2 min read


Every day, we pass hundreds of folks, way beyond Dunbar’s number. It’s easy to ignore strangers, view passers-by as NPCs and not notice the many quirks people exhibit. Commuters is an ongoing art project, exploring what happens when we start recording the people we see in public. It focuses on the author’s daily commute, as the title implies.

September 29

A nun with a Nike (pronounced Nayk in this part of the world) bag, and that Nike bag has a tag, and the tag asks "Do you want me to pray for you?” My instinct is “No, thanks”, though she looks normal. Still reminds me of one of the town’s mentally unstable people who has a piece of cardboard saying “I’m Jesus” attached to his backpack.

A woman boards the bus and recognises a man, they’re most likely colleagues. She has a nice voice, which is rare for people who are chatty on buses. They talk about the different walking and cycling routes they take to work. “46-48 minutes,” the woman says, and I value that precision. There’s some problem at their workplace, but I can’t get to the bottom of it, as they speak in code.

A boy is playing a weird game on his phone where you have to tap things. Monkeys cooking pizzas perhaps (my eyesight isn’t that great). He then switches to Duolingo. Learns some German on his way to school. He’s my hero now.

On my way home

Four tweens, two boys and two girls, are talking about apartment prices. '150k for a two-bedroom flat? Now that's a scam!' I feel like in one of those lame commercials where kids act like adults.

September 30

There are two people on the trolley bus reading books. Not a rare sight, contrary to what grandmas believe. Grandmas themselves rarely read on the bus, and when they do, it's usually. a word puzzle book. The girl is reading Stephen King's Elevation (I stopped following King years ago, so I have no idea if it’s new), its cover proudly shown to the rest of us. The woman has the cover pressed against her lap. We'll never know what she’s reading.

I see the same lady with the pleasant voice from yesterday. She has no one to talk to today though.

October 3

There's a guy manspreading in the back of the bus, but he has a good reason. He has his power bank (not a euphemism for anything) on display.

October 4

There's a teenage girl listening to music. Only instead of AirPods (which I just recently stopped seeing as ridiculous), she has proper over-the-ear JBL headphones. With a cord no less! The bright red pair is probably brand new, but it looks almost retro. At least 3 people on the bus have in-ear buds.

October 5

Today, the universe, just to refute my previous point, placed more people with corded earphones on my commute. It looks less retro now. One guy in a funny combination of exceptionally fine suit pants and a worn-out hoodie has one of those £5 Xiaomi earbuds (I’ve got a pair as well). Everyone's earphones have good sound isolation. Good for maintaining order on the bus, but bad for learning what people listen to. The hoodie owner looks like he might be listening to Russian rock, but only because he has that Jurij Shevchuk beard.

October 6

Never intended this week to be about noticing people's earphone choices, but here we go again. There's a woman, late 30s, early 40s, I'm terrible at estimating age, with a Bluetooth hands-free set in her left ear. It looks way better than the ones I'd see local biznesmen (middle-aged men selling stolen radios on the outdoor market) use, but still, it looks ugly, with the protruding microphone reminding me of Chirs Tucker’s character in The Fifth Element.