Husband threw himself in front of a car today.
We were crossing a street with heavy pedestrian traffic. A street with an actual crosswalk protected by several speed bumps. A street with wide lanes and an unobstructed view. In other words, a street where you should feel reasonably confident that a car headed in your direction will see either you or the crosswalk and slow down.
Except that we’re in India. And in India, you can only reliably count on drivers giving exactly zero f&*# s about anything in their path. They’re more likely to speed up, or at the very least continue their forward trajectory without a care in the world, because it’s not their problem if you don’t get out of the way quick enough.
This can be frustrating/terrifying for us Westerners, who make the silly assumption that pedestrians always have the right of way, or that it’s common courtesy to not run over a human being you come upon in the middle of the road.
I guess this morning it was more frustrating than terrifying for Husband, because after one car nearly ran over his foot and another continued to plow toward us with no intention of slowing, he lunged from the crosswalk directly into the car’s path. The driver swerved, but didn’t seem ruffled in the least because that’s what he’s used to: human Frogger. But Husband lunged again, slamming his hands on the hood this time, forcing the guy to stop.
Everyone on the sidewalk was staring. I was terrified/embarrassed. When we finally reached the safety of the sidewalk a few feet away, I gave Husband my angry/WTF face.
“What?” he said. “They should stop! He SAW me and didn’t stop!”
I understood his frustration at this complete lack of logic, the utter disregard for the most basic principles of the universal social contract: see other human, don’t hit gas. But did he really think that stunt was going to change anything?
“Babe, we live in their country. We have to play by their rules. If you want law-abiding drivers, go back to Austria.”
Husband grumbled. We parted ways. But I couldn’t stop thinking about that crosswalk confrontation. It just speaks so clearly to the low grade fury that these tiny cultural differences can cultivate; the tiny but constant grind of a place that does things so differently, in a way that makes no sense to you. It can cultivate some nasty expat rage, usually toward really inane things. Grocery store rants, anyone?
But if I’ve learned anything these past 6 years, it’s this: don’t let yourself get consumed by frustration at the foreign world. It’s easy to do, and sometimes a necessary step in the expat adjustment period. But don’t linger in that stage. Find something to love. Find a way to laugh it off. Or at least find yourself a friendly crossing guard.