BLOWING HORN

Blowing horns is one of the most common things on our roads. We use the horn to express joy, resentment, frustration, romance, and to alert people and vehicles on the road. Besides expressing various emotions, horns are used to wake up cows and dogs dozing in the middle of the roads. These freedom-loving animals have the liberty to be anywhere on the road. All the traffic must flow around them. We, human beings, are not that privileged. We can be in the middle of the road at our own risk. There is no guarantee that we will be spared even when we are on the footpaths. If your vehicle doesn't have a horn, kindly do not take it out on the road. And if you must, don't feel shy about using your vocal cords; the right-of-way is generally reserved for the one who shouts the loudest.

Driving on the Indian roads can be quite interesting. You shouldn’t be surprised if you find a vehicle repair shop occupying a major part of the road. Our truck drivers, who are no less than James Bonds, have the license to kill. While leaving home please do not forget to carry your greatest saviour, your insurance papers. Pedestrians are advised to cross the road only when a minister or a VIP is visiting the city so that the traffic is either moving slowly or has come to a stop. And don't be surprised if you find in your way a three-wheeler with children packed in it 'after careful geometric calculation'. Don't be surprised if you find some children in the periphery, not in contact with the auto-rickshaw at all. This is our way of teaching Newton's laws of motion to children on their way to school.

If you see a decorated bus, filled with happy pilgrims singing bhajans, don't be shocked if you read in the next day's newspapers that the bus met with an accident. Reason: Going at a 'godly' speed to seek contact with the Almighty. Also, beware of first-generation drivers. They tend to take sudden turns and overtake. The other day, a friend of mine, who was on a visit to India, could not control his excitement when we met. The first thing he told me was that he almost died 10 times on his way from the hotel to my place. Amused, I said, "But you are very much alive. And you look happier. It's India. That's the way we live." We almost die many times every day. Every time we are more alive.

We have reasons to applaud our drivers. There are fewer accidents in India than in many other countries. Considering the conditions in which we drive, our drivers are not killing many people. Is it not a feat that Indian drivers can drive even without brakes? Says a transportation safety expert, most countries have a multi-disciplinary approach to traffic planning and road design, which is formulated by psychologists, engineers, doctors, sociologists, and vehicle experts. In India, traffic is still a civil engineering issue.