Friday, 11 June 2010

How buses attract strange people

So, Manchester has the famous (and lovely) "Crazy Bus Lady"; but it definitely isn't the only place with strange bus travellers. It may come as no surprise to you to hear that public transport attracts weirdos... after all, the truly crazy probably aren't allowed to drive. Just type "crazy bus" into a search engine and you will see what I mean.. when originally searching for CBL-related internet goodness, I discovered that many other cities have their own crazy bus ladies.

On every school day, I spend a good 10-15 minutes at Hamamatsu bus station, waiting for my connection. During this time I see a lot of strange people. Now, I don't just mean that they're a bit quirky (this IS Japan, after all). I mean people who frankly frighten me. If you live in Hamamatsu, you may have seen the "lady" dressed in a yellow shawl who hugs trees and sings to herself (I've heard that this is actually a man). Of course, we shouldn't make fun of people with genuine mental disorders. The help that they need should be made available to them... of course I believe that, I studied Psychology, and one of the things that I feel most passionately about is the treatment of mental health issues. ANYWAY... I digress.. this is supposed to be a light-hearted post!

On my travels to my schools, I come into almost daily contact with a few interesting characters. The ones that particularly draw my attention are not mental health cases, but children. I can't tell whether they are special needs children or not... because children are generally weird anyway. Firstly, there is Parrot Boy. I am forced to spend 5 or 10 minutes a day on a bus with a boy who insists on speaking along with the annoucements for the entire journey... and, if you have been on a bus in Japan, you will know that these annoucements go on for a long time! Not only does he insist upon this, but he also looks around, laughing goofily to see whether anybody is paying him any attention. Sometimes, a newcomer will laugh, or even applaud him, much to the general irritation of everybody else, as this only encourages him. Japan strikes me as being like London in many ways... although he is clearly irritating most people on the bus, nobody says anything... ever. In some towns he would be told to shut up, but not here. Of course I'm not going to say anything, I am the gaijin (foreigner) - who am I to cast judgement upon a Japanese child? Still... one day, he cut right in front of an old man to open the window and call over to his friend... the old man very angrily shouted at him to sit down! It surprised me that a stranger would speak to a child like that, but at the same time, this is a culture where you are brought up to respect your elders so the boy sat down and apologised.

The second strange bus child is Jazz Hands Kid... you know the noise the bus makes when the doors in the middle are opening? He will always, without fail, turn back and shake his fingers in time to it (as if playing an air-piano, or doing jazz hands!). The strangest part is the look on his face when he does it. Over the weeks, the jazz hands have developed into something more... he now moves his body in time to ALL bus-related sounds. It's much less annoying than Parrot boy. These two children exist on completely different buses, though, so at least it isn't that strange.. or so I thought!

One day, on my way back from school, I realised that Jazz Hands Kid was at the front of the bus. This was unusual, because he is normally only there for the morning ride. Then, behind me, I heard the nasal, high-pitched whine of a child speaking in synchrony with the speakers... Parrot Boy? On this bus? One this 20 minute journey? It couldn't be! But it was... and today, he wasn't content with just parroting the annoucements. No... today he decided that it would be fun to run up and down the aisle of the bus as it moved... I watched with interest and horror as he glided down the aisle, only to meet... Jazz Hands Kid. It was love at first sight. The rest of the journey was a beautiful dance, a ballet, if you will... Parrot Boy floating up and down the bus, speaking along with the lady on the speakers... Jazz Hands Kid watching him, laughing, and shaking his fingers when the bus stopped. He was the yin to his yang... the missing piece of the jigsaw. They smiled and laughed with each other for the entire journey, apparently delighted at the entertainment they had brought to the other passengers.

I'm aware that this is a strange post. It's very hot, and it got to my head.

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha - that was a great post! So vivid, I can totally imagine those surreal situations in my head! I don't really get the bus, but I'd love to see those two celebrities in action - maybe it's worth the fare!