Update: I have developed this into a series since. Here – https://whocopywrites.tumblr.com/.
Have you ever visited a public place like a tourist spot or a popular restaurant and noticed that the messages written for the public are riddled with errors? Have you wondered how they came to be? As in, who wrote them and on whose command? This post tries to understand the conversation behind such embarrassing texts. Grammatical mistakes, errors in diction, punctuation slips, and typography gaffes are the most common.
While your local cake shop may have wanted to advertise about an offer which provides their patrons with the option of buying two pastries and getting the third one at a hefty discount, the text more than often translates to “Buy II pastrees and GET 3 in 50% discount……….” Smart people can give a try at deciphering the meaning, but we are talking about the greater good here. To practice good English so that when times such as a national-level demonetisation move by an authoritarian government comes, you are prepared.
Following is a list of frequently updated examples of such textual blunders noticeable everywhere in India, be it your neighbourhood cafe or a UNESCO World Heritage site.
At Karachi Bakery, Secunderabad
Manager: Aye Sugu, have you printed today’s special offer?
Sugu: No, Sir. Had asked the new boy Kumaran to do it.
Manager: Has he done it? Did you tell him to focus on the buy 1, get 1 offer?
Sugu: Yes, Sir.
Manager: What about the T&C that the free one will be from our stale stock? No one should be able to read it.
Sugu: Yes, Sir. Here it is:
At Golconda Fort, Hyderabad
Manager: Saqib, I had told you to place that placard on the garden restricting foolish tourists from plucking flowers. Did you do it?
Ramu: Saqib has not come today, Sir. I have done it. I also thought about the poor leaves:
At Paradise Hotel, Secunderabad
Admin: Goddamn this demonetisation! Rizwan, take an A4 paper and write few sentences to warn our customers that we do not use the old 500 and 1000 denomination notes.
Mukesh: Sir, Rizwan is tending to a customer who is insisting that we accept the old notes.
Admin: Shit! You write it then! Mention about the government circular and use MS Paint to create some images. And bring me some biriyani.
Mukesh: The new waiter we hired yesterday has already done it, Sir. Although, he was telling me he was confused with upper- and lowercase letters. Have a look:
Secretary: Watchman, I don’t want that fish seller again in this society.
Watchman: Sir, but he is beckoned by our people only. He does not pay heed to my requests to stay out, and also deposits the dirty water inside.
Secretary: Bastard! Do one thing. Ask one of the painters working in Mehra’s flat to come and paint a warning on our gate that salesmen and outside vehicles are not allowed. I’m forever putting an end to this (smirks)
Watchman: As you say, Sir. But, we only have a problem with that lone fish seller, and that too because of Mrs Das. Plus, there is no space even for our vehicles inside.
Secretary: You do as I say, Babloo. Have you not seen other buildings use the text that goes, “Outside vehicles not allowed…”
Watchman Babloo: Yes, Sir. But, that fish seller is the only one…
Secretary: God damn it, Babloo. Do it! Ask the painter to keep that in mind.
Watchman Babloo: But, the fish seller does not know how to read English…
Secretary: (shouts) Babloo!
Suresh Prabhu: Now that we have bio toilets, we need placards to inform illiterate Indians how to use them.
IRCTC Admin: I have asked the boys to get in touch with an agency to create an instructions panel.
Suresh Prabhu: No need. Just ask your boys to make it at home, and also ask them to focus on “Eco-Friendly Bio Toilet”. They should all be in uppercase. Ignore the punctuation.
IRCTC Admin: LOL. They don’t even know what punctuation marks are.
Suresh Prabhu: Yeah, yeah. I’m getting late. Need to tweet about these toilets…