Among the things that make India's street landscape so distinctly Indian: Cars dodging herds of cattle, three-wheeled motorized and bicycle rickshaws, and handpainted billboards boasting everything from laundry detergent to Bollywood movies.
My week in Guwahati unveiled quite a few signs of change -- literally. There's an overall sleeker look in the city -- more malls, condos and fancy restaurants -- and the once cartoonish billboards along the side of the road have also gone high-tech. Increasingly they are digitally produced, according to sign painter Arun Dey.
It's a dying one, Dey said. He estimated that 95 percent of new billboards are now designed on a computer. They often cater to regional markets, such as mobile provider Airtel's advertisement here showing a drum adorned with a traditional Assamese gamocha, a red and white cloth. Sign painters now get more business from adorning the backs of rickshaws and sides of trucks with advertisements.
It takes Dey about two days to paint a billboard like the one shown here. Sure enough, when we drove by 24 hours later, the sign was complete.
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