"The share auto I squeeze into next seems unusually vulnerable after a night in the truck - too compact, too low down. Perhaps, these are the usual side effects of prolonged riding with the king of the road, I think to myself. But it is only when I fill in ‘truck’ as my mode of transportation in the hotel ledger at Udaipur does the utter ludicrousness of my endeavour truly hit home"
Think truck drivers, and movie scenes of them drunkenly crushing inconvenient people to their gravelly deaths come to mind. But what are their lives on the road actually like?
In Truck De India!, journalist Rajat Ubhaykar embarks on a 10,000 km-long, 100% unplanned trip, hitchhiking with truckers all across India. On the way, he makes unexpected friendships; listens to highway ghost stories; discovers the near-fatal consequences of overloading trucks; documents the fascinating tradition of truck art in Punjab; travels alongside nomadic shepherds in Kashmir; encounters endemic corruption repeatedly; survives NH39, the insurgent-ridden highway through Nagaland and Manipur; and is unfailingly greeted by the unconditional kindness of perfect strangers.
Imbued with humour, empathy, and a keen sense of history, Truck De India! is a travelogue like no other you've read. It is the story of India, and Indians, on the road.
Rajat Ubhaykar is a traveller, writer and former business journalist with Outlook Business. A graduate from the Asian College of Journalism, and an electrical engineer from IIT Kanpur, he is also an avid reader. He lives in Mumbai.