Brought up watching ‘Sound Horn’ and ‘OK Tata’ behind trucks all our lives, we have come to accept it as much a part of our culture as peeing on the roadside. But those notes bring out intriguing questions from our phoren visitors: ‘‘Do they really mean it?’’ one asked me the other day. ‘‘Is it like, statutory?’’ he puzzled before one could answer his first question. He had a worried wife after she spoke to him over the phone and could hear all the honking on our roads.
She kept asking him if everything was all right. Another thing that amazed my friend was the ubiquitous balti rocking by the side of the chassis as we overtook an overloaded lorry. ‘‘Hey, what’s that bucket for, do they fetch fuel in that?’’ he asked curiously. I wanted to answer that, but given its myriad usages, just let it pass.
There was this lady from the US who shouted at us for allowing kids to drive killer trucks, only to realise that the driver sits on the right and the kid waving his hand was the sidekick. We took the same lady to meet a professor at a reputed university. She tried some sambar for breakfast and felt her stomach churn just before entering the professor’s office. We took her to the closest loo and behold, she was out in three seconds flat, complaining that there was no paper in the lavatory. We explained, to her disbelief, that this was normal. She exclaimed in utter disgust, ‘‘You mean you walk around wet!’’ We cancelled the appointment and whisked her to the nearest hotel for relief.
I remember too a European visitor who was to visit the Corbett National Park and asked me to make the bookings. We started off by taxi from Delhi to the park. He casually asked how long it would take to get there. I told him it’d take about six hours. He was shocked. ‘‘It takes two hours to travel 240 km back in Europe!’’ I realised we hadn’t discussed this earlier, and the poor guy ended up spending 21 hours over the next three days in the cab.
The only high point was that we managed to see a tiger at the park. I shudder at the thought of what would have happened otherwise! Incredible is the word that most use to describe what they encounter here. Guess that’s the reason why we chose to promote it to the world as such.
7 months ago