A Simple Feat
The temperature hit 90 today and my body didn’t so much tell me by sweating as it did by intensifying my craving for ice cream. I’m on a mission to get some Death by Chocolate - a compilation of gooey goodness that you must try if you come to Bangalore. It’s my first time exploring the city alone - I woke up this morning and felt compelled to get out for some fresh air.
I'm strolling down the sidewalk and Siri promptly informs me to take a right. I look up and oh, no! I recognize this intersection. There are vehicles everywhere and no clear method for a human to get across. We did cross here on our third day in the city during the treasure hunt, only that time I had my trusty SJC student guide to tuck behind as we darted across. I notice a walk sign but my experience in the last six weeks tells me that traffic simply doesn’t care what the walk sign says.
As I gaze at the oncoming stream of traffic and contemplate my imminent need to cross it, I can’t help but laugh out loud. Three sizes of vehicle all slot together like Tetris blocks as they slow to a stop on the congested road. The view of my destination is obscured by metal and helmets and clouds of exhaust. I succumb to the idea that I very well may have to stay until a local joins me at this intersection to get across... I guess I’ll just wait here and see how long it takes. The mass of cars down the road is inching forward at uncalibrated intervals.
Okay, maybe I can time my cross if I see a pattern of some sort in this movement. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a man in his car waving at me in a motion that can only mean ‘now’s your chance, what are you waiting for?’ My heart jumps. I’ve gotta just go for it. My legs spring into action and just as I’m halfway across, the mass of vehicles begins to surge forward again. This time I know what to do. I put my hand up sternly, palm facing the drivers, in a signal that says you must yield to me because I AM crossing. I’ve seen locals do this before but have always been too timid to try it myself. Low and behold, the final three vehicles wait up as I weave in front of them and secure my right sandal on the opposite sidewalk to safety.
Phew. I did it.
Half a block down the road I swerve left and plop myself in front of the familiar ice cream counter. "One Death by Chocolate, please." I set 210 rupees down on the counter. They can tell I’ve been here before.
Decadent bowl of ice cream in hand, I head off to my next site of interest: Cubbon Park. I make it three blocks before encountering an even larger intersection than the last. Alright. Here we go again… Just as I begin to analyze the unorganized traffic patterns at this puzzle of an intersection, a local family appears next to me. I realize that I was holding my breath when I take a big sigh of relief. Pretending to focus on my ice cream, I scoot closer to their group so I can quickly step into the road when they deem it the right time.
And.. Go!! Eyes glued to the oncoming wall of traffic, I keep step with them all the way to the other side.
In Cubbon Park, I'm happy to be amid the trees. As I wait for my heart to stop racing, I settle on the fact that sometimes in life it's best to pave the way yourself, and sometimes it's just as good to follow those that came before you.