As a truck driver in Saudi Arabia, I am always on the move. That’s how it has been since 2011.
Jeddah is almost 1,500km from Jubail, where I live. Places en route like Riyadh only allow trucks at certain hours of the day, so we take stops in between and wait. Including sleeping breaks, it takes us almost 36 hours one way to reach our destination.
The road goes on and on and on. You feel like you have been driving forever, only to realise there is still 1,000km of asphalt left.
It tests your patience. Fortunately, there are other Nepali drivers on the road. The dreary driving is mutual so we keep each other company on the phone throughout our journey. When my phone is quiet for a bit, I get a call from a fellow long hauler who reminds me to stay awake. Then he tells me a joke.
This is the camaraderie I share with my fellow gurus. Yes, just like back home in Nepal, we call drivers ‘guru’ here in the desert, too.
In Nepal, trucks have funny or inspirational messages painted on their back. It is not allowed here. But some of us have managed to just write ‘Nepal’ on our trucks.
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During food stops, we pool our resources and cook together in our tiny makeshift kitchen in the truck. It is more fun and easier that way, but also saves us money. Of course, we always opt for dal, bhat and chicken curry.
After doing this for 10 years, I have never got tired of the magical way the sand dunes on either side of the highway change their colours and textures. These are shades of reds and browns that I have never seen before.
We get to the point from where there is another 600km more to go, and that is when I start feeling more upbeat. As we get closer to our destination, our mood starts to shift. By the time we have less than 50km left, we start honking at each other in celebration and there is a huge sense of relief and accomplishment even though we may have done the route many times.
My first few trips were exciting. I had places to be, things to deliver. But it soon started feeling monotonous. Day turns into night, and into day again, and you are driving along in that endless ribbon of road.
Of late, I have started opting for shorter routes which are quicker and also better for my health. Now that I have worked in the company for many years, I have a say on my route preferences.