The many hours I spend stuck in traffic every week allow me not only to get caught up with the local news in the Times of India, or see what new concerts are happening in Time Out Mumbai, but also to observe the sea of motorcycles, auto-rickshaws, cars, trucks and buses that happen to take up nine lanes on a road that is meant for three… (but more on this subject in a forthcoming post)
Even through the incredibly hazy and smoggy morning air, it didn’t take me long to notice that the most eye-catching sign on the streets of Mumbai is the phrase “Horn OK Please” painted in many different patterns on the back of all vehicles.
Now this is in a city where, with 17 million people roaming around every day, if you are no longer able to hear car horns it probably means you’re dead. Are drivers seriously encouraging each other to honk?
Turns out that yes, they actually are. Nobody knew the meaning for this phrase when I asked around the office, and that’s when good old Wikipedia came to the rescue:
“Horn OK Please” is a phrase commonly painted on vehicles in India. This is spotted almost without exception on commercial vehicles like trucks, buses or local taxis. The purpose of the phrase — whose origin is unknown — is to alert a driver of a vehicle approaching from behind to sound his/her horn in case they wish to overtake. Tens of thousands of vehicles are decorated with this phrase, despite the fact that no rules in India mandate or suggest the use of such a ‘slogan’ on a vehicle.
And therefore it is for this phrase, which undoubtedly saves countless lives everyday, that my blog is called “Horn OK Please”.