Saturday, August 3, 2013


You're driving on a narrow, potholed road, slimy with wet mud, winding around sharp corners that hug the sides of the Himalayan mountains, and suddenly a horn blares and a Tata truck comes barreling towards you!

Its a heart in your mouth moment as you pull to the side to let the truck pass on what must be the finest edge of the road. Only millimetres of dirt and dust protect the driver from falling into the abyss! And as he passes you can't help but admire the colour and dingly-dangly ribbons and decorations that adorn the truck, and understand the need for all the religious imagery. Life on the roads of India and Bhutan is about facing life and death on a daily basis.

I've been fascinated with these enormous plundering trucks since my days as a traveller in India. Travelling on overnight buses through the Himalayas was the only way to cover the long distances between places like Dharamsala and Delhi, or from India to Kathmandu.

Picture this: you settle in for the night and get comfortable on the seat that jumps a metre every time you go over a bump, wrap a shawl around you as the cold night air creeps through the window that doesn't close properly, and slowly drift off to sleep. 

And then Honk! Honk! Screech! The bus lurches and stops as a noisy Tata truck asserts its right to pass, often with sparkly flashing lights and Hindi music blaring. You wake abruptly, realise all is well, and try to doze back to sleep again. And on and on goes the night!

Living in my village here in Bhutan, I've sought out colour, variety and art wherever it comes, and so I started to photograph the trucks I see pass through here. It seems that Chumey is a popular place for drivers to recharge at one of the local 'General Shop cum Bars' - hopefully not too much beer and mostly rice and ema-datsi (or am I dreaming?).

I'm not the first to have an urge to document the Tata trucks of the Indian subcontinent. Here is a link to a fascinating book I'd love to get my hands on some day: with gorgeous images of the trucks, their drivers and also the story of their lives on the road.

Here is just a sample of the trucks I have seen here in Bhutan, their Buddhist imagery contrasting with the predominantly Hindu decorations seen in India.









I have some ideas circling my head of how I can use some of these images when I get home to create some type of a photo collage wall, or even to inspire a painting, if I have time to paint again! 

And, let me forewarn you that in an upcoming blog I have another collection of public art photos to share - more of an M-rated variety! I'm just letting you know - you're either intrigued or will know its not for you!

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