I Saw the Sign

(Yeah, that’s right… there’s a little Ace of Base reference in the title of this post to brighten your day. What can I say? I watched a lot of MTV in the early 1990’s. You’re welcome.)

Signage is everywhere in Kathmandu, ever-present and inescapable. But if you take the time to really look, instead of letting it fly past your eyes in a blur, it can be a truly interesting (and entertaining) cultural experience.

There are signs that are simply ubiquitous – it’s hard to walk one block without seeing one of them. Like the Sexy Coca-Cola Girl selling sugar-water… IMG_5150 … who, in terms of sheer quantity of signs, is beating out her doppelganger, the Sexy Pepsi Girl… IMG_4959 (Poor Pepsi. What’s the joke? Their slogan should really be: “Is Pepsi okay instead?” That’s what people say in the States and it seems to hold true here in Nepal, as well.) And of course, while discussing ubiquity, I have to mention the NCELL signs… IMG_2128NCELL is a cell network here, and they have a huge presence in Kathmandu (think Verizon in the States). A friend of mine wrote me an email to give me directions to a paper shop, and what she said pretty much sums up the situation with NCELL signs here in Nepal’s capital city: “I remember walking down that road with the statue behind me, and on my left were two shops with identical NCELL signboards, and there I’d turn right… Of course, finding those NCELL signs is probably like me saying, ‘the key is under that cloud.'” How true, my friend. How true, indeed…

“Happy Communication!”

And then there’s the category of signs that I like just because I find their simple graphics charming…

IMG_0432       IMG_0296 IMG_0198 IMG_2166 And there’s the hand-painted signage, which I adore… IMG_0305 IMG_3254 IMG_3571 IMG_4654 IMG_0477 I have an extra special place in my heart for the hand-painted beauty parlor signs that can be found all over the city. I’m currently brainstorming how I can buy one and get it back to the States without spending a fortunate on shipping/airline baggage fees (most of them are painted on sheets of metal). I mean, how amazing are these ladies!? IMG_2532 IMG_1144 IMG_2215 IMG_2146(Check out this blog post from 2012 to see more of these great beauty parlor signs.)

There are other barber-shop/beauty parlor signs that lack the presence of these lovely ladies, but they’re still great in their own way… IMG_1526 IMG_1345 IMG_4655 IMG_2536

Very Very Sexy

Very Very Sexy!

IMG_2237 And an entire category of signs that I somehow missed the last time I was here – signs for dentists. Wow. I mean… boy, are they special… IMG_2432 IMG_2438 IMG_2405 IMG_2435

(And there's that Sexy Coca Cola Girl again!)

(And there’s that Sexy Coca Cola Girl again!)

And then, of course, there’s the unlicensed use of images of Western celebrities on signs – those are always fun…

None other than Ms. B. Spears, of course...

None other than Ms. B. Spears herself…

I'm sure Leo and Kate are totally cool with this...

I’m sure Leo and Kate are totally cool with this…

And my personal favorite... what's clearly a paparazzi shot of Reese Witherspoon that you'd find in US magazine or some other similar rag, used to sell upscale handbags. Excellent.

And my personal favorite… what’s clearly a paparazzi shot of Reese Witherspoon that you’d find in US magazine or some other rag, used to sell upscale handbags. Brilliant.

Some signs have me chuckling less because of the sign itself, and more because of the environment in which it’s placed. Juxtaposition will get ya every time…

I bet these sophisticated gents go to

I bet these sophisticated gents go to “Wings Burger n Cafe” all the time – seems like exactly they’re kind of place… (Also, note the Burger King logo rip-off – a close cousin to the unlicensed use of celebrities sign category).

Beautiful and spiritual mandalas... and umm.... burgers. Yup. That seems about right...

Beautiful, spiritual mandalas and… umm… burgers and pizzas and stuff. Yup. That seems about right.

“Discover the real you” – yes, because so many folks in Kathmandu are American cowboys deep down inside.

Bathrooms sometimes come with cute (and strange) signage… IMG_5811                         IMG_5809 IMG_3234 IMG_3235 And of course… the use of the English language can get pretty hilarious on some signs. It’s not my intention to be cruel or poke fun at my friends who speak English as their second (or third or fourth) language – the English speakers here speak English 100 billion times better than I speak Nepali! BUT it would be dishonest of me to say that the little mistakes and strange usages of English I find on some signs don’t make me chuckle from time to time. It’s like when people giggle at me as I butcher the Nepali language on a daily basis – native speakers find it amusing to see their language used so …well… creatively.

I love how

I love how “shirt” and “suit” are verbs here…

“Feeling Jungle in the City”… aaawww…. yeeeaaah!

Eh. It's PROBABLY the best beer. But we don't want to make any promises.

Meh. It’s PROBABLY the best Nepalese beer. But we don’t want to make any promises.

I guess what's

I guess what’s “exotic” all depends on your perspective, now doesn’t it?

Oh good. Because there's nothing worse than a long-winded institutional academy.

Oh good. Because there’s nothing worse than a long-winded institutional academy.

Speaking of being concise, these guys have got it down… IMG_2580 IMG_2056 IMG_2284 And then there’s the signage that I like… just because. IMG_2782 IMG_5330 IMG_0482

The Ideal School is next to ideal parking. How convenient!

Oh look, honey! The Ideal School is next to ideal parking. How convenient!

Mommy, why is Mickey's face melting?

Mommy, why is Mickey’s face melting?

IMG_0289

10 thoughts on “I Saw the Sign

  1. I see you in these selections.
    I don’t know which one is my favorite… perhaps the scary denture for the dentist and the ‘peace lane’
    Great eye, chica!

  2. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your amazing display of signage which, in itself, is a great piece of art! That art form has always been a favorite of Rick’s. and mine. Enjoying your blogs, The other Aunt “B”.

  3. Pingback: Welcome to Hotel Japan | Home is Where the Hair Is

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