Look up: Mumbai’s cab ceilings make for the coolest art gallery | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Look up: Mumbai’s cab ceilings make for the coolest art gallery

HT journalist Rachel Lopez takes a taxi to work every day and has been documenting images of the interiors of Mumbai kaali peelis all through May on social media. See some of the best ones here

mumbai Updated: Jun 03, 2017 13:14 IST
Rachel Lopez
Take a taxi, shoot picture of its ceiling and soon you’ll have a galley of Made-In-Mumbai art, says HT’s writer Rachel Lopez who showcased her shots on social media all through May 2017.
Take a taxi, shoot picture of its ceiling and soon you’ll have a galley of Made-In-Mumbai art, says HT’s writer Rachel Lopez who showcased her shots on social media all through May 2017.(Rachel Lopez)

Some time in April, I got into a taxi and happened to look up. The interiors of Mumbai’s kaali peeli or black-and-yellow cabs are often covered in protective plastic, and often that sheet carries some kind of kitschy decoration. This one’s ceiling had a chocolate brown background, on which were scattered ghastly blue and purple strawberries - I loved it!

I took a picture with my front-facing camera, saw a bit of me peeking out of the frame - and something clicked. I realised that while the graphic pop-art on India’s trucks and taxis has inspired countless books, posters and overpriced coasters, Mumbai’s colourful taxi decor was largely unnoticed. And as someone who took kaalipeelis every day, I was best placed to take this incredible, unusual art to the world.

All through May, I’ve been sharing one image every day of a colourful Mumbai taxi ceiling on my Twitter (@GreaterBombay) and Instagram (@TheGreaterBombay). It’s made for a gallery like no other, and has got friends, family and random strangers to look up and notice their rides too. Take a look at some of the images:

(Left) No matter which route you take, you’ll go via Amsterdam. The driver says his tulip bouquet gets tons of compliments. (Right) Some ceilings look like tablecovers, probably because the plastic cover makers have borrowed motifs. How do you like my floral horns? (Rachel Lopez/HT Photo)
(Left) A full on fruit plate over your head. Fruit motifs are common because they’re associated with breaking a fast and many drivers are Muslim. (Right) Brilliant purple roses peek out of what looks like a basket weave. Imagine this print all over the ceiling and doors. (Rachel Lopez/HT Photo)
(Left) Textured zig zags. Geometric graphics are a common design. You’ll find endless varieties of squiggles, checks and stripes. (Right) The hideous strawberries that started it all. No one knows why the designers pick such unnatural hues. (Rachel Lopez/HT Photo)
(Left) Dots and repetitive patterns are popular too. This brilliant blue is also available in green. (Right) A favourite. I call this one picnic in the sky. Look closely, it even as condensation droplets. (Rachel Lopez/HT Photo)
(Left) Some ceilings look like tablecovers, probably because the plastic cover makers have borrowed motifs. How do you like my floral horns? (Right) Black and white is pretty uncommon, and this floral design - I’ve also seen it in blue and pink - looks especially stunning in this combination. (Rachel Lopez/HT Photo)