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Indian Sign Stores

Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on May 28, 2009 2 Comments

This afternoon, I had occasion to visit some “sign stores” in a neighboring village in a New Delhi suburb. We needed stamp pads (it’s a long, dull, inconsequential, and utterly irrelevant story why), and so, this hot afternoon-it was around 104°F, with 25% humidity-we trekked over to the village. The “LADIES TOILET” (or, the “Ladies/महिला”/”Women” signs) and the “GENTS TOILET” signs competed for attention with the various “No Smoking/धुम्रपान निषेध” signs. There were the “स्वागतम” (welcome) signs, and the “Danger”/”TOLET” (to let)/”OFFICE” signs. There were multiple (booooooring) signs saying “RECEPTION,” and an exceptionally interesting one which said “RINSING” (a dentist’s request?). There was a sign which stated the “Opening” and “Closingh” [sic] times for an office, and a sign for a “Chocolate Section” (sign me up!). I go back to the village tomorrow to pick up the stamp pad, which must “soak up ink” for 12 hours, apparently. Requests?

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2 Responses to “Indian Sign Stores”

  1. daveski on: 28 May 2009 at 11:11 am

    I love sign shops! (who’d have guessed, right?) One thing that’s so great is all the juxtapositions as you imagine where these signs might end up, and what would happen if their neighbors in the shop accompanied them to their new destinations…. like “Toilet” and “Tool room” heh.

    (wait, does that say “TOLET”?)

    One of the very small details, something I remember reading in Scollon & Scollon’s Discourses in Place, is how signs with arrows fit into their environments, either as indexes (pointing the “right” direction) or as icons (where pointing’s all that matters). The green exit sign in the last photo you posted points to the right…is there a matching one that points to the right? or is it enough no matter where you are, in case of emergency, to just “run left”? 🙂

  2. Usree Bhattacharya on: 28 May 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Heh, nice to see all this frenetic activity on FIT all of a sudden: two comments and two new posts in one day! Awesome, knock me over with a feather already!

    Yeah, I figured you’d be interested…and yes, it DOES say “TOLET” and we’ve covered this question before on FIT, right, Y?

    I guessed that some of the stuff there is generic, and some not. I always thought you had to order signs pointing particular ways (at least in India); I didn’t think sign makers made them and it just worked out…you didn’t go in and pick up the one that pointed the right (heh) way, you ordered one made that pointed in the right direction. In smaller villages/towns for example, you have sign makers you can go to who’ll make the signs for you, since you don’t have access to the mass manufactured ones (actually, not just small towns and villages, this happens in Delhi and its suburbs too, as you see here). The variations in the “generic” ones (Women/Ladies etc, with and without accompanying images) here are also interesting…makes me think even those are not “generic” in any way, and maybe it’s an entirely inappropriate word. All the signs here are hand painted, Dave, so they’re made to order, I think. I’ll ask him about that left pointing exit sign, though I get that’s not your point. 🙂 Still.

    ps. It’s always exit left, I think. [Kids, get your information elsewhere.]

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