Even for those who have travelled in India, the ornately decorated lorries documented by photographer Dan Eckstein will probably be a revelation despite being a common presence on the roads of the sprawling country. That’s because to survive a journey on India’s terrifying highways requires that passengers’ eyes (and occasionally the drivers’) are screwed tightly shut. A faceful of strong benzos also helps to make the experience bearable, but can dull the senses somewhat. It’s little wonder that the drivers of these haulage vehicles decorate them with religious icons, being in a constant state of near-death, but the pimping of their rides goes much further than a dashboard Vishnu.
Often away from their families for weeks at a time, the truckers treat their cabs as a home from home, taking great pride in their presentation. Eckstein’s book Horn Please: The Decorated Trucks of India takes its name from the message written on the back of almost every vehicle, but the visual decorations go further, including textual well-wishes to other motorists, names, and decorative graphics. Inside, we find pictures of loved ones, vibrant coloured fabrics, plants – a mobile living room. In this volume Eckstein offers us a rare glimpse into these private worlds, usually seen careering past in a blur. Horn Please is available from publisher powerHouse Books.