I was surprised and "Omg! How exciting!" pleased when I scored a seat on the bus this morning – right alongside the driver. It’s reserved-for-old-fogies seating, but at 6am, they’re not in transit anywhere. Turns out, that’s where all the action is. There I was, minding my own business, watching street and car lights going by (I couldn’t read, as the driver had the lights off) to the tune of some mellow Enya.
I got myself free entertainment. The bus had stopped. A lanky youth ran up and looked inside. It seemed that he decided it was the wrong bus. He walked along the curb and banged on the bus where the bus conductor sat. I figured it was just a ‘greeting’. They often do that if they know the driver or conductor and it’s usually followed by animated chatting and laughing. But… In a split second, the conductor and driver were both out of their seats and pounding down the road after the guy, brandishing 2 foot long, thick sticks. This was a true blue, "What the heck?!" moment. The chase carried itself across 6 lanes and ended as the guy rounded a corner.
The driver and conductor swaggered back to the bus with a "we got him good" attitude. Back on the bus, they talked and laughed between themselves after stowing their sticks. Unfortunately, they spoke in the incomprehensible North Eastern accent, so I remained clueless. One thing was sure, they were prepared. This was no random event.
I then switched over to the metro, which went calmer, though not without its own interest. We’d gone a couple of stops when everyone was ordered off the metro. I had my earphones in, so I missed the announcement. It seems to be my day for being clueless. We all crowded sheeplike into the next metro and went on our merry way.
I met my student who flapped a little at the ‘dangers of public transport’, only to be caught up by his own words when sirens bore down on us. There was a convoy of police cars and a van transporting criminals. The ‘brownies’ (that’s what the traffic guys are called here due to their brown uniforms) shooed us out of the way. What on earth possessed them to think that transporting criminals through São Paulo’s peak hour traffic was a good idea?? Apparently they ‘avoid’ traffic jams because of the risk of being blocked off deliberately (pre-organised), thus allowing the prisoners to escape.
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Does anyone else also find their heart stopping when an ambulance passes by? I find myself hurting for the drama those people are facing.
What makes a pubescent kid go a few metres out of his way to kick a pigeon? Does it give him an otherwise missing sense of power?
I’m now off to bed. It was an exhausting day. Tomorrow will be even longer. I leave home at 6am and return at 6pm. In that time, I will take 7 buses in total and a metro. What adventures await, I wonder? My afternoon will end with 3 teen boys whom I’ve been warned will try to take advantage. Great. What an exciting prospect!