02 January 2016

Ugly Indian: The UFO project

During the past many months, Bangaloreans began seeing the pillars of flyovers all across Bangalore getting a snazzy makeover. While I have participated in and blogged about other Ugly Indian projects...

...this UFO (Under The Flyover) project made me wonder how they painted it so neatly.

  • Who draws those white lines so accurately? 
  • How do they prevent the paint from trickling down?
  • Is it really a few hours of work?

Screenshot from Facebook

Turns out that before the orange paint was applied, the flyover pillars were covered with posters from people who obviously didn't know how to advertise.

Screenshot from Facebook

So this is not just a few hours of Saturday work. Before Saturday, before the invitation is sent out to Bangaloreans to come and paint the flyover, there are a bunch of Ugly Indian volunteers who spend many hours in removing the posters from the pillars, cleaning the pillars and then spending a lot of time in carefully painting the entire pillar!!!

That's not just a lot of work, that's a LOT of time and money too!

I wanted to know how this is done, so early Saturday morning, I visited Nagavara flyover. I didn't have time to participate, but this is what I found:

The pillars were already painted orange and white.

But a closer examination revealed...

The white lines were not paint. It's white tape.

And sure enough, a little away there were people applying more tape.

On the other side of the road, some pillars were labelled with chalk.

And if you are an early bird, you get to choose which colours everyone has to paint on the triangles.

By 11:30am, most of the pillars had been painted by volunteers wearing yellow aprons...

...and as I suspected, they had painted onto the tape as well, so the nice white outlines you saw earlier, were no longer visible. There was some paint that had dripped down too. The tape is removed eventually, leaving orange lines separating all the triangles. The bottom of the pillars, where some paint dripped down, would also be re-painted with the orange paint and I'm quite sure some volunteers would return to put finishing touches to the triangles where the paint of one triangle slightly overlapped the paint of another triangle.

These are some of the other UFO paintings. This photo was sent to many of us by email, from the Ugly Indian group.

Splendid effort!

The takeaway from this is not just about using your free time to volunteer to make this world a more beautiful place, but the takeaway is also that when you volunteer, make sure you put in enough of effort to do it correctly.

There are far too many volunteering groups in India, which do not care about going into detail. This holds especially true for corporate employee volunteering, where the objective is just to hold a tiny event for a few hours, not so that society is benefited, but so that the company is benefited because they got a chance to amuse their employees and de-stress them for some time.

When you volunteer, do it because you want to improve things. Not because you want to make a name for yourself or impress someone.

More on volunteering

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