Fox News’ Scott Heidler on Truck Art

As his last report from Pakistan, Fox News correspondent Scott Heidler submits a story on truck art, which centers around a visit to a workshop near Rawalpindi. The piece is striking in how much Heidler uses the “jingle truck” to describe the art. I’ve awkward tour of Jinnah Market with a very confused Greta Van Susteren.

It bears mentioning that the interior of the truck is not just “pimped” in the same manner of the exterior. While a range of craftsmen will be involved in the exterior design and frame restoration, the decorations inside the cab are much different and usually reflect the personal styles and preferences of the driver.

It is striking that Heidler thinks truck art is “providing a diversion from the day to day realities of everyday life” yet at the same time, the significance is explained relative to US activities in the region, “hauling everything from scrap metal to NATO supplies on their way to Afghanistan”. In reality, the thriving truck art is remarkable in its own right. In that sense, the piece is typical of media coverage that is not security related. The richness of Pakistani life is not significant in its own right, but only noteworthy because it differs from the stream of stories about militants, drones, and instability.

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India vs. Pakistan: Truck Art Rivalry?

There is a thriving vehicle decoration sector in both countries, but when it comes to their decorated vehicles, Pakistan’s are more vibrant, intricate, and labor intensive. Each part of a Pakistani truck is covered as part of a canvass. Indian vehicles, while colorful, pay less attention to the whole vehicle and focus more on individual elements, which may not be interconnected.

According to one report, Pakistani truck decoration developed to differentiate their vehicles from their neighbor’s. That account differs from most other accounts of the origins of Pakistani truck art, but regardless of its accuracy, it does underscore the divergent styles of vehicle decoration.

Al Jazeera has coverage of a truck repair and decoration workshop somewhere in India.

Note the TATA insignia on Rana, which has no embellishments. In contrast, Pakistani trucks artists craft premade metallic flourishes that adorn the cowling and embellish the Hino or Bedford insignias, the two most common makes of Pakistani trucks.

While Pakistani vehicles are decorated with reflective tape and paint, Indian trucks seems to use more pattern-cut decals, and, in the case of the trucks interior, glossy posters. Both are rare on Pakistani trucks. Indian vehicles seem to have fewer idyllic scenes. Though some of the motifs, such as a peacock, are similar, the entirety of the Indian truck is not used as a canvass, but only selected scenes are painted.

The narrator seems impressed that the Sikh workshop owners have been in business for six years. In Pakistan, the norm is artists who have been working for decades lifetime. While a Pakistani truck will require teams of painters to prepare, as well as a separate source for decoration pieces and additional accessories, from the report it looks like the Indian workshop leaves it up to a couple workers.

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