Delhi Survival Guide
Delhi. Close your eyes and listen. You'll hear a veritable symphony of sounds ranging from vehicle engine noise, horns honking, spiritual chanting and so many dialects of various languages you wonder how anyone can communicate. Well, they can, in so many different kinds of ways. Like the blind have heightened senses of hearing, take a second to listen. Delhi speaks to you but only IF you shut off for a second.
The first thing you have to understand is that when you hear a horn honking, no one is about to run you over, no one is about to hit you and no one is flipping you off. As an American, hearing a horn blasting causes a pavlovian-like response that a skid and crunch are the next sounds to follow. Here in India, drivers actually drive with their horns.
They use their horns as frequently as you or I might use a turn signal. They use sound as a tool to let you know where they are, what there intentions might be and in a way, to ping as some sort of reverse echo-location. By no means is this meant to be construed as some sort of sonic love ballad. Nope, not even close. Delhi drivers lean on their horn very frequently so that you get the hell out of their way. Where they are going is much more important than where YOU are going.
I sincerely believe that the honking is necessary due to the fact that street lines and highway lanes are more of guidelines than traffic laws. There is no "right of way" in India. If there is space for my car, and I won't hit you, I'm going. Plain and simple. Just before this James Bond stunt driver maneuver, I will have the common decency to honk my way through it all. Just so you don't miss anything.
And if you feel overwhelmed by the chaos, traffic, connection and absence of order in the traffic lanes, listen to the language of the vehicles. If all else fails, don't worry, everyone speaks English.