One of my favorite things to do whilst away from home is to jaywalk. For whatever reason, unbeknownst to me, many people around the world seemingly need to wait for a lighted sign telling them it is safe to cross the street. I first noticed this phenomenon in San Francisco 8 months ago, and with the exception of Thailand, where it seems like there are no traffic laws, it’s been getting worse the farther I’ve gotten from home.
It’s hard for me to describe the pleasure that I derive from walking past a group of standing people who are waiting to cross an empty street. Of course I take the time to look both ways before crossing, and while sometimes I have to wait, more often than not there is no traffic in sight. I find it funny that after I safely and confidently cross the street, without the aid of a cross walk or a flashing light, others are inspired to do the same. I see this unique look of confused possibility cross their faces, see them look both ways, and try jaywalking themselves. It’s hard for me to understand why people would wait at a street corner when there are clearly no hazards in the road, but I guess it’s a cultural thing. The northeast tells me never to wait unnecessarily while the rest of the world is told to respect the law… or something like that. I haven’t quite figured it all out, but I’m filled with pride in my civil disobedient street crossing.
I do have to admit, I was almost in a traffic incident once. However, this was only because I am used to traffic running the opposite direction, even though I just spent months in Thailand where they also drive on the left hand side of the road. There, I wasn’t living in a city, with city traffic and traffic patterns. Quite the opposite in fact, I spent most of my time in a remote town where you could ride your vehicle in the middle of the road most of the time. A friend of mine from LA, who has been in Australia for ten years, says that he had the same problem when he first arrived. Now, he tells me that he has his fair share of near misses when he goes back to California because he looks the wrong way before crossing the street.
Now for something completely different: Traveling internationally, I have been exposed to a multitude of sports. Honestly, I try my best learn and appreciate the different sports around the world. International football, the name I’ve given to what Americans call soccer, is so greatly loved by such enthusiastic fans I’ve started to see some of its appeal. However, I wouldn’t dare call it soccer to an Englishman ,just because I wouldn’t want to hear them rant about how its proper name is football and how Americans have no right to take that word. I suppose they have a point, but just for the record, Australians call it soccer as well. All that being said, it’s just not worth argument, so I’ve adopted the term ‘international football,’ and that seems to get the point across.
Now that I’ve discussed the most popular sport in the world, allow me to discuss a few other observations I’ve made about sports while traveling. Firstly, and surprisingly to me, basketball seems to be the most popular American sport abroad. Secondly, while I don’t fully understand the subtle intricacies of the rules regarding rugby or Australian Rules Football, or footy, as they call it, they are both games that I can respect and enjoy watching. Furthermore, the Irish guys I’m living with have put me on to Gaelic football and Hurling, which seem incredibly intense. Now I want to visit Ireland and catch a few games.
Finally, I want to discuss cricket. I am really, really doing my best to appreciate this sport. It is a sport played in England, Australia, South Africa and India; and, given the last country, has the second most fans in the world. I understand that playing the game is probably fun, as is attending the game (read: drinking all day.) Still, I’ve been watching the test match between New Zealand and Australia today and it just seems silly. I’ve been asking my housemates questions about the game and they haven’t really been able to answer them to my satisfaction. Because they aren’t cricket enthusiasts, I’ve been forced to go online to do more research. Even understanding the rules, the game still seems dumb to me. I’ve met people who love the game but I just don’t get it. After a bit of study and effort I’ve come to enjoy many foreign and unknown sports, but this is one that I just can’t get wrap my head around. Sometimes matches last for days, it seems as if the fielders are just standing around with fun hats and their collars popped, a batter can tip the ball behind him and still score runs, and the bowlers (pitchers) run about 20 steps before throwing the ball. I guess it’s just my culture, but I’ll take baseball over cricket any day.