Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Signs of India and Other Observations

Whoo-Hah-Indeeeya. Whoo-Hah-Indeeeya.

Sorry. Had a fit of cricket fever there for a second. "Who-ha-who gives a crap?" would be more accurate.

Over the last two weeks, we have seen many fascinating things and learned so much about Indian life and culture. Do we know everything? Hardly. We've barely even scratched the surface.

One of the things that we have found interesting and amusing is the creative way that Indians use the English language. It appears that they have taken the English left by the British Raj and done what they do with everything: they've adapted it to their own uses. Grammar and usage rules seem to be as elastic as the sense of time and this makes for some intriguiging signage. To wit, this example on the front of the menu at the place Vicky and I stopped on our way to Agra.

Most of my examples you'll have to take my word for, as I often didn't have the camera ready as we sped past them. I promise I did not make them up.

A hospital in Kosi: "Able Hospital." If that doesn't inspire confidence...

On a sign advertising a tire store: "Used Imported Tyres. Throwaway Prizes." I'm not sure which is worse.

In the rear window of a number of cars seen on Delhi streets: "Competent." As opposed to?

On a road sign as we were leaving Delhi: "Lane driving is safe driving." Since you have at least two cars sharing a lane, there must be a LOT of safe drivers! We discovered a variation on the theme this morning, "Lane driving, sane driving." It's going to take more than that.

This, an advertisement for a travel agency, "Mahindra Travel: Clean Coaches, Marriages, Picnics" Apparently, marriage is no picnic.

Painted on the fences outside Ghandi International Airport: "Learn English. Spoken and Grammer." But not speling.

On a gasoline truck: "Higly In Flameable." Not much you can say to that!

This one is such a lovely illustration of how unimaginative we Americans can be. Our sign would read something like,"Please don't pick the flowers," or, "$1,000 fine for picking flowers." The groundskeepers at the Taj Mahal did this instead:

Sometimes, the signs are supreme examples of the obvious, as in the "Showroom Shifted" sign from an earlier post. This one was one of our favorites. From what we have seen (and heard) there isn't an Indian driver born who would need "Horn Please" as encouragement. Perhaps this is meant for foreign drivers.

This one puzzled us at first. The first time I saw it was on a gasoline truck (not the higly in flameable one). I couldn't figure out why you would need to use a dipper at night. Then, I saw it on a freight truck and I wondered how you would use a dipper on a sack of potatoes. So, I finally asked Dubayah and he explained that the dipper is what we would call the dimmer switch on our lights. It still doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but at least I know what it means.

Often, we saw both on the same truck, although, not always quite so straightforwardly (or festive). Many times, the sign read "Horn Use Dipper At Night Please."
This evening was the Gala Dinner, Drinks and Dancing in the Grand Ballroom of the Swasno Palace Hotel. The Grand Ballroom doubles as our classroom during the day. They brought in a dj and a lighted dance floor for the occasion. Let's just say that the normally reserved Sri Lankans aren't always what they seem and the guys were really having a good time on the dance floor. I have pictures of Les. 'Nuff said.

Tomorrow is Day 10 of training. All of us, trainees included are tired. One of the trainees turns around on Saturday and begins teaching New Tools.

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