As I caught the bus yesterday I could not help but notice how multi-sensory the experience was. It almost made me laugh as I thought about it on the way back home. The feel of the different textured seat, the multitude of smells, the noise. As I caught my first bus I could not help notice that one man came up with an unbearable smell which filled the entire vehicle. Besides being completely disgusted I could not help wondering about his life. What led him to that situation that day. I studied his clothes, which made me think he must have just come back from work, I studied his posture – he did not seem in any way debilitated, he did speak quite loudly even to himself at times but he did not seem like there was any reason why he should be lacking basic hygiene. I understand coming back from work one might not smell of roses and daisies but this smell was unlike anything I had ever smelt. In fact, just as I was about to go down as I could not take being in this putrid hotbox any longer, a dispatcher came up and opened the windows. I have never been so relieved to see a dispatcher. I almost felt bad about the person and my thoughts kept going back to him, wondering whether he had nobody to tell him that he needed to shower, whether he was feeling depressed and did not care… A couple of people got on, I heard their conversations. One was angry that her husband had not taken her to hospital that day and the other was complaining that her husband would never take her as he never does anything but sleep and eat. A young woman looking puzzled, was wondering loudly with her friend which bus they needed to catch to go to Tarxien, and when the other did not know, I decided to reply and smiled. They looked at me like I was insane. I felt like I was eavesdropping, it felt wrong, but truly, at what point does a conversation stop being private? What volume level makes a private speech public and what is the etiquette when someone needs help with something and you can help, but you are not the intended receiver of the utterance? Some might find it strange but my thoughts tend to wander about the lives of people I see for a few minutes. Might I have ever been sitting next to a literary genius or musical prodigy without ever even having known it? We are so detached from our surrounding that we often do not even have time to think about our familiars let alone strangers.

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