I love taking public transport. Even in the US, though it was extremely time-consuming, I used to love taking the local bus to school. To get to know a place, one has to take the public transport and walk in busy roads. One gets to see a lot of different kinds of people, and the experience is just great (of course, when you have the time).
I had made friends with a jazz musician and a bus driver, of name Ron ___. He was a Christian American, but of middle-eastern descent. And the point was that he had visited India and Bangalore. I still cherish my long talks with him. We used to discuss Politics, Religion, culture and what not. The local transit in the Bay Area has a service for senior citizens, called VTA Paratransit or something. One day, I asked Ron what that was. He could not hear me properly in the din, and asked me excitedly - "Are you asking me about Paramahamsa Yogananda?". He had actually read 'Autobiography of a Yogi' and said he would lend it to me. Now I was flat. It was really amazing. When we left the US for good, he gave me a CD of 'Yonder Tree' by Gino Vanelli.
I remember the time when I explained the meaning of the red dot on my forehead to an American. Another time, early in the morning, a drunk lady took my book (Oppenheim and Schafer) from me, turned the pages, and remarked - "Do you really understand all this? You must be very smart", and then pointing to her husband/boyfriend, also drunk, said "He has been to college... he might understand this", and then turning to him, said "Don't you, ____?". I was scared! I have not seen many drunk people, and this was like, totally unexpected! I mean, it was early in the morning, and these people were fully drunk! It was nice when they returned my book and said "Good luck", though.
Public transport is not always pleasurable. I have had my share of bad experiences. But sometimes, one can think about the bad experiences later and laugh at them.
One day I was taking 32 to school. Most of us in the bus were foreigners - South Asians and Chinese and Vietnamese. The driver was black. Now a blonde lady got in. Once she settled in her seat, she started mouthing expletives towards people of other races. It was *bad*. The driver got very irritated and told her that if she did not stop, she'd have to get off the bus. Well, she did not, and was made to get off the bus.
Public transport in Bangalore is a wholly different sort of experience. A few days ago I took a BMTC bus to my place of work. A couple of women with a framed photograph of the Mother Goddess, were in the bus. These women are, for all practical purposes, beggars. They show the Goddess's photograph to people and say "give something to please Her". The women did not have money to buy the tickets. The poor conductor was demanding ticket-money from them, and a young girl shouted at him "ರೊಕ್ಕ ಇಲ್ಲ ಅಂದರೆ ಏನ್ ಮಾಡಕ್ಕಾಗತ್ತೆ? ಗೊತ್ತಾಗಾಕಿಲ್ವ ನಿಂಗೆ?"I had half a mind to pay for their ticket, but the other half prevented me from doing so. Finally the conductor exempted them from buying tickets. Or, rather, he was forced to.
It takes all sorts to make a world!