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Oh, don’t be startled. The first honk meant “Hello” and the second is “Welcome.” Because the unspoken, unofficial language of India is the horn. Sometimes a high Beep! from a family of 4 on a scooter, sometimes a quick staccato vaguely resembling music, but always audible. Excuse me, I’m on your right, don’t bump into me = Honk! Hey, I want to pass on your left because you’re not going fast enough = Honk! I’m coming up on a corner and I want to warn oncoming traffic who may or may not be in the middle of the road = Honk!

I took my first solo cab ride today. The driver put on his seatbelt. I tried to do so also, but was emphatically told, “No.” It appeared that the belt had been tucked behind the seat to keep it pristine. As most of the rest of the cab was pristine. In fact, the only part that looked used was the horn. Check out the shiny, thumb-shaped spots in this picture.

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