The messages range from politics and philosophy to love, humour and even expletives. These days, they aren't limited to trucks, but show up on public buses and safa tempos (battery-powered tuk-tuk) too.
There are a few initiatives in Nepal to compile these expressions. According to columnist CP Aryal, a magazine called Bus Sahitya, meaning “bus literature,” was launched several years ago in a move to acknowledge the literary value of the verses splashed on the back of vehicles. And Subid Guragain, a journalist and teacher, published a compilation of 700 such messages titled Truck Sahitya, meaning “truck literature,” in 2011. Aryal writes:
What drives people to scrawl these lines on their vehicles? And why do so many do it? Govinda Lamsal, who drives a truck, says that in a line of work that is so mechanical, these words or images are a way of showing some creative flair and personal philosophy. “People perceive us as hardened folk without emotions,” he says. “Well, we have feelings too, and this is usually our only means of showing them while on the road.”
Social media is full of examples of these verses. This truck carries a message mentioning Facebook and Twitter:
ट्रक साहित्य!! pic.twitter.com/rPiqijRzMU
— HBD@laxmeeeदि निरज (@Nijvt1) October 6, 2015
If you can’t have Facebook, go for Twitter;
If you can’t win a girl, make her [your] sister.
Many of the messages are lovelorn and cannot stop talking about sisters-in-law:
ट्रक साहित्य । 👏👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/M3hM3BuKyY
— भरत (@bringitonguyz) November 6, 2015
Whether it’s uphill or downhill, hope there’s an in-law’s house on the hill;
Whether she’s dark or white, hope there’s a sister-in-law at the in-law’s house.
And they don’t spare the country’s politics and politicians:
— Alok Atreya (@alokforensic) January 30, 2016
In America, young lead the country;
Old get the pension.
In Nepal, old rule the country;
Young get the tension.
Some messages have philosophical overtones:
This one is similar:
ट्रक साहित्य pic.twitter.com/246AYQ8uwp
— PHALANO™ (@phalano) April 23, 2013
Spend money for honour,
Don’t spend honour for money.
Other messages talk about a driver’s life and the difficulties they face:
— Sabeena Karki (@sabeenakarki) August 15, 2015
A baby’s food, biscuit and cake;
A driver’s life, steering and brake.
Some messages are satirical, like this one aimed at those who cannot stop talking about Nepal being the birthplace of Buddha:
ट्रक साहित्य pic.twitter.com/sGqPGNXilf
— प्रवेश शर्मा (@prabesss) December 27, 2015
Surrounding are hills, in the middle is a lake;
There is dearth of wisdom in the country where Buddha was born.
And here's a message for anyone who is impatient:
ट्रक साहित्य pic.twitter.com/c7vv0wQs3Z
— लुरे सरकार (@Nikamma23) December 16, 2015
Please don’t blow the horn,
My country is sleeping.
If you are contemplating a long drive on a Nepalese highway, these short messages are sure to break the monotony of your journey and bring a smile to your lips.
Support our work
Global Voices stands out as one of the earliest and strongest examples of how media committed to building community and defending human rights can positively influence how people experience events happening beyond their own communities and national borders.
Please consider making a donation to help us continue this work.