August 8, 2009

Honk honk!

Gosh.. what is it with the honking culture in India?? It's enough if you live a few days away from India to realize that people abroad don't honk without reason. And both in the US and Europe, honking is strictly restricted to bringing to notice offensive road behaviour - an unexpected sharp turn or an indecent pass and the likes of it earn angry honks from the cars being crossed over by dissed drivers and only briefly. In India, it's a whole different thing. The traffic is so frustratingly stagnated in most places, the heat is so unbearable, the cars so unruly that people honk for no reason at all except to vent out some of their own frustration or to pretend that they are helping to move things along by honking. The result is pure chaos and noise pollution and further more frustration for everyone in the sweltering traffic. Ah, it's a very poor vicious circle. And the concept of lanes hasn't taken off in Chennai (and probably never will). Cars, trucks, lorries, buses, cycles, pedestrians, cows, stray dogs and bikes all compete for the measly space to squeeze in their vehicles to keep ahead of the traffic and get to their destinations. Half the time when you reach your destination, you are so relieved not to have hit someone/something and made it in one piece even if you are semi-deaf from the blaring horns of the vehicles around you. Yesterday was the worst. We heard the sizzling horn of a lorry (the one that goes exactly like this - pambanpambanpam in that snakey tune) and Appa huddled over to a corner of the road fully expecting a heaving giant to pass by us only to see a measly motorcycle pass by. The guy had installed a lorry horn on his Hero honda. Jerk. Personally I think they should fine unnecessary honking in India too.. though how they would enlist the offenders is something I haven't come up with yet. Perhaps it should become like the Western countries where honking is restricted to offenses. Of course that requires a certain level of driving decorum which I unfortunately don't envision in the near future. Darn!


Anonymous said...

Is this the same Jaya speaking.. These were always these problems which persisted here in India and if u really have a problem then u should join the politics here and try to solve it :)..
If this also can't be done then find out the real problem and try solving it..
Here, honking is necessary as people travel on this awareness... As in, instead of using the different god knows how many signs there in the US(U.k), people use horn(same noise) to get across the same message :).

U can argue on the fact that driving in the US is extremely nice but to me it is confusing and also that there are so many rules that it doesnt make driving pleasure all that great too..

I agree this is not the best we have in India but there is no point in comparing 2 different places as there is a huge difference ....

Either learn to live with it or do something about it ..

The best solution in my view on this trip of urs is to adapt yourself as I presume changing the 1Billion odd population here is a little darn difficult ;)

No offense... but could not read any more negative on India.. It is not me but an Indian speaking...

Welcome to India... as Aamir says in Rang De Basanthi..

Jaya said...

Anon - Thanks a lot of the expanded comment. Well, I agree that my perceptions have changed ever since I left the Motherland... and I want to assure you that I am as Indian as can be.. just that the comparisons arise when you have something to compare. That's all. And I am afraid you read into a lot of bickering when indeed the point of the post wasn't necessarily just the incessant honking as it was to bring to attention one of the guys installing a lorry horn on his 2-wheeler. And since I have left this very same place, the traffic has become ten-fold and just as unruly. I guess the complaints were waiting to come. Maybe I will shine the sunny side up in some of my future posts though. All's not negative, dear india-lover.. and it is the true India-lover in me that's trying to sit n observe what we can do in trying to make it easy for everyone to appreciate Incredible India. I apologize for the negativity once more. And please don't stop visiting. :) Thanks again!

Gandalf said...

I beg to differ with Anonymous. I think this is one of those cases which has been worsened by past experiences. Like the people who's been honked at is likely to honk at others as well.. the other thing is that you don't need to join politics to change something.. You can do your bit as a citizen and I am not sure that in this case, people are going to notice your "example" and follow it. But every drop is a drop in the ocean and counts as effort. And yes, the noise pollution in India is getting abit unbearable... what with mobiles ringing off the hook, horns blaring, it's just cacophony. This post does warrant discussion though... This is just my 2 cents in this whole discussion bowl.

Madhumathi said...

Indian or non-Indian, honking is evil.. I hate it when people unnecessarily honk at signals.. We all know when the signal turns green, we gotta move & people are definitely at it...but somepeople at the back..already start honking when the lights have just turned to Yellow... I wonder how an average person never suffers an heart attack with all those fancy (sick) honks. There is no nationality involved here...wherever this is done... I HATE IT!!!

Deepak said...

Wait! You can't honk in the US?? Now that explains why Billy-Bob pointed a gun @ me on I-635 after I honked! ;)
J/k, I agree the noise has gotten worse in good ol' Chennai. Some say that is the sound of progress. But I agree with you and call it noise! Good post!

Jaya said...

Gandalf-> Thanks for the show of support and importantly your opinion in the whole matter... yes, I believe in that whole oyster story where this guy flicks them back into the ocean one by one thinking it makes a difference to that one.. Similar thing.. Lets all do our bit. And yes, India needs serious noise pollution laws. Thanks for voicing up yet again!

Madhumathi-> Thanks for your comment and your visit to the blog. Indeed, it is very irritating when people start the honking way ahead like you've pointed out, either assuming we've had the time to day dream in this craze or we're unable to see.. Eitherways, its hardcore irritating. Thanks a bunch for visiting and keep coming back!

Deepak-> Thanks a lot :). Keep visiting!

Ram uncle said...

Well said, Jaya.
Honking is considered rude behaviour in developed nations.
Worst, honking in the nights,when you are supposed to use only the flasher. More, honking from the car to call a relative in the house, that too in the mid afternoon or in the night when others are sleeping. While in Kuwait, I drove almost for 6 months without honking. Proof? The horn was not working and I did not feel its necessity (though it is an offence to drive without working horn). The car was Volkswagen Passat.

P.S: In Chennai (or all over India)
1. You can drive a car without the engine (if you can) but not without horn.

2. One gratifying thing is that the vehicles are not driven upside down, YET.

Saumya said...

Gosh! what is it with people who go away for a few years and forget that thats exactly how it used to be..:)..

I think everything seems amplified to you because
a. when you are home you just want to absorb evrything
b. the number of vehicles must have increased by a lot since you and i went way to get our degrees and those clunky boots..:)
and c. i agree that its rude, but i dont think people in india have time to be polite..;)


Parikshith Kumar said...

Making a comment to a blog after more than a year of its creation is truly a weird experience.

Years of corruption, negligence of rules and a carefree attitude towards the wrong has lead to a selfish attitude that people have developed to survive and no means is too low. It all comes back to the fundamental question, why do people not follow rules and how can you fix this is such a corrupted democracy ?

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