I don’t ride the bus much these days, since I ride a motorcycle to get to work. But this morning was particularly rainy, so I decided to forgo my usual method of transport and bused instead.
Recently I’ve been getting back into playing Chinese chess (中国象棋), a strategy board game related to international chess. My dad taught me how to play when I was a kid, and I’ve gone through a couple waves of being really into it over the years. I don’t know too many people around here that I can play with on a regular basis, so I end up playing on my phone a lot. I’ve also been working through a chess manual I picked up at Kinokuniya to try to improve my game.
The bus ride to work was pretty ordinary. It was a little drizzly. People got on, people got off, and I played chess on my phone. The ride home was a little different.
I got on the bus and saw an older Chinese man sitting by himself. I half-wondered to myself if maybe he played, and decided to somewhat surreptitiously find out. I sat next to him, rooted through my bag and pulled out my chess manual and started to read. Within 5 seconds of me pulling it out, he asked me, “你会下象棋吗?” (Do you play Chinese chess?)
He was a pretty friendly guy, happy to chat with me about chess for a bit. It turns out he was a doctor from Shanghai that moved to the US after he retired. We talked for a bit and before he got off the bus, we traded contact info. Maybe we’ll play chess some time.