Everything not forbidden is compulsory

October 26th, 2008

I think you can learn a lot about what people actually do in a country by looking at what is prohibited in its public spaces. Here’s the list of prohibitions from Bangkok’s relatively new metro:

I broke one of the rules by taking this photo (second from right on the bottom). The prohibition next to that (on the left) is specific to Thailand. The next along on the left was hard to interpret, but I found another prohibition list with English glosses — it means “No sitting on the floor while holding oversized balloons.”

The ones from China show that spitting and explosives on the train are problems, and the ones from India discourage public urination. In the US you see a lot of No shirt, no shoes, no service; We reserve the right to refuse service; and No firearms. This last is probably because they are afraid of what you’ll do if they don’t serve you.

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