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Words by: Rajat Ubhaykar & Photos by: Ozzie Hoppe

AS A PART OF OUR preliminary research, we visited truck terminals in and around Mumbai and had a great time hanging out with these warm, gutsy individuals who welcomed us into their lives without a flicker of hesitation.

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

From Dust Till Dawn: A policemen wearing a face mask directs truck traffic in Bhiwandi, a grimy warehouse town on the outskirts of Mumbai

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

Ambitions of the Fast Lane: New Cuffe Parade, an aspirationally titled luxury apartment complex by the Lodha Group looms over the Wadala truck terminal, a dying transport hub after operators shifted base outside the city to Kalamboli and Nhava Sheva which offer better connectivity to ports. Truck operators say the MMRDAis shutting down the terminal and will hand it over to builders for redevelopment in order to exploit the elevated commercial land rates in Wadala

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

In Repose: Rajput truck drivers rest their bones at the Kalamboli truck terminal, a transitory home for more than 300 trucks, after another hard day on the road

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

Dying Flicker: A mechanic welds together the damaged body of a 15-year-old truck in the Kalamboli truck terminal

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

Overtakers: The Chembur-Wadala monorail zooms past an abandoned truck body squashed beyond recognition at the Wadala truck terminal

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

Gleaming Earnestness: A grubby mechanic in his natural habitat at the Kalamboli truck terminal

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

Yahan Sabhi Hero Hain: A truck driver clips his nose hair at the Kalamboli truck terminal

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

An Offer You Can’t Refuse: One of India’s innumerable faceless panwallas holds up a Banarsi paan stuffed with 120 tambaku, pakka supari and elaichi, a dangerous delicacy among truck drivers

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

Working Class Heroes: Truck terminals aren’t all about drivers. These are the peripheral participants of the Wadala truck terminal

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

Hope and Fate: Kudduz Khan, a 25-year veteran from Sultanpur district, reminiscing about the time he escaped unscathed from a serious accident after falling asleep at the wheel. “Aankhein khuli thi, par dimaag so gaya tha,” he says sheepishly

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

The Aftermath: A truck body turned inside out at the Kalamboli truck terminal

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

Only The Liver Knows: Empy alcohol bottles gleaming in the sunlight after an evening of post-road revelry at the Kalamboli truck terminal

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

Daku Daddy: A grizzled veteran truck driver of 37 years from Bhilwara can recall paying 25 paise bribes to Bombay hawaldars

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

A Numbers Game: A serious game of cards in session at Mistry Compound, Bhiwandi

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

In The Zone: Drivers, mechanics and panwallahs congregate at the Kalamboli weighing bridge to enjoy a spirited game of kanche (marbles)

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

Rubber Redemption: A tyre mechanic from Kasargod, Kerala. Kerala tyre shops can be found all over India, possibly because of the state’s longstanding association with rubber cultivation

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

Unsung and Unseen: A mechanic checks up on a tyre in the fading sunlight at the Wadala truck terminal

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

Fear Of The Gaze: The time Ozzie hopped onto the top of a truck at the Kalamboli truck terminal. We were trying our luck but ultimately, he had to climb down after a gentleman in a safari suit raced on his motorcycle to our spot and asked us to cease all activity. Photography has been the irrational bane of Indian officialdom, more so since the Internet has threatened to expose wrongdoing with a click and an upload

Fueling India - Photos by Ozzie Hoppe, Words by Rajat Ubhaykar

Culture of Consumption: Trucks ride past a sooty factory opposite the Wadala truck terminal

 

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