New York City’s Winter Greys And Yellow Taxis

< My Journey To The Land Of Smiles 

One noticeable difference between Thailand and New York is color. New York winters are monotonous, unvaried even. As temperatures drop, its usually busy streets become abandoned, and a varying shade of grey begins to characterize the sky each day. Even the snow isn’t white; at best, it’s a tainted off-white: the color of smoker’s teeth after years of wear and abuse.
Thailand, on the other hand, is a painter’s open canvas. I eagerly boarded my flight to the country right before a severe snowstorm was predicted to hit the east coast. The few days preceding my journey, however, were brutal – it’s one thing to feel the cold; it’s another to be able to physically see it. Every breath I took was instantly visualized in the air, in the form of a cloud of condensation, and each building I entered immediately created a stubborn fog in my glasses.


For a month, however, I did not have to worry about either of those problems. I graciously left the airport with my five friends, dragging our luggage haphazardly behind us. Immediately, we were greeted by a fleet of vibrant taxis – green, red, blue, and even pink in color. The difference instantly intrigued me. New York is infamous for its iconic yellow cabs. The exact shade is truly distinctive, not the fluorescent yellow of “caution” tape nor the bright, happy yellow of a daffodil.


It’s a muddled yellow – as if a hint of orange accidentally got mixed in after crossing its boundary on a painter’s pallet. I’ve gotten used to seeing this color over and over again; it’s familiar, commonplace, recognizable. Consequently, I became overwhelmingly giddy when I noticed Thailand’s colored vehicles. Traveling tends to do that to you. In fact, anything unfamiliar can easily turn your world upside down.


Take for example, this every day routine. Imagine yourself living in the same house for years. Once a day, you return home, open the door and drop your keys into a small bowl. Soon enough, you are able to perform this action without thinking, without ever having to glance away from your phone screen.


Then one day, your cat (let’s imagine you have a cat in this scenario) moves the bowl one inch to the right. Instantly, everything is thrown off. That night, when you return home, the sound of your keys dropping to the floor shocks you, confuses you.


It’s unfamiliar.


This was all of Thailand for me: undiscovered, open-ended, hidden. The fact that I was so pleased to see color signaled to me that I had become too used to New York – dare I say, sick of it even?


But I was unaware of all of this before stepping off of the plane. That’s the problem with familiarity. You get comfortable. You stop noticing details. Things stop exciting you.


I’ll be honest – maybe I’m making colored taxis a bigger deal than they actually are. After all, they aren’t exactly miraculous. In fact, they are probably commonplace in other places around the world. But when you’ve become accustomed to winter greys and muddled yellows, it’s always pleasant to see some greens, reds, blues…and yes, even pinks.