Every time I come to my capital city, I participate in flash mobs.
If you’re not aware of this phenomenon, Flash Mobs in the West happen when via some sort of social network or email, a group of people is mobilized to do something usually odd or pointless for a brief amount of time somewhere public.
But over here in South Asia, flash mobs are organized pretty much on the spot without any technology for a useful purpose… namely, crossing the street.
With the crazy traffic, trying to cross alone is asking to become a pavement pancake. Instead, those of us needing to get across the street organize flash mob style. Here’s how to do it:
Step One: Go to one of the designated flash mob crossing points and look like you want to cross the street.
Looking like you want to cross the street is harder than it sounds. You need to stand out from those waiting for a bus, talking on their cell phone, or the random man peeing on the side of the road. To make your intentions of starting a flash mob known, step out a few feet into traffic… enough to make a motorcycle swerve around you and then step back. This bold move will start collecting other flash mobbers quickly.
Step Two: Organize.
First you need the decision maker. This is usually a mid-20s guy with his friend who’s willing to take the risk of being the one to lead the way when the mob has assembled.
You’ll also need the traffic director. This is usually a mom with a young child. Her job is to hold up her hand to the oncoming traffic, imploring them to stop in traffic-cop style. I’m pretty sure if she didn’t do this – traffic wouldn’t notice the flash mob of fourteen people crossing and would just mow us down.
Also normal in this flash mob is the elderly couple or the teenage girl texting on her phone. Normally, they’ll be assigned to walk in the exact middle of the group so they can be pushed, shoved, cajoled and otherwise helped to safety.
Step Three: Go! Go! Go!
When the decision maker steps out and the rest follows, you have to make sure you don’t get left behind. Walk on the heels of the person in front of you if you have to, but stay with the pack. The worst thing that could happen is for you to get separated from the group in the middle of the street. Trust me… no one will come back for you and you will have to risk death alone to get to the other side.
Step Four: Disband.
Even though you just mobbed together to accomplish something great (making it through South Asian traffic alive), don’t think you’re going to be friends. The elderly couple might take the auto-rickshaw you had your eye on. The teenage girl will finally look up from her text message only to give a superior sneer when she sees the culturally fashionable outfit you tried (and apparently failed) to assemble.
Just because you just helped save each others lives doesn’t mean you’re going to be friends. That’s understood when you get into one of these flash mobs. You’ve got to be okay with that.
That’s just life in a flash mob in South Asia.