Only a very few of my experiences in India do I wish I’d never had. Getting hit by a motorcycle is definitely one of them.
Now, it isn’t really all bad. First of all, my injuries could have been much, much worse – it’s not necessary to speculate, so I won’t. But all the doctors I’ve talked to (and there have been many) could not seem to keep themselves from telling me how very lucky I’d been. Second, I wasn’t left on the street to fend for myself; instead, the kind face of India showed itself once again, and I was taken directly to the hospital, which happened to be about a block down the same road. And third, I had an amazing crew attending to my every need.
So here’s the story….
I’d been sick for weeks, and I had finally gotten in my first morning run in what seemed like
decades. After breakfast, I started my 20-minute walk to work – not bad and pretty much my only option, given that I don’t own a bike, motorcycle, rickshaw or car – though I admit I might have been a bit distracted: I would be teaching the Fellows that morning, and on those walks to work I’m always running through the key points I definitely want to make sure I hit.
I had just passed a cane juice vendor who I passed every morning, but this time he asked me my name, which took me a little bit off guard. I looked down the road to gauge the speed of the oncoming traffic, waiting while the Dharwad busses barreled through and the bikes sped by, then headed into the crosswalk.
Apparently, there was one motorcycle I had failed to see. Maybe I had just misjudged his speed with relation to mine. Maybe he’d been stuck behind a truck that he’d finally peeled away from. Or maybe he was just driving plain crazy and too fast – which is not unheard of in India. Regardless, I didn’t hear the horn until I was maybe four steps from the other side, at which point I stopped, looked up and asked myself: now what?
I’d played these games on the sidewalk before, when you’re running down the street right toward someone walking, and you have to catch each other’s eye or watch their body to figure out who is going to go left and who is going to go right. I’d always decided that it was up to the runner to move – she was the one moving faster in the first place; so wouldn’t the same logic apply? Wouldn’t this dude figure out that he needed to swerve to miss me?
Er. No. Thanks for playing. At this point, I don’t remember much. I don’t think there were any other vehicles coming that he would have had to look out for, but it’s entirely possible that there was another pedestrian behind me that kept him from swerving off course (I’m giving this guy the benefit of the doubt). I have a bit of a hazy memory of getting hit, but I think I’m making it up. I have no idea where he hit me, since there are bruises on both legs, or how I fell (or flew) onto the concrete. I have no details to give you here. The next thing I remember is crawling into a rickshaw with some helping hands, examining my shirt and pants and finding deep red splotches on both and taking in the scrapes on my hands and the sharp pain by my eye. (see terribly unflattering photo of me on hospital bed)
Turns out the my champion coworker Chinnababu, a graduate of the Deshpande Fellowship Program I had been running, had chosen a new route to work today and spotted a bright orange Deshpande t-shirted person in the middle of the road. Whiiiiich happened to be me. He tells me it was only by the grace of God that he was both later than usual and in the mood for a new route and that I was in my t-shirt. A kind employee from the building next to ours had also seen the accident, or at least me on the ground, and had made it to me even before Chinnababu did. Yay for Chinnababu!