TOPICS: Horn that doesn’t honk

I prefer commuting by motorbike over public transport, be it for long or short route. The advantage of driving your own vehicle during long trips is, you can stop wherever you want, as long as you want, dine wherever you want, unlike the microbus driver who stops at a particular hotel serving not so palatable food.

The other advantage of a bike ride is you can overcome traffic jams with smallest of gaps. I love my motorbike and keep it in good condition. The good condition of my vehicle was the reason I rode it fast.

For some medico-legal training I had to go to Mangalore. I had a friend studying there in Manipal University who was willing to accommodate me for three months. He had a motorbike there which was our means of transport.

The only problem with his bike ride was he rode very slowly. He used to tell me we are in no hurry so why ride fast?

One day, I wanted to ride the bike. My friend reluctantly handed me the key. I mockingly said I ride fast yet safe. He asked if you ride fast how you can be safe. I was riding my friend’s bike in Mangalore about to overtake a city bus in front of me, so I honked.

The bus accelerated and I had to back. I got one more opportunity to overtake, so I honked quite a few times. The bus stopped and the driver in khaki got off. He came straight towards me and scolded me in the local language.

Had my friend on the pillion seat not apologized on behalf of me in their local language I would have been smacked on the face. That day onwards I don’t honk. I was there for three entire months, witnessed cases of murder, suicides and accidents.

The highest numbers of casualties were road traffic accidents (RTA). I saw many people die. The accidents frequently involved rash and negligence on the part of the victim. This was the reason my friend always rode slow.

He always reminded me — he didn’t want to be the next RTA autopsy case.

My three month Mangalore stay was an eye opener. I neither honk nor ride fast and recklessly. I have been riding my bike in Kathmandu for the past three years after coming from Mangalore. I had detached the wire to the horn, until one evening when a traffic police stopped me to check my driving license and motorbike owner’s papers at Chappalkharkhana.

He found no fault so he started to check my motorbike whether the light worked and the horn blew. I was fined. Today, I have a horn that honks but I don’t need to.