How terminology varies is fascinating, always. Like, you call them signals, but in South Africa, they're known as robots. Just as well that somebody told me that ("Turn right at the second robot") before I ran into the word painted in large letters across the street. "Robot Ahead", now that might prove somewhat unsettling.
Just as fascinating is a word they use in Tamil Nadu. I've known them as roundabouts, and possibly there are other names too. In TN, the word is "roundana". I first heard it from the back of the car I was driving one evening, as part of the directions to where we were going ("Turn right at the next roundana"). The next morning, I saw it on a spiffy road sign, pointing to the said roundana.
Later discussion suggested that it comes from "round thana", though one spirited lady (you know who you are) put forward a case for "round turner". Either way, I like the evolved word. Nice ring to it (no pun intended), roundana.
Speaking of etymology and evolution, Chennai has a "Barber's Bridge", I learned on this trip. The story goes that when built in British times, it was called "Hamilton Bridge" after some engineer or official. Why is it called "Barber's" now?
Story goes too that Tamil-speakers pronounced "Hamilton" as something approximating "Ambilton", and that got corrupted to "ambattan", the Tamil word for "barber". And much later, some English-speaking official asked for a translation of this Tamil-sounding word, and thus did Barber's Bridge make its appearance.
All of which reminds me of how Panaji got transformed to Panjim (in particular, the pronunciation as "pan-gym"), and also how "Puduseri" mutated into "Pondicherry". Those stories, another time.
Then of course I must list the things I learned while travelling in an impossibly crowded bus to the railway station.
* A large wall of a school-building had these two words painted in giant blue letters: "Washing Water". I tried for a while to figure how you might wash water, then gave up.
* A nondescript building had this sign out front: "Garments Holdall Making Training Unit". I seriously considered alighting and signing up for the training course on the spot, but then realized my Rs 4 bus ticket would go waste.
* Truck on the side of the road had these words on the side: "Love Earth or Leave Earth". Kind of mildly apocalyptic.
* "Don't Take Eatables From Strangers They May Be Drugged." Enough said.
Wandering a college campus, I ran across a series of grey electrical junction boxes.
The first said: "BORN MAX (1882-1970) Founder of Quantum Theory in Physics."
The second said: "BOYLE ROBERT (1627-1691) Founder of Boyle's Law."
The third said: "ARCHIMEDES Founder of Archimedean Principle."
The fourth said: "THOMAS ALVA EDISON Inventor of the Incandescent Lamp and 1093 Discoveries."
Question: Where was I wandering?
Another railway station had enormous cutouts of a man in shirt and dhoti, with these words: "M Raghavaiah, GS NFIR and President, SRES. Our Hearty Welcome to Architect of VI CPC in Indian Railwaymen (payment of HPCA, NDA NHP MACI) and the only leader of all VI CPC anomalies should be rectified."
That's about as many acronyms as I can handle on a given day. Can someone explain to me what it all means?
The same station also had two large stone plaques set into the side of a building, commemorating the inauguration of the "stop pages" of certain trains.
I had no idea that stoppages of trains were marked by plaques. Learn something every day.
On the platform, waiting for my train, I found what I've been searching all my life for: the Crew Booking Lobby. I sneaked a peak inside. What do they do in crew booking lobbies, I wonder?
On a glass partition just inside the door I found some kind of answer: "Momentary Carelessness May Cause Valuable Lives."
Yup, I couldn't agree more.