Highway Jottings-1

3 min readJan 12, 2024

This is an iconic image for me, shot at Bhim, Rajasthan.

Soon after the maiden truck trip from Chennai to Gurgaon, over six days in November 2010, the urge to explore more highways refused to die down. Thus came the trip from Gurgaon to Bengaluru in 2011 — several months before the release of my maiden book, 10,000 Km On Indian Highways.

With Vikram Singh and his younger sibling Raju, we rode with Tata Motors Ace (chota hathi, as buyers used to label it!) load. Vikram halted in Manesar on his way from Rudrapur, where he picked up the load to accommodate me. Raju was his understudy. A few years, rather a few trips later, he would become a full-fledged truck driver.

It was a spectacle watching the brothers squabbling over driver learning. Yes, On The Job. Vikram learned from his elder brother, not from any driver training institute (DTI). Once we hit long stretches of the national highway, Vikram would enable Raju to steer the vehicle, and he would watch him from behind. At times, he would lie down on the sleeper and watch eagle-like.

I traveled with them to Vadodara, Gujarat, where my trip plan changed with Rinku Commercial Carriers owner Rajan “Rinku” Agarwal offering to pick me up for a trip to Anand, where he had a tractor yard. After a two-day stay with his family, I would hop onto another sewage pipe-loaded truck up to Borivli, Mumbai. I would change the vehicle to continue the truck trip with Mahindra Tractors load to Hosur, Tamilnadu.

Back to the Odyssey with the Vikram-Raju duo.

“Would you like to meet my parents and siblings?” Vikram asked once we crossed Ajmer. I accepted the offer. Why not glimpse the living conditions of the long-haul truck driver? That’s where began my Parivar Connect agenda began.

Where I asked.

Bhim, sirji!

Where’s it?

On the way was his response.

Soon, he halted the 22-meter-long Mercurio Pallia Logistics car carrier (subsequently this Indo-Italian joint venture would turn into an Indo-French JV when Gefco, a subsidiary of Peugeot, France, took over Mercurio of Italy and later, the same company would be bought over by the Russian Railways) on the lips of the National Highway 48 near a makeshift shop selling beedi, cigarette, water bottle, etc.

Later, I would learn that this shop belonged to his relative, who would “supervise” the vehicle with expensive cargo until we three — Vikram, Raju, and self — would return a day later. Yes, a day later!

Does he have permission to halt midway to deliver and go home? Don’t ask such meaningless questions. To answer that, one has to understand the dynamics of the Indian trucking system and the employer-employee relationship.

We hopped out, and a tempo awaited us on the other side of the highway. Over the next 20 minutes, we rode into the village of Bhim.

That’s where I shot this iconic image. Rajasthan has a horsing tradition. Rajputs’ romance with chivalry on foot and horses is legendary. A huge modern truck in the backdrop, and the twirling moustached lean rider on his horse passing.

(To continue)




An avid watcher & practitioner in the world of communication