This post is being co-written with Sharon, my travel buddy – and it’s the first time we are both visiting India. And one only gets to go to India for the first time once (so says Regina Martins – LOL!)! So we are going big.
Today’s blog is about the simple hooter. With all the mystical, spiritual and cultural allurances of India, you find that it is the small things that makes one stop and pay attention. And one such thing is the tooting of the hooter.
In South Africa you hear a hooter and it is a definite sign of something going wrong. Immediate and quick reaction is needed, generally with a fist-full of aggression.
An Indian driver hooting is something completely different. A hooter is used in the way a hooter should be used – well… almost maybe! It is used as often as one changes gears. Rather than an alert for danger, its meaning varies from “ready or not, here I come” to “you can slow down if you like but I am not” to “I am turning here you will need to slow down.” It’s the motoring equivalent of “excuse me please.”
It’s a natural sound, as common as the dull drone of traffic. For me, having being here for 2 weeks, I am used to it such that I don’t pay attention to it anymore. It has become part of my existence. For Sharon, who has been here for 5 days, she barely notices it and has already also become immune to the sound. She has been touring in Mumbai and is now in Pune, and has yet to see an incident of road rage.
The hooter in India is not seen as an offensive, rude or display of annoyance. And these are some of the busiest roads in the world. With so many cars travelling 24 hours a day, the gentle souls of India don’t waste precious time on aggression on the road, they just get on with living in the now!