Tuesday, May 17, 2011

BEST OF PBIHT: A Buddhist Bus Ride - Pt 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. 

The Ride Continues Thursday.  


  1. "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."

    List more things they do. I want to know.

  2. you mean, things they "don't" do?
    they don't like mcdonalds
    they don't go to the movies
    they don't need long stretches of time alone
    they don't spend their sunday mornings lazing in bed. never. never!

  3. I had a chance to read your 'Interests' tonight and found the following items interesting:

    love, good soft chocolate chip cookies, my wife's ability to just listen, questioning the nature of human relationships and questioning why why why

  4. notice that the cookies come ahead of my wife's ability to listen. because the interests are in order of importance. of course!

  5. You forgot the 'cool kids' in the back who are SO generous to let you hear what they're hearing too by blasting their music from their phones/portable speakers.

    But ironically, when I'm on a train/bus in Japan and want to talk to a friend or something, I feel very uncomfortable because everyone else is so.fucking.quiet (well, until I hit "Kandai-mae" for me - that's where all the rowdy university kids get on).

  6. nothing like that "shared music, eh?

    and, i gotta say, even though it can be too much, i'd trade all our ttc noise for some of that japan quiet.


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