Honk, Pip or Beep: Listening is the Key

To fully chalk up my story of honking, I must take my readers back about 15 years. In those days, I was a proud owner of a two-wheeler: a slender, sleek thing maroon in color. Imagine a maroon banana slug with wheels and you have my Hero Puch. The father had his own bulky, husky two-wheeler that he unleashed noisily on the streets ( you may read our two-wheeler chronicles here) . He thinks he has not done his duty of conscientious driving if he does not honk every few minutes. Obviously, it was a lesson he sought to teach us all. Every time I remembered his advice on the two-wheeler, I would honk and redeem myself as the good daughter in his eyes.

One time, he took my Hero Puch for servicing and had the horn changed on it. He told me over dinner that day, and I nodded absent mindedly. The next day, I started off on my Hero Puch looking like a weasel on a banana, and made off.

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I was nearing a bend where everybody honked and thinking that I better do my duty too, I honked. What happened next surprised me so much, I almost fell off my own vehicle, and I caused a number of folks in front of to trip over themselves too, and they cleared enough space for a bus to pass through. The honk that the banana-shaped slip of a thing emitted was that belonging to a truck. A long, loud trumpet of a sound signaling a mammoth tusker on a high speed monster truck. I still remember folks giving me an annoyed smirk on what they clearly thought was a low trick. I must say I was rattled too. There is, of course, a story behind the horn change. Something to do with the-father-trusting-the-mechanic. (The last time he trusted a painter, this happened: https://nourishncherish.wordpress.com/2008/03/25/the-colourful-house-by-the-daughter-of-the-colour-blind-father-2/)

The point is, in the intervening years, I have not used the horn as much.  Sometimes, I fumble to see where it is when I do have to use it on the person backing out without seeing me. Imagine then, that of all the new experiences that I got to enjoy in Hawaii, honking was one of them. There are many road trips in this beautiful place that have one lane paths and turns.  I read a blog post that warned us about sharp curves,  and many places in which it is prudent to let fellow drivers know that you are coming. This is one of the places in the US where you can lean out the car window, wave enthusiastically to your fellow drivers, and give them a thumbs up sign and honk and let them know you are coming on the bridge. I was one enthusiastic but not very effective let-them-know-er. Gone are the years of my ambitious honking, what is left now is an apologetic honker. I go h-h-ho-honk and a pip of a honk emanates from the car. You need to have the honking attitude and I had lost it.

I was telling the husband and kids all about this and my dear Puny Puch sounding like Superman while driving along merrily peering into some canyons on the way.

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Up ahead, was one of those infernal turns again. My head full of my Puny Puch’s horn, I honked to let folks know I was making my way through and kept going. I had my windows rolled up and wondered why it sounded like the bull-horn my Hero Puch let out all those years before. Funny how the memory of a thing can bring so vivid a recollection huh?

I rounded the corner and only just had the sense to step on the brakes like my life depended on it (well it did).  There I was face-to-face with a bull-dozer sized bus on a ribbon bridge. The problem was that I had thought so much of letting others know, I had not taken the trouble of listening to the bus driver’s honk.

That big honk was the one belonging to the hulk of a bus. Valuable lesson learnt: Honk, Pip or Beep, the key is to listen.

Who says there is no joy in honking? Sigh.

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