This story came up in my RSS feeds this morning, and I couldn’t help but think of my recent trip to India. What’s getting shot in the abdomen for honking at someone at a green light got to do with India?
Well, if you’ve been to the subcontinent — or most other places in Asia for that matter — you’ve no doubt noticed the differences between the way we, Americans, use our car horns, and Asians use theirs. In India, the car horn is a tool, a way to alert the (millions of) other drivers (on the same road as you at one time) that — hey! — I’m creeping up on you, or I’m about to pull out in front of you, or I’m carrying a rather large load of chickens. A trip through any major Asian city accompanied by a consistent hum of car horns; as you finally lay down to rest in your hostel or hotel bed for the night, you can still hear the faint buzz of a million horns going off at once.
So what’s different with America (and much of the Western world?)
Sure, shooting someone for honking at a green light is an isolated case…. but even so, a horn is not a tool in America. More often than not it’s an audible flip of the middle finger, a beep to let someone know they’ve just done something really stupid while driving. Or maybe it’s a way to keep from having to get out of the car when picking up a friend. On the rare occasion it’s used to actually avoid an accident.
After spending a month in India, I returned to the States, and was thrown off balance by the absence of horn noise. What a strange feeling — seeing cars but not hearing horns.
Unfortunately sometimes that beep of the horn isn’t an audible middle finger, but an actual warning, or a friendly reminder that the light has turned green. Sadly, the moral of the story for America: be careful who you honk at. [via]