I have been reminded (or rather, chided) by my wife for not using the horn when driving. “How will the person ahead of you know of your presence?”, she would say, and I would then try to press the button at the slightest pretext. Quite a game, I would think. But I need to master it, to drive in the city of Kolkata.

Recently, I found an interesting article based on a survey of the decibel levels in various parts of the city, and it portrayed the experience of traveling in an amby taxi for 20 km. it did not surprise me that the horn was used 576 times in the stretch.

And why shouldn’t that be? We have grown up in a country where honking is encouraged, with interesting messages like “horn please” adorning the backs of commercial vehicles. And the trend has taken so much that not only trucks, but taxis and autos have taken to the encouraging message. It even causes a sense of despair for the driver if the horn doesn’t work. But we have seen it so many trucks mentioning in so succinct words “Horn OK please”. I was often left to wonder whats OK got to do with the sincere request. A wikipedia search gave way: OK stands for “on kerosene”, which served as a caution during world war II, when there was a greater risk of inferno because of the fuel used in trucks. But it has ceased to have any significance today, and yet is being blindly used without understanding its relevance (like many rules in India)

There are many different kinds of horns in use today. But the ones causing greatest cacophony are the ones available in accessory shops and heavily used in sumos and bikes. The uninitiated would easily mistake it for a Z security in a convoy of a hot shot. The ones on the two wheelers have an uncontrollable urge to show the world that they have a bike, and so everyone must be impressed with them, for they have a bike that makes everyone’s heads turn (even if in irritation).

Our country has utter disregard for the rules, and hence you can easily see “no horn” signs outside hospitals and schools being ignored conveniently.

I hate such noise, it badly affects my concentration. So I prefer closing the windows of my car and putting on the AC, at least I don’t have to put up with such irritating noise makers on the road.

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