Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To honk or not to...

Yesterday, on the way back home from work, I saw a cab with a sticker that read, "Do not honk." this wouldn't have warranted comment had I been living elsewhere in the world. You see, "don't honk" stickers at the rear of automobiles are as rare as they come in India. Instead, it is quite commonplace to see labels like 'Horn Please" or "Blow Horn" behind buses and trucks. As a kid growing up in India, I used to think it's quite normal to ask people driving behind you to honk, so you know they are coming behind you. In fact, my first driving lessons included tips like honk before turning a corner, when you come up next to another vehicle, at pedestrians trying to cross the road, and so on. It all made sense then. You had to had to announce to the world that you are coming. Watch out! Sigh.

I realized that it's likely that this common traffic practice is likely to be unique, if not strange, when someone from the US remarked about it. He found it very surprising because it's considered rude to honk elsewhere in the world. More surprise when the logic behind "please honk" labels were explained to him. Come to think of it, it's quite annoying to hear blaring horns. But almost everybody honks in India!!! You just need to be stuck in a traffic jam to see this (and endure the pain of hearing the noise) for yourself. Another place to encounter this is at a traffic signal. No matter that the light is still red, the motorist behind you has to honk. And then everybody starts honking on cue. Is this symptomatic of a culture that shouts for attention, a me-first culture? Possibly...or maybe it is a live example of the saying "when in Rome..."

Well, whatever be, I loved the "Do not honk" poster. It is a symbol of changing mindsets, of being more conscious of our environment and our fellow beings, and of being more polite. As some wise person said, "I do not shout at others with my automobile horn." I am gonna get a similar poster. What about you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rain rain come again...

So much has been written about the monsoons and how it wreaked havoc in the capital. We read stories of commuters caught in traffic snarls and of buses submerged in a flooded underpass. I braved the traffic and the rain too--what was a 10 minute commute turned out to be a ninety minute drive, and the usually one hour drive to office stretched to four hours...what a pain! But what bliss too--the hot and clammy weather had gone and we had cool rain laden breezes and winds. You could enjoy it if you were at home with a cup of hot tea and a plate of pakoras...or better still, if you could sit by the window and look at the raindrops. How pleasant it was to go for a stroll in the neighborhood park or just go up on the terrace to enjoy the weather. Some people danced in the rain. Sigh.
It's hot and humid in Delhi again. The launrdry gets bone dry in a jiffy and the traffic moves smoothly unless disrupted by accidents, a procession, or a vehicle breakdown...but the weather is all clammy.

Rain rain come again...
Go away another day
Please take away the pain
And the heat and we'll pay
the price
Of being stuck in traffic jams
Just to be able to dance again
in the rain...
Rain, rain come again.