Truck Trail

Northern lights

It’s a thankless job, say truckers who cover the bhiwadi-panipat-kala amb route. But the camaraderie at hubs and solitude of the highways keep them coming back

Photographs by Vishal Koul

Zindagi rahi toh phir milenge.” A truck driver at a Dharuhera highway dhaba reads the slogan painted on the back of a truck. Another, sitting on a charpai, says, “You’ll read many     such lines written on trucks in India, but this one captures our life better than any other.” The philosophical middle-aged driver is right. All it takes is one wrong move, a wrongly estimated risk during a turn or an untimely nap on the wheel for these men. In a country that has one of the largest road networks in the world, these undercompensated, overworked truckers and their vehicles power the veins of the economy, ensuring every good or commodity gets delivered on time. “We never know if we are going to return. Hence, if alive, we will meet again,” the man repeats, while taking a bite from his roti. 

The dhaba is buzzing with life, as the drivers stop for meals after 12 to 14-hour long journeys, most on their way to different corners of the vast Indian terrain. For some, it is the very first break they have taken since they started their trip, and these intervals are their only time to unwind. A few men are laughing as they chat and dig into the food served. One is freshening up by splashing water on his face from the hand pump and another is busy on his phone while waiting for food. Clearly, driving these trucks is not just an occupation for them anymore; rather it’s become a way of life. 

Their trucks are parked on the NH8 in this highway town, 80 kilometre from Delhi. Dharuhera is known throughout the country as the home to Hero MotoCorp’s manufacturing plant. You can’t miss the droves of two-wheelers parked in the yards nearby, all ready to be transported to other parts of the country. While some of the drivers are just stopping by, most are going to start their trip from here.