I don’t know if it is me but I have a thing for signs. Not the cosmic ones, not the traffic ones, not the historical ones either: I’m talking about the signs that are put up at restaurantsts or public spaces to either encourage or discourage people from doing something. Someday, I want to collect enough signs and write a book based on them. I fee that they are a wonderful indicator of people anywhere. Sign watching is a bit like people watching but without the people in it! They tell a story albeit a story that can be read in as many ways as you want. I have here some signs, which I thought were very entertaining and amusing.
Sign #1: NO SMOKING STRICTLY PROHIBITED
I saw this sign at a restaurant in Colaba, Mumbai behind the historic Taj mahal hotel, right next to the world-famous eatery Bade Miya. The hotel was a small one with white Formica topped tables and chairs, incredibly dirty walls, very warm and happy waiters in dirty khaki uniforms. One of them turned out to be a Bengali called Bishu. My cousin, with whom I went, was on a first-name basis with the waiters . It was raining when I went there. My cousin, who was showing me around town, and I ploughed through roti, fiery-red chicken, and chilly beef. I looked up in the middle of the meal and saw this sign on the wall. I was really tickled. Someone had tried to be really professional by using words like “prohibited” but had gone horribly wrong in their enthusiasm. The meaning is simply “Please don’t smoke” but comes out sounding exactly the opposite!
Sign #2: NO FOOD WILL BE SERVED TO AN OVERDRUNKEN PERSON
Another sign at the same establishment. I almost doubled over when I saw this one. I’m not sure what an “over drunken person” is but I think I have a fair idea. Sometime during their restauranting business experience some “over drunken person” would have walked out without paying anything. And that would have led to this sign being put up. However, I still have one question: does this sign mean that food will be served to a “drunken person?”
Sign #3: NO COMBING
A sign above a washbasin in a restaurant on the ECR, Chennai. I was quite puzzled when I spotted it at first. What could possibly have prompted anyone to put up a sign like this? Then it hit me: Oh! People comb their hair in front of their mirror leading to hair falling into washbasin and clogging it up. This could possibly be because the ECR Road is considered (as a friend pointed out) Chennai’s equivalent of “Lover’s Lane.” I did spy a rather shy couple at the restaurant, come to think of it.
Sign #4: LIQUID NOT ALLOWED
A sign at Food Village on the ECR again. As usual I was stumped! Liquid? Do they mean like water? Of course not! What they meant was “No drinking inside the restaurant!” Phew!
Sign #5: MILK NOT FOR SALE
At a Pizza Hut outlet on R.K Salai, Chennai. I was at a Pizza outlet! Who on earth would ask for milk there? But it looks like something like that did happen. Or the sign wouldn’t have been put up there! Would some parents have asked for milk? Eve so, why would anyone think that milk is for sale at Pizza Hut? And the other side of the question- why is milk “not for sale?” Does that mean that if ask for milk, I’ll get it without having to pay for it? I’m still a bit perplexed!
That’s all for now. If I find any more such signs, I’ll definetly post them.