Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Warm and Cozy

There's a joke in Thailand that there are three seasons: hot, hotter, and hottest. In Bangkok the phrase "warm and cozy" rarely comes to mind. I usually reserve those words for a mug of hot cocoa on a snowy day back in the States, or for a big wooly pullover sweater. But in the the interior of one Bangkok taxi, the words "warm and cozy" seem appropriate.

Several months ago, I got into a taxi and I couldn't believe what I was seeing (and feeling underneath me). Almost every major surface in the taxi was covered in knit material. All the seat covers, the ceiling, the top of the dashboard, the "gloves" for the gear shift and turn signal, and even the cover for the tissue box were hand-knit in bright yellow and sky blue yarn with hot pink accents.

The driver told me that his wife in the Northeast (Isaan) had knit everything for him. When he told me, I couldn't help but notice that he got a bit teary-eyed. He missed his family. He had come to the city alone, like so many other taxi drivers in Bangkok, away from his wife and children, to make a living and to send a large portion of his income home.

It was clear the knitting was a pure act of love. And, it made me think about how hand-knit things are intended to provide warmth and comfort, and how they're a reminder of the person who made it. At that point, it brought back good memories of the thoughtful gifts of handmade knit blankets, scarves, gloves, sweaters, and socks I've received in my own lifetime.

Some might get into the taxi and consider it bad taste. It might remind them of an itchy sweater their auntie knit for them in a hideous color. But, I've never felt warmer or cozier in a taxi, never mind that it was 95 degrees outside that day.