Every object with more than one wheel has some mechanism for making a disproportionate amount of noise. It's mandatory. As per the instructions "Sound Horn OK" painted on each tailgate beween Shiva's third eye and garish but arresting flowers (and a slightly peculiar maxim I have yet to get to the bottom of, but apparently is a veiled reference to family planning - "We two ours one"). There is therefore stiff competition for the few molecules of sound-empty air space. Today, I contributed to the hullaballoo.
I went in search of some rickshaw hooters (in Tamil it would appear they are called peepi-peepis). It was really, considering the difficulty I had in trying to get someone, anyone, to understand about tin-openers, astonishingly easy to make myself understood. It could be something to do with the fact that there is a huge density of hooters per square metre - one indeed, a big Daddy Parper, was parked outside the first shop I asked in. Not knowing the word I needed was peepi-peepi, after a few futile minutes of me opening and closing my hand over an imaginary bulb and making farting noises being met with familiarly blank looks, I stepped neatly to one side and opened and closed my had over a real bulb and made real farting noises. The message was understood and I was directed to a shop was only a few metres away.
History will never reveal what the shopkeepers thought a white Englishwoman, who seemed inordinately amused by the sounds of the peepi-peepis, wanted with them. A new Rickshaw wallah on the scene perhaps.
The trip back through town was surprisingly unimpeded. A rickshaw came to a stop just in front of me and leant out to ask if I "wanted a ride, madam" He nearly jumped out of his skin with my reply. He had no horn to respond with. A man, not looking where he was going, nearly walked into me. There was no collision, but there may have been a ruptured eardrum.
Before I went back into the library, where I would have to curb my enthusiastic use for the peepi-peepi, I went to the tailor (of Innerwear fame) to buy some material. The One-Woman-sideshow-with-Peepi-peepi went down a storm and we spent a happy hour alternately chosing material and honking back at the traffic. Many passers-by did not know in which direction to jump. I can't wait to affix it to my bike and go cycling madly up and down the villages, parping at anyone and everyone. It's amazing how much entertainment you can get for just 50p.