered by a responsible adult failing which the innocent young mind can be assured of a career as a gun runner or a blue Line bus driver.

There is something about being in close contact with a group of people within a small enclosed space that seems to trigger a bout of elevatoritis. It manifests itself in different ways. There are those people who would like the rest of world to know that they have had a hearty rajma chawal meal along with a raw onion salad. More environmentally conscious ones want to spread awareness on how to conserve water by not having a bath for several days. Others bellow into mobile phones screaming ” Hello.. Hello.. I am in the lift. Can you hear me” in a nested loop cycle until they are disgorged by the said lift or fellow passengers who have had enough of noise pollution.

Is there a cure for elevatoritis? Yes, it is called ‘ Take the stairs’ but this remedy has found no takers as yet.


This is from a collection of articles published in my Village Voice column in Times of India from 2011 – 2013.