23 September, 2020

All Bull

A cartographic look at the contradiction that is India

All Bull

For centuries India knew only the bullock cart. People sat hunched within its wooden frame jostling from side to side, slowly inching their way up the road. The ancient bulls snorted, progress was slow. Then came technology, the Birlas and the Hindustan Ambassador. People sat hunched within a metal frame, jostling from side to side. The wheel creaked, the engine snorted. It was not so different from the bullock cart, but in the ‘50s and ‘60s it was India’s own symbol of a fast, fuel-efficient urban transport.

Under the title ‘Old cars never die, they only move to India’, an article appeared not so long ago, in the Automotive Digest in England. Its cynical message hurt, because it hit the truth. The bullock cart was after all, an Ambassador with the leathery hide of an animal, the Ambassador, the reluctant animal duplicated in steel. When it was weary after that long hot ride to the neighbour’s house its bald tyres were removed from the rims, so the body could regain its balance under the cool shade of a leafy tamarind tree. At tea...



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