2013-10-16

Captions on Indian trucks - an unexpected lesson

Several years ago, when I lived in Bengaluru, my company's offices used to be in Electronics City (for a few years). Owing to the distance and the disgusting volume of traffic, I used to leave for the office rather early, around 07:00.

In those early hours, long-distance trucks were permitted to travel through the city. As I overtook them, I used to read the captions written on those trucks. A particular caption was very, very common on trucks coming from the North: ``burI nazar vAlE, tErA muH kAlA" (roughly ``oh you who cast an evil eye on me, your face shall become blackened").

After a while, I grew so familiar with it, that I usually read only the first word before turning my attention to the next truck.

On a particular day, I had this truck right ahead of me, when we stopped at a traffic signal. The caption began with the usual ``burI", and I almost turned in another direction, but something pulled my attention back. The caption read: ``burI nazar vAlE, tErA bhI bhalA hO" (roughly ``oh you who cast an evil eye on me, I wish you well in spite of that").

I was stunned! It took me a while to digest that. Am I equal to that spirit? I don't think so. Nonetheless, it has had a rather mysterious affect on my thinking!

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