Indian trucks are the answer to the question, ‘What would Sunny Deol look like if he were a Transformer?’ The good thing about Indian trucks is that they transport vital goods across the country day in and day out, halting for nothing except maybe the occasional STD pitstop. The bad thing about Indian trucks is that sometimes you get stuck behind one. At that point, all you can think of are cuss words that would make a truck driver blush. They needn’t even be doing anything – we’re just conditioned to see trucks as missiles on wheels, which is a bit unfair because missiles are less lethal.
On the bright side, if you ever got stuck behind one, at least you could amuse yourself with those kitschy slogans on the back – because incorrect English is hilarious to people like us – while slowly euthanising your lungs. But now thanks to the Maharashtra government, the most iconic statement of them all – Horn OK Please – is on its way out. The state transport commissioner recently issued a circular banning the phrase on the rear side of commercial vehicles, because, I dunno, there’s a ban target that needs to be met every week or something.
The slogan was banned in a bid to curb noise pollution, because, as the government circular stated, “It encourages people to honk every time you pass a truck or tempo. It sends a wrong message to citizens.” Well done. This is going to curb noise pollution in the same way that banning the words ‘Colombia’ is going to curb drug trafficking.
Saying that the phrase encourages people to honk before overtaking is a bit much. You’re basically accusing Indians of following safety instructions, and that is such an anti-national thing to say. Moreover, we Indians don’t honk because a sign tells us to – we honk because we have hands.
India is a deeply spiritual country, but our devotion is strongest when it comes to the Horn God. We believe that He can make traffic jams disappear with his Voice and it is but our solemn duty to beat down on His Magical Chest like really noisy CPR.
It’s cute when people say that Indians should honk less, like we don’t know it. I once had my horn conk off while on the road, and the drive home would have been less terrifying if I’d been duct-taped to the hood of Paul Walker’s car. You think you can get by with dippers, but people see that as Morse code for ‘It is okay to die under this car’. Without a horn, you have no way to communicate to the biker speeding in from the left that maybe a 60 degree tilt-turn into six inches of space is not a good idea and that the garage charges extra to wash off idiot entrails.
Also, when you’re driving with your parents in the car, a horn is the only way you can indicate to the guy who has stopped on the sea-link to take selfies that you think he’s a dumb (body part) and that you hope he gets slapped in the face by an elephant (body part).
But hey, what do I know? Maybe this is a step in the right direction. Maybe we can extend the ban to other forms of pollution on the roads. Maybe we can tackle cultural pollution by taking on white SUVs. Because no one in Indian automotive has ever looked at a white SUV and thought, “Oh, I bet that belongs to a thorough gentleman. Maybe we can have tea sometime.” Nope, it’s always “I do not want to end up in the boot of that guy’s car.” Now that’s something I would get behind. Honk twice if you agree.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 3rd May 2015.)