Stop it! I can't think.

Image by Ben Heine

I was nearly lynched while driving in Texas where I blew my car horn freely as I did in my native Pune (India).  It took me a very short while to realise that that this behaviour upset people so much that it could get me killed. It is generally believed particularly in the west and Japan that blowing the horn is considered rude and reserved as an insult to others. 

There is a another deeper reason why people hate these loud noises, because it has become a killer. Yes noise destroys sanity before it takes your life.  Census reports in USA and UK  cite noise – more than any other problem even more than crime, litter, traffic, or inefficient government – as the biggest problem citizens face particularly in urban neighborhoods. 

40% of people are regularly exposed to noise levels labeled as excessive by the Environmental Protection Agency." 

The noise pollution is causing brain damage and heightened stress across communities and is more harmful to women and deadly for the young. Children generally learn slower and make more mistakes when brought up in  noisy environments and generally tend to be less creative.

My friend Binoy is  a highly creative person. He has been for the  past 17 years been running  his own company called 'Creative Edge'  ( . He teaches and also creates innovative designs, products and provides solutions for his clients. 

Speaking with him about creativity I asked him if the environment made a difference in creativity? His answer was a categorical yes, environment makes a significant difference. He had two office in Mumbai which he had to shut down because it was almost impossible to do much creative thinking. The fatigue from encountering excessive noise and the constant din destroyed the ability of people to think coherently. He shifted staff back to his head office on the outskirt of Pune and the results have been remarkably positive. The same people were generally happier and three times more creative and productive.

Excessive noise and disturbance near centres of research and learning is one of the prime reasons for low creativity and innovation.

If we want a better quality of life then we must demand and ensure that people like you and me, and the authorities in urban areas do the following without further delay; 
  • Avoid making loud noises in our homes, at our work/study place and while driving.
  • Volume of  horns of vehicles and particularly those of buses, motorcycles be capped at lower decibel and frequency levels.
  • Ban use of outdated models of noisy vehicles such as motorcycles, auto rickshaws, light and heavy commercial vehicles.
  • Ban the use of horns near schools, hospitals, and most residential areas.
  • Strictly enforce the Supreme court order of noise of pandals and processions to less than 80 decibels and to stop by 10:00 pm.
  • Avoid excessive noise of sirens used by police while escorting every Ram, Tik and Hari.

Scientific information on how noise in our life is causing high stress and harming us all, can be found at the following website;

Individually we can do little, but collectively we can make a huge difference. Speak up and stand up for a better quality of life. We owe it to ourselves and our children.


  1. Mahesh Puranik said;


    Very good point indeed. I have instructed my drivers to think before they honk because they are so used to pushing that button that even they don't realize they are honking. When we walk, we naturally alternate feet from left to right to move forward or back. Similarly, these guys use their horn so much that its almost "naturally" happens regardless if there is any obstruction, danger, or otherwise. The only time we honk in the US is if someone hasn't seen a vehicle in a blind spot or if someone is just having a bad day (usually accompanied by the middle finger way up in the air). Indians have a ways to go, but hopefully by raising this awareness we can change things for the better.

    I liked the Ram, Tik and Hari reference. Oh that reminds me, cops in the US have a right to pull over drivers that are excessively honking. How can we apply that rule in India? Seems tough.

    Mahesh Puranik
    Business Development Manager
    W.O.M. - Worldwide Oilfield Machine

    Puranik Mahesh

  2. Dear Mahesh,

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Here is an analysis and a theory I have.
    Scientific Anthropolgical studies show that humans when happy make more noise. That is why crackers are set off, drums and trumpets have always been blown.
    This is true of all culture across the globe and since time immemorial.

    The majority of people in the USA and Europe live in Urban spaces and only 3% to 10% of the people live in rural low density areas.
    In most places of Africa, Middle East, Asia and Latin America where the Industrial development has not taken place, many of the people are really rural in thinking and manner. They still love to talk loudly, make noise and blow the horn, maybe they are just celebrating life.
    Urban life is hectic and already filled with an excessive of visual, audio and other sensory inputs and city dwellers are looking to minimize these inputs and this includes sound/noise. On the other hand rural life is dull, boring, simple and lacking in any excitement most of the time. They fill the boredom with gossip, arguments, squabbling, and generally making more noise.

    They seek noise especially when they come to cities, and that is why they blow the horn just for the fun of it. Maybe they are merely celebrating being free and alive.

    On the other hand we have Indians have extremely sensitive egos. We think no end of ourselves and have oversize images of ourselves significantly greater than reality. If someone does appear to impede our path in even the remotest manner deserves to get a honk and a glare.

    What do you think?


  3. Brigaadier Gurinder Cheema said;

    Hello Gurvinderji,

    I always look forward to your blogs. A very informative and thought provoking article.

    One is in complete agreement with it and we need to educate people about it.

    I for one, drive 40 KMs to work everyday, without honking even once. My driver has been banned to blow the horn. Inspite of that, we take the same time to our destination.

    Wherever I go to deliver talks. At the end of my talk, I make it a point to request the audience to not to blow horn and stay cool on the roads, while driving. No rushing and me first attitude.

    We need to do our two pennies bit, wherever and whenever possible

    warm regards and God bless

    GPS Cheema

  4. SK Nayak said;

    Thanks Gurvinderji for four nice and educative articles.
    Pls keep on posting.



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