So, I was driving home the other night, and the weather in Delhi was especially lovely. Not too cold, not too hot, just right. I rolled down my car windows to enjoy the cool breeze outside. (Thankfully, the pollution wasn\’t too bad either.) What really spoiled it for me was the constant honking of cars and bikes. It was so bad that it could leave a normal person rattled and traumatized if exposed to it for above-average duration. Not to mention, the loss of hearing.

Why do some people honk so much when honking is either unnecessary or useless?

I have seen some people so overcautious about their driving space that they want to pre-empt every kind of intrusion/accident by constantly honking. \”Get the @#$% away from me! Can\’t you see I\’m [still] learning to drive?!\” In Indian traffic, it only serves to rattle the nerves of both the honker and the honkee.

And then some honk like nuts because they have returned from a future where ultrasonic waves emanating from the car horn can sweep the road off all kinds of rabble. You just press the magic knob and the cars, bikes, humans and cows in front of you are just swept to both the sides, like an Audi-borne Moses separating the Red Sea of Indian traffic with his steering staff. But only that it doesn\’t happen in the present. I think they can\’t see it though. Dude, delude much?!

Similar to that, there are honknuts who think that everyone but they can fly. So, they honk-honk hoping that the other vehicles will just do the right thing and fly off, take the aerial route and clear out terra firma for them to drive on. Like gleeful little kids running screaming into a flock of pigeons, they want cars to flutter all around them and go settle on trees and parapets. These innocent people don\’t even take the hint when other drivers make gestures at them that mean \”Why the @#$# don\’t you fly over me, you moron?\” All they think is, \”Yes, yes, fly away, tweety bird, fly away!\”

Is it, like, an itch that needs to be scratched? I suspect so, in some cases. But more than that, I think it’s a twitch. Some Indian men honk the car horn just they way they scratch their crotch in public — nonchalantly, matter-of-factly, instinctively — without caring for what impact that act is having on men, women and dogs around them. They don’t know they’re scratching, pulling, shoving; they don’t know they’re repeatedly pressing something. They can’t hear the sound of the horn; they don’t know and don’t care whether others can.

Car manufacturers should really be selective about who they give horns to. They should give it to those who actually deserve it rather than giving it to every Ombir, Diggy and Harinder. They should probably have a prelims and a mains exam followed by a viva voce to select people who can wield such immense power — power over an instrument of mass annoyance.

Published by Anupam Choudhury

I'm a writer, editor, and blogger from New Delhi, India.

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