A Journalist Takes Pictures of Mumbai’s Taxi Ceilings, and Proves Beauty Can Be Found Everywhere
Some people collect fridge magnets or postcards, but Rachel Lopez has an unusual hobby. She takes pictures of colorful plastic patterns that cover ceilings of Mumbai taxis. When you’re sitting in a cab, you rarely think of looking up at the ceiling, but if you’re taking a taxi in Mumbai, you can find fruit plates, flowers, or even zebra patterns over your head.
Bright Side admires people who can see beauty in everyday things. We interviewed Rachel Lopez to find out more about her unique photo project and we invite you to take a ride through Mumbai along with her.
“Outside of a Mumbai taxi, it’s a concrete jungle. Inside, it’s a strawberry field!”
It all started in April 2017, when Lopez, a busy journalist and lifelong Mumbai resident, took a cab and found herself sitting under an unusually designed plastic pattern. “I looked up and found that my ceiling was covered in a chocolate-brown background, with strawberries in unnatural colors. It was ghastly and I loved it,” she told Bright Side. “I wondered how many designs there were, and decided to start a project to find out.”
There are about 58,000 metered taxis in Mumbai and every trip is an adventure. Taxi drivers are temperamental and picky when it comes to rides and destinations. But you never know what unusual design will be covering the ceiling of a taxi and your curiosity helps you forget about any issues.
A fruit pattern is among the most common designs when it comes to Mumbai taxi ceiling decorations. Your cab ride can turn into an exotic journey if you spend it sitting under a bunch of grapes or a mouthwatering pineapple. “Some rides, I play with the idea that these fruits are real and one bump in the road is all it will take for a grape to drop into my mouth,” said Lopez.
“It’s a nature, science, math, and art lesson all at once!”
Since startup ride-shares have started to become popular in India, many Mumbai residents prefer Uber to traditional taxis. Lopez, however, thinks that the chance to add yet another unusual shot to her colorful collection is worth the inconvenience of taking a cab, unpredictable taxi drivers and all. No Uber will surprise you with zebra prints or flower patterns decorating its ceiling, and sometimes a little splash of color is all you need to brighten up your day.
“This taxi ceiling makes me think of pinwheels and childhood.”
As Lopez began to share her unusual photo project on her Instagram, the response was overwhelming. People started to send her their pictures of taxi ceilings and their artwork, and it’s clear that many Mumbai residents still love to take traditional cabs. 3 years into the project, Lopez still finds new designs to add to her collection. “Thus far, I’ve photographed (and traveled under) close to 500 different patterns and I still haven’t found them all,” she explained.
The variety of patterned plastic designs is immense. One day, you’re taking your ride to work under a roof made of a blue bamboo, and the next day, you’ll look up and lock eyes with a classic Bollywood villain. Lopez, however, is still surprised every time she sees a fruit ceiling design. “Because honestly, why would anyone put a fruit plate over the ceiling of a taxi?” she laughed.
“Can you see me grinning under this taxi ceiling?”
Lopez has seen a wide variety of taxi ceiling decorations, but she personally prefers more simple, elegant design schemes. “If I could decorate my own car’s ceiling, I would use an elegant Art Deco pattern. There would be amber vintage uplighting and a soft glow. It would transform a dusty, noisy ride into an elegant journey,” she said.
Which taxi ceiling design was your favorite? If you could decorate your car’s ceiling, what design would you choose?