World Sign
Vol. 49: India’s Astonishing Signs

Japanese people who travel to India can be divided into two types, those who vow never to go back again and those who become totally addicted to the country. These two extreme reactions indicate the extent of the culture shock felt by travelers to India, a country that totally overturns our commonly held ideas and conceptions.

In Indian cities one sees cows and other animals such as donkeys, goats and pigs wandering freely around the streets without the slightest heed for the crowds of people and vehicles. In Jaipur, even the wild monkeys are residents of the city. The fact that animals seem to enjoy virtually the same rights as human beings makes one sense the generosity and tolerance of the Indian people. Indian urban environments are quite astonishing combinations of cities and zoos.

Outdoor signs are also absolutely astounding, far exceeding what is regarded as normal in other civilized countries. What we see here might be described as tree signs and fan signs.

The tree sign involves attaching a kind of Christmas tree to a telegraph pole to astonishing effect. As you can see, the fan sign is an outdoor sign that looks just like a fan. These are designs one could expect to see nowhere but in an outgoing and uninhibited country such as India. One gets the impression that everything one has always taken for granted is being completely undermined.

1998 Copyright (c) All Japan Neon-Sign Association