this post is inspired by 'writings on the wall' by 'tys on ice' and 'why'' by prats.
one of the biggest challenges faced by public administrators in indian cities (and also by the superintendents responsible for cleanliness in trains and by the members of the 'cleanliness' committees in countless housing societies) across the vast indian sub-continent is the scourge of defacement of public property. specifically the literary outpourings of sundry love-struck romeos on numerous walls that stand stoically while such above-mentioned mischief is being perpetrated!
while i whole-heartedly agree with the view that defacement should be discouraged and that such defilers should be penalised, i cannot help but appreciate some of the most humorous and insightful messages that i have come across over time. in fact, there is also a branch of graffiti including street/sidewalk drawings which is viewed as art.
the majority of the graffiti that we see all around us (lifts/elevators, public bathrooms, public transportation) can be classified as lewd and 'not for family viewing'. but the best graffiti are the pithy, humorous and politically incorrect messages that are like rare gems.
one of the best examples that i have come across (on the net) was about a line scrawled in a men's room which read : 'marie, if you can read this, its all over between us!'
and graffiti in school bathrooms sometimes aptly communicate the not-so-kindly feelings of the students towards their teachers. one of the best i came across reads - drive carefully - don't kill a child. wait for teacher.
sometimes the angst felt by the student community to the prevailing political situation also is reflected in these scrawls. i remember during the highly volatile situation in colleges during the mandal commission protests reading a message in my college men's room - (next to a line drawn horizontally) if you can reach this line join the fire brigade! (and next to another line drawn about a foot below the earlier line) this one is for sc/st!
and there were graphic ones which were usually designed to shock the viewer. some of them did have their humorous element.
one of the classic ones which i used to find in most schools and colleges was the one where you were asked to follow the arrows drawn in front of you while you were relieving yourself and which progressed up to the ceiling and even behind you sometimes. and then right at the end there is a line which says - watch out you fool! you are tinkling on your shoes!
so i guess i must confess here that i am a fan of graffitti and the pithy humor and wisdom most of them hold. but i prefer grafitti which doesn't deface public property. i prefer them on unused surfaces or on t-shirts and websites :)
p.s. i always used to wonder whether the girls in school (and the women in general) were as expressive and creative on the walls and doors of ladies' rooms? (i remember reading an article about men getting 'creatively expressive' on the walls of the ladies compartments in the local trains in mumbai and offending the sensibilities of the commuters. i still haven't come across a case of the reverse happening! i wonder why?)