This rather large and impressive Police sign appeared close to where I lived a few weeks before I left.
Apparently, there’d been a spate of ‘chain snatching’ and this was the way to clamp down on such dastardly behaviour.
And dastardly it is to steal a Hindu lady’s gold chain. Called a mangalsutra – the gold chain is one of the symbols of being married and was probably given to her on or around her wedding. Apparently it depends on the auspicious day exactly when it happens.
At the wedding there’s a knot tying ceremony that is the definitive ‘now you’re married’ moment. Much as there’s an exchange of rings in Christian weddings.
Hindu ladies can naturally be rather superstitious about these necklaces. And you don’t have to be especially sensitive to realise you’d be upset to have some rough type grab you by the neck and have it away with a potent symbol of your wedded life.
But never fear – the Police have some suggestions. Apart from sensibly paying better attention on the street and avoiding ‘attention diverters’ – they suggest keeping your valuables at the bank (which while good advice, is unlikely to happen to the emotion laden mangalsutra).
They also suggest you ‘leave your relatives in the house’. By which they mean, have your old mum sit in at home, or make sure there’s a cousin or other spare relative always indoors.
This, is a common enough thing with large joint families and it used to drive me mad.
There I’d be trying to explain to a delivery man on the phone that ‘no, he couldn’t deliver it now, as he was 5 hours earlier than expected and I was at work’.
He’d immediately go into ‘well I will deliver to your maid’
No, no maid.
‘Your mother? I deliver to your mother at home’
No, no mother.
‘No one is at home?’ He’d be incredulous by this point.
No. No one is at home.
As this was frankly a ridiculous concept in India and I was patently an idiot foreigner, we’d go round again for another repeat of ‘Your maid, I deliver to her’.
They’ve never believe it was possible that I was out and my house was actually empty. Because obviously, I’d have left my relatives in the house.
Now from this very sign, I realise that even the Police will tell you that’s a good plan.
Sigh. India, you never understood me.
This is part of Signage Sunday – have a look at these other signs from the series:
Or check out all the signs on the complete Signage Sunday page.
Found an ace sign? care to share – go on, slide it into the comments or send it to me in an email. I’d love to feature more signs from readers here…