Posts Tagged ‘India’

Road Sense 101: Road Signs and What They Really Mean


Have a problem perceiving things the right way? Does your mind tell you to do the complete opposite of what you’re told to do? Well worry not then, ‘coz you’re one among the millions of Indians who suffer from the precise same problem and don’t even know about it. A brilliant place to find these geniuses at work is on our very own Indian roads. Highways, main streets, crossroads, level crossings, flyovers, gullies and where not, you’ll always find one of your kind. And that’s uniquely Indian.

Road signs. Meant to guide the driver and to effectively manage traffic without the actual need of a human. More often than not though, Indian drivers mysteriously perceive these road signs as completely different instructions. Let’s have a look at some examples:

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Really Means: Straight prohibited or No Entry

Perceived Meaning: Drive right through, we’ve been expecting you.

Also Perceived as: What? A challenge? I’m going in.

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Really Means: One way sign

Perceived Meaning: See if you can dodge oncoming traffic and wedge your way through. Don’t worry, as long as you’ve got change in your wallet we’ll handle the police.

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Really Means: Pedestrians prohibited

Perceived Meaning: The world is your oyster and nothing’s out of bounds for you! Please feel free to use the street for all purposes that you may require it for. Littering will be appreciated.


Really Means: Left turn prohibited (Another variant is the Right turn prohibited sign)

Perceived Meaning: Free left turn at all times. Do watch out for competing traffic though and do NOT let those bastards past you.

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Really Means: U-Turn prohibited

Perceived Meaning: Don’t take this seriously. It’s an inverted U after all.

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Really Means: Overtaking Prohibited

Perceived Meaning: In case the vehicle ahead is slowing your highness down, mow down the prick and/or make a rude gesture while overtaking him from any direction of your choice.

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Really Means: Horns prohibited

Perceived Meaning: Pump up the volume, pump up the volume!


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Really Means: No Parking

Perceived Meaning: Look around. Do you see anyone else parking here? Yes? Alright go ahead. No? Alright go ahead.

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Really Means: Speed Limit 50 km/h

Perceived Meaning: Don’t drive like a freaking 50 year old. Hit the pedal!

Also Perceived as: Driving below 50 km/h will prove beyond a doubt that you’re a pussy.

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Really Means: Stop
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Perceived Meaning: Random red octagon trying to spoil my driving experience.
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Really Means: Give Way
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Perceived Meaning: Drive defensively taking the inside line. Evade any attempts of tailgating by swearing loudly.
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Really Means: Pedestrian crossing
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Perceived Meaning: Pedestrian challenge ahead. Dodge as many possible for extra points.
Also Perceived as: Zebra crossing is for sissies!
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Really Means: School ahead
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Perceived Meaning: School challenge ahead. Hang around for hot teachers. Make toddlers cry for bonus points.
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Really Means: Cross road
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Perceived Meaning: Cross over to the other side before people from the other three directions get the same idea. Ignore all red lights at all costs.
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Really Means: Gap in median
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Perceived Meaning: Gap too far ahead! Must make my own gap in the median here. Proceed to cut across the median and over to the other side. Act macho afterwards.
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Really Means: Roundabout
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Perceived Meaning: Driving in circles was never productive. Navigate through the traffic in a perfectly straight line.
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Really Means: Barrier ahead
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Perceived Meaning: Barrier to your successful attempt at flouting the rules ahead. Unmount the vehicle and proceed by ducking under the obstruction for a full standing ovation.
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Another name for this post could be Sarcasm 101, as I’ve been told. But you’ve got to admit the fact that some of these made you chuckle (at least some?). If they didn’t then you’re one of the people I’m taking a piss at here (if you’re not, feel free to check out possibly funnier posts on the blog)

10 Perceptions of the Indian Kind


Just a few days away from India’s independence, we witness changes that have sporadically evolved throughout these years. Changes that have been truly dynamic and changes that have definitely shaped the society that we live in today.

We might have evolved socially, economically and are definitely much more tougher inside than we were 63 years ago. But some things still remain as they were.  We apparently forgot to go beyond the full-stop a couple of times. I have compiled a list of 10 such instances. Hope that you agree and inform us of several more.

So here are the top 10 uncanny Perceptions of the Indian Kind.

1) That all Sardars hail from Punjab.
2) That only white-skinned people are foreigners.
3) That Onion and Garlic fall under the category of Non-vegetarian food.
4) That the character of the groom is judged by his educational qualification prior marriage.
5) That heavy discounts put on some products cannot make the product inferior.
6) That the beauty of a place  is judged by the number of tourist spots located there.
7) That the number of children borne is seen as more of a hobby.
8) That one must possess certain electronic equipment despite having any requirement.
9) That the national anthem might just be Vande Mataram.
10) That the end of all education leads to an engineering or a medical college.
I sincerely hope that we can definitely get over these in the next couple of years. Claim as you  strongly might, these social stigma or utter carelessness are much prevalent in our society today.
Jai Hind!  Jai Bharat!

Independent India?


As this pundit blogs this post, I merely reminisce the long years ago when we made a tryst with destiny- the destiny which Nehru pompously talked of as he declared India independent at the stroke of midnight hour. The days of yore when our forefathers were unshackled from the tyranny of opression. The days of yore when Economic and Social freedom was just within our grasp.

But at the theshhold of our 63rd year of independece, I merely remark – Have we really made a tryst with THAT Destiny? A country plagued by anomalies aboud. A country whose every single process is asymbiotic in nature. A country where the celebration of the flag hoisiting is limited to sardonic speeches, the tempestuous yawns behind the same speaker and the oppotunity for the commoner to rejoice at a very rare paid holiday!

It is remarkable to perceive that our country has more liquor stores that it has primary schools. That drunkards force children out of schools, to enact the role of  wage-earners, merely  to meet their devilish desires – is a shame. That the babus distribute liquor bottles to attract crowds to rallies rather than food and clothing, is an even greater shame.

The Fundamental Rights promised to us  by Part III of out constitution is still a very distant dream. Where is the Right to freedom from exploitation, when realtors, in tow with the petty administration, forcibly evict the downtrodden from their homes overnight? Where is the right to equality when you make reservations to government positions on the basis of caste alone?

All roads in this great nation of ours lead to the footsteps and bank accounts of the top brass alone. Once the common man is sucked into this immaculate vortex, it is seemingly inconceivable for him to return unscathed. A very limited number of honorary men own this nation, whose apparent honorary duty is to bestow these powers to their even more honorary offspring.

At that stroke of midnight hour, our country was gaining freedom from the shackles of a nuclearized nation, integrating itself for the tough roads ahead. Have we fallen back into those days of derision where states are manufactured merely at the behest of sectarian desires? The political leaders of our country are everything but Jan-Sevaks. The are more of Rashtriya Swayam Sevaks(National self-workers), interested in meeting their own devilish needs. Shakespeare once quote in one of his works – “Oh Judgement thou art fled to brutish beassts, and men have lost their reason.’ Judgement has truly gone to the dogs – leaving us , the commoners gaping cluelessly for answers.

Jai Hind!

Jai Bharat!

Culture Capers


The Curious Case of the South Indian Thali


It’s 7 am on a lazy Sunday morning. The scent of the early morning mist still lingers in the air as the local newspaper boy does his rounds of the colony on his battered yet endearing bicycle. Distant echoes of street hawkers selling vegetables ring in my ear, but in some way I find it strangely soothing. With last night’s sumptuous meal long digested, my stomach growls as though warning me of a being that has been left unfed. The warm cozy mattress calls out to me like a lost child to its parent. Torn between my desire for sweet slumber and a hot breakfast, I shake myself to consciousness and make an early morning walk to the nearby South Indian restaurant.

Not halfway to the place,  I find the aroma of various delicacies filling my senses as I force my way forward with large strides that would make a soldier proud. I take my usual place at the ratty table on the corner of the rustic yet appealing dining area. Like bees to honey, I find that a bunch of people have now swarmed the place, with intentions very similar to mine. I find it hard to concentrate on the haphazardly prepared menu whose half crumpled portions have been religiously joined time and time again after various careful alterations to the prices. Not minding the utter confusion on that piece of paper, I look at the half disinterested face of the waiter and ask for the South Indian Breakfast Thali. For those of you non-Indians who haven’t heard of the term or those of you Indians who’ve probably been living all their life in a remote cave, a South Indian Thali is a blend of famous South Indian dishes served in a round plate (Thali) with limited attention given to your ability to maneuver over and across them. Astutely designed mini containers line the edge of the stainless steel plate and contain a variety of delightfully rich curries that one would take ages to fully discover and decrypt. A pint sized collection of starters, a main course and dessert are hurriedly assembled together with consummate ease.

I anxiously wait at my table, all the while consoling that beast inside me that now demands evasive action. I can’t help but notice the synchronized orchestra of movements all around me as waiters meticulously carry mouth watering delicacies to the prospective customers. How they nonchalantly appear to carry a humanly impossible number of tumblers and cups of hot tea totally bewilder me. They seem to speak an ancient and extinct language of gestures and hardly plausible, abbreviated sentences with grace and aplomb. Everything seems to be in perfect symmetry in the middle of total randomness as there exists an invisible telepathic network between the various departments of this little production line. The conveyor belt seems to churn out an unending line of well refined products as the demand for them steadily increases through the day. A small wonder in todays age of electronic engagement, yet a wonder to be marveled upon nonetheless.

A Traditional South Indian Vegetarian Lunch Thali

At long last the object of my desire seems to appear over the horizon as the waiter approaches my table with a steaming hot Thali carefully balanced on his superhuman palm. The ever familiar sight greets me as I plan to navigate through the crowd of exotic South Indian treats laid out in front of me. I dig into the traditional “Masala Dosa”, and like a man on a mission I move on with a determination that I hope will quieten the now whimpering beast in me. A few minutes later,  I have accomplished my task as only unrecognizable shards of my indulgence remain on the plate. I finish off the formalities that follow any Indian meal as I sip on a hot cup of tea and ponder over my plans for the predictably uneventful weekend.

As I make my way back to my extraordinarily ordinary life, I admire the beauty of Indian cuisine, the love of which is probably my only claim to being an ethnic Indian. And as the road takes a bend to the right, I have a final glance at the modern day sanctuary of proud South Indians whose food, just like their hospitality, leaves everyone supremely content and longing for more.

The Hypocrisy Of Democracy


In what is widely being regarded as a landmark decision in India, the Supreme Court declared live-in relationships and premarital sex between consenting adults as fully within the law and legal. This comes after the actress Khushboo’s controversial statement where she said that, “No educated man would expect his [bride] to be a virgin”. “Please tell us what is the offence and under which section should she be charged? Tell me how many people have been affected by Kushboo’s statement?” asked Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan. In a single unresearched statement the actress has questioned the morality of women of India, thats what’s wrong Mr. Chief Justice. And this coming from the very people who have the unwritten job of upholding India’s identity.

Former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court and BJP MP Rama Jois today said Indian scriptures bar premarital sex and Indian society still consider pre-marital sexual relationship not good. Quoting from scriptures, he said one of the nine directives of dhrama prescribed by Mahabharata was “Prajanseveshu dareshu” one should procure children only under wedlock which by necessary implication bars pre-marital sexual activity between man and woman, he said. In a predominantly religious state like India, where does the Supreme Court’s decision stand? Isn’t it just loosely based upon miming the West? Let me not even go into the health issues such practices can create. In a country where HIV has affected more people than in any other country, this new decision doesn’t help the cause. An estimated 19 million people a year in the U.S. become infected with some form of STD. Are we ready to face this in India? Will we handle it better than the US?

In a country where we harp about our cultures and traditions, this decision is a rude awakening call. With India opening to the West both technologically and culturally, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the Supreme Court decides that we (the youth) should be mentally open to such “radical” ideas. Bravo to the judiciary system of India for trampling over what few moral values we have left in this “progressing” country of ours. Forget the need to educate the masses, to alleviate the poverty-stricken, to stand for what India truly represents; our honorable Supreme Court doesn’t mind corrupting the young minds of the nation towards the ideologies of the so called “advanced” West. Let us remember that it is the same country which had introduced the ban on bar dancers in Mumbai not long ago. Call me orthodox or conservative, but to me the need to accept the Western ideas while retaining our Indian identity is of primary importance. Now cynics may say that when we have accepted Western music, food, fashion, why do we a draw a line when it comes to this issue? The simple reason is that while our varied culture has allowed integration of a lot of Western practices, there are still some that are simply incompatible with it. Why don’t we go ahead and allow strip clubs to run here in India? It’s a western idea isn’t it? How about gay bars? The recently legalized gay community in India may soon make a demand for them under the right to freedom of assembly. Will the Supreme Court deny them that on moral grounds then? Why then do we cringe about these ideas when we’re open to all other western practices? Aren’t we being hypocritical?

“Marriage is an outdated institution with no security. A true relationship is devoid of social and personal pressures. It has less emotional breakdowns, but it comes with responsibilities,” says filmmaker Vikram Bhatt, who was in a live-in relationship with actress Ameesha Patel. A quick look at the readily available statistics reveal that 46% of all marriages in the US, the biggest proponent of live-in relationships and premarital sex, end in divorces. Where then does it leave Mr. Bhatts statement?

“Who is anybody to judge if two people want to stay together?”  asks Pooja Bedi, but goes on to add, “A live-in requires serious commitment. And now with the Supreme Court backing it, it is no longer frivolous”. By saying this does she mean that unless someone declares a practice frivolous, we are to continue doing it without restrictions?

On a different note, lets take a look at democracy in Europe. We must have all read about the French president Sarkozy’s promise to ban the veil in France. “The full veil is contrary to the dignity of women,” he says.  He has blissfully ignored the sentiments of the women, both religious and moral. Ask a woman why she wears a veil and she’ll tell you that it is to protect her dignity. The law does more harm than good. It instills the feeling of victimization among the Muslim fraternity. Mr.Sarkozy’s statement is a paradox then, isn’t it? Are we to accept France as a democracy then? A democracy which doesn’t allow its people to wear what they want freely without questioning them? How would the Indian public feel if the government banned bikinis in India? Isn’t a bikini “contrary to the dignity of women”?

Switzerland has recently banned the construction of Minarets stating that “Swiss residents should be able to block unwanted and unusual projects such as the erection of Islamic minarets”. Another puzzling decision taken in a democracy. Why shouldn’t a people be allowed to construct symbols of their faith? Does the construction of minarets harm anybody? Why then discriminate and victimize your citizens who are after all only demanding freedom of expression of their faith?

This is the hypocrisy of Democracy.

It’s about time we stop blowing the trumpet of Freedom and Democracy, because not only do we seem to be ill equipped to uphold the true spirit of Democracy, we are also engaged, knowingly or unknowingly, in advocating and encouraging an intolerant society which has tuned its back on its cultural and moral roots.