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The Buddhist Bus Ride Part I

[Originally posted November 2009] No one longs to be a cliche. They don't fly to Japan planning to be yet another white guy who brings back a Japanese bride. They don't fly to Japan with the intent of going Zen, never mind espousing theories of Buddhism.

But they do. They do it all. Marry the Japanese girl, sleepover at a Buddhist mountain top with all the other white tourists. Books by the Dalai Lama become toilet readings. Attempts at meditation become commonplace. (These aren't attempted on or near a toilet.) The very act of sitting at dinner or desk a little more straight-backed rings spiritual in their Western heads.

The world, though, is of course getting smaller. The East now dreams as Hollywood West prescribes, while the West rushes with their Japanese wife to a yoga class every Thursday night at the local community centre (it feels sooo good after).

East or West, what interests us, however, what we aspire to, is not who we are in the now (unless your surname is Lama). Otherwise, duh, we'd already be there.

No, in the now we can be really fucking annoyed, and sometimes overwhelmingly mad especially when on a long and crowded bus.



The Buddha, even before he was the Buddha, never took the bus. For one, his was a time before buses; and two, he was originally a prince, ie. rich, therefore above bus taking.

Ergo the rich need not read this post. They don't know from buses. Shit, the middle class barely stray beyond a subway in Toronto unless they absolutely have to. No, the moneyed don't know from this pain (I'm assured they have other pains to deal with). For all the rest who regularly take buses, you know that buses have gotten busier, traffic angrier. You know the urban expanding reasons. You know also from where I ache - eg. the very depths of my soul. 

The ache I regularly take is a busy and lengthy bus ride, much of it filled with the headphone-leaked ootza-ootza (as my friend Sonia puts it), techno music beats, and the never quiet conversation treats of the teen-aged. There's everyone's favourite, the elbow jostle for a bit of 'do you mind if I actually sit back in my seat' room. There's the supreme misfortune of being stuck in a middle seat between men, when the whole ride is a knee wrestle for territory, like dogs pissing, but with knees. (Being of the gender, I'll 'man up' and admit my knees, both the right and the left, have more than likely been the cause of not a few others' misery, tuck in my legs as I think I might.) This just to name a couple instigators of the pain, and these only if you're lucky enough to snag a seat. 

In truth, the ache would be a minor Tylenol treatable pfft kind of a thing were it not for the invention of the phone that is cellular, and the airtime that is unlimited or far too cheap. (Cause if you just upped the airtime prices it would force people to text - and quiet clicking away on a cell phone is the only civil cell phone activity that should be permitted on a bus, if you ask the aging and increasingly curmudgeon that is me.)

To spiral one down to the darkest circle of the inferno, it just takes one, one loud-talking, phone nuzzling shmo. You know the one, who so conveniently and even disturbingly sincerely manages not to consider that there might be about 57 other passengers on the bus not interested in a one-sided conversation where the other person (the one you can't hear) is always speaking so softly that the cell phone bus passenger has no choice, of course, but to start yelling, 'WHAT? WHAT? I CAN'T HEAR YOU?'


Click The Buddhist Bus Ride II for ... um ... part II.