In the modern era of commuter apps like Uber and Lyft, the dependable taxi is often overlooked. However, Mumbai-based journalist Rachel Lopez has spent two years capturing the secret artistic worlds that exist within the city’s taxis, shedding new light on surroundings locals take for granted.
The major Indian city of Mumbai has a population of over 18 million people, the majority of whom use public transport for their daily commutes. Within Greater Mumbai, there are about 58,000 taxis, also called kaali-peelis—named after their unassuming uniform of a black and yellow exterior. Yet inside, these cars contain surprising, eclectic decor. Lopez writes that these cars are “driven by a temperamental species.” Despite the grouchiness she’s encountered, the journalist says, “Once you’ve scored a taxi, get in and look up. You’ll notice a canvas of the most unusual art. Approximately half the city’s cabs decorate their ceilings and doors in some kind of colorful plastic or vinyl sheeting.”
Lopez took her first selfie with a taxi ceiling in April 2017, thinking that the arrival of modern commuter apps might soon drive away the older modes of transportation. Since the first photo, Lopez made it a habit to snap a quick picture in each taxi she grabbed in Mumbai, which—two years later—has culminated into an enormous digital album of kitschy, original decor. It seems with each taxi you take, a new adventure awaits.
Lopez’s love letter to the city’s taxis was even shown at the Kala Ghoda Festival—Asia’s largest street festival for the arts—in a display of one hundred photographs. “My feeds are now full of friends and strangers, alike, sharing pictures of taxis they’ve taken across the city. Many locals comment that they simply didn’t pay attention to the variety of kaali-peeli designs before,” Lopez states. “The drivers, however, remain unimpressed in the face of compliments about their cars and drive on.”
Scroll down to see some of the wonderful patterns Lopez has encountered on her commutes. And to follow along with colorful selfies as she continues to find new decorative ceilings in each taxi ride, give her a follow on Instagram.
Journalist Rachel Lopez documents the unique decorative ceilings of Mumbai’s taxis in her selfies.
Approximately half of Mumbai’s 58,000 taxis sport kitschy designs—ranging from fruit prints to geometric and floral patterns.
In an age when more and more commuter apps like Uber and Lyft are popping up, the artsy decor of Mumbai taxis helps to set them apart as cultural experiences of the city.
So if you ever catch a taxi in Mumbai, remember to look up. You never know what you might see!
Rachel Lopez: Instagram