Posted by: adventuressetravels | November 16, 2012

The cacophony is the background music of India makes New York seem still and peaceful.  People shout to merely be heard, goats bleat, vendors accost you at every step, but the real din is the cars.  Across the US and many Western countries residential areas fine motorists for laying on the horn.  It is quite the opposite in India.

For my first week traveling in India the amount of noise pollution physically drained me.  I could only be out on the streets of Calcutta for an hour or two at most before my energy began to flag.  But you do build up a tolerance to it and soon I barely noticed the constant din that proliferates the streets.

Noise like this would be seen as unsupportable in any other country.  Horns are used to vent aggression, they seem angry, like someone behind the wheel may have a severe case of road rage.  This couldn’t be further from the case in India;  here horns are used for everything.  If a driver needs to pass another car they use a horn to let the other driver know they are there, horns are used in place of turn signals, or to get cows to move out of the road.  Many trucks have signs on the back:  “Horn please.”  

When foreigners bemoan of honking horns in Vietnam and Thailand I just laughed.  It was like hearing someone complain about  the noise of a remote control airplane to someone who accustomed  to Learjets .

India is a wonderful country but utterly a different world.   The differences are everywhere.  Something as simple as honking a horn exemplifies those differences.  Look at the culture through Western eyes and judge it by the same standards and it can seem dreadful.   Let yourself be carried away by the curry, adapt to the raucous vibrant lifestyle, and you will adore it.


  1. So many horns honking at once must be counterproductive, since one would soon come to pay no special attention to a honk meant especially for him (or her).

  2. So insightful, Sally. Thank you for this exciting and unblemished window.

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