There is a little-known State Secret about traffic in India, but once you discover it, everything suddenly makes sense: the Delhi Government has a unique approach to mental health problems. They train all such sufferers to drive cars, taxis, buses and scooters, and then set them free to roam wild on the road system among the sacred cows and terrified pedestrians.
Given that none of this Care in the Community involves crash helmets, leathers, seatbelts or goggles, you have to have your suspicions about whether this is actually a form of treatment, or a cull….in the sense of being a marginally more active approach to the ancient passive strategy of ‘Maybe the Problem will just Go Away’.
Suspicions darken once one learns that – as part of their training, before leaving the asylum – the mentally challenged (sorry, differently-thinking) hordes have to pass just one exam, called the Horn Code. This is like Morse Code in that it too involves the use of a digit; but it is nothing like Morse Code in that all Indian vehicle horns are designed to shatter the timpanic membrane from a distance of three kilometres.
I am now able to offer Sloggers exclusive access to this most mysterious of codes, in the hope that, on landing in the sub-continent, it could reduce their chances of ending up very flat in the middle of any one of 37,000 main roads within hours of arrival.
This is how the Horn Code works.
Although the exact decibel level and sound emittted by horns varies by brand and depth of lunacy, the general rule is that scooters go beep, tuk-tuks bip, ageing cars poop, motorcycles burp and trucks/buses go barp.
This is what it all means….
Beep: Can’t offer you much solid guidance on this one, I’m afraid. It can mean, under varying circumstances, “I’m here”, “I’m turning left”, “My finger gave an involuntary twitch”, “Hi Bashra, how are you?” or “my brakes have failed”. As a rule, it is best to play safe and, on hearing the noise, panic.
Ba-barp: I’m doing 80 on a dusty side road and, in the absence of a Give Way sign, will intersect carefully onto the main highway within 1.24 seconds.
Beep-Beep, burp, barp, poop, burp, beep, poop, barp, bip: It’s rush-hour, but the traffic’s moving fairly smoothly, so we’re all just kind of pulling this horn shit because that’s what we do. Yo!
Beep-beep-beep: you may think you’re safe, but I’m joining the traffic on the wrong side of the road, and about to cross the white line exactly where you’re now standing, foolishly looking the other way and feeling safe.
Beep-beep-beep-beeeeeep: I’m on my scooty overtaking two lorries who are in turn overtaking a tuk-tuk, and as there’s a socking great bus coming the other way I’m going to go onto the pavement, so would you mind awfully stepping into the road so I don’t have to kill you?
Beep-diddly-beep-beep, beebeep: I’ve got a new horn. It’s a smashing horn. It plays three notes, it’s unbelievably loud, and pedestrians jump the height of themselves when they hear it. Just loving my new horn.
Baaaarp-baaaaaaaaarp-BAAAAAAAAAAARP: You may be a sacred cow, but I’m a Catholic bus driver so get out of the fucking way, you useless bag of humped bones.
Beep-beep, Beep-beep, Beep-beep, Beep-beep : We are four scooty-loons riding abreast, so give way or it’s Apocalypse Now for you, baby.
Bi-bip: Wanna taxi sahib?
Beep, birp, barp, poop, birp, beep, poop, barp, poop, beep, beep, baaaaaarp, bip-bip, poop-poop, buuuurrrrrrp: I’m fed up of sitting in this traffic jam. Everyone else has their hand hard on the horn, so I’m showing solidarity as a loyal member of the Drivers & Shunters Insanely Deranged Motor Union.
Beebarpoobibarpa-lula, she’s my baby: Two scooties, a tuk-tuk, Suzuki mini, municipal bus, truck and Royal Enfield motor bike just overtook each other on a blind bend and ploughed through a 1950’s revival concert on Anjuna Beach.
There are, thankfully, far safer, more-fun things that you can master here in Goa.
On the other hand….