Ben Ward

He Honks

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Mumbai

He honks. Urgently but not aggressively. The barely-pubescent driver of a low-cc moped nudges a few inches to our left and we pass, still straddling the opposite lane.

We weave onward through light traffic on country roads, he honks. A haulage truck stays left as we slip through his blind-spot.

A modern sedan, branded “Tourist Vehicle” just like ours is returning toward the resorts I'm leaving behind. He honks. Another, he honks. Another, no honk.

We wind a narrow road, flooded fields to either side, each corner blinded by lush green vegetation. At each turn he honks.

We pass a small shrine at the side of the road. One of dozens we see, remnants of Goa's Portuguese Catholic legacy. He honks at each one, and gestures across his body. His dashboard statuette of the Lady Madonna wobbles a little over the pothole that follows.

It's late afternoon and a woman and her daughter walk with traffic toward their home, I presume. He honks. They don't deviate from their path in the side of the road, but neither do they stray further into it.

A stray wanders lazily into our lane as we crest a gentle rise in the road. He honks. The mutt stares away from us, unaffected. He honks again and swerves around the absentminded hound, who scampers in retreat.

A motorbike cuts through a dusty, muddy parking lot at a crossroads. Angling across the road toward our vehicle the driver maintains a rolling momentum. He honks. She restrains her meandering into the road and holds off the accelerator until we pass.

We join the highway and for a brief moment I relax in a familiar normality. A western calm as we glide through traffic at speed. Nobody honks.

In the middle distance another dog belts across the dual-carriageway from the grassy meridian. He is followed by a cow; patient, aloof, slow. We brake. He honks.


Observations of leaving Goa

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