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Wednesday 19th February 2014

Motor Horns

Cow and Car

One of the things I’ve noticed being here in India, is how driving skills are so much different to ours in the UK. When I say driving I mean anything, anything at all: Auto-Rickshaws (TukTuks), motorcycles, scooters, buses, trucks, cars – even peddle bikes; anything.

All of the above vehicles share the roads with men and women pushing handcarts laden with anything from single to multi-coloured fruits or vegetables, handcarts laden with every other sort of merchandise you’d never think would be transported in this way. And cows!

To cross these rivers of mayhem I was told on day one … “you just go for it”, and sure enough, the only way to safely (sic) cross the road is to ‘just go for it’. We’ve watched the technique for almost a week now and even on the busiest junctions, where simply going for it would result in certain death; an added wave of the hand (more of a firm flutter really) towards the oncoming traffic seems to do the trick. At the halfway point of crossing the road you have to remember to wave your other hand at the opposing traffic, but even then you have to keep going for it. Don’t falter, don’t stop.

Chipmunk

Of course, none of this would ever work without the horn.

Unlike the UK where horns are merely seen as often unused, misused and unnecessary accessories, here in India they are an absolute essential. Without a horn on your vehicle you cannot drive for more than a few yards.

There seems to be an entire horn language.

There are single beeps, double beeps, long beeps, short beeps, loud beeps, quiet beeps, deep-note beeps and high note beeps – all of which are used in a variety of combinations that say “excuse me sir, would you please be aware of my presence”, or “excuse me sir, I’m coming through whether you like it or not”, or “excuse me sir, have you noticed that truck about to cut you up? or “just eff-off out of my way” …

Motorbike and scooter riders must have specially developed thumbs to enable them to both reach the horn and to exercise the horn so much and so well.

The roads are a cacophony of noise all day and all evening. Without the constant beep of horns you would think you have gone deaf.

Blood pools

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