The Highway Project: It’s my Truck!

If you have ever taken a long road trip, you would have noticed the long-time “canvas on wheels” of Indian roads.  I have always been fascinated by the colourful and kitsch pictures and messages at the back of a truck. To the extent that I have at times asked my dad not to overtake until I’ve read it all :).

This Diwali, when we took a road trip from Vadodara to Udaipur to Jaipur and back, I decided to take up my highway project. Here are some that I captured

I’m big and I am the king of the road. I don’t see you so if you want my attention you need to BLOW HORN. OK?

Graffiti at the back of a truck in India; truck painting; truck pictures

I can’t see you! Blow Horn

You think I’m not polite? Sorry I should be saying ‘HORN PLEASE’

Graffiti at the back of trucks in india; truck painting; pictures on truck's body

This one is going Indie by saying आवाज़ दो (Shout out!) and the one in front of it is pretty clear that you better “KEEP DISTANCE”

Graffiti at the back of trucks in india; truck painting; pictures on truck's body

I can almost hear Suraiya’s song “Awaaz de kahan hai…

When you are stuck behind a truck there is a lot of time to read its back and it’s good if the back has a lot to read so that one doesn’t get bored :).

Some are shayaris, some profound sayings and some outright threats! It’s all here 🙂 (I apologize upfront for the lousy English translation of the verses; I know they lose all their punch in it! Better translations welcome!)

पीने भी छोड़ दी, पिलानी भी छोड़ दी ,

गाडी तेरे चक्कर में घरवाली भी छोड़ दी।

(I left drinking, I left making others drink,

For you, my truck, I left my wife)

graffiti  behind a truck in India

मालिक की गाडी ड्राईवर का पसीना, चलती है गाडी बनके हसीना

(Owned by Boss; run by driver’s sweat; it rides the road like a beauty)

Maalik ki gaadi, driver ka paseena; graffiti behind a truck

वक़्त से पहले, नसीब से ज्यादा किसी को नहीं मिलता 

(Nobody gets more than what he deserves and before the time he deserves.)

graffiti behind a truck ; vaqt se pehle naseeb se jyada

सोच कर सोचो साथ क्या जायेगा

(Think by thinking what will you take along)soch ka socho saath kya jayega; painting on truck body;

बाबूजी मैं जा रही हूँ, अपना ख्याल रखना। लौट के फिर आऊँगी माल तैयार रखना। 

(Sir I’m leaving, take care of yourself. Keep my payment ready, when I’m back)

latak mat patak doongi; truck as a canvas

A more intimidating one in the same picture was लटक मत पटक दूँगी (Don’t hang on, I will throw you!)

You can look at me… but with love (देखो मगर प्यार से ) [Anushka Sharma made this one popular as a tattoo on her back in the movie Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola]

dekho magar pyaar se, graffiti behind a truck in India

… and quickly follows the warning.. बुरी नज़र वाले, तेरा मूह काला 

buri nazar waale tera mooh kaala

Some show love to their family…

names of family members on truck body

…while others to their country.

Patriotism on a truck's back

Many of them had an eagle with a necklace in its beak motif on the sides… wonder if that’s a warning of some sorts! 😮

And in the end to protect from all evils everyone has mother’s blessings! (माँ की दुआएं)

Maa ki duaayen

Remember the dialogue “Mere pass maa hai” 🙂

The back of the trucks is a moving canvas, showcasing a cult. The designs, colors, messages have influenced artists, Bollywood and common-man alike. It’s a tradition which is disappearing with the coming of newer models. Take your road trip soon, you might just catch them!

This article was originally published in The Alternative

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Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “The Highway Project: It’s my Truck!

  1. 🙂

    Read on a small Tata Magic……

    mai bada ho ke truck banoongaa.

  2. Indian roads can never be the same without Horn OK Please!! Lovely compilation. Great pics. Truck art is somehow beautiful in its own way..

    • Ashima

      yep! I had been wanting to capture it since long.. and with more and more newer truck models this age old canvas is retiring soon from the roads 😮

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