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Day 2: Peshawar

Peshawar, Pakistan 
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Partridge and mountain peaks. A romantic image of home comes to life in a truck painterís yard in Peshawar.
Michael Palin - HimalayaIf artistic self-expression has an outlet in Peshawar it seems to be in transport. Taxis, buses, auto-rickshaws and trucks are rampantly customized, bedecked with lurid colours, gleaming attachments, chrome strips, mirrors, glittering lights, prods, protuberances and general ornamentation that would have them instantly pulled over by the police in any Western city.

Zahoor takes me to a grimy yard on the outskirts of the city, where a half-dozen trucks are being beautified by teams of painters and mechanics, welders and artists, working side by side in Ruskinian harmony. They're assisted by a number of young boys, helping out fathers, uncles and cousins, and learning how to strip down gear-boxes long before their voices break.

Decoration is ubiquitous and uninhibited. No inch of the vehicle, apart from the windscreen and the tyres, remains unadorned. Everywhere else is covered in whatever the owner and artist agree on, from abstract shapes to animals, birds, flowers, vignettes of mountain scenery, roadside views, Koranic verses, names and Roman numerals.

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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 2: Peshawar
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Peshawar
  • Book page no: 16

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