Horn (NOT) OK Please

19 March, 2016

Unfortunately as you can see here, it’s no longer OK to Horn Please in Mumbai.

The words Horn Please or Horn OK Please are very common on every shape and size of truck throughout India. The origin of why this is so ubiquitous is a mystery, nevertheless, it has been around for decades and is a major feature in the look and personality of a truck. In 2014 two nice books on India’s painted trucks were published, both creatively titled “Horn Please”, one by Dan Eckstein and the other by Pawan Jain Divya Jain. I can recommend them incase you aren’t able to come see these trucks for yourselves before they are gone. Alternatevely, there’s even a new documentary on Indian Truck art also called Horn Please.

You are probably already aware that India has a rich history (and still common use) of hand painted signs and lettering and trucks in particular are often adorned with bright colors, fancy lettering, and all sorts of decorations. But sign painters all over the country are being put out of business by modernity – faster and cheaper printing, and to some extent, wanting a more simple/precise/Western look. Last year the Maharashtra state government made a move against the tradition of truck art by banning the phrase “Horn Please”. Their motivation for this new law stemmed on the fact that everyone honks all the time when driving, and they believe that painting this phrase on trucks encourages even more excess noise.

“It gives licence to motorists to honk unnecessarily and there have been numerous complaints of excessive honking in silence zones such as near hospitals, schools and colleges. We have, therefore, decided to impose a ban on the use of this phrase,” said a senior official from the transport commissioner’s office, adding that it will also help reduce noise pollution.

via Economic Times

This new mandate hasn’t entirely caught on yet, but as of 2016 more and more trucks around Mumbai are beginning to cover up their lettering. The quickest and cheapest way is to simply put tape over the words, but some are taking the extra step and crudely painting over it. Very rarely is anyone taking this opportunity to redesign and repaint the back of their truck… But hopefully when it comes times to paint or repaint these vehicles there will still be interest to apply some creativity and personalize them, and they won’t just leave an empty hole where Horn OK Please was once written. I optimistically predict more “don’t be horny” and “India is Great” paintings to start appearing soon in Maharashtra.

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