A few weeks ago one of my German friends, Juergen had come over to India. I spend a few days driving him around and showing him places. Well as for any foreigner it did take a while for him to trust the way we drive – it progressed from a scary horror thriller to ‘I don’t know how, but I won’t get hurt’. He used to even call me ‘hell-raiser’ when it comes to driving, even though that upped my ego a bit, I don’t think I am that good :D . One of the things he was confused from day one and something that he never quite got used to is our seemingly random honking. He used to ask me, last time when we went on this road you honked at least once every 5 seconds, but now you didn’t honk for an hour – why? Well he hasn’t quite caught up to the method in all the chaos and I see that there is no authentic guide to honking in India, anywhere on the net. So I have decided to take up the challenge and here you have it.
1. Presence Honking
This particular type of honk is usually of short amplitude and used with high frequency. It is a very polite way of telling the others on the road that you are ‘there’. It is kind of like an animal marking his or her territory. The meaning of it varies with the size of the vehicle too. If it is a bus that is using it, it means – if you cross my path you are dead. If its a motorbike – if you cross my path I am dead. All other variants come in between.
2. What-the-**-are-you-doing Honking
This is a rather impolite but effective way of abusing your fellow road users. It is second in frequency only to Presence honking. Using it always gives a boost to your ego, declaring it yourself to the people around you, that you know everything there is to know, when it comes to driving. This is best done in short bursts of very high loudness and honk-length.
3. Traffic-Light Honking
This is used in many different scenarios at the traffic light. One use is when you think that the person in front of you is blind and has not started moving yet when there is only 5 seconds to go for the light to turn green. Another is rather supernatural or spiritual. It is based on the belief that if you honk a few times, the red light will turn to green faster. It doesn’t harm you to try it does it?
4. The Enquiry Honk
This is even more polite than variant 1. A very polite way to enquire whether you get the right of way. It is used while you try to overtake or is not sure who has the right of way in an intersection. The answers you get and the manner in which you get them can be very varied. You must have the presence of mind to choose the appropriate path of action very quickly or alas you are again dead.
5. The Pointless Honk
Ok, this happens usually when you are annoyed with your boss, or had a quarrel with your wife. You use this horn to vent out your inner troubles. But be very careful as to when you use this. If timing is wrong this type of honking can be easily mistaken for any of the above four variants and cause unexpected page faults. (sorry had to put in a Com. Sci. PJ in somewhere :D )
Yup, that would have prepared you a bit to take on the roads in India. Now all you need is quite a huge amount of courage and a lot of luck. All the best!
PS: Hell.. they should start giving out PhDs for driving in India. It has so much of science and art in it! :D