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PREFACE

Where do I begin?

And where do I end?

It's a challenge.

It has been a long drawn affair. I have been sucked into its orbit and honestly unable to retrieve from its octopus-like grip.

Am I cribbing? Nope.

Not at all.

This affair with Indian highways is enchanting. Educative. Most times it helps me clear my mental cobwebs on a host of issues concerning my fellow human beings. Businessmen. Ordinary men - like you and I. Rulers and policy makers.

No doubt, am happy to note the growth story of India - however sputtering it might be. If only a few things can change, how different the lives of my 1.2 billion fellow Indians be.

Simple respect for fellow human beings will bring about a sea change in the way in which the Indian trade and commerce is being carried out. But that is something similar to asking for the moon at this moment.

Imagine a day from dawn to dusk and you will unhesitatingly accept that without them- HCV drivers, to be precise - you and I will be leading a stone age lifestyle.

Do we care to admit that? Not at all.

If we do, then the loud cry about the looming driver shortage - 5 million by 2015 - will be just a dream, not an emerging reality.

Without drivers at the wheels of the fast-trundled out sophisticated dashboards in trucks that carry raw materials from production lines and subsequently finished products to nooks and corners, the Indian economy story will turn negative. Do we need that?

Honestly, none of us want that.

The life of truck drivers on Indian highways is pathetic. After turning the spotlight on this issue through my maiden book, 10,000 KM On Indian Highways, I did not - and could not stop the odyssey. By the time I clocked 21,000 KM in December 2012, I sat down to look at the fresh experience and nothing has changed as far as drivers were concerned.

But one thing has changed. There is a greater discussion about how to usher in a change of mindset all around - involving stakeholders. That's a pleasant development for me.

The government is keen. Industry is eager. Yes, driver community is watching this minutely changing script. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Certainly. But, at this moment, that 'light' is far away.

Still, am happy that there is that hope.

Don't forget that dirty-looking, lungi-clad, bidi smoking, illiterate truck driver who ensured that you have your Colgate toothpaste ready in the morning to brush your teeth. Your scented lavender bathing soap in the washing room. Your bread toast and hot beverage on the breakfast table. As you sit behind the wheel of your own vehicle, the personal mobility item itself and the diesel/petrol in its belly to move you wherever you wish to go. The mouth-watering lunch at home or workplace. And your favourite tippler as you shut down your day's work and decided to chill out. This list is endless.

All, courtesy, that man - the truck driver.

It's said that God is omnipresent and omnipotent.

To me, this guy - the truck driver is more omnipotent and omnipresent.

The only difference is that God knows his strengths.

This Dirty Man does not.

It is a pity.

The day he knows that, it will be a different world for you and me.

The future is tense. Let us change our behaviour.

It's never too late.