Of all the things I enjoy about being on the road, the signboards from BRO (Border Roads Organization) must come somewhere at the top. The BRO itself is one of my favourite organizations ever – they make travel seem so easy and comfortable in some of the highest, steepest and most dangerous roads of India. And in return, all they ask is that you stop for a moment and acknowledge their hard work, if only as silent thanks on particularly difficult stretches.
Now back to the signboards – quirky, funny, some downright inscrutable -these are to be seen on major roads all over India, one of the best examples being the Mumbai – Goa highway. However, on the hills, where the BRO is involved, these signs achieve another level of interestingness.
On long desolate stretches in say Sikkim or Ladakh, I often had nothing better (and I would have liked nothing more) than to watch out for and make note of these signboards. And recently, I found myself categorizing these signs (blame it on a long career in market research, this urge to classify and segment).
The most common ones are those that warn you against speeding: if married, then divorce speed. Or This is a highway, not a runway (and the scarier version – This is a highway, not a dieway!) The absolute winner though is, Darling, I like you but not so fast. Cheeky! And so completely unexpected.
Then there are the ones that caution against giving in to the lure of the er, curves – I am curvaceous, go slow – declares one in a spirit of complete abandon. Also take in On the bend, go slow, friend and Steady your nerves on these curves…
Drinking and driving do not mix is the other prominent theme – and they even have different slogans for different types of liquor, like so – after whisky, driving risky and drive on horsepower, not on rum power.
Most of these warnings are stern and stark, talking of accidents and death without any thought for the less brave drivers on the roads – If you sleep, your family will weep. In between, though these are fewer in numbers are the cheerful optimistic ones: Safety on the roads is safe tea at home. There is then the one that declares – Today is my No Accident day – or another version of it – Alert today, Alive tomorrow. Er, what about losing alertness for that short time it takes for the driver to read these signs – but hush!