Seemita's Reviews > Truck de India!: A Hitchhiker's Guide to Hindustan

Truck de India! by Rajat Ubhaykar
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
34622220
's review

really liked it
bookshelves: india, travelogue, non-fiction, asia, conversations, debut, culture
Recommended for: those who wish to meet India on her roads.

When I was young, I used to look forward to my summer vacations and the trip to my hometown – this trip was such a big deal not just because it would take me to my grandma (aaie) and allow me to binge and smother my face with freshly plucked home-grown mangoes but also because it would take me through the highways and the little known roads of Orissa, bringing its teeming vein to delightful, eclectic life.

A wanderer’s elixir. A vagabond’s shelter. The road.

And it is a towering member of this very road that finds centre stage in this book – the majestic Truck.

Rajat Ubhaykar undertakes a journey across the length and breadth of India, choosing a very unusual mode of transport - hitchhiking with truck drivers. For those not privy to the ‘general opinion’ on truck drivers in India, it may suffice to say that a truck driver’s life is oft-quoted by Indian parents as a parallel when giving a dressing down to their kids .

So, what was found in the heart of a seemingly crude-mannered, loud-speaking, beedi-smoking, drug-snorting, rash-driving, uncouth generation of truck drivers? Dollops of goodness!

As the author goes from Mumbai to Jaipur, Chandigarh upwards to Jammu, he is taken in mostly by kind drivers and treated to a generous peek into the truck-business. Through their unceasing conversations, I got to know how permits are given, how tolls function, how overloading gets normalized, how learnings are passed on from a ustad (teacher) to his khalassi (student/ intern). As he moves to the north eastern heart at Nagaland and Manipur and then, dives straight down south to Salem and Vijayawada, his journal spreads its eager wings, sometimes unsteady in trepidation, and collects the sprawling melange of truths nestled at the sharp road bends and colourful truck art, naked tragedies and shrewd trades, gregarious dhabawallas and wronged childhoods, street smartness and apparent debauchery.
I wonder if their long tryst with migration has something to do with why Punjabis took to driving trucks with such enthusiasm, because what is trucking, but a form of constant displacement.

I soon find out from a Bihari paanwallah that it’s in a curious creole tongue called Nagamese—the love child of Assamese, Bengali and Hindi. Why, that’s the first time I’ve even heard of it.

I, for one, know, that after this trip, I will always remember this sunrise when I think of Nagaland, and not insurgents or headhunting tribals.
Travelling with this unique bunch gave me what my travel trips give – new eyes. And through new eyes, I saw the same picture as one of the truck-drivers endorsed - Phone khoti, sakshaat bheti [The phone’s a false friend, it is better to meet in person.]

So, go on, emerge from the emitting screen of your mobile phone, set afoot anew, face the sun and its children in the eye; you never know which splendid piece of sunshine on the black tar of your bias can light the canvas of your memories.

--

Also on my website.
64 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Truck de India!.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

October 30, 2019 – Started Reading
November 15, 2019 – Shelved
November 28, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Rajat (new)

Rajat Ubhaykar So happy (and relieved) you liked the book, Seemita! :)


message 2: by Seemita (last edited Dec 08, 2019 12:27AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Seemita Rajat wrote: "So happy (and relieved) you liked the book, Seemita! :)"

Well deserved, Rajat! Have penned my thoughts too. I hope you find many more readers :)


message 3: by Rajat (new)

Rajat Ubhaykar Seemita wrote: "Rajat wrote: "So happy (and relieved) you liked the book, Seemita! :)"

Well deserved, Rajat! Have penned my thoughts too. I hope you find many more readers :)"


Many thanks for this lovely review, Seemita! :)


message 4: by Sahib (new) - added it

Sahib Tulsi My god, how beautifully you mint sentences, Seemita!


message 5: by Ilse (new)

Ilse Such a charming and lyrical review, Seemita, taking us with you into your memories and giving such a heartfelt rendition of the author's journey, encounters and experiences of truck life. Once upon a time, before there were mobile phones, we were fortunate of once travelling by truck in India, from Leh to the Lamayuru monastery. I remember the driver stopped to pray at a little shrine by the side of the road to ensure a safe journey...


message 6: by Stephen (new)

Stephen P Exquisitely to the point leading me onto the travels of this world and the world of traveling.


message 7: by Himanshu (new) - added it

Himanshu A write-up that moves this book a couple of notches in its praise ranking, and how convincingly. I had this book on the radar ever since I came to know that Rajat wrote it, but now I get the feeling of FOMO as it seems I'm one of the few who haven't read. :)


message 8: by Dolors (new)

Dolors Oh Simi, you write beautifully. And what wisdom emerges from your pen...I feel like taking the road and driving till the sun blinds me!
It's a pleasure to share your trips with you, particularly when they take me to worlds unknown, full of beauty and wonder.


message 9: by TBV (new)

TBV Thanks for sharing your and the author's journeys, making me want to pack my bags and hit the road.


message 10: by Hanneke (last edited Jan 11, 2020 02:00AM) (new)

Hanneke What a marvellous review, dear Seemita! The book must have been quite an eye-opener and I am glad you found it so worth your while. You must look at those trucks passing by in a new way. I would have missed reading your review if I had not looked at your 2019 challenge page. I assume it's not too late to wish you a very happy New Year. Hopefully with less 10 hours work a day and time enough to read and write!


Seemita Sahib wrote: "My god, how beautifully you mint sentences, Seemita!"

Thank you, Sahib. Very kind of you to say that.


message 12: by Ines (new)

Ines What a marvellous review dear Seemita!! you made me dream to visit new places!!


message 13: by Seemita (last edited Jan 20, 2020 07:21PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Seemita Ilse wrote: "Such a charming and lyrical review, Seemita, taking us with you into your memories and giving such a heartfelt rendition of the author's journey, encounters and experiences of truck life. Once upon..."

I am certain that was a memorable trip via truck for you, Ilse. Thanks for sharing that snippet. I have myself never boarded a goods truck but have had the opportunity to hop on a few passenger ones. I remember the first time its gigantic body rattled and hauled us along - it was scary and exciting in near equal measure! :) I am glad the book took me back to some of those times. Thank you for the generous applause, my dear.


Seemita Stephen wrote: "Exquisitely to the point leading me onto the travels of this world and the world of traveling."

Awww... Glad to be of service, Stephen! Hope things are good with you. My best wishes for a wonderful 2020 to you.


Seemita Himanshu wrote: "A write-up that moves this book a couple of notches in its praise ranking, and how convincingly. I had this book on the radar ever since I came to know that Rajat wrote it, but now I get the feelin..."

Oh you should read it then, Himanshu! It is wonderfully penned, giving some very pertinent insights into the Indian roads and trucking community, worthy of questioning our biases. I hope you don't remain shrouded under the FOMO blanket for long! :)


message 16: by Ray (new)

Ray Excellent review, I liked the way that you so obviously enjoyed the portrayal of life on the road in India, or maybe that should be the many Indias.

For me I would be happy to experience it vicariously, having had quite enough exposure to Indian roads. Only Thailand is scarier


Seemita Dolors wrote: "Oh Simi, you write beautifully. And what wisdom emerges from your pen...I feel like taking the road and driving till the sun blinds me!
It's a pleasure to share your trips with you, particularly wh..."


Thank you, sweets! My wandering soul is not a stranger to you and thus, you, in particular, would fully comprehend the high that I get when I see something familiar with new eyes. This book presented that opportunity and I lapped it up. Here's wishing you travels that further enrich your beautiful soul.


Seemita TBV wrote: "Thanks for sharing your and the author's journeys, making me want to pack my bags and hit the road."

Oh then you must! And so tell me what you found on the way :) Thanks for reading, TBV.


Seemita Hanneke wrote: "What a marvellous review, dear Seemita! The book must have been quite an eye-opener and I am glad you found it so worth your while. You must look at those trucks passing by in a new way. I would ha..."

Thanks a bunch, dear Hanneke! I sure have an added perspective now when it comes to trucks and the road they ply on. I am glad you enjoyed the review. And looks like it is I who is terribly late in wishing you a wonderful 2020. But nonetheless, here goes :) Have a fulfilling and memorable year, my friend, and may many beautiful books find you.


Seemita Ines wrote: "What a marvellous review dear Seemita!! you made me dream to visit new places!!"

Ah! Isn't that a wonderful thing, Ines? May the new year take you places, literary and ticketed! :) Thank you for reading.


Seemita Ray wrote: "Excellent review, I liked the way that you so obviously enjoyed the portrayal of life on the road in India, or maybe that should be the many Indias.

For me I would be happy to experience it vicar..."


Haha... I understand, Ray. But you may, perhaps, feel a tad more confident if your guide were to be yours truly? :) Amid the bumpy ride, here's wishing you a wonderful 2020.


back to top