Monday, March 21, 2011


Dedicated to all drivers who ply their vehicles on the road to prosperity

By Mahtab Bashir


Emotions come instinctively to every individual as he tries to find happiness and grievances utilizing these sentiments. Thus, people while reacting use various modes to express their feelings. Few use an art of painting to express their feelings, many opts to pick up the guns in their hands in frustration and few goes to create emotions with words through poetry.

In such perspective, when we peep through the lifestyle of laborers around us who earn honestly with laborious work, especially of drivers of trucks, buses, vans, or taxi cabs, we came to know they remained satisfy with their lives even though they are people of lesser God and hence, through their experiences they remained resonant putting up a number of verses on their vehicles- sometime emotional, sarcastic, hilarious and sometime with the usage of metaphors or similes to vigorise expressions.

One of the lesser known sides of Pakistani life: the chaotic public transport blossoms in color with buses, trucks, rickshaws and taxi cabs that are decked out in bright paint and elaborate designs- and the best part for many is the poetry.

Poetry in any form is good, but one that comes with hu
mour and sarcasm adds to the spice. In Pakistan we come across many public transport vehicles that have imprinted some form of poetry (shairi) mostly at the back of their vehicles, showcasing that people in particular drivers of these vehicles are not hopeless and proved out to be the beacon of hope for prosperous Pakistan.

Marking the International Poetry Day today, Daily Times, asked many of drivers of these vehicles exploring why they use poetry as tool of their expression, many of them opined every verse is a reflection of their gut feelings. “This is in a very real sense a public conversation which is not in books, which is not in the type of middle class milieus – it’s on the street, and it is what actually we have experienced in our lives and later on engraved at the bumper of our vehicles,” they said.

A taxi cab driver in F-8 parking when asked why he has inscribed this verse ‘Kis Qadar Khush Nazar Atay Hein Meray Shahar Kay Log- Aaj Akhbar Kisi Nay Na Parha Ho Jaisay’, (People of my city look happier today, it seems as if they have not read the daily newspaper), Kashif Satti, the driver smiled and said this verse is not going to be outdated in socio-political milieu of this country. “ I am dejected ever since I heard the release of Raymond Davis, the killer of two innocent Pakistanis and since then drone attacks and extremism has hit the country all over with blasts on a daily basis,” he said with a serious tone.

We must also say that every now and then one does comes across a very standard poetry sample, which makes one think in admiration of poetic sense of its creator as well as the transport owner. Look at this another verse written on a vehicle spotted in Rawalpindi: ‘Jahan Sach Na Milay, Wahan Jhoot Hi Sahi- Jahan Haq Na Milay, Wahan Loot Hi Sahi’ (When you are not to be
succeeded truthfully, you may use the crooked ways). “This is not a manifestation of just a driver of a cab, like me but the reason this verses is here to reflect the vivid picture how much this society has indulged in corruption, nepotism, and biased to say the least as it seems that an honest man has no place in this country to live on,” said Zahoor Ahmed, a cab driver.

Of course, the drivers aren’t writing these verses in a vacuum. Poetry plays a very prominent role in popular culture here – not just as a form of art, but also as a part of everyday conversation. ‘Dawaa Zubaan Ka, Lucknow Walon Kay Samnay- Guftar-e-Boo-e-Mushq, Ghazalo Kay Samnay’, (Mentioning the qualities of mother tongue in front of people of Lucknow, seems like talking about musk infront of Deer). “Often, the verses reflect the culture and cultural background of a particular place where the driver of vehicle belongs to and where these vehicles hang out,” said Hidaytullah, a truck driver belongs to Karachi said.

Religion being the fundamental element influenced our lives and many of drivers opt to choose verses for preaching and suggestions to readers. ‘Sari Musibaton’ Ka Aik Hi Hal- Bistar Utha, Tableegh Ko Chal’, (The only soul soother solution of all troubles is- to go for Tableegh (preaching) is one of such verse written on a van. “I have been driving loader truck since 15 years and I since many years I have been participating in annual ‘Tableeghi Ijtima’ at Raiwind since last many years. I feel relaxed there as it appeases my inner self a lot and that’s why I have written this verse,” said Hamza bearded driver.

Other than this, the drivers of vehicles use poetry on account of relating their personal account of romanticism and livelihood. ‘Musafir Hoon Manzil Ko Ja Raha Hoon- Pait Ki
Khatir taxi Chala Raha Hoon’ (I am a travller head towards my destiny and riding this cab for livelihood), ‘Chalta Hoon Har Subha mein Tumhari Talash May- Har Shaam Laot-ta Hoon Isi Bebasi Ky Saath’, ‘Dil to Day Chukay Hein Ab Naseeb Azma Rahay Hein- Kisi Sangdil Ki Khatir, Taxi Chala Rahay Hein’ ‘Hazaro Manzilain Hon Gi, Hazaro Garian Hon Gi- Sawari Humko Dhunday Gi, Na Janay Hum Kahan Ho Gay’, ‘Sarak Say Dosti Hay, Safar Say Yari Hay- Dekh Piary, Kaisi Zindagi Hamari Hay’, and ‘Na Koi Umag Hay, Na Koi Tarang Hay- Meri Zidagi Hay Kia, Ik Kati Patang Hay’, are few of verses that has preserved the natural innocence and ‘be-saakhtagi’ (spontaneity) of the transport poetry. Many ‘ashaar’ are not hum-wazan, and many have problem with ‘tazkeer-o-taanees’ (gender) e.g. feminine words sometimes are referred to as masculine and vice versa but this lawlessness in poetry is what makes it so colorful and enjoyable.

These hard-pressed drivers use couplets to explain a situation, something like the way proverbs are used but for the owners of public transport vehicles, it’s also about defining their public identity.

Daily Times dedicate this ‘International Poetry Day’ to all drivers, cleaners, mechanics and transporters of Pakistan who despite all hardships are keeping the wheel of economy moving from Karachi to Landi Kotal.

World Poetry Day will be observed across the world today (Monday) to celebrate the achievements of poets and motivate them to produce quality literature.

To mark the day, different literary organizations will arrange a variety of events including contests, readings and festivals. Renowned literary figures from twin cities talking to Daily Times said that poetry works as an indicator to bring reforms in political, social and cultural spheres of life.

Poetry not only shapes individual identities but also serves the public and evoke their feelings against injustices and inhuman activities, they observed.

The core objective of celebration of this day is to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world and as the UNESCO session declaring the day says, to give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements. WPD was declared by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1999.

World Poetry Day also pr
ovides an opportunity for children, in particular, to be introduced to poetry at home and in schools. Classrooms all over the world will be busy with lessons that seek to equip students with the necessary tools to identify the various types of poetry, examine the works of poets and engage in writing their own poetry.

Exhibitions and poetry evenings showcased the work of poets on or around March 21 to mark the day. UNESCO promoted the efforts of small publishers to publish poetry. The day was first observed in 2000.

Let me wrap up this piece of writing with one of the most common poetic phrase written on these vehicles reflecting the love for mother: ‘Maa ki Duwaa, Jannat Ki Hawaa- Maa Ki Bad-Dua, Ja Puttar Rickshaw Chala’!!!

No comments: