Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hand Talk

Humans have been using their hands to make marks on surfaces since prehistoric times. So when I spotted this handprint of a monk on the ceiling of a taxi alongside other magical yan drawings, it reminded me of Paleolithic cave art. It also made me think about all of the art through history that includes hand gestures as a way to communicate to viewers. In Buddhist art, the Buddha is represented with various mudras that symbolize his actions, including teaching and blessing. According to the cab driver, this particular hand gesture stamped on the ceiling is supposed to activate dormant energy. Considering that taxi drivers spend long hours sitting in the front seat, I hope this handprint keeps this cabby alert and awake.      

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Gambling Man

When I saw these stickers in the taxi, I thought perhaps my driver has a gambling addiction. Does he spend his time-off placing bets at Muay Thai boxing matches or cockfights? Or does he stop off at snooker clubs between picking up fares and wager all his money? As he drove like a maniac through the streets of Bangkok, I figured it out: he likes to gamble with his own life (and apparently the lives of his passengers, as well).  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lucky Charms

Many Thais, including taxi drivers, don an amulet (or a dozen) dangling from a necklace with images of the Buddha, monks, Hindu gods and goddesses, and other lucky icons. The charms reflect the wearer’s personal beliefs, values, and superstitions. When many Bangkok cabbies begin their shift, they remove their amulets from around their neck and hang them from their rearview mirror while saying a prayer. The talismans thus serve to protect the car, as well as the driver. I also like to believe that they then keep passengers, like myself, safe from harm.