Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Logic of the Jatt- The Origin of the Truck Graffiti in India.

My land is Punjab. The proud land of multiple cultures dominated by the prouder Sikh community. It is very famous for some more things. Food is one of them. On the highways cutting across the length and breadth of Punjab the Punjabi Dhabas line the way. Offering Makhan ki Roti and Sarson ka Saag they offer mouthwatering food. The economic mainstay of these Dhabas is the transportation industry of the state. It's industrious and hardworking people venture into lands far away and unknown. 
The transporters(some of them claim to feel like Jason Statham of the Transporter series), pronounced draaver in the Pinglish, love their their vehicles as their mistresses( the hardworkers don't feel shy to overload their mistresses though). And they decorate them as a mistress. The nice graffiti that adorns these vehicles speaks volumes about it. PHIR MILENGE, TATA and BABE DI GADDI share space with the NATIONAL PERMIT.
There is more than that seems to be.The reason behind some of the graffiti, it's origins( it's not just a decorative expression) is mostly the chivalry and good sense of the people. But time has left some marks. The expression HORN OK PLEASE is ubiquitous on the tucks and transportation vehicles plying in India. They seldom get a peer. They are generally dismissed as good manners calling for more order on the roads.One theory says that the term bears its roots in the second world war where the trucks were run on kerosene engines. Kerosene, being highly unstable in nature, would cause the trucks to explode at the slightest accident. Hence a warning would be painted on the back saying 'Horn Please,OKerosene'. Gradually this became a norm and is still seen on most trucks even today. Another theory goes, that The Tata Oil Mills co.Ltd.(TOMCO), unveiled an economy detergent powder called OK. This brand had a symbol in a shape of a lotus flower. To market this detergent better, it is believed that the symbols were painted on trucks and lorries. Since the trucks had HORN PLEASE already painted on the left and right edges of the back flap, the lotus flower symbol and OK were painted in the center of the flap. That's what got OK in between HORN PLEASE, making it HORN OK PLEASE. Moving with time, it became a tradition for truck drivers and owners to paint their trucks in such a fashion.
In India, when wishing someone goodbye, one commonly says, "OK TATA!", where TATA means goodbye. Since most trucks had the TATA logo on them, truck owners often painted the word OK above it. The HORN PLEASE phrase surrounds the OK TATA vertical combination. Thus, a person reading just the first line would read, "HORN OK PLEASE".
Albert Einstein once said that one of the most incomprehensible things about this world is that it is comprehensible. It's our time to comprehend the beauty of our trucks, the love and work horses of our desi Jason Stathams.
File:Horn ok-1.jpg

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