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  Cornell University

Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Not Just A Long Bus Ride…

It’s interesting that my first post is not about a stationary event in Rome, but about eight hours on a double-decker coach bus. Sounds fun, right? For most, several hours on a bus seems like an extended torture session. But eventually, the complaints of vehicular confinement subside and the adaptations to the circumstances begin. Of these forms of adaptations the first is sleep. After long days that lead into late nights, many make use of their time on the bus dozing off. The bustle of loading the bus and morning greetings fade, the personal playlist is set, the shifting to find that right position in your single seat (two if you’re lucky) stops, and slowly a bus full of people drifts into peaceful slumber. For those couple of hours, all you hear, if you’re the only person awake as I fortunately am at the moment, is the rattle and roar of the bus, the faint song playing from someone’s headphones in the distance, while the landscape that was unfolding before your eyes is interrupted by a stretch of quickly passing tunnel lights – their reflection swiftly slithering over all the sleeping bodies. When the few individuals, who’ve gotten their fill of sleep wake, the second form of adaptation ensues – work. Work, is such a definitive word, so let’s just say, they find something to do. The laptops emerge and the photo editing of the haul of pictures you took these past few days commences. The readings that were supposed to be done two weeks ago materialize. A camera or two starts snapping away at what is going on outside the bus windows. Some even pull out sketchbooks or notebooks to tangibly digest this experience. This confined space we’ve all been assigned to becomes a sort of mobile office, a moving productive center in a sense. As the remaining sleeping parties rouse from the sound of keyboard clacking and early afternoon sun filling the bus, the third form of adaptation transpires – talk. It always escalates from a quietly mumbling group in some corner of the bus to suddenly exploding into laughter, and the quiet murmur that was emanating just from the bus itself has transformed into a lively social scene. Stories beginning with “Oh my God, remember when…” circulate and the topics of last night’s dinner conversation continue to weave themselves into the present discussion. And of course, without fail, the snacks and the leftover food that is still good from two days ago surfaces, augmenting the experience of engaging with others. Then the announcement is made for the upcoming rest stop, the bus comes to a halt, and everyone rushes off to use the facilities and replenish their sustenance sources. Forty-five minutes pass and everyone reluctantly trickles back to the bus, restarting the cyclic adaptations in dealing with a long bus ride.

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