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The Captains of the Road.

Aa narrative poem set on The Grand Trunk Road.

This poem is dedicated to our many friends among the Sikh community who earn their living on the long-distance lorry-routes of the national highways. By their boundless energy, charm, loyalty and good humour, the wheels of commerce are kept moving.

Upon the national highways, along the Grand Trunk Road
In an endless trail advancing come the Captains of the Road.
I see their headlights flashing, their horns are blaring still.
Their thunder dies in passing, but the echoes never will…

From Bombay to Calcutta, from Lucknow to Kathmandu
I've convoyed with these gallant men, these noble hearts and true
We've chased the stars together and watched the setting sun;
We've had our testing moments, but we've also had our fun..

Beware the coloured turbans, the beards with sex appeal,
Flags and pretty light proclaim: 'A Sardar at the wheel!'
'Flee the road or perish!', they more appropriately might say,
Than the commonly favoured slogans: 'Horn Please! Thank You! OK!'

In the lowlands, on the hillside, over mountain pass and fell,
The gaily painted chariots thunder on to Tunikel.
The dust bewails their passing, every village bears the scars;
If they terrorise the bullock carts, they petrify the cars..

About the highway tandurs, at morning, noon or night,
Their merry gossip babbles on, their hearts are ever light.
Tales of high adventure, of men and fancy free:
Of love and laughter, song and dance, and living dangerously.

Arrested by a puncture or an over-balanced load,
Defiant stands the gallant steed in centre of the road!
Protectively, a ring of stones a claim to highway keeps;
And behold, beneath the chassis, the bearded captain sleeps!

Ahead repeated tragedy may catch the roving eye;
The price of taking endless risks - to triumph, or to die.
The sheesham claims its victim, yet quite incredibly,
Unscathed, the smiling charioteer sits brewing fresh his tea!

Now codes of honour have their place, and you might rightly guess
That Captains of the Road don't fail a fellow in distress.
No chain? No rope? No gasoline? when others helpless feel,
Off comes a purple turban to be fitted to the wheel.

The grinning face, the sparkling eye, ambassadors of cheer,
Each one a living likeness of the Laughing Cavalier.
The core of every mischief, the butt of every joke,
This little tale, with due respect, we finally invoke.

Many years before his time a jaunty Sardar went
To face the courts of Heaven - by misadventure sent.
'You have come, my friend, before your time' the judge in session said.
The Sardar smiled, he stroked his beard and sadly shook his head.

I have driven, sir, a million miles through every kind of hell:
And once, just once, unwitting, to temptation's call I fell.
She spoke so softly, gently, and coyly looked at me.
Then all the way to heaven drove that pretty Sardarni!

The Captain was young and handsome, the judge was wise and old.
The Sardarni was acquitted - or that is what we're told!
No need for counsel either, no need for argument
When Sardar faces Sardar, only the brave comment.

Kya baat hai, Sardarji, this simply will not do!
However coy Sardarni, she may not sit with you.
You took a risk, my dear sir, of that there is no doubt.
Ensuing garbaration is what this trial's about.

Hazur-e-ala ka, hukum main manta hun,
But running on the GT Road calls for some risk too!
Yeh sacha pyar hai, quite absolutely true,
So kindly sochna Bhai Sahib, and see what you can do.

Mukadama mushkil hai, shaid sach bhi ho,
But what to do about it I simply do not know.
If there is a jurum, some saza there must be,
But, within my jurisdiction, handled differently

Mitigating circumstances have their place in law,
And more so here than elsewhere, of that you may be sure:
Some consideration to courage must be given
And the million miles you drove - all the way to Heaven.

Ah Ho! You are a Captain, a Captain of the Road;
Is karan your story so fully has been told.
Let jury now consider: Jo bole……so nihal,
And announce the verdict boldly: Sat Sri Akal.

You may be able to get a translation of italicized text by placing your cursor over it.


Kay baat hai = What is the matter? (i.e. what is going on?)
Garbaration = Confusion
Hazur-e-ala ka = Your Honour
Hukum main manta hun = I will obey orders
Yeh sacha pyar hai = This is true love
Sochna = Think.
Mukadama mushkil hai = A difficult case
Shaid sach bhi ho = It is probably also true
Jurum = Offence
Saza = Punishment
Ah! Ho! = Yes! So!
Is Karan = For this reason
Jo bole so nihal = He who speaks (thus) will be victorious.
Sat Sri Akal = Truth is timeless

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Last changed
6th August 2001.