Many Bangkok taxi drivers are friendly and are also curious. This one asked me 'Where you from?' and smiled! As I am already used to the glum, don't care attitude of most of our auto drivers, it felt good to be smiled at, even if it was from the rear view mirror.
I smiled back and said 'India'. I asked him, as it was election time, 'Who do you want to win?' His reply was a bit surprising as most Taxi drivers have strong preferences. 'I no like red shirt, yellow shirt both same same!' and he changed the subject by acknowledging 'The Buddha came from India and Nepal!' He had all the Buddhist lucky charms in his taxi, the amulets, a small figurine of a monk and a design like our Rangoli on the ceiling of the car. Nice that we gave others a religion which seems to have made them more tolerant and obviously more prosperous!
He then remarked 'India big country, many rich many very poor!'. They are all avid TV watchers and obviously India is on their priority list. Indian tourists are seen in every mall early in the morning and are known to be big, if irritating shoppers.
I got defensive and said 'Even Thailand has poor and very rich people'. But I had to admit there were more poor people in India. Then I asked him 'What are you? Are you rich?' He looked comfortable and was well dressed. It was possible he owned the Toyota Altis Taxi and some more.
He said 'No! The middle! Happy in the middle. No headache! The Buddha teach us the middle path'. Then he quoted from the scriptures. It sounded familiar even though I could not make out a single word. He assumed that as an Indian where Buddhism originated I would know! I said 'Very nice!' and acted as if I understood. I suppose we have to keep up the intellectual Indian image!
'How many children?' I asked. He said very fondly 'One boy' and added 'Very lazy! He wants to be mechanic'. There is a saying among us Bangkok Indians that we need to accumalate a lot of punya -merit to be born in Thailand as a boy! That is another story!