One for the road

Feb 16, 2014, 10:34 IST | Phorum Dalal

Horn Please, a coffee-table book on trucking in India, was launched recently. Author Divya Jain and four international photographers hop onto long-distance transporters to capture the adventures 

In one of Vikram Seth’s early books, From Heaven Lake, he sets off on a journey from China to India via Tibet, mostly by hitch-hiking rides in transport trucks.

Last stop The scene at the Kolkata fruit and vegetable market is a joyous one, as labourers and off-loaders share a light moment

Trunch calls Along with the delivery goods, even animals get a lift from one place to the other. Being on the road brings many such candid moments

While not everyone gets a chance to hop into a truck, Horn Please, a book on trucking in India by Divya Jain is your next best bet. Over a period of four years, Jain, who runs Safe Educate, which works for truck drivers across India, brought four international photographers — Sephi Bergerson, Zackary Canepari from San Francisco, Claude Barutel and Thomas Pickard — to take a long distance ride around India on a goods carrier truck and showcase the life of drivers.

More the merrier Men board a truck loaded with salt in the north fringes of Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border

Open air As the night gets cold, truckers light a fire and relax before it is time to hit the road again in the morning

“The trucks are somewhat their makeshift homes, and here they sleep, cook, and work. For every 10 trucks in India, there are eight drivers. The truck industry is a tough profession and drivers have to work in hostile conditions.

This is my home Truck drivers who set out on 36-hours of long journeys at a time, treat their vehicles as their makeshift homes. It is here that they sleep, eat and pray

Art of trucking When a driver buys a truck, this is how the company sells it. The rest of the body is bought at truck-building yards, where the four-wheeler is customised from scratch. Once the colours and panels are selected, in come the pop-art painters who decorate the vehicle as per the owner’s whims and fancies. This includes painting famous lines, such as ‘Buri nazar wale tera mooh kala’.

“Less than two per cent of this industry is organised. The book is an attempt to celebrate Indian trucks and truckers. In Bollywood, too, actors have, time and again, donned a truck drivers’ role — be it Sunny Deol in Gaddar or Shah Rukh Khan in Chalte Chalte,” says Jain, whose family owns and runs the logistics and supply company, Safe Express.

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