Pune, Horn Okay Please

So give me a... stage
Where this bull here can rage

from Raging Bull

If Jake LaMotta ever rode a two-wheeler in Pune he would find it an appropriate stage. In Pune, forget all the politeness that is associated with driving that one has been conditioned to in the US. On the first day, you wince every other minute because you feel that there is going to be a collison. Miraculously nothing happens. There are dangers, but foreigners and out-of-touch NRISs (Non-Resident Indian Students) tend to overestimate them. After taking to the road yourself, you see your old touch returning. Suddenly, you feel free like the caged beast who has been set free on the prairie. Only, Pune is not a prairie, but a minefield.

Donning my helmet and bestriding my rusty, but trusty M-80, I take to the streets. I can personally attest to the fact that zipping along at 30 kmph on a crowded street is infinitely more thrilling than a dull 190 kmph on the Autobahn. There is constant road construction, debris from construction sites, pedestrians spilling onto the streets, the odd cow who nonchalantly sits in the middle of the road. There are no 'STOP' signs, no question of giving way, or the hope of a friendly wave when you do. Blocking the intersection is almost an article of faith. Traffic lights are like Christmas decorations, just for show. In short - there are no rules. Riding a 2-wheeler in Pune is not for the meek, the weak or the faint hearted.

The greatest pleasure of driving, that the land of the free and the home of brave denies, is:
The right to use my horn whenever and however I want.
One cannot but admire the many innovative uses we have for the humble horn.

I use my horn:
a) to communicate to others that I too am sharing the street,
b) as an accompaniment when I sing my songs,
c) as a symphonic element at an intersection when the light turns green along with the rest of the band,
d) on empty streets to keep me company,
e) to warn others of the approaching menance of my M-80,
f) as a bell to call my friends from their third floor apartments.

The M-80 is not the kind of bike that helps you pick up the chicks. It is a veritable chick anti-magnet. The benefit is that there is rather slim chance that the mammas (or cops) will ever stop you and harass you for your license, papers, pollution certificate, etc. If you ride an M-80 with a helmet, you can ride pretty much as you please in Pune. Besides it has one of the most irritating horns in existence. Ah! The sheer annoyance of its neigh!


Anonymous said...

Hilarious post! You made me all nostalgic about my own old and trusty M-80. I rode it exactly the way you did, through thick and thin for almost ten years, without a license for the first two. It's the most efficient, reliable, and safe two-wheeler I have ever rode, chick magnetness notwithstanding. Do they manufacture them anymore? I can vouch that if I decide to settle in India, no matter what my age is, the first thing I am going to do is buy a M-80 if it's still around. And don't forget the way the horn frequency goes up or down depending on the acceleration!

Anonymous said...

Can you beat Bangalore!!!.here no law on traffic works, probably non exist. It is said as joke that future Fighter pilots are asked to drive in Bangalore for one hour. If you are not a nervouswreck, Lo AND Behold you are selected. I find Pune is far better.

Kumar Kartik.

polaris said...

ROFLMAO! Your last para describes perfectly the essence of the trusty M-80:cheap, reliable and totally devoid of glamor. I am a one-time owner of a red M-80 and a dark-blue M-50 and have incredible memories of both - driving my M-50 into a ditch, stopping by the roadside to adjust the "gap" of the spark plug. My M-50 was sold many years ago for something like Rs. 1500 and I wouldn't be surprised if it is negotiating with the potholes in Pune.;-)

Adhiraj Joglekar said...

Over past one year I have worked on making a series of short video's providing driver training and education (rather than sarcasm). The aim of the video's is to move beyond the traditional clutch-accelerator training provided by the otherwise friendly neighbourhood driving instructor.

All the video's are available at http://driving-india.blogspot.com/

The 14 video's currently available cover following topics -

Video 1: Covers the concept of Blind spots
Video 2: Introduces the principle of Mirrors, Signal and Manoeuvre
Video 3: At red lights, stop behind the stop line
Video 4: At red lights there are no free left turns
Video 5: The Zebra belongs to pedestrians
Video 6: Tyres and Tarmac (rather than bumper to bumper)
Video 7: Merging with the Main road
Video 8: Leaving the Main Road
Video 9: Never Cut Corners
Video 10: Show Courtesy on roads
Video 11: 5 Rules that help deal with Roundabouts
Video 12: Speed limits, stopping distances & 2 seconds rule
Video 13: Lane discipline and overtaking
Video 14: Low beams or high beams?

To watch the video's visit http://driving-india.blogspot.com/

Dr Adhiraj Joglekar