H. Kishie Singh
Being involved with motorsports for the past about 40 years, we were obliged to carry stickers. They announced the name of the event, organisers and date. Then there were stickers of the sponsors, oil companies, tyre manufacturers and the like. Never an objection from anyone! The one restriction was: no religious, political or vulgar slogans. All the competitors are sports people and have no time for such mundane things!
Every time I came back from a motorsports event, my car would have a blaze of stickers. At a car wash, I would often hear, “Uncle ji sticker de do!”. Same from the tyrewallah, the petrol pump attendant, the parking lot girl. Friends, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, everyone wants a sticker!
So what is it about stickers? Why such a craze? One answer is that it transfers your car into a special and outstanding prized possession. It adds instant character to your car and you! My daughter bought a car, white in colour. She went shopping came back and said, “Pa, please put a sticker on my car. Every car in the parking lot was white. I had a hard time finding my car!”
Let’s face it. Most cars today, in an attempt to be aerodynamic, end up looking alike. Gone are the days of 1950s and ’60s when each manufacturer had an individual signature on the design — be it the tailfins, headlights or gull wing doors. Today, cars lack identity and are uniformly ugly. So, the stickers come to the rescue! Stickers started off as bumper stickers. Humorous one liner’s on the rear bumper. It was meant to relieve boredom of drivers stuck in a traffic jam. It soon developed into an art form. Andy Warhol, the famous pop artist, plastered his car with Heinz baked beans and tomato juice labels! No objections; only appreciation, fun and fame. This evolved into rear-end slogans, another art form and very creative. I do believe Punjab leads the way. Sample this:
Meme di zindagi biscuit and cake
Trucker di zindagi clutch and brake!
Who can object to such philosophy, imagination, a keen observation which comments on our social society?
The photograph of the car to the left, Robin’s (name not changed), with this piece, is lovingly adorned with stickers. It is his toy and he has beautified it. Who can object to it and why? It is one’s freedom of expression.
A problem’s brewing: Spring has sprung and holiday rush for hill stations will soon start. What if the transit cars have stickers? To burden Chandigarh Police with a non-issue is not necessary.
On my first driving holiday in England, a police car overtook me and slowed down so that I could read the slogan on the car’s rear end. It said:
Don’t do an Emly White,
She signalled left then turned right!
On one point there can be no debate. No VIP status to be displayed. This is meant to bully the attendants at toll booths and parking lots: “Yeh sarkari gaadi hai!” So what? They are the real nuisance. Ban them!
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