Thursday, October 23, 2008

Believe it or not I’ve been too busy to spend much time on the Rome Bus Project lately. But over the past few weeks, I have ridden nine more lines (52, 62, 38, 40, 61, 80, 95, 116, and 630), mostly for short rips around the city. One of the rides, however, does merit special mention. With my friend Neil, I rode the No. 40 from the main train station to the big mall in the northern suburbs. (Neil took the photo above while we were waiting for the bus to leave.) The ride took nearly an hour, and our seatmate for much of the trip was a teenaged Bangladeshi girl who, with her parents, was returning to Rome from a trip back home. She was none too happy to be back in Rome, a city she hates. But she was very excited to be seated with fellow English speakers, and she peppered us with questions.

Her father was curious about us, too, especially when we told him that we had no jobs – i.e., our wives work but we don’t. Kept men. He had a hard time understanding that, I think.

At the mall I was finally able to buy a couple things we needed (slippers, a small radio) but couldn’t find in our neighborhood, where the shops cater almost entirely to tourists. (If we ever run out of postcards or mildly obscene underwear, however, we’re in luck.) I also did some bookshelf recon at the Ikea for Allyson.

The ride home was interesting, too. It was rush hour, and the bus was packed. It was also very hot, until one courageous passenger asked the driver to turn on the air conditioning. (Until then, I hadn’t even been sure the buses in Rome were equipped with air conditioning.) Soon cool air was blowing down on a grateful me. For that alone, the No. 40 merits a grade of B+.

So far I have ridden 15 of Rome’s 251 regular bus routes – nearly six percent.

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