A couple of weeks ago I was in the city of Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada. Vancouverites are amazingly welcoming and polite, and more importantly, patient.
While not as laid-back as St. Lucians, (who will not honk even if the traffic is backed up because two friends in their respective cars have decided to stop and talk to each other in the middle of the highway), in the 7 days that I was in Vancouver, I heard the sound of a car horn just once.
I mentioned this to a psychiatrist friend of mine, H, who has been living in Vancouver for the last 15 years and loves to analyze everything around him. Apart from telling me more about Vancouverites and their behavioral patterns, he also started talking about the psychology of honking and honkers, especially related to Mumbai. My wife and I found it quite hilarious and we then added a couple of categories on our own as well.
The Aggressive Honker: Someone who uses the horn to try and get past all other vehicles in front, hoping that the sound of the horn will force all the other drivers into submission. This is a staccato honk, every 10-15 seconds, for about 3-5 seconds.
The Force-of-Habit Honker: Someone who honks…because…just…This is usually a lighter honk that comes every 1-2 minutes. A vast majority of cab drivers do this as well and when you ask them why they are honking, they will just turn around and look at you as if you are an idiot…after all, how can any sane person drive in Mumbai without honking!
The Angry Honker: Someone who honks when the aggressive honker cuts in front or when someone in front is driving badly or obstructing him/her. This honk is a long honk with the palm pushing the horn button in as far as possible so as to get as much sound out of it as possible, part of the anger redirected at the horn as well.
The Friendly Honker: Someone who honks while passing trucks and friendly cars, as if to say ‘thank you’. This is a short honk, sometimes a double honk. Often, the truck driver honks back as well.
The Taxi-Driver Honker: Someone who honks at every individual who is walking on the side or crossing in front. This one is also a staccato honk, but with no specific rhythm or regularity. This is over and above the “Force-of-Habit” honk, though often one can’t distinguish between the two, since these people honk constantly anyway.
The ‘Horn-Ok-Please’ Honker: Someone who honks when wanting to pass, but is not aggressive and will wait till the person in front gives way. This is usually a short honk with some waiting between two honks.
The Calling-Out Honker: Thankfully with the use of cellphones, this has reduced. Else, people would wait below or outside a building and honk to call their friends and relatives out. These were long honks, typically late at night or early in the morning, meant to wake up the entire neighborhood.
The Soundless Honker: This occurs when the horn in the car is not working, but the driver still tries to honk and continues to press the horn button in the hope that some kind of sound will somehow find its way into the outside world. These drivers are often flustered and some even refuse to drive their cars when the horn is on the blink.
Let me know if you have any more to add to this list.