Monday, 12 June 2006


Travelling by bus, is something I immensely enjoy. Catching up on reading, thinking, day dreaming or just watching the scenery are so relaxing and take your mind off a day's work stress.

What I deplore though, in my Mauritian bus travels, is the lack of communication, smile and greeting.

The first time I got into buses and said hello I was answered with She's a foreigner remarks. Saying please and tank you to the conductor is regarded with suspicion by many. I remember one time when I offered peanuts to my seat neighbour. The lady changed seats as soon as she could.

To make a long story short, when you're traveling alone, you keep to yourself.

Last week I had to work late, so my sister preferred not to wait for me. In the bus I took out “Soul Mountain” and began to read. Suddenly, laughter erupted from somewhere behind. I turned to look as did those sitting in front of me. One to two persons were laughing loudly but soon others joined in too. It was so contagious that I started chuckling. My seat neighbour look at me questioningly. I shook my head I have no idea and he put on a look which clearly asked what was I laughing about then.

The still laughing back passengers started talking among themselves. This was a change. It had to be good.

We, the front passengers noticed they were looking down and laugh harder. I looked down and nothing.

Reaching the surroundings of Reduit where the road goes down, we got it.

Somebody's tomatoes had spilled down and were everywhere. My seat neighbour and I exchanged a look. I burst out laughing and he smiled.

When he reached his bus stop he turned and said Aurevoir. I smiled.

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ChickyBabe said...

You should try Sydney buses. Nobody makes eye contact let alone say hello!

Fitèna said...

Why is that so? Culture? Environment? Must be depressing! I don't think I could get used to that. But if I didn't have a choice... then...

Youssouf said...
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Youssouf said...

This makes me remember a guy from Kenya, who was in a seminar with me, who said that people are very silent in buses in Mauritius. This differs greatly where he comes from. Guess they run theaters in buses there, lol.

My wife once slapped someone sitting next to her one day in a bus. He was blabbering something, she could not recall. The poor guy ran away at the next bus stop. Don't know where she got the courage.

Makes me remember a courageous lady from Air Mauritius who attended to a guy having health problems in a bus I was in some time back. She should have been an air hostess or first aid trained. She spontaneously looked at the man without any prejudice we cultivate here.

jackt said...

If you enjoy greeting total strangers, you should just move to small towns in Alaska. There are so few cars there that everyone waves at each other as they drive by! Or you can buy a Jeep- all Jeep drivers in the United States wave at each other when they drive by (except in large cities).

javed said...

Thats so absolutely true fitena thats why i bought a car :P .. i remember in south africa i used to say good morning to people walking or driving on the streets and they would always answer back with a smile... here in mauritius its really appealing to see how people have lost their good manners.

In Mauritius you ask the station master which bus to take is as if you are begging for something from him.

In amsterdam (although the station master does he job) , you take a train the people are sitting face to face with you and they wont even look at you let alone talk to you.Its a really uncomfortable situation.

I think the more a community is developped the less developped are their social manners.

suleyman said...

I associate buses with grade school and, thusly, with suffering. Buses are places where kids are separated according to their social standing and then picked on mercilessly.

I don't like them.

Mass transit buses are just adult versions of the same in which teasing and picking are replaced with alienation and shame.

Oh for the glorious days of train travel!


Neil said...

Fitena, Chickbabe -- the unfriendliness of buses must be an international thing. No one ever talks in buses in New York of Los Angeles.

Fitèna said...

Welcome, Youssouf! The link to your blog seems to be broken!
"Theaters in buses" is pretty close to what our buses are like in Africa! People talk, laugh, joke, and maybe tell each other stuff they normally won't. Maybe because they're sure not to run in the same person ever again. It's a therapy, really!

She actually slapped the guy?! Wow! What did he do?

jackt, I hope you won't send me a bill for all the good advices you're been giving me! lol! I'd love that! Must be very warm and comforting!

Folks, here's javed! A mauritian bro who confirms my sayings! :-) Too bd you don't live around Quatre Bornes, I might have gotten a lift!
You're right about the controlleur, I once had words with one of them. I ask him an information and he's more interested in where I come from and whether there's a war there!

suleyman, the University my father taught in provided tranport facilities for the professors children for school. In one group were the foreigners (us) and in the other the Nigeriens. I hated that. But children are cruel. We used to fight everyday because those who got in before would save places for their friends.

Is train travelling any different from what you say about buses?


Fitèna said...

Neil, International is good. At least it's not universal!
I love it when the chinese here get into buses. They don't speak the local language well, they sit everywhere, one on top of the other, talk loudly, say hellohellohello! It's a great change from the boxing-looks you get from the other passengers.


Egan said...

I love riding the bus as well. There's some great blog material on busses. It's kind of like the gym. Smiling at passengers on the bus can be quite fun.

Fitèna said...

Egan, blog material on buses? Really? Have to check that out! Interesting analogy: busses-gyms! :-)


ChickyBabe said...

It's mainly cultural and you're viewed as a weirdo if you initiate contact. Usually people are hogging seats, elbowing you and everyone looks either angry or dead tired.

I catch the bus a lot and observe people. In fact, many a good blog posts were inspired on the bus last year!

Lil Bit said...

I haven't been on a mass-transit bus in eons... I practically live in my car. LOL

atpanda said...

That's a great story!
Before I went to England to live last summer, I hadn't really been on public transportation much. They don't talk to each other on the buses and trains there either. I love how they talk on their cell phones all fast so they can get out what they want to say before we go underground.

Fitèna said...

CB, am picturing myself in Sydney buses and having seats all for myself and people parting to give me the way because they think am a weirdo! :-)

Lil Bit, Though mauritius is tiny, I have friends who have absolutely no idea how to take the bus! They live in their dadies cars! :-)

atpanda, that's funny! It reminds me of this idea I had for a post about mobile phones. You wonder why they have mobile phones if they only serve the purpose of calling and saying hello, i can't talk long because my battery is low/down!:-)


kimananda said...

I don't think I've ever lived in a country where people talk to each other on public transport. I wonder why that is?

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