I used to wonder why the pedestrian crossings were marked in yellow. Did the yellow stand out more than the white? Anyway recently they were painted white – so now I can actually refer to them as zebra crossings.
Well, not that the colour scheme makes any difference… to the motorists or the so called law keeping policemen.
Goodness knows how many times I have nearly been knocked over on pedestrian and zebra crossings. It’s so scary, The knowledge that there have been many fatal accidents on these very crossings doesn’t help either. The other day while on a zebra crossing, a three wheeler driver zoomed by. Thick skinned as he was, my glare at him didn’t bother him one bit. Even the police officer standing there at his end of the crossing didn’t make a difference either. I held my hands out to give the gesture of a question… The police officer was deeply engrossed in a conversation on his mobile phone and didn’t look up. It’s quite likely he noticed but hey what’s the big deal of someone getting knocked over even if it’s their right of way! Vehicles have greater importance than human lives. As I did finally manage to cross safely I found a few people standing at the pedestrian crossing a little further away watching me with amusement. They were too far away to start a dialog so I continued muttering to myself with much irritation.
Yes this is Sri Lanka… Are you wondering why this is the case here? Let me share some insights with you!
- Sri Lankans tend to be shame oriented. It is shameful for them to be the ones to wait and give way …
- besides the motorists losing a few minutes for you to cross will hold them back so much right! The pedestrian can be having the right of way, carrying groceries and out in the hot sun or getting wet in the monsoon showers – well get a vehicle then.. Owning a vehicle is prestigious and compassion isn’t even a part of that equation.
- Many a local men think it’s their right to perve at women – it’s a repressed society! As a result of that, they don’t see nothing wrong in driving onto the crossing and pausing while blocking your way to get a bird’s eye view of you.. to look you up and down. Oh no, that’s their right… so you gotta grin and bear it…
- Adding to that, if you happen to be a foreigner, or be someone like me who is mistaken to be a foreigner, then you are even moreso to be taken advantage of… The vulnerable in their eyes are meant for eye candy for them.
So yes, this is a nation where they take much pride in their culture and traditions, to the point of police taking a married couple caught kissing in public to jail… yet it’s totally ok for a girl to experience the above by unknown people.
Just a few Tips for Travellers:
- Never show fear to the motorists… the more you hesitate the more the driver will step up the accelerator intimidating you to go back where you started to cross…
- If you don’t take that first step onto the crossing, you can just be standing there all day.. the first step is absolutely necessary.
- While crossing, be aware of the oncoming traffic but don’t make eye contact with them – that’s giving them the power… Cross as one who is holding the power instead – be bold and keep your hand stretched out as a gesture to the drivers to STOP.
- Be mindful of drivers who would reverse their vehicles onto the main road and onto the zebra crossings. Is that even legal you may be asking – oh so what would be the reply of the motorist!