The city is being prettified these days for the Commonwealth Youth Games. There are shiny new signposts on roads, there are reflective cat’s eyes being pasted at regular intervals so people can see where the road ends at night, and the stripes are being repainted every which way.
Which is all a bit sad, really. This drive to show people that we look good, when, for the rest of the year, they can see that we don’t. We’re not the kind of country where people don’t know what we don’t tell them. Everyone with reasonably clear eyesight sees us as we are. It’s a bit like a chronic drunk suiting up for a wedding party. The clothes might be clean, but the reddened eyes with bags under them and the belly poking out between shirt buttons tell the story.
Some of it is mildly heartening in a sad way. Not all of the new shiny signposts are bilingual, you see. Some of them are written only in Marathi. Which, while unfair, may imply that not all of it is being done for the visitors – some of it is for us. On the other hand, it might just be that somebody in the department plain forgot, or perhaps thought that the money kept aside for the English part of the sign might be put to better use lining his/her own pocket.
I went to More the other day, as I sometimes do – mainly because they seem to have lots of useful and useless stuff side by side, which makes pointless shopping easy on the shopper – and I realised they had this odd security check which stank of bureaucratic ineptitude to me.
I did my shopping and came out and reached the security counter (this is the place where you have to put your bags before you go into the store). The guy at the counter there asked me for my bill (and, get this, not for the bag of shopping). He then stamped the bill (without checking it) with a ‘Delivered’ stamp, and gave it back to me.
I am, obviously, at a complete loss to understand what happened. And the same happens in stores all over the city. Is it a holdover from an original plan where the counter was situated inside the store? Is it actually supposed to be a longer process, involving him checking my shopping, but somewhere along the way, the actual relevant step got eliminated? Or is it simply supposed to be a customer mindfuck conspiracy within More? I think I actually like that last idea.
A sidenote – I was reading the Discworld Companion last night, and came across this:
Pratchett: … I’m mildly optimistic about Maurice, though, because one guy in Hollywood said ‘no one will want to see a movie about a bunch of rats’. That has the feel of a phrase that he’ll one day regret. You know, like ‘no one will want to see a movie where the ship sinks at the end’.