There is probably a Latin name for it, kerasophobia, perhaps. The constant honking of car horns here in Delhi drives me crazy. Some drivers blast their horns to signal their approach, so that everything in their path will move aside to let them pass, like Moses parting the Red Sea. Of course, it makes no difference at all. If I am walking down the roadside and a motorist or scooter driver behind me presses on their horn, I can’t really do anything about it. There is no place for me to go to escape. Perhaps the driver wants me to be aware of his presence, so I don’t randomly decide to step further out into the road. Other drivers join a main road from a side street without stopping or slowing down, just blowing their horn. The worst offence is when there is a traffic jam, so everyone gets impatient and starts leaning on their horns. This accomplishes nothing apart from raising my blood pressure.


Every truck has “Horn Please” painted on the back, together with “Use Dipper at Night” – which means flash your lights when you are about to overtake. Sometimes the spelling goes awry.



A few months ago, the Times of India organised a campaign to stop needless honking. A few cars now sport bumper stickers saying “Don’t use your horn”. I don’t think it made a hoot of difference. There are places, such as hospitals, which have road side signs warning against sounding horns, but people ignore them, despite the risk of prosecution.


Yesterday, I was the passenger in a car on my way to the clinic and we were caught up in a traffic jam. It was a very narrow street, with cars and food carts parked on either side. Someone had double parked their car, so there was a bottle-neck. Everyone was vying for position, the cyclo riders, auto-rickshaws, motorbikes, scooters, cars and trucks. Pedestrians didn’t have a look in.

Now normally in India, even though drivers often flout the rules brazenly, everyone does this at some time, so people don’t get too upset about it. Patience is a rarity. Everyone wants to get some advantage, everyone wants to squeeze through a small gap or block someone from getting in front of them. Never is there any sense (like in UK) when a driver will say to himself (because it usually is a “he”), “I am in the right, the other person will just have to move/back up/stop.” Everyone just accepts crazy, erratic driving and tries to avoid an accident, usually with inches to spare.

But it was different yesterday. A white car without any special markings was blocked in. A large bearded gentleman got out of the passenger seat cradling a double-barrelled shotgun in his arms. He did have the logo of a security firm on his shirt, but it was the weapon which concentrated everyone’s minds. The cyclo rider reversed a bit, the auto-rickshaw driver pulled over to the side. The security guard beckoned with the barrels of his gun, indicating that his driver should move the car forward. When the car was clear, the guard got back in, and they drove off. Immediately, everyone surged forward and gridlock ensued.


We had just done a legal U turn on the Grand Trunk Road, heading north out of Delhi, when I saw a man pushing a “tempo”. This is a four-wheeled, open-sided taxi with bench seats facing each other. He managed to get up a head of steam, then he ran around into the road and clambered into the driver seat. He was bump starting a vehicle on one of the busiest roads in the capital. His passengers didn’t get out to help him, either.


I was riding with two colleagues in an auto-rickshaw in downtown New Delhi. Our macho Sikh driver was gunning the engine as we came up to a roundabout. We needed the third exit. Instead of following the traffic clockwise around the central circle, the driver turned right, dodged a few vehicles coming at us head on, avoided the cars joining the roundabout legitimately on our right, and screeched onto the correct exit road. Hair-raising (for a Sikh?) but very impressive driving in a three-wheeler. Luckily it has a lower centre of gravity than a Reliant Robin.


Two photos from me on the topic. This is the evening sunlight shining on the ramshackle shops of Khari Baoli (it means a salty step well) in Old Delhi.It was taken at about 5:30pm and the street is packed with people buying and transporting dried fruit and nuts – traditional gifts at Diwali, the Festival of Lights.


The second photograph is a golden Buddha sparkling in the sun, framed by a papier mache elephant’s trunk. This picture was taken today at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.




Thursday Doors

This is a door set into the main gate of Purana Qila, the Bada Darwaza. This was constructed in Delhi in the early 16th Century by the Emperors Humayun and Sher Shah. I really like the way the repairs have been bodged – it reminds me of my DIY skills (or lack of).

There is evidence of previous settlements in this area going back over three thousand years.


Thursday Doors.

Cee’s Which Way Challenge

This is a view from the top of our clinic building looking down on the “gali” – a narrow lane in the unplanned settlement of Jahangir Puri. The area has become established, with street lighting and electricity. You can even spot a few satellite dishes.

There is a metal barred gate to stop intruders from entering the block at night. It still has open drains in the street, but there is also a manhole cover. People work hard here to improve their lot. There are nascent signs of economic activity such as the young man peeling onions by the blue canopy.

It is narrow, but there is still space to park rickshaws and motorcycles, tucked against the wall.

Just like the walls, the population density is very high here. About half a million people live in the district, which is about four square kilometres in area.


Today was Karwa Chawth

Ten days before Diwali, on the fourth day after the new moon immediately after Dussehra, married women fast to ensure the long life, health and prosperity of their husbands (those with boyfriends and fiancés are supposed to be excluded). The Hindi word “karwa” is a clay pot with a spout, the symbol of peace and wealth. The pots are filled with sweets and given to daughters and sisters.


Many of the women working at the clinic took today off as a special holiday. They perform a strict ritual fast, even excluding water, from sunrise to moonrise. At night, the women offer water to the moon then break their fast.


This morning in the temple around the corner from our apartment, all the ladies were dressed in colourful new saris. New brides have their hands and arms tattooed with henna in elaborate patterns called “mehendi”. Some designs are so exclusive that it can cost £250 to have done (according to Delhi Times).

Instead of having a simple red dot on their forehead, the women go in for more exotic bindis.

No housework gets done today. And the husband is expected to come up with a special gift for his wife. Everyone is getting very excited about Diwali, the massive festival of lights, coming up soon. With Amazon India offering tempting discounts…not just on electrical gadgetry.