I’m someone who makes friends easily. I love people and I love finding out their stories, what happened that made them the way they are, what connects us and what doesn’t…I collect stories like pokemon cards except I don’t mind getting lots of the same cards…there is always something that makes each one different.
Growing up in a city like Bombay, I was used to my mum talking about her ‘train friends’, work friends, school friends, church friends, and the list goes on. She had a group of friends she’d made on the train that always got the same train, same time, and they would play singing games on the train and talk about their work and their children along the way. I thought this was hegemonic all over the world until I moved to New Zealand and I realise that no, people don’t play Antakshari on the train and sell jewellery and toys through the compartments at every station.
Never the less over the years I have invariably made friends on public transport on my way to school, to work and even on international flights and in airports. I don’t think I can help it. Most of my bus friends are simply that, friends I sometimes see on the bus and we talk, others I have kept in touch with, and we’ve gone out for dinner, talked about travel, boyfriends and plans for the future. I recently ran into a bus friend while I was going for a run around the block. I met Christoffe when I was a fresh-faced 18 year old doing my first semester at university. I used to finish my English lectures every Monday and Thursday at 6pm and Christoffe finished his Science lectures and we would sometimes get the same bus back together. I’m not sure how we started talking, or which of us introduced ourselves first. But we have remained friends for five years.
Though the times we’ve met have been unpredictable, over the years Christoffe has seen me grow from an awkward shy 18 year old just out of high school to a 23 year old woman who knows who she is and what she wants. He has seen my journey from my very first semester to my last and I didn’t even notice. And somewhere along the way he finished his masters studying part-time, had two children and continued to sit on the bus with me. I think it’s beautiful that sitting on a bus for 20 minutes every so often, you can still discover things about ordinary people and maintain a friendship for half a decade.
There is something remarkable about the fact that in this day and age, we have remained friends simply through our bus trips, without having each other’s phone numbers, email address or being friends on facebook. Over the years we have talked about our degrees, uni papers we liked, ones we didn’t, growing up overseas, our families and I even met his son once and pushed him along on his tricycle when we got off the bus. It has been 14 months since I last took a bus in Auckland and this is the first time I’ve run into Christoffe somewhere on the street, not on a bus. And yet we picked up right where we left off, bus friends for five years now.