Monday photo: Horn OK Please!

Farrell and Jeremy and I have been in India for most of the last week. We landed in Mumbai and spent a few days there before flying south to Goa. (Our original plan to make this a Darjeeling Limited reenactment was foiled by our failure to buy train tickets far enough in advance.)

No time now to process what we’ve seen and done, except to comment briefly on the above photo.

We noticed as soon as we launched on our first taxi ride from the airport that driving in this place is dominated by the staccato beep of an enormous horn section. Every scooter, cab, van, diesel truck announces its presence to all other motorists and pedestrians with a series of sharp honks, not so much to complain about other drivers’ slowness but to warn them that they simply exist and hope to continue existing. “Here I come!” they signal before passing on the right, creating a third lane down the middle of a two-way road, peeling incoming traffic away from the cars and bikes in front of them. It’s not an aggressive message to bully others out of the way. Every truck we’ve passed has a version of the message painted on the one above: “Horn OK Please!” they plead, asking to be warned so they don’t accidentally crush a scooter — often containing three people, a small family — scrambling to make its way around. The noise seems chaotic, but it really serves to keep things moving in some semblance of harmony. A theory of living?

We’re here for a couple more days. Feel free to follow this, that, and the other account of our travels over the rest of the week.

Previously on TGW.

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