road signs

Toll Tales !

If there were any more objects of interest than the roads themselves, they are the toll booths.

They have been a subject of enormous interest and intense enchantment. For me, that is. Are you rubbing your eyes and wondering if my lunacy has had a fresh bout of energy infusement, well, indulge in me as you always do. Oh, I shudder at the plight of the world without kind readers like you who have progressed to the 4th line on such a topic of egregiously earth shattering importance like the toll booth.

For it is at a toll booth you catch glimpse of the moron who overtook you with such blinding speed that you really thought he was taxiing to take off to the Mars or someplace beyond. You catch the elderly grand mom kiss her sleeping grand daughter. And the grand dad looking away. I know what you are thinking here. No, I didn’t mean it that way. Whatever you were thinking.

It is also the place, where you see some strange acts performed with an intensity that bellies the seeming innocuousness of a toll booth. Like, picking their nose, brows furrowed in concentration that would befit a nuclear scientist on the verge of a mankind changing discovery.

Ofcourse, you would not be surprised to see those that would honk like there were virgins waiting in heaven for the loudest and most fervent honker ! If you are still not awakened completely, the attendants manning the toll booth wake you up in a jiffy.

Usually they talk to you from that elevated booth that somehow seems to you as though they are speaking from a distant star. Sometimes, there is paan stowed away and showing up as a lump in the cheek. By the time you comprehend and respond you realize that the line behind has grown at a pace that is faster than the birth rate in China and the honkers were having urgent apparitions of the virgins in heaven !

Ofcourse, then, that is the beginning. For the chap doesn’t have change for Rs.500 and you have nothing else but Rs.500/-. So there you are. Villain to a population on the highway with even the heavens hearing the noises !

All in all, the toll booth is such an interesting place !

In Kerala though, things are slightly different. First of all, Rs.7.50/- for a return journey is a fare that seems unbelievable. Especially to the wallet that grows lighter by Rs.150/- and more on trips to Pune. Rs.7.50/- ? That’s like a discount store selling off unsold stuff for free.

There are no high pedestals. The toll booth operators stand on the road. Ofcourse, it would take two lifetimes for you to pull out Rs.7.50 exactly. He comes in to help you.’ Give me Rs.10’ he says, not even bothering to look at you. As you hesitatingly fish out the Rs.10, wondering if you will get change in return, you get a small package in return!

The small package essentially is the balance of Rs.2.50/- packaged with the Toll Booth receipt !

Move on”. “Move on”.

In a jiffy the toll booth moves to your rear view mirror!

Ofcourse, you despair the opportunity of missing the other promised sights at the toll booth. But then, just to see that surprised smirk in the toll booth operator’s face, as he sees your expression change upon receiving the ‘packet’ from him….well, that’s priceless !

Mistakes or Right-takes !

A mistake may not be a mistake. Even though it may seem to a mistake. A mistaken mistake is more the mistake of the mis-taker than the mistake itself.

Phew. Thats about the distance that can be travelled on this blog to sound profound !

Coming back to the mistake domain, survey this signboard, seen somewhere in Tanjore.

How profound. Wouldn’t you think so ?

Speed breaks heads ! Reckless speed breaks many heads! The Superintendent of Police of Tanjore has better things to do than comming after you with his pet lathi and pocket revolver to split your head, when you exceed speed limits. This is pretty much a do-it-yourself excercise !

Or take this signboard from Lonavala.

Rickshaws these days with run the streets with colourful seats, hanging beads, and broken silencer pipes, that can roar down the Ferrari in all departments.

Throw in a fretting driver, who will haggle over the authenticity of the meter reading with a ferocity best otherwise seen of a screaming TV channel going after an insipid cricketer ! Add a dash of driving ( acrobatic ) skills that would have Schumacher and his tribe cowering in the bushes.

What would you have ? RickShow indeed ! 🙂

Or for that matter, sample this, found on every other wall in a fancy apartment complex where fancy heavy duty friends live. Every attempt has been made to let this blogger know that these are two different instructions on one piece of paper.


The complex is fully loaded. With four wheel drives, high profile designations and pockets that run deeper than the Pacific ocean ! And sometimes people with more jewellery on them than clothes. (The last part was an exaggeration, but you get the drift. Don’t you?)

Of course, there is not much of room for humour with the dour security chaps out here. With their stern looks, dry instruction and menacing walk, you must be out of your mind to spit and drive slow !

If you must spit, drive fast ! OK ?

Mistakes huh ?

Exempt !

I clicked this on the highway. A huge hoarding. Listing out all dignitaries that are exempted from paying toll on the highway.

Starting from the President of India ! Vice President of India. Ministers (only if they were in vehicles)….hmm ! The list was long. The hoarding was huge. But the cars on the lane closest to hoarding moved slowly, and i couldn’t see it fully.

This exemption from payment, amounts to a grand sum of Rs.38/- only. I am sure the President of India, the Vice-President of India, and those ministers in their vehicles will be pleased as sugar syrup, to get that exemption of Rs.38/- only.

And then, i think…Of course, its not about the money. Its the iconic status that such ‘positions’ mean to the national highway authority. Now, that sounds logical indeed.

If that’s the case, this list is incomplete without names of certain ‘global icons’ of the film industry. A film star is a global icon indeed. And if you are a Tamil film star, you are well on your way to becoming chief minister.

There is a fit case for the National Highways authority to put up another hoarding extending the exemption of the Rs.38/- toll, to other icons too.

No stoppage. No questioning. Not even a toll fee. That’s the least we can do. To global icons & other VIPs.

We then, will have a proud model to display to the rest of the world. As proof of how iconic our stars really are. Even on the highway. To the last Rs.38/-

I wonder how toll roads in distant places like Newark, Chicago, Toronto etc work. Any ideas ?

Now…Newark and other cities are just other cities that came to my mind. Just like that. This post, obviously has nothing to do with this ‘major news’ (thats been the only vaccine for the media against Swine Flu).

Or whatever else you are thinking.

Commonly Different

Notes that i pick up on the street usually have held my attention. Here is an earlier example! And here are a few more. Some messages stun you by all the power punch that they pack ! Others leave you squirming with all what they lack !

Whether they pack or lack, it gives me a strange pleasure to look at these messages, absorb and perhaps let go of a smirk. Or laughter. In disbelief / anger / joy / muted feeling etc etc.
I keep clicking pictures of them, and here are a few.

Now, these appear different to me ! The other day wife tole me, with a straight face and a serious undertone, the commonest of things appear different to you !’ I gave her a long hard gaze. And just as i was going to say something, she realised that she didn’t have to look further to understand ‘b-o-o-m-e-r-a-n-g’ !

So here are a few apparently common sights, that appear……slightly different to me. I leave it to you, the reader, to plough on. And may be chip in with what you think, i was thinking !!

Image : 1
Coin ‘problem’ !

Image 2 :
Message for the times that we live in ! Inadvertent, i presume

Clicked at Mahabaleshwar
Oct ’08

Image 3 :
Made in China extends to Thali now ! Hmm

Clicked at Mahabaleshwar
Oct ’08
Image 4 :
Ok. What say ?

Clicked at Mahabaleshwar
Oct ’08

Image 5:
Is this an ‘Upside Down View’ or
Is this what is called ‘Overview of the city?”

And if you are wondering…the picture is indeed attached correctly !

Clicked on Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg, Kanjurmarg,

Common ? Different ? Commonly different ? Differently common ?

What ?

Pray tell me..

Clicked at the Old Airport – Bangalore

It was a early Bangalore morning. We were checking out of the old airport. And then this signboard was there. A gentleman who was alongside me, was clearly puzzled. His discomfiture was obvious. He was from Germany as it turned out. And when he read, auto-assistance, his imagination went to a automatic vending machine type of police force !!

It took me a while to help him understand that the auto in question was not ‘auto-maticIVRS type ‘If you find a thief press 1, if you find a hijacker press 2…’ monotone, but an auto that moves on three wheels !


Clicked at Dindigul

I found this at a railway junction at Dindigul. ‘Non Vegetarian Tea Stall’. Please help me understand better, the finer contours of what a non-vegetarian tea stall could sell. A tea stall being non-vegetarian, and that too at a railway station..well, first time for me !

clicked at Basavanagudi – Bangalore

I am not sure if the monsoon was raining water as much as it seems to be raining men !! Well, too much too soon i guess ! For all those who hopped ‘Mansoon to Mansoon‘ too soon, well they sure thought one did need a recharge with talk time !!

Well, well well..How much more real can it get ?!?


clicked new Cantonment Station – Bangalore

This was the cherry o n the plum. Pray tell me, what is drive in a zigzag manner ! I am willing to bet my index finger, that this is ‘a one and only’ road sign.

What say ?