I started as a truck cleaner in the mid 1980s before becoming a driver. The highways are a dream to drive on now. When I started, it used to take a week to drive from Delhi to Bangalore on potholed roads. Now, we do it in three days. My specialisation is driving long-distance trucks. My truck ferries cars from a factory in Haryana to dealers around the country.
Truckers are big womanisers. As we drive on highways for weeks, it can get lonely. So, we pick up prostitutes. We have sex in the truck and drop them off. We don’t share our women with assistants. It’s only the driver’s privilege. Regular route drivers like me prefer regular women as we are scared of infections.
The AIDS controlwallahs have done an excellent job educating sex workers and truck drivers. Nowadays, with mobile phones, we call our women friends in advance. They even bring us home food. We keep condoms in the first-aid box.
It’s a myth that most truck drivers drive drunk. All accidents are blamed on drunkenness. But most accidents happen if the drivers are not rested enough. Rashly-driven cars or two wheelers are the other major cause.
Many of us drink only once we finish unloading. But there are some heavy drinkers who drink all night. In the mornings, they hand over the wheel to their assistants, who can barely drive.
We cross many checkposts operated by the commercial tax, RTO, forest, police and other departments and have to pay bribes to all of them. There are also surprise checks by excise departments to see if we are carrying illicit liquor. We have to carry dozens of papers. One paper less means Rs 100-500 as a bribe.
‘Punjabi’ dhabas are our best friends. Even in south India, locals operate ‘Punjabi’ dhabas. But experience has shown us where to stop. The restrooms are pathetic and we are forced to defecate in open fields.
(As told to Anil Budur Lulla)