Book Review: deewan-i-Transport

Posted on February 15, 2009
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Books, Humor, Poetry
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Owais Mughal

Just last week, I got hold of this poetry book which blew me away. I thought this was the book that I had been waiting for. ‘tha intizaar jis ka, woh shahkaar aa gaya’. Mr. S.M. Shaiq has collected almost 400 ashaar (verses) written on Pakistani transport and published them in the form of a book titled ‘deewan-e-transport’ (see the title photo to the right). kiyooN? hai na mazay ki baat !!!.

I have selected 20 out of 400 ashaar found in this 204-page-book to be shared here. To translate Urdu poetry in English requires special talent, which I don’t have. I’ve tried to translate few ashaar literally but not poetically. If our readers want to give it a try, I may add your translation in the post here. Give it a try!

The background of this ‘sher’ is that Dina is a city 16 km west of Jhelum city on highway N5. If you are traveling East to West on N5 then Dina is further ahead of Jhelum.


Following sher made me laugh and therefore I chose it to share here. A lot of imagination has gone behind the creative thought presented here.


I have become so weak in the sorrowness of your separation
Even the bed bugs are able to drag me out of the bed


Following sher has this phoenetic feeling to it. A donkey’s bray is considered an unpleasant sound in Pakistan. The literal translation is that the poet kept braying like a donkey whole night while crying and waiting for the beloved to show up.


Another important aspect of the book is that Shaiq Saheb has not tried to do any ‘islaah’ (correction) on the poetry. This has preserved the natural innocence and ‘be-saakhtagi’ (spontaneity) of the transport poetry. Many ‘ashaar’ are not hum-wazan, and many have problem with ‘tazkeer-o-taanees’ (gender) e.g. feminine words sometimes are refered to as masculine and vice versa. But this lawlessness in poetry is what makes it so colorful and enjoyable. For example enjoy the following sher which presents its subjects in reverse gender.


Who says we don’t get to see each other?
We do get to see each other
we don’t get to talk to each other


Following sher probably qualifies as prose, but nevertheless it conveys its meaning in an innocent way.


Turned a corner, broke the motion, broke the body
broke the axel, and had to faced the truck owner
Lost the job, went home and got beaten by elder brother.


I must also say that every now and then one does comes across a very standard poetry sample, which makes one think in admiration of poetic sense of its creator as well as the transport owner. e.g. Look at this sher written on a vehicle spotted in Rawalpindi:


People of my city look extra happy today
It is as if they’ ve not read the daily news


Following sher which was spotted on a Karachi truck actually comes from an authentic Urdu language poet, janaab Iftikhar Nasim. The copyrights of this sher belong to him and we have been fortunate enough that he also left us a comment below this post.


All the prayers were left bundled in holy covers on a higher shelf
As sons left homes for their journeys, mothers were left home alone


S.M. Shaiq has dedicated this book to all drivers, Cleaners, Mechanics and transporters of Pakistan who despite all hardships are keeping the wheel of economy moving from Karachi to Landi kotal.



My vehicle is a flying saucer
And I am its lonely occupant



O’ God! why is the mail not coming?
Has love reduced or the post office is closed?



O’ take a look at these passing buses
Observe human disgrace and lack of control
Is it a lie when I say
Just on this one route,
thousands of humans are packed like chicken.








I love following sher. See how simply the life phillosophy and exploitation of a human by the hands of another human is portrayed here.


A human is biting another human
A snake is just sitting on the side and smiling


Another one which is right out of the books of philosophy.


I broke the mirror into one hundred pieces
and looked at myself
I was alone in one mirror
as well as alone in one hundred


I selected following sher because it made me smile. It is very spontaneous. Almost abrupt.

S.M. Shaiq has not only meticulously collected these ‘ashaar‘ but also noted down the ‘Number Plates’ of the vehicles from which he copied them. In the preface of the book, Shaiq Saheb tells us that one of his ‘gham-e-rozgaar’ (employment) required him to travel by road in Pakistan a lot and he enjoyed reading poetry written at the back of Pakistani trucks etc. Very soon he found himself collecting this great treasure of poetry and finally gave it a book form.

An Audio Clip of S.M. Shaiq

An Audio Clip of S.M. Shaiq, where he talks about this book project can be heard here.

How to Get This Book?

If you need info on how to get this book please email at or it can also be bought from

37 Comments on “Book Review: deewan-i-Transport

  1. Anwar says:
    February 15th, 2009 10:46 pm

    Wonderful – thanks for positing. Enjoyed every bit of it. Hope this collection available on Amazon…

  2. Zack says:
    February 15th, 2009 11:34 pm

    While I enjoyed the “poetry”, what exactly is achieved by posting Urdu in image form? Wouldn’t it be better if you converted the English portions here into jpeg images?

  3. bdtmz says:
    February 15th, 2009 11:39 pm

    enjoyed the post but wudnt it be better if u write in unicode urdu?

    hoping to see in action soon.

  4. Tanveer says:
    February 16th, 2009 12:44 am

    Very very interesting. For years I had been thinking that someone should do this – collect all the truck and rickshaw poetry. Glad to see they have. Will go later today to find a copy.

  5. Tanveer says:
    February 16th, 2009 12:45 am

    My favorite:

    Gari mera uran khatola
    Baitha hua houn iss mein akela

  6. Janeeta says:
    February 16th, 2009 2:17 am

    Finally somebody thought of compiling these gems .. i counldnt stop smiling after reading this …. great effort by S. M. Shaiq

  7. Aslam says:
    February 16th, 2009 4:32 am

    Number 12 is best:

    ya illahi tujhy maloom hay nahi deekh sakta……….
    …….. Mujhy manzoor hay is ki khatir randwa ho na

  8. adeel says:
    February 16th, 2009 8:25 am

    Hehe… thanks for this Owais. Enjoyed the poetry. I hope to get my hands on the book one day.

    Here’s a playful one my friend found out.
    mil gayee tey rozee,
    na milee tey roza

  9. Qausain Ali says:
    February 16th, 2009 8:36 am

    lol… Zabardast!
    My fav:
    “Aysa karo gey to kon ayega”
    “Bhens ki dum yohe nahi Ghalib,
    kuch to hay jis ki parda dari hay”

  10. February 16th, 2009 8:46 am

    hahaha…hilarious. I really enjoyed this poetry.

  11. Tazeen says:
    February 16th, 2009 8:54 am

    Hilarious indeed

    but it came out a good 7 years ago if i am not wrong.

  12. Expat says:
    February 16th, 2009 1:10 pm

    There is one I read some time back on a truck in karachi

    Ay haseena khoobsoorat tu kitni nadaan hai
    Soch samagh ke dil lagana, yeh balochistan hai.

  13. Rasheed says:
    February 16th, 2009 1:57 pm


    I saw this one in a bus long ago:

    “Ujaalay apni yaadon kay hamaaray saath rehnay do
    Na jaanay kiss galee main zindagee kee shaam ho jaae”

  14. aijaz says:
    February 16th, 2009 3:27 pm

    probably this shair is also in this book,

    driveron ki zindagi bhi ik ajab khel hai
    mot se jo bach gai tau phir central jail hai

  15. Owais Mughal says:
    February 16th, 2009 3:32 pm


    Yes the sher you quoted is there in the book.

  16. readinglord says:
    February 16th, 2009 6:39 pm

    Good: At last the ‘Truck shaieri’ has been recognized as a valid branch of literature. In fact truck drivers on long routes going alone for days together in strange lands do become shaair and even aarif. Here is a shehr I read on a truck while traveling from Islamabad to Atak:

    ‘Chalte chalte thak gaey to poochha paaon ke chhaalon ne
    Basti kitni door basaai dil mein basne waalon ne”

    Ise mahrfat mein lein to aur bhi mazaa aaey ga,

  17. February 16th, 2009 10:33 pm

    # 7 is a very famous shair of “Iftikhar Naseem”

    Taaq per juzdaaN main lipti duaaiN reh gaiN
    chal diye bete safar per, ghar main MaaiN reh gaiN

  18. Jarrar says:
    February 17th, 2009 2:23 pm


    Very good article man.


  19. Zia Ahmed says:
    February 18th, 2009 1:57 am

    Nice collection, I wish i could get this book!

  20. virk says:
    February 18th, 2009 4:06 am

    # 6
    ya “Geo na dekha ho jasa”

  21. February 18th, 2009 10:54 pm

    This made my day:) TOO brilliant!

  22. Muneeb says:
    February 19th, 2009 6:28 am

    hahahah this is hilarious …

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book and sharing some cook verses from it.

    I really appreciate what you just shared today.

    Looking forward for your next post.

  23. Adnan Ahmad says:
    February 19th, 2009 9:15 am

    Hilarious! You missed “mussaafir jald uthatein hein jo jaanaa’n door hota hey..” :):) S.M. Shaiq has made song writing easy for Eesa Khailvi sahib.

  24. zafar says:
    February 20th, 2009 3:39 am

    “mein bhe musafir hon logo….yeh aur baat hai ke merai haath mein stearing hai! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !.what an idea represent by the “poet”of these two lines.i really like and enjoy motor poetry.some time we can`t believe,what are they saying! ! ! !and what we understanding! ! ! ! ! .

  25. Pinny says:
    February 20th, 2009 1:24 pm

    Oh man, these are amazing. The only thing better would’ve been photographs of this literature as it appears in nature. Somebody needs to do that ASAP.

  26. Siaysi Aadmi says:
    February 20th, 2009 10:28 pm


    That was a great book. I have just ordered one online from this website incase anyone is interested.

  27. Aroosa says:
    February 21st, 2009 8:46 am

    This is quite interesting. Can anyone tell me how to contact the writer S. M Shaiq for an interview?

  28. Owais Mughal says:
    February 27th, 2009 12:21 am

    I heard this one on radio just now. The radio host had read this on the back of a truck in Pakistan:

    howay aqal te sochaaN hi sochaaN
    na howay te mojaaN hi mojaaN

  29. Translator says:
    March 2nd, 2009 10:22 am

    I am surprised there has been not one attempt at translating some of these as Owais suggested. Here’s my attempt at taking up his challenge.

    Gone, with you, my appetite too, a lot of weight I have shed
    To the extent, li’l bed bugs can, now drag me out of my bed

    On buses, in the streets and in wagons too
    shared journeys with a gaggle of insensitive brute
    Those who can’t stop claiming to be macho men
    Seen them occupy ladies’ seats and not give a hoot

    Sprinkled a little water on my pillow and slept
    They thought, remembering them, all night, I wept

  30. Owais Mughal says:
    March 2nd, 2009 11:16 am

    Dear Translator ! Good job on translations. Your trsanslations have kept the original meanings intact.

  31. March 7th, 2009 5:46 pm

    i am trying to send this e mail but was not successful. this sher
    taq par juzdan mein lipti duain reh gain
    is mine . tariq gave me his brother shaiq’s book. i am honored and thrilled .you can read my ghazal on
    iftikhar nasim

  32. Owais Mughal says:
    March 7th, 2009 10:33 pm

    Iftikhar Naseem Saheb, I have added due credits to you in sher # 7 above. So very nice of you that you dropped at our website here and wrote us a few lines. That sher # 7 is one of my favourites in this collections. It hits very close to home for me as I am also one of those ‘tarek-e-watan’ who are on a constant ‘safar’ where as ‘juzdaan mein lipti duaaeN’ and the mother is left at home. Your ‘sher’ is very painful but very real. That is why i chose it here.

  33. Owais Mughal says:
    March 23rd, 2009 11:09 am

    I noticed the book is also available for sale at

  34. Owais Mughal says:
    April 4th, 2009 11:59 pm

    I found this photo album at flickr which has photos of writings on Pakistani vehicles. See here

  35. zain anum says:
    May 6th, 2009 6:43 pm


  36. Muhammad Farooq says:
    September 26th, 2009 1:58 am

    Chalo kisi ki mehnat to rung laaie, Well done!

  37. June 12th, 2011 9:53 pm

    Lovely, nice presentation of the events. When will we stop blaming everyone else for conducting wrong to us? this all describes our own weaknesses and its time we got our act together and weeded out our weaknesses.

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