Way back in 1976 I picked up a delightful photographic book called Afghan Trucks, published by the Stonehill Publishing Company in New York. The photographer was Jean-Charles Blanc, who obviously had a far easier time trucking around Afghanistan than a photographer would today. The brief introduction says nothing about the photographer. It does say a lot about Afghan drivers:

“The driver and his mates are conditioned to a hard, lonely, even painful life, but its austerity is brightened by the dazzling exterior decor of the truck. Flowers transform it into a moving oasis: with rows of tulips and bouquets of roses clinging to its sides, the Afghan truck is like a traveling art gallery wending its way through arid mountains and deserts.
The truck uses a startling variety of pictorial themes to announce its presence: aerial battles; rockets and interstellar spacecraft; armadas of galleons and fleets of steamers; duels fought to the death between savage beasts; Rustam grappling with a lion; a telephone gently plucked by a candy-pink hand. Each scene helps to celebrate the advent of the lorry amongst the men of the high plateaux and lost valleys for whom a thousand years of isolation have come to an end. These luminous comic strip images have become the food for the daydreams and fantasies of the Afghan peasant…”

to be continued