Ajarn Street

What's your bag?

Pay close attention to what you carry those textbooks in


Let's talk about one of those areas that teaching fashionistas pay little attention to - your bag. That thing you carry your textbooks and test papers in. You'd be surprised just how many folks pay attention to what's slung over your shoulder and moreover what it says about you as a person.

And whether you're just strolling around campus to the school canteen or on your way to a power lunch with The Dean, you'll want to score fashion points as well as earn maximum respect from your peers. It's time to ask yourself - what's my bag?!?

The manbag - David Beckham is sometimes spotted with one, Johnny Depp is never seen without one. Say what you want - the manbag is here to stay. In an episode of Friends, Joey is heard to say "do what you want but don't ever come between me and my manbag"

And that's what truly happens. The manbag becomes a part of who you are. It says 'you can put me in the ducking stool and see if I float or burn me at the stake and dance around the flames, but I'm proud to be a metrosexual' OK no butch weekend rugby player would be seen dead with one but that's part of the appeal. Ignore the wolf-whistles and celebrate the fact you've got your finger firmly on fashion's knob.

The backpack - Stand at the front door of HSBC's head office on a Monday morning and see how many suits arrive at work with a backpack? That's right - there aren't any.

In fact nothing singles you out as a teacher more than the those two vinyl straps. Take it to Samui for the weekend but please don't take it to work. Every time I look at a teacher carrying a backpack, I just know that among the textbooks and dog-eared John Grishams, there is a pair of old socks.

And want to know the truth - I don't care that it's got a convenient outside compartment for carrying a bottle of water. Please. No. Don't.

The briefcase - as a teacher, you need balls the size of water-melons to carry off the classic briefcase but there's little doubt it projects an air of seniority.

Your colleagues all know it contains fifty student essays and a banana but to the people standing next to you at the bus stop, it holds the blueprints for a nuclear testing site in the middle of the Gobi Desert.

Although you might be content to upgrade to the classic briefcase once you're given the role of academic director, think what it will do for your chances at job interviews.

Imagine yourself opening the combination lock with a flick of the wrist and reaching for a sheaf of resumes and referral letters from their own compartment flap. You'll be given the job faster than you can say "never mind a demo lesson" 


The lap-top case - The lap-top case is the sure fire job interview winner. It says "hello. I'm here, the answer to all your teacher recruitment issues and I've got my whole life on one tiny thumb-drive" Textbooks and test papers slot neatly alongside your computer and the cumbersome paraphernalia fits perfectly in those roomy front pockets. You are the perfect package. Just make sure there's actually a computer in there!  

The leather document case - Apart from being very hard to grip, especially on hot sticky tropical afternoons, the leather document case screams debt collector or double glazing salesman.

A throwback to the 70's, I still recall the man who collected the football pools in our neighborhood and stank of tobacco and humbugs. No matter how big your spend and how good the leather, you can't polish a turd. It's still a document case.

Roomy enough for paperwork to take on a trip to the British Embassy, drop in a can of your favorite soda and it will bulge like William Tell's cod-piece.

The classic satchel - It's difficult to talk about the classic satchel without coming over all emotional. It is truly the giant among leather holdalls.

Expect to pay handsomely for a good one but rest assured the unmistakeable whiff of leather and the reassuring coolness of quality brass buckle means you won't begrudge a penny.

Although the classic satchel was long associated with nerdy swots, fashionistas are prepared to shrug their shoulders and say fashion was wasted on the young. Whether you are gripping the holdall whilst waiting patiently on a sky-train platform or have it slung over your shoulder in the queue at the food court, the satchel simply oozes style. 

The plastic document holder - There was once a little Japanese girl called Miyuke. Every schoolday morning, Miyuke would kiss her mother and father goodbye and skip gaily to school swinging her plastic document holder. 

In it was last night's homework for Mr Aoki. She always did her homework well for Mr Aoki because he was her very favorite teacher. And with her homework she would always carry her most treasured possession - a little pink handkerchief embroidered with small elephants - a present from her Auntie Myoto.

Now ask yourself a question. Is this person you? No. Thought not.

The retro sports bag - There's been something of an upsurge in the retro sports bag market.

Established sportswear brands like Gola and Adidas are competing for a share of the retro market alongside the airline companies.

The retro sports bag is playful and fun and marks you down as an individual. It says that you're a man who likes a pint after work on a Friday night but you won't linger too long in case the supermarket runs out of decent salad stuff.

Deceptively spacious, as an estate agent might say, it's a big player when it comes to all things holdall. While the retro sports bag will never turn heads in the oak-beamed halls of academia, it comes into its own for that after-school gym and sauna workout.

The Tesco carrier - If all else fails, there is always the humble Tesco's carrier bag. And with the monsoon rains almost upon us, at least you'll have something to put over your head and impress the girls with.





Lighthearted article that actually may give some people new to teaching some ideas. I do agree however that weight and material are big considerations in this climate. I also think Kevin wants to lighten up and not take himself so seriously. It's a bit of fun and there is enough negative shit in the world.

By George, Silom Bangkok (30th July 2015)

Sure, leather looks and feels good. However, many Thais frown when somebody is seen wearing or carrying things in a leather bag, i think its some sort of religious thing.

By Professor, Thailand (23rd May 2013)

I love leather satchels and briefcases yet they are pricey in Thailand. I think the main criteria is wieght. The lightest shoulder bag made out of fabric wont make you sweat where it contacts the body unlike a plastic or nylon one. Heat is the enemy. If you're not carrying anything you keep dry but with a bag iPad maybe some books and the wieght will make you sweat while you are commuting. This is especially true if you are working more than one location against the clock so keep the bag as light as possible.

By Tony, Bangkok (30th April 2013)

I've had my briefcase for 44 years. It has served me well and traveled the planet with me many times. I think I will keep it. The only improvement I could make is to start carrying the one my grandpa owned. It's still around and waiting to be used when I get really old.

By Jeff Johnson, Pathum Thani (9th February 2013)

This article is a real ice breaker! I enjoyed reading it as it has moved my face muscles so well. I wish to read more like this!

By Chel, Rayong (29th November 2012)

I don't know. I reckon the fashion articles on ajarn.com are the most entertaining reading. Short of Ken May, he was a complete classic as well. This certainly got me laughing, anyway.

By Matt, Osaka (22nd November 2012)

Teachers need to do themselves a favor. Backpacks are useful if necessary (for traveling) otherwise they seem unsightly. Backpacks generally remind me of backpackers here and street people at home here.

By Former_Bangkokee, United States (15th November 2012)

A sense of humor like yours? No thanks.

The only funny thing about this article is the attempted spelling of laptop, one can only assume that this so called "fashion guru" doesn't have to use his command of the English language to earn a living and can spend his time sneering at other people's bags.

By Kevin O'Brien, Bangkok (29th October 2012)

Oh Kevin, get a sense of humor for f**k's sake.

By philip, (26th October 2012)

yes let's judge someone by the bag they have. most pointless article ever.

By Kevin O'Brien, Bangkok (26th October 2012)

Hahahaha Philip,

Not sure how to answer that reply but for now I will stick with my Retro Sprts Bag.


By David, Bangkok (21st October 2012)

David, I've just come back from a couple of weeks in England and trust me - every self-respecting man has gone the man bag route. They're just so practical. I mean where do you carry your mobile phone, your hand cream, your deodorant and your man scarf in case the weather turns chilly?

By philip, (21st October 2012)

Sorry but a Manbag. Any self respecting " Man" would never and I mean never have one of these unless of course you are uncertain whether or not you are indeed a man. I loved watching David Beckham back in the day at Old Trafford but this is one step too far for me.

By David, Bangkok (21st October 2012)

The only reason I dislike wearing a backpack in Thailand is that my back gets completely soaked in sweat. Horrible for a teacher trying to look professional. Otherwise, I couldn't care less what others may think. I don't wear the backpack in class. That said, the manbag in the picture looks pretty groovy and comfy.

By TomG, South Korea (20th August 2010)

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