We always enjoy signs when we are traveling. In other countries, you often see signs in English that are unintentionally humorous (and I’m sure speakers of other tongues get some great laughs at how we misuse their languages in the U.S.). Many signs in India are in English, since it is one of the official languages. Though completely understandable to us in most cases, there are definite stylistic differences in how Indians use the language, which are often charming and sometimes hilarious. In addition, there is a delightful flexibility of spelling, particularly found in words that are transliterated from Hindi or one of the myriad other Indian languages.

All this is enough to keep Dan and me well entertained, but there’s an additional wrinkle that made them like catnip for me: many are hand painted. This includes older, fading signs and billboards, which appeal to me anywhere, and also brand new signage. It is still commonplace for shop signs, restaurant menus, and roadside wall advertisements to be painted by hand. We really noticed this in the long lines of crisp, newly painted advertising murals we saw when driving along country roads. These were often for construction materials like cement and plywood, and would repeat four or five times in a row along a wall.

In several places, we saw messages of peace and the commonality of all people, which reminded me of similar ones we saw in Thailand. I am not a religious person, but I do believe strongly that humans all over the world have more things in common than things to divide us. It’s one of my strongest motivations for traveling: to widen the circle that is ‘us,’ and shrink the one that is ‘them,’ by meeting people and making connections one at a time.

I could probably have spent three more weeks happily walking around towns and villages, photographing signs. This gallery includes my favorites from this trip.