Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bizarre Chennai Kids' Clothing Slogans

by Rakesh

I used to get annoyed at how hard it was to find a T-shirt with a Tamil slogan on it. It still bugs me occasionally, because I find the Roman script one of the least attractive looking of all scripts (if you're not familiar with all the beautiful alphabets, abjads, and syllabaries on Omniglot, it's worth spending some time exploring). But I am now the proud owner of 2 of those popular yellow shirts given away free by the cement companies, which bear their company name and slogan (ராம்கோ சிமென்ட் -- சூப்பர் கிரேடு!) so I don't complain about it so much anymore.

Also, I've been starting to admire the exceedingly strange English slogans that appear in Chennai street fashion, on T-shirts and jeans. It seems that these are not really intended to be read -- it is enough that they are in English, or at least seem to be in some European language, and make vague references to hip or cool sounding "phoren" things like race cars. Or robots. Or dating.

Yesterday, we went Christmas shopping in Thiruvanmiyur; there were a number of kids on our list for whom we meant to buy clothes. We were really blown away by some of the slogans and designs on the kids' outfits at the shop... I think there is some sort of bizarre new textual art form emerging here. Check out this shirt sleeve:

Like, huh?  Is that in Latin for a minute?  Is there some deep Marxist-theoretical interpretation of the 1675 conflict between the Wampanoag Indians and the settlers of New England being referred to here?  What?

Here's another beauty:

I think some African-American literary critic types should be set loose on interpreting that one, I'd like to read what they came up with.

This one reminds me of some iterative-mutating-text experimental poetry I've read somewhere. I like all the different spellings of "Tahiti" and the use of capitals and full stops.

Then there are designs where it looks like the letters of a plaintext have been rearranged or partly encrypted by some algorithmic process.  This one appears to be mostly gibberish, but then note the "FANTASY GOLF" in the center.

There are some that are even more abstract, where it's hard to parse the letters:

I really want to know what that word right before "dreaming" means and how to pronounce it.

Anyway, I wonder where these nameless, brilliant designers are from: Tirupur? Ulhasnagar?  Somebody needs to write a manifesto, I think.


  1. Very nice!

    A lingering lwnffee (with an inverted 'l' that I'm unable to reproduce here; pronounced 'loon-fee'), as it connotes, is the price one must pay -- that one must always pay, keep paying, that never seems to go away -- for inverted thinking. Even madness, as with most things in the world, must needs be worth the price of its admission.

    p.s. Lovely blog you've got going here :)

  2. -it is enough that they are in English, or at least seem to be in some European language, and make vague references to hip or cool sounding "phoren" things like race cars. Or robots. Or dating.-

    I've thought the same thing when listening to certain Tamil movie lyrics. I think it was the song 'Kaadhal Website', which is bizarre in itself. Anyway, the line is 'Turkey chicken noodle-aa?' Seriously what is a turkey chicken? And why would you compare a girl to a noodle? Donald Duck-in jaathiyaa? Disney dolphin jodiyaa? That whole song is so unbelievably bizarre it hardly seems worth the lwnffee.


  3. This seems to be a great site for purchasing stuff for kids like baby whole sale clothing with fine quality - available with all top brands Barbie, Ben 10, Disney, Peppa Pig, etc.and i would surely like to try their service...i had been relying on earlier and they too offered good stuff.