musings on travel, international living, development aid, politics, turkey (the country more than the meat) and anything else that comes to mind...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Honking Demystified

As a general rule, I like driving. If there's an option that involves me at the helm of a motor vehicle, that is most likely the option that I'll take.

Over the years I have driven in a few countries and come to realize that Lady Roadrage tends to take on different personalities based on where she's located. Nothing showcases her personality dysfunctions quite like the rampant use of the car horn.

As I was driving home from our Addis office today I was struck by the sheer amount of times that I either 1. honked or 2. was honked at. What does all this honking mean? And how does the definition change from place to place?

Look no further. Never fear. Geographically appropriate definitions of honking are right here.

Middle America i.e. Minnesota or Kansas: "Excuse me sir, but my automobile just happens to be situated in the general vicinity of your automobile and, if you don't mind me saying so, I'm not sure if you even realize I'm here! Sorry to bother you and have a great day!"
(Alternately: "C'mon honey, stop curling your bangs. It's bowling night!")

Washington, DC:  "Dear Mr. Taxi Cab - just because you drive like a dog in heat in Eritrea doesn't make it ok to drive like that in the district. Please don't hit me."

Texas: does the theme song to Dukes of Hazard even count as a horn?

Ankara, Turkey: "My bumper is clearly in front of yours and my car is faster than yours anyways (not to mention bright yellow), so I'm pretty sure I have the legal right of way in this situation."

Istanbul, Turkey: See "Ankara" above, with the following addition. "I may also be honking at you to make way for my Hummer on this thousand-year-old cobblestone street made for horses."

Baghdad, Iraq: "I am in an up-armored vehicle and get very anxious when sitting in traffic. So kindly move or I will give you a dirty look or, depending on how much coffee I had this morning, shoot my AK in your general direction."

London, England: Well, I haven't actually driven in London but I've been honked at plenty for failing to read the sign on the crosswalk that tells idiot non-Brits like me to look to the right for oncoming traffic. So the meaning is probably something to the affect of "Get yur bloody Yank ars out of me way! Blimey!!"
(full disclosure - I have no idea what blimey means and refuse to look it up)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: "I'm not stopping either because 1. I'm a jerk and don't want to miss Baywatch or 2. the breaks on my 1978 Lada haven't worked for 6 months. In any case, it would thus be wise not to pull out in front of me."

Juba, South Sudan: "Dear Mr. and Mrs. Very Large Cow, I have now been sitting here for 10 minutes watching you chew. Would you kindly mind stepping to the side so I can pull into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a meeting? Thank you."
(Alternately: "No, turning on the lights of your motorbike does not make your fuel go down faster so please turn on your friggin' lights before I sit you down and make you listen to Bangs' new album.)

Nairobi, Kenya: "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh"
(Also relevant for Cairo)