Book Review: Truck de India by Rajat Ubhaykar

When I was a couple of chapters into this book, I had tweeted that this book is an example of the Deccan Style of writing. What followed was people asking me what the ‘Deccan Style of Writing’ is…

The Deccan Style of Writing accroding to me is English written by people from the Deccan or South India. It borrows from the narration style used in the languages spoken in the region. Much has been written about RK Narayan’s simple style of storytelling or even the way Shankar Nag adapted it for the screen and that would also be the Deccan Style. That style has now evolved.

It is also about observation. Have you read Mumbai stories by Jayant Kainkini translated into English? Now compare his observations about the city with that of the celebrated English writers and poets. That is a difference.

Rajay Ubhaykar’s book falls in the Deccan style on that yardstick. He observes the country, the truckers and their world with a keen and sensitive eye and tells their stories in a simple, easy-going way. Often, his journalistic experience, earned while working for financial newspapers, do stick out of the narrative when he talks about facts and figues. Thankfully he quickly reverts to the dust, grime, smiles and food on the road without delay as he travel to four corners of India.

Truck art being made in Shivdi, Mumbai

The book features three main road trips: Mumbai to Kashmir, the North Eastern states and the Deccan from Mumbai to Vijayawada and southwards to Kanyakumari.

Shampoo sachets outside a bath at a truck stop in APMC, Vashi. Navi Mumbai

The book is a very good first book. I did wish that it was a little longer than it currently is. The nature of such road trips are that one doesn’t pause for too long in one place. However, if there is a bigger idea to string the stories, like In Xanadu by William Darlymple (1989), which was also a first book, if I remember right, it would have been an even better book. There are several interesting observations in the book – about identity in the border or borderline states of the Indian Union that could’ve been explored in detail.

NH8

More about the book on Goodreads

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