Hidden signs

Of the many warning signs I had come across, two concerning animals amuse me the most. ‘Stray cattle not allowed’ is one. Can a footloose cow or a sedentary buffalo  seeking fresh pastures read such warnings? Inexplicable.

Another I saw was in London Heathrow airport which warned ‘Dogs not allowed.’ Significantly, this was placed one and a half feet above the floor level, ostensibly for shorties like poodles or Chihuahua to read without craning their necks. May be dogs are literate in London.

Talking of dogs, the Chennai sign on a wall that ‘Dogs can urinate here’ to shame the  gentlemen having the urge to relieve themselves irrespective of the environs, is another animal related gem.  However, this warning strongly smelling of irony, aims to curb the bladder incontinent human male from seeking instant gratification, but permits dogs to take advantage of such  convenience, though the fastidious canines may not oblige if there is no lamp post around.

‘Keep off the grass. And this applies to you’ screams another at the fringe of a well-maintained lawn at a public place. The rider that  ‘this applies to you’ is fraught with immense psychological significance. Any warning, however well-meaning and universal   may be construed as meant for others and not to the person reading it, who is by default exempt.

Even a protruding bulging wallet may fail to tempt a nimble fingered gentleman of the thieving fraternity, but the sign ‘Wet Paint’  would call for the utmost mental restraint of even a strong willed person from checking the veracity of such a declaration.

Though a blob of the sticky paint his finger would collect should  make him look like a silly ass, he would feel flattered that he needed incontrovertible proof and he got it. Period.
Not all traffic cops have itching palms that require periodic application of  grease.

Some even have a sense of humour . A friend of mine who took a 45 degree left turn at a traffic signal in Mylapore was flagged down by a portly sergeant looking every inch a comic character given to sparkling witticisms.

As he started writing elaborately the challan for the fine, my friend, unwilling to part with one hundred rupees, tried to appeal to be excused as  he failed to notice the obliterated sign ‘No free left turn.’

The sergeant collecting the amount, said now ‘you will always remember the left turn here is not free.’

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