Monday, February 27, 2012

Fear No Taxi

One way to differentiate the various types of Buddha images is by their hand gestures, or mudras. This particular statuette hanging from a rearview mirror in a Bangkok cab depicts the Buddha standing with his right hand raised. Known as the abhaya mudra, this gesticulation represents fearlessness. As the driver of this taxi recklessly swerved in and out of traffic lanes, I could see why this cabby handpicked this image to worship in his taxi.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Drowsy Cabby

Today was the first time I had to wake my taxi driver. He dozed off at a red light and didn't notice that the light had changed green. This is unusual as Bangkok cabbies are normally wired on energy drinks and/or caffeine. On the other hand, considering that most taxi drivers here work 12 hour shifts with few days off, it's amazing that it doesn't happen more often.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cabby Collection

A single pine-scented air-freshener dangling from the rearview mirror? Not in this taxi. The driver has been collecting and filling up his cab with coins, tasseled golden charms, votive statuettes, amulets, stickers, and plastic baubles for fifteen years. If he did have an air-freshener (which, I might add, he sorely needs), he would have already stockpiled forty of them in a variety of scents.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thai Tartan

If you head upcountry in Thailand, you'll see plaid cloths like this one all over the place, but it's not something you see in Bangkok very often these days. These colorful textiles known as pha khao ma are traditionally worn by men around their waists and have a multitude of other uses including as a head-wrap for farmers, as a cloth for swaddling babies, as a type of sarong to wear around the house, as a pillow when bundled together, and as a pack when gathering certain items such as herbs, rice, salt, and chilies. In the case of taxi drivers, it can be employed as a striking seat cover with a homespun feel.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thai Marlboro Man

It's not everyday that you see an ashtray and a pack of cigarettes on display in a Bangkok taxi. So, I asked the driver about his Marlboros and it turns out that he doesn't even smoke. An American passenger gave him this pack a few years ago and he thought that it looked cool and decided to show it off. I'll have to admit that it does suit his style. He was wearing Levi's and Ran-Bans, and lying in the backseat was his leather jacket and cowboy hat. But at least this Thai Marlboro man has less of a chance of developing emphysema.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Karaoke Taxi

Karaoke is big in Thailand, so it should come as no surprise that some Bangkok taxis offer this form of entertainment. On a long ride home the other evening, I was in the perfect mood to belt out a tune. Never mind that the driver was playing a Thai pop song that I had never heard before. Fortunately for the sake of others, I was the only one in the cab besides the driver. But when I turned and looked out the window, there was another car next to the cab full of passengers staring at me and my microphone in amazement.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bangkok Reads

In an effort to promote more reading among Thais, last year the government launched a campaign called "Bangkok Read for Life". As part of the scheme, book holders like this one were distributed to taxi drivers to strap to the back of their car seats. The goal is to increase the average number of books read per person per year from five to twenty. If everyone in Thailand would read my book, Thai Taxi Talismans, the average would go up just a bit.