Sunday, 1 September 2013

Going native

The weekend was mostly spend working on our final deliverables but we’ve made good progress and were in for a little treat yesterday as we were invited to an event celebrating 1 year of volunteering at Essar.

To honour the occasion we decided to wear some of the typical Indian clothes we had bought over the recent weeks. Paula & Katrin were even brave enough to wear their saris for the first time! Don't we look great?

Apparently, saris are very comfortable and our hosts were very impressed by the efforts we’d gone through. Funnily though, most of the guests had decided on “European clothes” (trousers, sweaters/shirts,..) for the evening as this is apparently considered most appropriate for company events :-)

Sadly, today’s planned volunteering activity was cancelled on short notice, so no pictures of me painting schools :-(

But instead I thought I’d show you some of the signs and advertisements we’ve seen during our time here:

In case you are wondering. bug problems here are not typically fixed by IT experts…
… and this book shop was indeed unique (I can’t comment on their books but have never seen a shop as full of books as this one in my life).

Every morning on our way to work we have to go through a toll road and they make it very clear what happens to your car, if you try to tailgate (or are too slow)… 

…most people (including our driver) have a particular liking for chewing tobacco and with it comes the very unattractive habit of spitting… it’s not allowed in most places but not even the signs are able to deter anyone it seems…

In general, people don't seem to take signs too serious (all of the bikes & cars/rikshas in the picture were stationary but maybe that's not considered parking?!)....

In case you are hoping to get a job as “sign-writer”, being able to actually write, does not seem to be a requirement…

(the sign is supposed to say “Horn please” which in itself I find quite interesting…). If you ever come to India, one of the most common noises you will hear is the sound of car or truck horns. They are everywhere!

Going to Essar for a 2 hour round trip each day we have in our time here learned to differentiate the various ways to sound the horn, so here is my “translation”:

  •  Two quick tut-tuts: “I’m overtaking you” (usually used while you are already well next to the vehicle you want to overtake… no difference in horn-sound could be detected whether you overtake on the right or left of the car in front of you…)
  • One long tuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut (angry): “No, you can NOT decide to change lane while I’m overtaking you…!!!!”
  • Multiple long “tuuuuuuts” (very angry): “Who do you think you are – this is MY lane; move!”
  • Three to four tut-tuts (medium length, friendly): “Holy cow; move out of the way please” (most cows do eventually react to this and will – very slowly – move to another part of the road…)
  • One quick tut (friendly): “Hello, nice to see you here” (used also as occasional unmotivated tut when the driver hasn’t been able to use the horn for a while – probably just to test if it still works…)

There are probably many more combinations and nuances, but I’m at beginner level only… Must ask our driver to explain in more detail…

And finally for signs in India – wheather you are able to read, does not seem to be a requirement for the person posting them…

This sign was up in front of our hotel and I think it took a good 3 days before it was replaced with another (non-upside down) version :-)

Hope you all have had a great weekend – next week will be busy for us with presentations and deliverables before we head back to Mumbai on Friday. Wish me luck!


  1. Your descriptions make me feel like i was back in India. Really nice to read... interesting, funny and honest.

    One more to add to your great horn dictionary:
    - constantly repeated long tuuuuuuuuuuut, tuuuuuuuuuuuut, tuuuuuuuuuuut (bored) : "i'm stuck in traffic. maybe if i constantly honk the horn all other vehicles will suddenly magically disappear." :)

  2. Awesome post. So true and so funny! Good luck with the presentation this week. Keith.

  3. Hope all goes well with the final presentations... maybe take a small cycle horn in with you, to keep their attention? I've really enjoyed your various posts and the humour within them, as well as how you have put across the more serious side to you all being out there.