An Indian writer and an American photographer went on a three-month trip around India, hitchhiking with truck drivers. They shared their observations in the pages of roadsandkingdoms.com.
The Indian transport sector is the second largest source of employment right after agriculture. It is unorganized and very fragmented, and middlemen play a dominant role in pricing. Over 70 percent of the industry consists of small operators with less than five trucks.
A truck is a second home
A truck is a second home for Indian drivers. It is no wonder that they are the apples of their eyes and they adorn them extravagantly, even when they make ends meet. The art of decorating trucks is a tradition that has been cultivated in families for generations.
A driver’s job is not a fairy tale
Unfortunately, there is also the other side of the coin, a bit less colorful. Although truckers play a key role in the economy of India, they are stigmatized by society because they often abuse alcohol and drugs. Nevertheless, their ability to maneuver the vehicle with huge dimensions on narrow, winding roads is impressive.
Difficult everyday life
The transport industry in India is extremely corrupted and looks like a battlefield between carriers and politicians. On highways, theft, high tolls and informal road taxes are a standard. Drivers are persecuted by the police and exploited to the limit. Due to the overload of trucks on the Indian roads, ten people per hour are killed.
Avtar and Amarjot, whose names have been changed to protect their identity, are brothers who drive in a double cast. They chose this profession because they wanted to see the world outside the village where they were born.
Sometimes I think it would be better off if I studied. But then I see people who have graduated from school and are unemployed – then I change my mind. I think that education is just a piece of paper” – says one of the brothers.
Currently, the brothers are proud owners of the Hyundai Accent. Their truck is extremely clean because Avtar’s favorite pastime is car cleaning and hair combing. In turn, Amarjot, who is better educated, deals with all accounts and transactions. He was married, but he got divorced due to problems with drug addiction.