Monday, October 31, 2011

Main bada hokar truck banoonga....

A heavily embellished Pakistani truck
Rani Mukherji's free road show in Pakistan
We've survived quite a few lows on this side of the border thanks to the Pakistani sense of humour. This doesn't stop with the many Omar Sharif jokes (provokes actress Meera to prove that she is 20-something and Meera asks him to check library records for the same) or with the still hot-and-happening "Hum sab umeed sai hain" show on Geo TV (Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar's proposal to give India the Most Favoured Nation status because bags and cosmetics are cheaper there) or with the many trends on Twitter (Its Halloween all over the world; in Pakistan its just another scary day!)

There's much more humour on the road -- mostly on Pakistani trucks and rickshaws which is miles ahead of of our boring and overused Indian "buri nazar wale tera moonh kala". Today, I stumbled upon a  Facebook group that is dedicated to listing truck and rickshaw poetry. Here are a few samplers which are quite a commentary on Pakistani society and also its politics.

Parhoge likhoge banoge vakeel
Jo jaahil rahe tou shayad vazeer

Jinay apni maa no satiay
Onay sari umar riksha he chalaiy

Bus-on main, coach-on main, wagon-on main
Bay hisoon ko hamsafar sath paiay
Jin ko mardaangi ka daawa tha
Un ko bhi ladies seat per paaiy

Driver ki zindagi ajab khel hai
Maut se bache to central jail hai

...and my personal favourite
Main bada hokar truck banoonga!

The extraordinary tradition of decorating trucks has its roots in the days of the Raj when craftsmen made glorious horse drawn carriages for the gentry. In the 1920s, the Kohistan Bus Company asked its master craftsman Ustad Elahi Bakhsh to decorate buses to attract passengers. Bukhsh employed artists from Chiniot in Punjab province whose ancestors had worked on palaces and temples dating back to the Mughal Empire, according to state-run APP agency.

This art is so Pakistani, that the freight trucks which are built by Ford, General Motors, Hino Pak are first retrofitted with very Pakistani style bodies and a special viewing deck at the top of driver's cab. The view deck is a multipurpose extra space -- used by cleaners to sleep at night and also to load extra luggage when needed. These truck bodies are then immaculately painted by street artists in brightly colored patterns.
Unfortunately, of late a lot of religious messages are being painted on the trucks. According to Jamal J. Elias, author of "On Wings of Diesel: Identity, Imagination and Truck Decoration in Pakistan", the colourful, hand-painted trucks in the last few years have been hijacked by religious groups trying to spread their beliefs.

"Traditionally, the decoration with religious significance is talismanic, in that it protects the truck, its content and the driver from misfortune. But in 2003, a religious Sunni group by the name of Tablighi Jama’at started shifting the syntax of truck decoration to advertise their particular message. This activist attitude is pushing other religious groups (Shiite and other Sunni groups) to respond, thus creating the concept of ‘missionary trucks’,” Elias wrote.

No wonder Rani Mukherji is still going strong on Pakistani roads!


  1. Absolutely hilarious!

  2. I love our trucks and buses!

  3. Aam taur se jab log Pakistan ko dekhte hain to aisi vaisi rangili baatein (truckwalli sha'iri, vaghaira)to nazar mein nahin aate hain. Kaash ki log jo baahar se dekh rahe hain to Pakistani logon ke roz roz ke baaton ko aur dhyaan se dekh paayein!

  4. looks like Rani had too much of ghosht after going to pakistan:p


  5. The extraordinary tradition of decorating trucks and buses with its all colorful floral patterns and intricate designs is truly a part of Pakistani transport tradition.