Mags – Indian horn culture
Mahad Travel Blog› entry 18 of 22 › view all entries
In Ireland, the use of the car horn is strictly frowned upon. It is considered the height of bad manners to wake up an early morning commuter who has not seen a light change or to chastise another driver for an illegal u-turn.
Indian trucks and cars, on the other hand, sport stickers asking all to 'sound ideal horn please ok'. There are three accepted uses for your horn in India. 1) In lieu of rear view or wing mirrors, and to warn pedestrians, cyclists, rabid dogs and sacred cows, the horn is used as a tracking device and beeped gently and repeatedly when in motion. 2) When overtaking, esp if there is a need for another vehicle to pull over, the horn becomes a little more insistent. Lastly, there is the death horn.
I reckon after this trip I will be spending my Friday nights sloping off with a stolen '91 white Honda to speed around Blanchardstown Industrial estate honing my new found swerving, squeezing, honking and wheely skills. In the dark with pouring rain and no wipers. Can't wait. A marginally more likely possibility is that I will invest in a Vespa or 250cc bike and hit the roads.
It is an extraordinary assault on all senses at once and without pause – the smell of spices and rain and tuktuk fumes, the feel of potholes and monsoon damp, the sight of vivid vivid green, brighter than any of the 40 shades of the emerald isle and splashes of pink and orange and turquoise saris. The noise, endless noise. Rickshaws and trucks, Hindi pop and bangra, horns and shouts and the fans and air con of hotel rooms.
We drive along sea of faces in the cities a manic frenetic mass of humanity on the move. In the countryside a mix of bemused and confused looks and rare flashes of delight. On the roads a whole mix of reactions. The ladies tend to be more reserved, the younger men full of cheer and jeer and waves. By rickshaw really an excellent speed to drive at – we average about 30 km a day which is enough to cover decent ground while still slow enough to make eye contact and laugh and wave and wonder at who is behind the faces.
In general, the Indians don't consider this as mad a way to travel as we do. There is no sense that anyone is offended by our trip or dress sense or descent en masse into tiny villages. Nonetheless it is rare to see foreigners in most of the areas we are driving through. It is even rarer to see foreigners driving autorickshaws. Let alone foreign lady autorickshaw drivers. From Tamil Nadu 1500km away. Added to that the 10 days of media coverage and basically we get quite a lot of attention in towns.
In some ways, we have seen more of India than you could ever hope to, off the beaten track and in our own time and vehicles. In the first few days, we had many breakdowns. And many more stops as we tended to drive not just at the speed of the slowest tuk tuk but with the cumulative delay of the mini convoy. On one early fuel fumble, while waiting on the roadside for the Pandits to fetch us an emergency litre, we were invited into a house by three elderly ladies to drink, eat and visit the shrine. Just on the side of the road, a random moment. A little vignette into their life and ours. No common language so only thanks and sign language and kind gestures. Although we pass many forts and temples, we have had only the occasional stop off at sites. Most stops are for chai and lunch and any other excuse to sample consistently excellent and cheap food. Each time new people and new negotiations through sign language.
In short, I really have to recommend this trip, folks.