Signs of the times

Every morning, I see this sign on Sion Trombay Road, on my way to work. It says:

“HELP! BMC TO CLEAN UP MUMBAI!”

In the spirit of GK Chesterton [He once wrote an essay about how much he found to amuse himself in a train compartment; a selection of his essays here], I have spent many days amusing myself trying to unravel the thought processes of the bloke that did the sign.

When he put the whole thing in quotes, for instance, was he discreetly dissociating himself from the whole thing? Was he saying, for instance: Look, the BMC says it is going to clean up Mumbai but you know that lot! In any case, don’t blame me, I only painted the damn sign?

Or take the question of exclamation marks — the sign has two of them.

Ignore the first, and concentrate on the second. Makes sense, no? The sign painter is amazed, totally, at the fact that the BMC, which has as its operating principle the fact that the best way to hide garbage is to dump more garbage on top of it, is finally cleaning things up. Whatdoyouknow, the guy is saying, BMC TO CLEAN UP MUMBAI GLORY HALLELUJAH

Now consider the first exclamation point — a cri de coeur if I ever heard one. Help!, the sign painter says — the BMC says its going to clean Mumbai… please, for pity’s sake, stop them before they do some permanent, lasting damage.

See what I mean? That sign alone has helped me forget the tedium of the morning commute on more days than I can count.

Forgot what I was trying to say when I got side-tracked into this ramble. Ah yes, signs.

Of the -It is not good to entertain women in your room. Please use lobby for the purpose — kind. Here, amuse yourself some more.

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