Feb 12, 2012

Sound OK Horn [42/365]

It took me a few months to understand why every public transport in India had 'Sound OK Horn' painted on the back of their vehicles. Why are we asking if the sound is okay with the horn?!
Gradually as India began to sink into me, I discovered the Indian obsession with horns and anything that produced sound.

In the 15 years that I've used a vehicle on Indian roads, it is impossible to miss road rage.
I've mentioned in an earlier post of how musically blessed our drivers are, but every time I get on to the road I feel like I am in a battlezone.

As if proving me right, a recent report of how road rage got out of hand got me thinking. When am I going to be the victim? Not that I've been safe from the brush of death but its just that I've been really lucky.

Our drivers use their horns as an extension of their alter egos. Safe within the cocoons of their vehicles, they toot their horns impatiently and inconsiderately. From the moment they get out of their garages up until they return, an average driver would have honked atleast a dozen times. Statistics apart, I think what makes us arrogant drivers is the fact that we are not ready to wait. We can't wait for the traffic to clear and we reach for the horn almost automatically. I've had drivers become extremely impatient and honk even when they can see that the traffic is piled up for miles ahead of them. I've seen drivers honk when they are in a tearing hurry to zip past, even when you are stuck and can't. I've had drivers so pissed that they've tried running me off the road, only because I could not let them overtake me. I've seen Indians swear and show the finger and generally so angry and irritated. While I can understand how the state of our city roads are anything but desirable, I fail to see how we cannot be little less noisy, lot more patient and tolerant. And this is possible when we don't honk as much as we do.

So I thought what better way to prove my theory but by trying it myself. I took it as a project for the last one week where I decided to not use my horn at all. While it was difficult to resist, I found that I didn't hurry while on my way to work, slowed down when I had to, drove defensively and didn't get as stressed as I would normally be.
I swore much less when that driver cut lanes and within a day or two I could even start smiling again at fellow drivers.  This was incredible transformation!

While I won't advocate a 'No Horn' day simply because such a day is impossible to effectively implement it, I think the transformation will begin when we shed our obsession with sounding horns, one honk at a time.
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