anime TV shows, Bedford, bus drivers, chamakpatti, chassis, Clifton Cantt, dekotora, driving lessons, eagles, electronic music festival, eye streaks, F-16, Hassan Super Zai, Jail Chowrangi, Japanese truck decoration, Karachi, LED lights, mechanical robots, multicoloured neon lights, neon light shows, Pakistan Day, Pakistani trucks, rave, retro desi, Rustam, Shayan Shakeel, tigers, Tipu Sultan Road, truck art, W-11
Truck (and bus) art is transitioning. You can see it for yourself: take a drive around Karachi at night, especially near Clifton Cantt, Tipu Sultan Road or Jail Chowrangi. As night falls, the bus driver will turn on his headlights, and before you know it, a beast branded ‘Bedford’ with the decals W-11, F-16 or Hassan Super Zai, will overtake you, leaving you stunned and possibly even blinded by a glare of multicoloured neon lights bleeding like streaks in your eyes after a rave.
And that is exactly what these new buses seem like. Whereas by day they parade the roads with images of Rustam, tigers and eagles bordered in chamakpatti, at night they turn into neon light shows with blue, green, pink and red lights running the length and breadth of the chassis, blinking in formations that could well remind you of something from an electronic music festival. Of course, the music played inside is just as retro desi as ever, but bus drivers are even beginning to deck out the interiors by reupholstering their seats, bordering the interiors with metallic strips and replacing the usual ‘white’ light with a different colour.
The style bears a strong resemblance to the Japanese style of decorating trucks called dekotora where neon lights are one of the primary decorative tools used in adorning a truck. Whether or not Pakistani buses draw their inspiration from them is up for debate; but while Japanese trucks (with massive streamers and protrusions) are moving towards resembling mechanical robots from various anime TV shows, Pakistani trucks are keeping it simple and local by employing strips of LED lights (at Rs 200 for a two metre strip) and switches that vary the blinking frequency and strength at which the lights illuminate the trucks.
All that is left now are some driving lessons for the bus drivers and we can all marvel at the art on the roads instead of swerving and seething.
– Shayan Shakeel
First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 17, 2013.