Since arriving in India in early January I've been trying to cross the street. The first night in Delhi at my b&b I told my host I was hungry and she said that there was a good restaurant just across the road. She offered to show me the way so she walked me to the road and pointed. "It's just there," she said and left me.
For twenty minutes I stood frozen. No one stopped for the red light. No one stopped for the "walk" sign. Basically no one stopped. I watched a few locals weave their way in and out of cars, trucks, taxis, rickshaws, but it seems I am made of lesser stock. Finally I gave up, returned to the b&b and with tears in my eyes ordered in.
I can't say that things have improved. In Varanasi a fellow hotel guest told me that someone told her to cross the road as if you are a sacred cow. That is, just walk into traffic and hope for the best. In Calcutta I never even tried.
But now I am Mumbai and more or less on my own. This morning I decided to take a walk. I would be brave. Look both ways and venture out. Again I failed. I paused for so long at one corner that two rickshaws stopped to see if I wanted a ride.
Then a red street dog came and stood next to me. I watched as the dog looked both ways, ventured out, dodged a few vehicles, ignored one or two screeching brakes and made it across. If a dog can do this, well, then I can, right?
So I looked but the wrong way. A rickshaw almost ran me down. I tried again, stuck out my hand like a native, cars weaved around me, but at last I have made it to a bagel shop with WiFi where I am writing this from the other side.