On my way to and from work I have to cross a really busy street- and when I say really busy, I mean Frogger level 100 busy. Traversing this road is near impossible and very dangerous. Even after two months of crossing it every day, my heart still pounds as I try to make my way to the other side alive. Let me make this very clear:
This. Road. Freaks. The. Shit. Out. Of. Me.
Sometimes I just stand there for twenty minutes, watching rickshaws and scooters whiz by, trying to muster the courage to step forward. And as I stand there completely intimidated by the chaos in front of me, everyone else just walks across like it’s no big deal, like it’s a piece of cake. But this is no piece of cake; this is, as I have come to call it:
I can say with great confidence that if I do die in India, it will be here, on this road.
As I was heading home one night, I found the street to be particularly busy. It must have been an auspicious day for driving because it seemed like everyone in the entire country was out on this road. The flow of cars, scooters, and rickshaws was unending. There was no break in the traffic for anyone to make it across fast enough without getting hit. Not even Usain Bolt could get across that night without losing a leg or two. I stood there helplessly wondering how I was going to get across. I longingly looked up at the sky— no helicopter evacuation in sight. Fudge. Using my own personally developed system of danger classification, I evaluated my predicament to determine exactly how risky it would be to cross- DANGER LEVEL FIVE! I was terrified.
I took my position next to the road and began my futile attempt to cross safely. While I was waiting, what was possibly the oldest lady in the entire world came up next to me.
I thought, “There is no way this old lady can get across this road. Not tonight.” And as I looked at her, an intense sense of moral obligation ran through my body. It was my duty, my responsibility to ensure this helpless old lady made it safely across the road:
So I gathered all the courage I had and did what I had seen some Indians do before- I simply walked out into the road and stuck my hand out:
And it worked! I didn’t die! The traffic stopped and I triumphantly motioned for the old lady to start crossing. However, this was only a momentary stoppage and the traffic quickly resumed before either of us had completely crossed the road. We were stuck in the middle of The Road of Certain Death, surrounded by the mayhem of Indian traffic on both sides. It was only a matter of time before we got hit.
Immediately, under this life-threatening situation, I became a mental mess and quickly transformed into self-survival mode. All notions of chivalry and duty flew out the window. This was life or death. This was Darwin’s survival of the fittest. This was every woman for herself. I needed to get outta there. Fast. No time for the old lady.
Meanwhile, as I was freaking out in my head and going through a complete and total moral collapse, this little old lady somehow, completely unnoticed, managed to cross the street. I looked by my side and realized she was gone. And it became clear to me- I WAS GOING TO DIE ALONE.
So what happened? As you have probably deduced, I made it out alive. After a minute or two, I managed to cross the rest of the street and return home. Though slightly traumatized, the incident has left me physically unscathed and with a newfound appreciation for every precious moment of life. (Not really.)
As it is with most testing events in life, there was much to be learned from this experience. I’ve certainly learned a lot from this incident- about myself and about life. I want to pass on this knowledge to you in the hope that it will somehow help you in the future. Number one. I have the moral fortitude of a toad— If you are drowning, if your head is on fire, if you are about to be run over by a pack of wildebeests … if you are in any dire situation- look at me for help, then turn around 180 degrees in the opposite direction and actually get your help over there. Despite having been in the safety patrol in elementary school, it has become quite evident I do not have the composure for such emergencies. Number two. Never, ever try to do anything nice for anyone. Especially old people. You might get yourself killed.
*note: while putting this post online, I got bit by approximately 47 mosquitoes. Let me know risking malaria is worth it: share the love, leave a comment.