Now Reading
‘Beware of Smiling Faces’: Paradise’s ‘Poets on Wheels’

‘Beware of Smiling Faces’: Paradise’s ‘Poets on Wheels’

+9
View Gallery

Drivers in Kashmir are known for putting out some amusing lines on their cab screens and shields. While the world around them is changing fast, they still carry their pining hearts and painful couplets.


In the city of seven bridges swooped by scrutiny swarm, a pensive man is finding it hard to run his survival ride. The roads are no longer free. There’re barriers, barricades and batons around.

The renewed tensions triggered by targeted killings in Kashmir and their rattling upshots are making it a bumpy ride for this poor cab driver.

His glowering mood and glum outlook conveniently map a commoner’s misery in Kashmir today. 

Plight of Paradise. / MI Photo by Mumin Gul

He carries his own broken paradise with him. On the backside of his three-wheeler, the name is speaking volumes. With suspicion running amok around him, he awaits customers with his tired eyes and dismissive expressions. Life, it seems, has become some jinx.

That Optimist in Us. / MI Photo by Mumin Gul

But while he grapples with the unleashed gloom, someone in the woeful vale is endorsing a smile. Much of this spirit comes from the lived experience making many believe that terrible things eventually run out of their course.

Support Our Journalism

You are reading this because you value quality and serious journalism.

But, serious journalism needs serious support. We need readers like you to support us and pay for making quality and independent journalism more vibrant.

A Koshur Thing. / MI Photo by Mumin Gul

Amid sorrow and smile, the screens flash the deep-rooted affection making things easier and perhaps meaningful for masses in the valley. 

Dream Boy. / MI Photo by Mumin Gul

Some dream merchants on driver’s seat display some quixotic elements to amuse the anxious commoners on street. This liveliness in the lifeless times does alter that sullen state of mind. 

Express Ride. / MI Photo by Mumin Gul

He might bear no resemblance with that “Controversially Yours” Pindi player, but then he’s quite assertive about him being an Express unto Himself. After all, it’s all about speed!

Poetic Window. / MI Photo by Mumin Gul

The couplet on the screen is the writing on the wall, as the poet in this wheelman is expressively speaking for his class.  

Smile Statement. / MI Photo by Mumin Gul

Apart from their telling couplets, the mountain drivers are quite legendary for their one-liners. Here, he comes up with a subtle warning!

See Also

Looking at Lucky Boy. / MI Photo by Mumin Gul

Sometimes these screen statements are spot on. Just look at the faceoff here! Lucky Boy is being praised for not the heck of it. 

That Old Affection. / MI Photo by Mumin Gul

These hulk buses of yore, barring their remaining-rundown cousins still running on roads, carry that divine line. In times of tumult, such lines invoking Heavens became a signature comment on the valley’s uncertain life.

Signature Writing. / MI Photo by Mumin Gul

Many of these rides might’ve already become redundant or outlived their utility, but their moniker lines are still Mushtaq—yearning.

Telling Bravado. / MI Photo by Mumin Gul

But the wheel lines aren’t always about a lament on lost love, some talk about daredevilry amid despair and distress. 

Yes, Why So Serious? / MI Photo by Mumin Gul

And then comes a joker with the last laugh: “Why so serious?”

Advertisement

Advertisement

Mountain Ink is now on Telegram. Subscribe here.

Become Our Ally

To help us strengthen the tradition of quality reading and writing, we need allies like YOU. Subscribe to us.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2019-2021 Mountain Ink. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top