Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I got a big, expensive bottle of perfume for my anniversary after I cracked open one of my back copies of In Style and a heavenly scent wafted up. I flipped through the pages and found a sampler attached to a picture of Charlize Theron, and I thought how great it would be to smell this smell all day rather than odeur de Bangkok.

It may seem weird to people that I now go around with my nose buried in my shirt, but I will never be without perfume again. And the place where I appreciate it most is in the back of a taxi.

You never know what you're gonna get when you hop into a cab, but it's never going to be as nice as a box of chocolates. Sometimes drivers mutter to themselves. Or they pick their noses and ears. Sometimes they have disturbingly long fingernails... for better excavation? Or maybe for good luck or to show their status is higher than that of a field worker, per this thread.

But bad smells are the most common taxi torture. Anything from curry to urine scent is possible, and thanks to the traffic, it's possible to be stuck with that smell for an hour.

We don't have a car here, so cabs are a necessity. The cabbies are usually pleasant, tolerating my terrible Thai and sometimes chatting in English. Bangkok's mindblowing traffic jams don't seem to bother them.

They like to pat my son, who they seem to find temptingly squishy. They decorate their ceilings with lettering and symbols, and on their dashboards, they usually have elaborate shrines to the Buddha, and garlands, paper fish made of money and pictures of the king swinging from the rearview mirror.

But like everyone who spends too much time behind the wheel, they can have a casual approach to highway safety. They may take their hands off the wheel to wai a shrine on a busy street corner as they whip through an intersection, perhaps in thanks for making the light. Some of them have TVs and DVD players mounted on the dashboard. Once, a driver popped in a DVD for my son, but it must have been distracting for him, because he collided with a Camry 10 minutes later.

I have a fatalist view of taxi safety -- whatever will be, will be. But I do have control over at least one aspect of the Bangkok taxi experience thanks to Charlize. J'adore Dior. Olfactory om, anyone?

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