Mastering the Art of Street Crossing in Kathmandu

Roaming cows are snacking on storefront decorations as children softly sing on their way to school. The vendors are out stacking their displays of fruits and knicknacks and small rickshaws (tuk tuks) briefly stop on their routes. These are the daily street happenings of Kathmandu.


Dust from buses and tuk tuks spin into the air clinging to the skin. I pull my cloth mask over my mouth. My hands hold mini bags of nuts, vegetables, and a few loose eggs from the corner bazaar and i’m left in search of weekly fruits. Framed by the wooden display for maximum exposure, there they lay. Across the street the bright colors of reds and yellows- fruits that still hold their flavors.

It is my turn. I have watched for days others maneuver through the never-ending flow of traffic. Pause, go, pause, quick quick quick- a dance that must not contain hesitation. To a new comer, intimidation and fear consumes the mind. Where is the crossing path? Will the cars stop? Must I live on this side of the street for eternity?

I can assure you there is no painted crossing path, but instead the collective consciousness of a group of crossers moving simultaneously pausing the traffic flow (travel tip: tagging along with this crowd is your best bet for a beginner). This is how I practiced, but now I am out to master the art of street crossing solo. I slowly rock my toes off the curb, attempting to gauge the speed of the traffic. Sliding off the pavement into the dust, I move a meter into the street. I have caused a spectacle. I am now the foreigner attempting to cross the street. I am watched, as those around me make mental bets on my bravery and success. Feeling my impact with every step as though I am a finger disturbing a stream of water. Traffic bends around me as though I have an invisible force impenetrable by the flow of buzzing motors. I hesitate with a step back, causing drivers to honk, alarming me of their very real presence. More accurately it is their guiding cue, assisting me in my dance. “Move forward, here, now there” the honks seem to say. A sincere avoidance to steer clear in harming me. Trust consumes my veins as courage quickens my feet and with one last stride, I make it. I master the art of crossing the street in Nepal. I am proud and a surge of confidence lingers as I make my way to my next adventure – a banana negotiation.


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