Sunday, November 29, 2009

Still Life with Marbles

When I got into the taxi today, the driver seemed intent on telling me about the various Buddhist and Thai objects on the dashboard. First, he gave me a history lesson about King Rama V (whose image is found on the statuette in the background). Then, he told me about the various monks who are depicted on the amulets, as figurines, and in the old photo. The only thing he didn't tell me about were the marbles behind the grouping. So, I asked him about them, assuming they were superstitious or religious in nature. He told me his kid forgot them in his cab the other day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Taxi Bulletin Board

Many Bangkok cabbies like to attach pictures of the King of Thailand, Buddha, famous monks, and family members to the ceiling of their taxis. With the images and photos pinned to the surface, the cab ceilings are almost like bulletin boards. The only thing missing are handmade photo-copied ads from people selling things and flyers from pet owners looking for their lost cats.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Monk Art

For something different, I thought I'd compare a few different styles of monk drawings on taxi ceilings. I think it's interesting how the monk used a smearing technique in the first one to give it the feeling of movement, and I like the way the monk used a repetition of dots in the second drawing to create rhythm. In the third piece, I enjoy looking at the thick application of the medium, or the impasto. I wonder if the monks developed these styles and techniques on their own, or if they learned it in monk art school.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Invulnerable Taxi

Today, my cabbie drove like a maniac. He constantly changed lanes as he swerved to avoid motorcyclists, and he turned every corner super fast and sharp causing the tires to squeal. As we flew through the streets of Bangkok, the monk pendant in the front of the car constantly swung back and forth. You'd think the cabbie would be a little less reckless considering that he has a religious icon hanging in his taxi (and taking into account that he has a passenger in the back seat!). Then again, maybe the cabbie thinks he's impervious to danger with the monk image protecting him.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Game Show Taxi

When I got into this taxi today, the first thing I noticed were the five tiny statuettes sitting on the top edge of the rear view mirror. When I asked the driver if I could take photos of them, he asked if I knew all their names. He then challenged me to name each of the Buddhist icons. I got three out of five right, but since I didn't know the names of all of them, I didn't win the grand prize.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Disney Magic

In Thailand, even Mickey Mouse can be a talisman. Standing guard in his fencing uniform on the dashboard of this taxi, Mickey helps to protect the cab, the driver, and the passengers. In the context of this Bangkok cab, placed among Buddha and Buddhist monk statuettes, this happy-go-lucky mouse with a squeaky voice has taken on the role of a religious icon. I wonder what Walt Disney would have thought about this.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Money Fish

The other day, my taxi driver was chatting with me about inflation in Bangkok. The topic came up when he started talking about his fish made out of folded money. He pointed out that the paper bill used to make the body is a twenty baht note, while the fins are made from out-of-circulation ten baht bills. The cabbie went on to reminisce about the good 'ol days in Bangkok when you could buy a huge bowl of noodles for ten baht. And then he complained about how the price of street food has tripled in the last twenty years. I almost suggested to the driver that he use the money from his fish. If he disassembled it, he'd have enough cash for a big bowl of "bamee" noodles, a glass of "cha yen" (Thai-style iced tea), and he'd even have some spare change left over.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Troubled Monk

The Buddhist monk on the incantation cloth doesn't look well. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he's green. Also, the way his facial expression is drawn makes him look troubled and dispirited. This might be overly superstitious, but I think the monk's suffering could be alleviated if the thumbtack was removed from his stomach.