One of my favorite things to observe the past ten days has been Indian traffic. My first taste was driving in the back of taxi in New Delhi around 8:30pm on a Friday night (akin to NYC). I was overwhelmed and scared. There were so many horns blasting, cars weaving in and out, and people in/on the highways. It was absolute chaos. When we were at stop lights beggars would walk through the cars tapping on Windows in hopes that a hand would reach out with spare change. The light turned green and we were off again. There seemed to be no laws at first glance but after a few days you realize it’s a dance.
Indian traffic is like a fast paced tango that emits a palpable energy on the road. One can observe from the sidelines but the only real way to understand it is to join the dance. Once you begin to embrace it as a dance you see there is rythmn to the chaos. What once was remarked as an ordless frenzy is now a recognizable shuffle.
Horns are the music of this dance. When you first hear the horns you think it’s a bunch of drunk people or 1st time drivers in a panic, frantically and arbitrarily blaring their horns. But then you watch the dance and listen to the music. They move together.
In India, you don’t use your blinker to signal passing a car, you honk your horn.
I’ve made a list of when Indian drivers honk their horns:
- passing a car
- a person in the road
- a cow in the road
- a Sherperd and his sheep
- Coming around a turn and letting a potential car know you’re there.
- Monkeys on the side of the road
- You see a friend
- You’re on the process of passing a car
- Dogs are in the road
- A car is approaching an intersection that you are passing through
- The cows and said animals still won’t move after the first horn
- Cars still won’t move for passing