By Nihal Bambulkar
When children grow up in India, one of the first things we are taught is to look at both sides of the road before crossing. Beta, wait for the signal to turn red, look right and left, and ideally, use a zebra crossing.
And yet, in the 21 years I’ve spent on Earth, not once have I used a zebra crossing or seen anyone else using it. If jaywalking were an Olympic sport, we’ve already walked off with all the prizes. As Indians, jaywalking is our birthright and by God, we shall have it, without so much as lifting a finger. We fear no moving vehicle, no karma.
After observing my fellow crossers for years, I decided to conduct a small dipstick research into the mindset of these death walkers. The report was titled “Signals v/s the People of India (2011)” and provided me with extensive insights into the mindset of jaywalkers.
The pretty girl on the other side
In India, an ambulance could have a dying patient inside, but a jaywalker will stop for nothing if a pretty girl awaits on the other side. This person with a death wish, often male, has been taught by Bollywood to jump over moving vehicles, slide over hoods of cars, and cross hurdles that even contestants of Takeshi’s Castle would fail to overcome. And he has learnt his lesson well and perfected it to an art form. And all art is subjective.
Father’s Property Syndrome
Jaywalking, the contagious disease that it truly is, finds its roots in the highly dangerous Father’s Property Syndrome. This condition deludes crossers into believing that the road they’re crossing is effectively owned by their respective fathers and so they can cross whenever the feeling envelops them. This delusional state is aggravated, causing them to stop in the middle of the road, when drivers from moving vehicles hurl cuss words at them. One might wonder how so many fathers can own the same road at the same time but that’s just the limitation of your imagination.
The power of green signal
This is a companion disease to the Father’s Property Syndrome. Some jaywalkers, go so far as to claim to be hypnotised by the mesmerising shade of green. The true spirit of a jaywalker awakens upon the sight of the signal turning green, reminding a patient of a Yashraj setting and causing them to believe they are all Shah Rukh Khans, which spurs them to begin sprinting exactly when the vehicles start moving. This is how jaywalking becomes a reflex action. Once the green signal appears, some jaywalkers become Usain Bolt; others, well, become history.
This is the chief reason millennials are compelled to jaywalk. If you already feel dead on the inside, then it doesn’t matter if a speeding vehicle is moving your way. Hope is simply a four-letter word, and death is five. Might as well accept your impending doom and jaywalk away.
Here, in India, people jaywalk out of sheer pressure from watching others cross. It usually occurs when the leader of the jaywalkers, is sick of waiting for vehicles to stop and decides to go for it. The rest of the herd simply indulges in a game of “Follow the Leader”. Remember, you cannot spell group without “U”.
Needless to add, jaywalking is not a serious concern in India. We improvise, adapt, and overcome. We learn to survive, the Bear Grylls way.
Featured image credits: Juergen Dsouza/Arré
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