Suriname Media Review: Buses

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In Suriname the buses are owned by the drivers, but follow routes that seem to be collectively determined. The buses here are somewhere between private taxis and public transportation, but only leave the “bus station” when they are totally full, meaning there are not specific schedules.

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My graduate counterpart in Suriname, Patrick, told me that young people prefer to ride on the buses with the coolest imagery on the side. Currently, Bollywood actors are the most popular bus imagery. He said that “old buses are for old people.” It is interesting to think that the image or “hipness factor” of the bus determines whether or not people will ride it.

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The imagery on the buses is hand painted with new images being painted over old ones, especially if a bus gets into an accident and needs to be refurbished anyway. Some people in Surinam earn their entire income from hand painting imagery for the buses. Obviously, their craftsmanship is quite amazing. However, with the arrival of digital printing technologies, some buses are starting to paste digitally printed advertisements on the buses.

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Although some bus images are political (such as a picture Saddam Hussein with the words “So What?” in English below his head) right now the most popular imagery is of Bollywood stars. This may be because there has been a major influx of legal and pirated Bollywood movies with English subtitles in Paramaribo. There are even 4 TV stations that show Bollywood movies at some point during the day.

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Until recently bus drivers would trick out their buses with huge stereo systems and blast music. The bass would be bumping, with huge subs tucked under the seats. This was also used to attract young customers, but recently the city has required buses to turn it down a little. They still play dancehall, hip hop, and pop music, but it doesn’t quite make your teeth hurt anymore.

Really enjoying getting to know this city. Original post with comments here.

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