The Grand Trunk Road - Decorated Trucks in India and Pakistan
Truck Decorating Workshops
There are numerous workshops located along the Grand Trunk Road where trucks are repaired and painted. The bigger workshops, in cities like Lahore and Rawalpindi, are a bit like a garage, art studio and service station rolled into one. A truck will be brought in for repairs after an accident, breakdown or a long journey. If a truck is sold, then the new owner will take it to a workshop to have it redecorated according to his own taste. Or a truck will be brought in to be redecorated if it is starting to look shabby. The truckers can also get a cup of tea, a hot meal, a shower and even a bed for the night.
The workshops are situated in huge open spaces with many tiny single storey units built around the edges. A truckers’ café will occupy one of the units, and a shop that sells truck accessories and decorations will take up another. The workshops employ carpenters who assemble the truck’s wooden body. Mechanics fix engines while welders repair the body of the truck. They work alongside a range of skilled craftsmen, each one specialising in a particular aspect of truck design.
All that exists of the truck at the very beginning is the cab (where the driver sits) and the skeleton. The truck is actually imported like this. The body of the truck is built in the workshops, and it is constructed specifically to be decorated. A huge jutting structure known as the crown is constructed above the cab. Truckers say this structure helps to slow the truck down in high speeds and also keeps the cargo private and therefore more secure.
It can take several weeks to complete the decorations on a truck. The sides of the truck are the most important areas for showcasing a multitude of images. Iron bars divide the side panels into a number of evenly spaced columns. Once the body of the truck has been spray painted, a painter will create badges inside these columns. The badges are empty spaces of different shapes and colours. Borders are painted around these badges which make them look like empty photo frames, which the master painter fills with an array of intricate patterns, images and motifs. It is the master painter’s responsibility to pull together the overall design of the truck:
"We’re not painters. We just spray paint the truck and it gets handed over to the painters for decoration. The owners want different colours, white, grey, whatever they fancy. But it’s the painters who paint on all the designs on the body, on the wheels. They also add all the frills, stickers and all that. They finish off the truck completely."
See where Rawalpindi is.»