The highlight of my recent honeymoon to Kerala was most definitely the moment I looked out of the taxi and spotted a truck park! Oh yes. (Sorry to my new husband) This wasn't any truck park, this was a mega psychedelic day-glow truck, spotted while on our way to Allapuzah having landed at Cochin airport barely 30 minutes prior. This is going to be a great holiday, I thought to myself.
Kerala really did not disappoint and spotting a truck evoked the same enthusiasm EVERY time. Being the truck lover that I am, this was right up my alley. I asked the taxi driver to pull over for 'only 2 minutes' and jumped out with my camera, leaving Oli in charge of keeping an eye on the luggage and engaging the taxi driver in casual chit chat (i.e buying me more time, so he wouldn't realise I'd been snapping away for at least 30 minutes!)
I came across some friendly faces, others not so friendly (spying on a bunch of drivers playing cards, whilst squatting on the other side of a truck to get an interesting photo didn't go down well I have to say)
The paintwork on these trucks is markedly different from the ones I have seen up north in Punjab, Delhi and Rajasthan; specifically the motifs, text and colour sensibility. I didn't spot one painted eagle upon any truck down south whereas in Punjab they are omnipresent and the neon colours are very distinctive.
There is great emphasis on the name in the front of the truck using very large and bold fonts. I presume most of them are the names of the truck owners, whereas others are more generic like Bright, Global, Christ. My favourite is 'Global'... universal terms these may be, but these trucks could only really be at home on the roads of Kerala.
Floral patterns that are interspersed with phrases like 'God's own country', 'Prayer is Power', 'Time and Tide wait for no one', constantly remind you that this part of the country is predominantly Christian and has been since the first Portuguese settlers in the 15th Century.
Oli pointed out how these trucks remind him of Martin Sharp's paintings... particularly the cover of Cream's album, Disraeli Gears. I thought this was such an excellent reference, and also quite an unusual one. I wonder if the painted trucks of India were an inspiration for his work. The scale of the motifs, the layout and the neon colours all bear resemblance to Martin's work (or vice versa) but what I love is the third dimension, the wood carved details and the simpler interiors of the cabins in which they sit (unfortunately I don't have any photos of the driver's cabin)
For anyone who'd like their own Keralan style hand painted truck, I took down a number :)
PS - I forgot to mention, I got to sit in one of these.