It’s not a particularly productive activity. But reading signboards on streets can be a rather amusing experience. For an observant eye, as I discovered, our streets are littered with signboards characterised by peculiar styles of writing, grammatical faux pas and errors; often inducing a smile or sometimes, even a faint chuckle. There are various kinds. For instance, some bloopers are easy to spot: like the popular eatery at Connaught Place that calls itself ‘Flavour’s of China’, while another one at Safdarjung Enclave reads ‘Its Greek to Me’. As Lynne Truss reminds us in Eats, Shoots and Leaves, punctuation does matter, even if it’s only occasionally a matter of life and death.
Other instances are chance encounters that could throw up a howler once in a while. Just the other day the electronic signboard near an NDMC parking lot read ‘Monthly ass available’. Another one I spotted somewhere near Janpath, asks motorists to ‘Pound About’. Considering the traffic chaos on our roads, many of them might as well heed the advice. Even autorickshaws displaying ads for dotcom services can sometimes throw up the most hilarious of bloopers. One advertised a ‘Gogle type Internet Service’, while the other was an ad for ‘RUPA’. The ‘R’ went missing and it read: UPA, yeh aaram ka mamla hai.
Inside the Delhi Metro, a signage says drinking and eating is not allowed. Only, this is placed next to the ad for safar ke humsafar potato wafers. But then, in the hustle-bustle of modern-day lives, seldom do we stop and stare, look at the eccentricities of life and discover its implicit humour. And when we do, even mundane actions like reading signboards do come in handy.