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I cannot say I have seen a lot of the world, only a very minute portion of it. Much to my surprise, in most of the places I have been to, I have found that Pedestrian is King/Queen. Drivers of vehicles stop for them to cross, sometimes even when the light is green and they, the drivers, have right of way.

This is not the case where I come from. Pedestrian crossings are anyway few and far between. Besides only the bigger cities have them marked clearly. Many times you are forced to cross the road wherever you feel safe (and at your own risk too) by looking first to the left and then to the right, and then to the left again. Yup, that’s what we have been taught in school. Anyway, that’s not nearly enough. You better repeat the whole action a few more times, or better still, till you reach the other side safe and sound.

It is with this sort of scared mentality that I stepped on to the road in Belgrade too. But I needn’t have feared. The vehicles actually stopped for me when I was waiting at the curb EVEN WHEN THE LIGHT WAS GREEN FOR THEM. This was simply amazing. I remember having a similar experience in the UAE too. Speeding vehicles stop out of nowhere when they see a pedestrian and courteously wait for you to walk across. In the USA too I found pedestrian crossings respected.

On my last day in Belgrade I was returning from my walk to the Kalemegdan Park. Just as I put one foot on the road the pedestrian light changed to red. I took my foot back and waited for the tram and also a car waiting alongside it to pass. A few seconds passed and nothing moved. I realised with a start that they were actually waiting for me to cross! I acknowledged their magnanimity with a wave of my hand and quickly walked to the other side.

I wish people of my country were as courteous to pedestrians. But then I also wish pedestrians were more educated about road rules and wouldn’t jump in front of a vehicle just the moment they get the go signal. But frankly, I don’t know when our population, both sets of them, will show any such maturity. But hey, I can hope and dream, right?

© Shail Mohan 2022