Transport Graffiti: Horn OK Please, Hum Do Hamare Do…

Driving, for most part, can be an interesting experience and more so when you are going to a place you have not visited before. But sometimes long drives can become cumbersome to the point of drudgery. If you have company, it is definitely helpful. If you are alone, keeping an eye at the rear of the vehicles ahead of you will expose you to a new genre of art and creative writing which can be entertaining, informative and thought provoking at the same time.

In terms of variety, India offers a diverse range of public transport which further changes its shape and style as we move from city to city and state to state. For example, the kind of rickshaws found in Chandigarh would be different from the ones preferred by rickshaw pullers in Aligarh. Same applies to the colours, shapes and sizes of three wheelers. In rural areas, one can find brightly painted vehicles and colourful graffiti on buses and other means of local transport. They come like a gust of fresh air for the natives who rush to them seeking a getaway from the drab landscape and ennui following the routine chores.

Some thing that adds spice to this colour and variety is the written content. It is imbued with such potential of original thinking and wit as to trigger conundrum amongst travelling companions and forces you to keep an eye for more on other vehicles. Actually, the trucks would rank the highest in this category.

Some would just state the usual, like Horn Please or Use Dipper At Night or at the most a naughty winking eye on both sides of ‘use dipper at night’ – reflecting a kind of disinterest and lack of enthusiasm of the owner or the driver. At times it shows the blackened face of a demon which i believed to protect from evil eye and you instantly surmise that the driver values his truck and is superstitious as well.

Once going to Shimla, we came across – ‘O my Vimla, in summers let’s go to Assam and in winters to Shimla’ – on a truck. And we unanimously construed that the driver treats his truck as a female entity, fondly decorates it and enjoys his profession. And when you behold ‘Pappu and Babli di gaddi’, be sure it is a fond father who has dedicated his vehicle to his children. ‘Speed limit 60 kmph’ would obviously point to someone who is a cautious and careful driver and wants others to avoid rash driving. Religious symbols and pictures would tell you about the respective religious practices and faith of the drivers and probably the fact that they are God fearing. By now I am sure, readers would know what to make of ‘Let’s go my queen and may God protect us’.

In addition to the individual characteristics of vehicle owners and drivers, transport graffiti, if one may call it so, also throws light on social and cultural ethos and nature and temperament of the people of that region. Typical humour clad in regional languages. Political affiliations and religious beliefs. All in all, this art and craft accompanied by interesting observations provides enough material to fire ones imagination.

So next time, if the long road and the drone of engine poses the danger of making you drowsy, don’t forget to pay attention as some diverting stuff to pep you up can be found on the vehicle moving right ahead of you.

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