Honking horns are the music of (at least two) Indian cities. In both Kolkatta and Delhi, the melodic sound is almost comforting, lulling. Drivers rely on horns more than they rely on blinkers, and they make our Seattle highways look neat, orderly, and silent in comparison.
When my driver was taking me to the airport today, he was darting between bicycles, rickshaws, 50’s style cabs, and even cows, and laying on the horn mercilessly. I was looking out the window, enchanted, taking pictures of the boys soaping themselves at gushing pipes on the sidewalks, at shirtless men with no teeth and turbans on their heads, at women in rainbow colored saris. When we stopped at a light, it took me a moment to notice that my driver was still honking. I looked around. There was a large grassy hill to our right. Several rows of cars were lined up, also waiting at the light, to our left. There was no one for him to be honking at. And yet his fingers tapped out a rhythm on the horn, half out of habit, and half for pleasure. I followed his eyes and saw that he was looking straight at the red light as he tapped. He was honking at the traffic light.