November 27, 2006

Signs of Vidarbha

Notes from a recent trip in eastern Maharashtra.


Perfect Tutorials in Nagpur advertises that it will teach you both "Spoken English" and "Sub-English".

You know, I've always wanted to learn Sub-English. For those times I go travelling in subs.


Cybercafe in Nagpur has this sign up:
    For the safety of the nation please provide your name, full address, email id, phone number and your identity proff.
I did my duty. You should too.


Road west out of Nagpur heading for Amravati, there are plenty of car dealers. Plenty of Garden Family Restaurants -- essentially, these are patches of grass amid the usual roadside rubble, the grass overlaid with chairs and tables and an edifice of sorts. A cheery sign, or maybe not so cheery, saying: "Walk a mile, Have a smile, Jindal Public School". Several signs saying "Up the Hill, Full of Thrill, Highland Water Park." A sign announcing "Dilip Restaurant" (wanted to stop and claim ownership, but left that for another time). A truck ahead of us announces on its backside: "Save Rainwater, One Family One Child, Avoid AIDS".

And interspersed with all that there are plenty of shops with more patches of grass out front, selling -- of all things -- playground furniture. Meaning, swings and slides and intriguing things to climb on, in a cornucopia of colours.

What is it about this particular stretch of highway that made the playground furniture industry decide to locate outlet after outlet here?


Outside Bhandara as dusk sets in, we stop for a very late lunch at the Sri Laxmi Bar and Restaurant. Superb dal-fry and roti.

The sign outside with the name has two shapely women and a possibly shapely man, I don't know, all with their backs to the visitor and looking over their shoulders.

On the back of the man's T-shirt is this: "Happy Endings."

Oh sure.


The Bhandara lodge we stay in is comfortable and clean enough. To get up to our rooms we have to walk through what's labelled the "Smoke Jhone" but is really just the cramped space at the bottom of the stairs. Perhaps as a protest at this step-motherly treatment, I never see anyone smoking there.

Nearby is a beautifully printed sign titled "Room Tarrif". It lists what's on offer, and what's on offer are these:
    Singal Bed Attech
    Singal Bed Attech with T.v. cooler
    Doubble Bed Attech
    Doubble Bed Attech with T.v. cooler
    Luxury Doubble Bed Attech with T.v. cooler
    Tripple Bed
    Luxury Tripple Bed
    Commen Bed
Which of course raises the question, can con women ask for the Commen Bed? Or is it only for con men?

Oh, it's coMmen. Sorry.


Nearby is an excellent vegetarian restaurant where we go for breakfast. Right at the entrance is a stern sign in Hindi: Mobile phone par gaane bajana mana hai.

"It is forbidden to play songs on mobile phones."

One crisp morning as I am breakfasting, my phone starts playing "Mexican Hat Dance", which is its current ringtone. I answer my call guiltily, expecting to be hauled off to the police station at any second.


The now-infamous village of Kherlanji (really Khairlanji) village has numerous Marathi slogans painted on the sides of houses. Here's one: Mumbai Dillit aapla sarkar, aamchya gavaat amhich sarkar.

"Our Government is in Mumbai and Delhi, in our village we are the government."

I tried hard, believe me. But in Khairlanji, it is impossible not to feel irony in that line of Marathi.


Sidhusaaheb said...


(Painted on the back side of a truck carrying liquefied petroleum gas)

Anonymous said...

Sign in Brooklyn -

""Divorce for 299$, other party signature not required.""

Anonymous said...

it is a wot a. Jay maharashtra indeed.

Anonymous said...

< OT, some semblance of context in the mention of Khairlanji >

I do not wish to reopen the Priyanka photo debate; the photo didnt do much for me and if it helped others, well OK for them.

I was intensely moved though by this piece and think you may like it. Do read it. Its at: